2004 Australia-New Zealand

On April 12, 2004, join Fred Theurkauf on our 7th sightseeing and bridge-playing holiday to the lands of kiwi, koala and kangaroo. We'll fly QANTAS Airlines to the land "Down Under," heading first to New Zealand for a visit to both the North & South Islands. We'll spend 9 nights visiting Auckland, Lake Taupo, Rotorua and Queenstown, plus enjoy a fun flight break for touring in Christchurch. Then, it's on to Australia for 8 fun nights in this incredibly varied country, beginning in Melbourne and enjoying stays in Canberra, the Blue Mountains and finishing in the spectacular harbor city of Sydney. From sheep farming to geothermal activity, from incredible 'down under' wildlife and the chance to hug a koala bear to fun folklore evenings with the native Maori's, from stunning harbor cities to spectacular forests and fjords, we'll do and see it all on this great itinerary. Plus, we will be honored guests at bridge clubs throughout Australia and New Zealand for dinner and bridge.

Dates: April 12 to May 1, 2004 - 20 days
Cost: $6,493.00

Tour Schedule
Day 1 Depart U.S.A.
  Bound for New Zealand, we leave Los Angeles this evening on our international QANTAS flight. There are no bridge activities this evening (unless you can find three other people who can't sleep without a game). (Those taking our exciting two-night pre-package to Fiji, will already be relaxing away their jetlag in beautiful surroundings.)
Day 2 In Flight
  In flight. Sometime during the wee hours of the night our flight crosses the international date line. (D)
Meal(s): , Dinner
Day 3 Arrive Auckland

Beautiful Auckland Harbour
Sprawling across a volcanic isthmus between the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Auckland is noted for its extensive parks and beautiful gardens. Volcanic ash cones, lava flows, and crater lakes punctuate the green landscape. After an early arrival, the day is free for relaxing or exploring the bustling harbour area. This evening our American tour director, Fred Theurkauf, invites you to join him for a special "Welcome Down Under" cocktail party followed by dinner at our hotel.
Hotel: Carlton Hotel
Meal(s): , Dinner
Day 4 Auckland
  After breakfast we depart for a half day of sightseeing in Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand. From the summit of Mt. Eden, an extinct volcano, you will see breathtaking views of the harbor waters of the “city of sails.” Take an exhilarating ride to the top of Sky Tower for views of the city below. And finally, visit famous Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure.
Hotel: Carlton Hotel
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

 Tonight we are guests of the Auckland Bridge Club. The local players are hosting a "Kiwi-style" dinner at their Club before we play our first session of duplicate bridge "Down Under."
Day 5 Auckland - Te Awamutu
  After a leisurely breakfast we drive south over the Bombay Hills and along the Waikato River to Hamilton. Continuing through rich pastures, we reach Cambridge, which boasts some of New Zealand's most famous blood stock. We will visit a leading thoroughbred stud farm, and enjoy a guided tour of the stables, house and grounds. No trip to this rich agricultural country would be complete without a traditional farmstay. Tonight, you will be the guest of a New Zealand farming family. You’re invited to share their home for an evening, enjoy a home-cooked dinner and get a glimpse of New Zealand rural life.
Hotel: Farmstay
Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 This afternoon, play bridge with a Kiwi! We’re invited to join Kiwi players for lunch and a “Partner Exchange” at the Cambridge Bridge Club.
Day 6 Te Awamutu - Lake Taupo

Cruise through the Glow Worm Grotto
Following a hearty farm breakfast with our respective farmstay hosts, we rejoin our coach and continue to Waitomo, famous for its limestone caves. There we visit the Glow Worm Grotto, for which the caves are world-renowned. Millions of tiny glow worms shine in the dark like stars overhead. The grotto is reached by boat on an underground river. From there, we travel through extensive forests to Wairakei, where geothermal steam is harnessed to produce electricity.
Hotel: Wairakei Resort
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

 The Lake Taupo Bridge Club is hosting an evening of most sociable duplicate bridge with a buffet dinner. Bring your best rural English etiquette.
Day 7 Lake Taupo - Rotorua

Maori Poi Dancing
This morning we drive through the heavily forested geothermal regions of the Waimangu Valley, created by the eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886. At Lake Rotomahana, a refuge for black swans, we take a launch excursion. We rejoin our coach for a short journey to Rotorua, passing the picturesque "Blue and Green Lakes." Tonight we feast on a Maori "Hangi" dinner. Traditionally this meal is steamed over hot stones in an earthen oven. After dinner, enjoy a Maori performance with legendary songs and dances. Join in the festivities.
Hotel: Royal Lakeside Novotel
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8 Rotorua
  Rotorua is the center of a vast thermal region where geysers, bubbling mud pools, and steaming, sulphurous lakes give evidence of nature's frightening yet fascinating power. Besides these natural phenomena, today's sightseeing includes sheepshearing and working sheep dogs. Afternoon at leisure.
Hotel: Royal Lakeside Novotel
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

 The members of the Rotorua Bridge Club have planned a special night during our visit and will welcome us for dinner and bridge.
Day 9 Rotorua - Queenstown

Beautiful views of Lake Wakatipu await
After breakfast, we visit Rainbow and Fairy Springs. This park boasts crystal clear cold springs, thousands upon thousands of trout, live kiwis, and other native New Zealand wildlife. Later, we’ll transfer to the Rotorua Airport in time to board our flight to Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island.
Hotel: Mercure Grand St. Moritz Suites
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

 This evening we'll enjoy dinner and duplicate with members of the Queenstown Bridge Club "Way Down Under!"
Day 10 Queenstown
  An enchanting land of mountains, forests, fjords and lakes, Queenstown is one of the earth’s most scenically breathtaking areas. Our tour this morning will explore Queenstown and historic nearby Arrowtown. Tonight, we journey across Lake Wakatipu by vintage steamboat T.S.S. Earnslaw to the Walter Peak sheep station. Enjoy a superb high country dinner at the Colonel's Homestead after an interesting tour of the station itself.
Hotel: Mercure Grand St. Moritz Suites
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11 Queenstown

Take a day-excursion to Milford Sound
Today enjoy a free day to explore Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound, by land, air or sea. Gigantic valleys carved by glaciers, 400 year-old forests, cascading waterfalls, schools of playful dolphins and towering peaks are just a few of the sights. For the less adventurous, take a whitewater ride on a Shotover Jetboat or "Crack the canyon" bungy jumping off a suspension bridge!
Hotel: Mercure Grand St. Mortiz Suites
Meal(s): Breakfast

 Once again, we join our new friends at the Queenstown Bridge Club for a friendly game of duplicate bridge.
Day 12 Queenstown - Melbourne
  Morning transfer to Queenstown airport, and off to Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island. We will be taken on an afternoon sightseeing tour of this city, founded as a model English settlement in the 1840's. Neatly tended houses, gardens, cathedral, square, and the gentle willow-lined River Avon all bring to mind an English provincial town. Later this afternoon, once again airport-bound, our flight takes us over the Southern Alps of New Zealand and across the Tasman Sea to Melbourne, our first destination in Australia.
Hotel: Grand Hyatt
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 13 Melbourne
  This morning we discover the city sights on a half-day tour of this most elegant of Australia's cities. The capital of the State of Victoria and home to 25% of Australia's total population, Melbourne is known for its parks, gardens and classical mansions. Scenery galore awaits this afternoon as we head into the spectacular Dandenong Ranges.
Hotel: Grand Hyatt
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

 Enjoy a fun team game tonight with our own group at our hotel, directed by Fred Theurkauf.
Day 14 Melbourne

Watch the Fairy Penguins parade
After a leisurely breakfast, we will be guided through the Victorian Arts Centre, which houses theaters, a concert hall, the Performing Arts Museum and the National Gallery of Victoria. This afternoon we board our motor coach for a drive south to Phillip Island for a chance to view Koalas in their natural environment. Plus, we’ll get an up-close view of the world-famous Fairy Penguins as thousands of these loveable creatures come out of the ocean at dusk and waddle across the beach to their burrows in the sand. We’ll enjoy a hot lobster dinner in the quaint town of Cowes, on the island, before returning to our hotel.
Hotel: Grand Hyatt
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 15 Melbourne - Canberra
  Transfer to Melbourne Airport for our flight to Canberra, Australia's capital. On arrival we take a city tour. Sights include Mt. Ainslie Lookout, the Australian War Memorial, the magnificent new Parliament House, the High Court and the diplomatic embassies.
Hotel: Hyatt Hotel
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

 Julia Hoffman, President of the Canberra Bridge Association, has personally organized "Aussie-American Night in Canberra." Following dinner with local Aussies, we will join them for an evening's duplicate.
Day 16 Canberra - Leura

A magical setting at the Fairmont Resort
Early departure this a.m. for the Blue Mountains and the luxurious Fairmont Resort. We stop en route at the quaint village of Berrima, a great spot to shop for authentic Australian souvenirs. This afternoon, walk to a breathtaking scenic overlook, or simply relax amid the natural beauty of the Blue Mountains surrounding our resort hotel. Tonight, we’ll enjoy a gourmet dinner together at our resort.
Hotel: Peppers Fairmont Resort
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 17 Leura - Sydney

Meet a Koala at the Featherdale Sanctuary
This morning we head for Sydney, making our way through majestic Blue Mountains National Park. This afternoon, visit Sydney’s famous Featherdale Wildlife Sanctuary to meet native Australian wildlife. Hand-feed a kangaroo, wallaby or emu and enjoy a hug with a koala!
Hotel: Sydney Harbour Marriott
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

 "Sydneysiders" from the Lindfield Bridge Club (the 2nd largest club in the world) have planned a special evening for us, featuring a "get acquainted" dinner and friendly session of duplicate bridge.
Day 18 Sydney
  Morning at leisure. This afternoon we depart for King’s Street Wharf for a wonderful luncheon and harbor cruise aboard Majistic Cruises. Take in the sites of the most magnificent harbor in the Southern Hemisphere. Don't forget your camera - Sydney Harbor is spectacular! OPTIONAL: Enjoy an exciting evening at the Sydney Opera House including a short tour of the complex, gourmet dinner overlooking the Harbour and a live performance.
Hotel: Sydney Harbour Marriott
Meal(s): Breakfast
Day 19 Sydney

Enjoy views of beautiful Sydney Harbour
After a late breakfast, the "First City of Australia" awaits. Our Sydney city tour takes us to Bondi Beach, Harbor Bridge, King's Cross, and the historic Rocks area where the First Fleet landed in 1788 to establish Australia’s first European settlement. This evening we join Fred Theurkauf for a Farewell Dinner on the waterfront overlooking the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Opera House. This special dinner will be a pleasant end to a great vacation "Down Under" as we toast to new friends and great experiences.
Hotel: Sydney Harbour Marriott
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 20 Sydney - USA
  Transfer to Sydney International Airport for your homeward flight. See ya, Mates!
Meal(s): Breakfast

Your 20-Day Package Includes

 Round-trip international air via QANTAS Airways from Los Angeles

 All internal air travel while in New Zealand & Australia

 Deluxe, air-conditioned motor coach

 Personally selected, 4 & 5-star hotels with twin or double-bedded rooms and private bath

 34 Meals including 17 full breakfasts (B), 2 lunches (L) and 15 dinners (D)

 Ten (10) special social bridge evenings with local players including dinner and duplicate.

 Airport transfers & hotel porterage.

 Services of full-time tour manager throughout.

 Bridge expenses including card fees & prizes.

 ACBL Masterpoints will be issued by Finesse West Tours at all bridge games.

Breathtaking Michaelmas Cay
Great Barrier Reef Extension

Dates: May 1 to 4, 2003
Cost: $1,124

Click here for a full-color brochure.