2013 Australia-New Zealand

On October 28, 2013, join Fred Theurkauf on our 8th sightseeing and bridge-playing holiday to the lands of kiwi, koala and kangaroo. We'll fly AIR NEW ZEALAND 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. Then, it's on to Australia for 10 fun days 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 to fun Polynesian 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 dining and bridge hosted by the Aussies & Kiwis.

Dates: October 28 to November 17, 2013 - 21 days
Cost: $9,756.00


Tour Schedule
Day 1 Depart U.S.A.
  Bound for New Zealand, we leave Los Angeles this evening on our international Air New Zealand 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: Rendezvous Grand
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4 Auckland
  After breakfast we depart for a morning of sightseeing in Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand. From high atop the Sky Tower, you will see breathtaking views of the city and the harbor waters, before heading for historic sites. We finish at world-famous Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World.
Hotel: Rendezvous Grand
Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch

 This afternoon, we are guests of the North Shore Bridge Club. Local players are hosting us to lunch and our first session of duplicate "Down Under."
Day 5 Auckland - Cambridge
  Today, we’ll drive south over the Bombay Hills and along the Waikato River to Cambridge. We’ll stop near Matamata for a tour of the Hobbiton movie set from “Lord of the Rings” fame. This evening is a real treat and a New Zealand tradition. 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, we'll enjoy lunch & duplicate as invited guests of the Cambridge Bridge Club players.
Day 6 Cambridge - 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 Waitomo, we travel through extensive forests before reaching New Zealand’s largest fresh water lake - beautiful Lake Taupo.
Hotel: Hilton - Lake Taupo
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 a heavily forested geothermal region to the Waimangu Valley. With a local guide, we’ll walk down this active area with geysers & hot pools created by the eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886. We rejoin our coach for a short journey to Rotorua. Tonight we participate in a fun Maori "Hangi" dinner. Traditionally, this meal is steamed over hot stones for hours. After our feast, we'll watch local Maoris perform traditional songs and war dances. Join in the festivities.
Hotel: Millennium Rotorua
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8 Rotorua
  Rotorua is the center of a vast geothermal region, where steaming, sulfurous lakes give evidence of nature's fascinating power. Besides these natural phenomena, today's sightseeing includes sheep shearing and working sheep dogs as well as fascinating Maori cultural activities.
Hotel: Millennium Rotorua
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 - Queenstown
After a leisurely morning, we transfer to the Rotorua Airport in time to board our flight to Queenstown, as our N.Z. adventure continues on to the South Island.
Hotel: St. Moritz
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, forest, fjords and lakes, this morning we visit Queenstown, one of the earth's most scenically breathtaking areas. In the afternoon we’ll head for Arrowtown, a charming & quaint village once famous for gold mining. Tonight we journey across Lake Wakatipu, on the 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 sheep station itself.
Hotel: St. Moritz
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11 Queenstown
 

Take a day-excursion to Milford Sound
Today enjoy a free day to explore Milford Sound by land, air or sea. Gigantic valleys carved by glaciers, 400 year- old forests, waterfalls, schools of dolphins & towering peaks are just a few of the sights. For the more adventurous, take a whitewater ride in a Shotover Jet boat or "crack the canyon" bungy jumping off the Shotover suspension bridge. This exciting town is an adventurer’s paradise.
Hotel: St. Moritz
Meal(s): Breakfast

 This evening, join Finesse West for a duplicate game just with our own group at the hotel. Fred is directing.
Day 12 Queenstown - Melbourne
  After a leisurely morning relaxing at our alpine hotel overlooking Lake Wakatipu, we’ll transfer to the Queenstown Airport at mid-day for our international flight across the Tasman Sea to Melbourne, our first destination in Australia. On arrival and completion of immigration we’ll be transferred to our hotel, where dinner awaits us.
Hotel: Vibe Savoy
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 13 Melbourne
 

Melbourne's Victorian Arts Centre
This morning we discover the city sights on a half-day tour of Melbourne, the cultural hub of Australia and known for all the good things in life: fashion, food, entertainment and sport. On tour, we won’t miss Town Hall, opulent St. Paul’s Cathedral, Federation Square, Fitzroy Gardens, and bustling Victoria Market. This is a city of style and architecture, trams and theater.
Hotel: Vibe Savoy
Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch

 We’ll head for the suburbs this afternoon to enjoy the hospitality of locals for luncheon and duplicate at the Waverly Bridge Club. Enjoy an Aussie welcome to Australia.
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. We’ll stop in route to spot koalas in their natural habitat, before enjoying an early Italian dinner together at Pino’s Trattoria. Then it’s off to watch the world-famous fairy penguins. We’ll get close and view hundreds of these loveable creatures coming out of the ocean at dusk. It’s a sight to behold!
Hotel: Vibe Savoy
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 15 Melbourne - Canberra
  Transfer to Melbourne Airport for our flight to Canberra, Australia's capital. After a short lunch, we’ll do some touring before arriving at our hotel. We’ll see the spectacular War Memorial, The Lodge, the Prime Minister’s residence and the beautiful tree-lined streets of embassies & diplomatic homes.
Hotel: Novotel Canberra
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

 The president of the A.C.T. Bridge Association has personally organized "Aussie-American Night in Canberra." Following dinner with local members, we will join them for an evening's duplicate.
Day 16 Canberra
 

View from Mount Ainslie - Canberra
We’ll continue to tour this morning with a drive up Mount Ainslie for expansive views of the capital. Keep a look out for kangaroos on the way up. We tour the new Parliament House and hopefully visit the Chamber of the Lower House. We drive on to see the High Court of Australia, the National Gallery & the National Science and Technology Centre.
Hotel: Novotel Canberra
Meal(s): Breakfast

 This afternoon, join Fred for a session of bridge right here at our hotel.
Day 17 Canberra - The Blue Mountains
 

A magical setting at the Fairmont Resort
Early departure this a.m. for the Blue Mountains and the Fairmont Resort. We’ll stop in Goulburn for a hearty breakfast at Rosie’s Café. Then it’s on through the Southern Highlands before reaching the Blue Mountains and our resort. The afternoon will be free for relaxing and enjoying the breathtaking scenery surrounding our hotel or soaking in the outdoor Jacuzzi with our group. Tonight we'll enjoy dinner at the resort.
Hotel: Fairmont Blue Mountains Resort
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 18 The Blue Mountains - Sydney
 
"Sydneysiders" from the Trumps Bridge Club have planned a dinner and a “Draw for Aussie Teammates” event tonight. You’ll sit with your local teammates during dinner, just to be social.
This morning we make our way to the Featherdale Wildlife Park, which houses the largest private collection of Australian wildlife. You’ll even be allowed to feed kangaroos, wallabies or emu. Here's your chance to actually hug a koala! Then it’s on to lively Sydney.
Hotel: Old Sydney Holiday Inn - The Rocks
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 19 Sydney
 

Enjoy views of beautiful Sydney Harbour
At mid-day, join Fred for a short walk to Jetty 6 at Circular Quay. There, we'll board a Captain Cook Harbor Cruiser for buffet lunch & cruise on the Southern Hemisphere’s most magnificent harbor. Don't forget your camera!
OPTIONAL: Enjoy a spectacular evening at the Sydney Opera House including a short tour of the complex, a gourmet dinner and a live performance of your choosing.
Hotel: Old Sydney Holiday Inn - The Rocks
Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch
Day 20 Sydney
  After a late breakfast, the "First City of Australia" awaits. Our Sydney tour takes us to Bondi, Tamarama, and Bronte beaches; Double Bay; Paddington's Terrace & King's Cross. View the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge from Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, before continuing to Darling Harbour. This evening join Fred for Farewell Cocktails & Dinner on the waterfront overlooking the Opera House. This special dinner will be a pleasant end to a great vacation "Down Under."
Hotel: Old Sydney Holiday Inn - The Rocks
Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
Day 21 Sydney - USA
  For those not continuing on to the Great Barrier Reef, transfer to Sydney International Airport for your homeward flight. See ya, Mates!
Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Your 21-Day Package Includes

 Round-trip international air via Air New Zealand 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

 39 Meals including 19 full breakfasts (B), 5 lunches (L) and 15 dinners (D)

 Nine (9) special social bridge evenings with local players including dinner or lunch 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.





Ocean Spirit II heading for the Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef Extension

Dates: November 17 to 20, 2013
Cost: $1,364



Your 4-Day Extension Package Includes

 3 Nights at the Hilton Cairns Resort


 3 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch and 2 Dinners


 Sail the Ocean Spirit II Catamaran to breathtaking Michaelmas Cay on the Great Barrier Reef.



 “Ride the Rail” past waterfalls & cliffs into the Kuranda Rainforest including a visit to the Tjapukai aboriginal village.


 Enjoy two (2) sessions of duplicate including a BBQ & bridge with the local Aussies.


 Included airfare on Virgin Australia


Click here for a full-color brochure.