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Travel Diary: Australia and New Zealand Adventure

Exclusive Resorts' Marco Sanmiguel recaps the first Once-in-a-Lifetime trip of 2023 — a 12-day journey in Australia and New Zealand.

Day 1

Our 12-day Once-in-a-Lifetime Journey to the land down under kicked off in Sydney. We started with a history lesson about the region via a 90-minute Historical Rocks Walking Tour. The Rocks is an important area and the oldest neighborhood in downtown Sydney. Everyone was passionate and eager to learn some Australian history before enjoying an afternoon of leisure. We enjoyed our first group dinner at the fabulous Woodcut Restaurant, located directly off the banks of the Sydney Harbour.

Day 2

Today the group split — half opted for the iconic Sydney Bridge Climb and the others opted for a surfing lesson. After the activities, the group had lunch at Bondi Fish House before a cruise through the Sydney Harbour via surprise water taxis.

Day 3

Members could not be more excited to spend 3-nights at the absolutely breathtaking qualia Resort and Spa — located just off the open waters of the Great Barrier Reef. We were met upon arrival with Sparkling Wine and an amazing, local lunch. That afternoon, Members took a golf cart (or buggy as the Aussie's call them) to visit a Kohala Sanctuary before a spectacular 3-course meal.

qualia is breathtaking
Views from the resort

Day 4

Today was spent under the Australian sun on a beautiful 82ft private Alani Yacht for a private cruise to Whitehaven Beach. The most famous beach in the Whitsunday archipelago, Whitehaven is a must-do. After a sun and fun-filled day on the water, Members were treated to a 6-course tasting menu with paired wines.

Day 5

Today Members had a choose your own adventure day. Options included a treatment at Spa qualia, 18-holes on the championship course at Hamilton Island Golf Club, or an exhilarating jet ski tour. Dinner at Pebble Beach — perfectly positioned on Hamilton Island's northernmost point — was the cherry on top of an amazing day.

Day 6

Members enjoyed a final breakfast at the gorgeous qualia before taking a private transfer to Auckland. Tonight, the group rests at the Park Hyatt Auckland, located right downtown with incredible views of the Harbour.

Day 7

After enjoying breakfast at the hotel, the group boarded a vessel to go to Waiheke Island for an adventured-filled day. The ziplining experience was unbelievable, flying over the vineyard on the island. After working up an appetite, the group enjoyed lunch at Mudbrick Winery, with beautiful views of Auckland off in the distance. To round out this amazing day, it seemed appropriate to surprise the members with a helicopter ride back to Auckland.

Flying high above the vineyard
Always traveling in style

Day 8

Today the group participated in a one-of-a-kind experience. The group climbed aboard a genuine America's Cup yacht and set sail on the sparkling waters of Auckland's Waitemata Harbor. It was a wonderful experience to feel the sensation of competing in this world-famous racing meet — the oldest and most prestigious sporting and yachting regatta.

Day 9

Members could not have been more excited to be spending the next 4-nights in beautiful Queenstown. We had a late afternoon arrival, followed by a wonderful dinner at Rata restaurant.

Day 10

The sunrise this morning welcomed us with open arms. We woke up at the Azur Lodge to crisp orange, purple, and gold colors shining proudly over The Remarkables Mountain Range. Later that day, the group experienced a sheep shearing demonstration on a working farm. After a great day on the farm, Members enjoyed a wonderful lunch and wine tasting at the world-renowned Cloudy Bay winery in the Central Otago region. From sunrise to sunset, we were continually in awe of Queenstown's natural beauty — including this full arc rainbow to top off the day.

Day 11

Today the group experienced some adventure with jet boating through the Dart River Valley. Immersed in an authentic New Zealand experience, surrounded by stunning scenery, the group explored the iconic, untouched landscape that is only accessible by boat. Deep into the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this scenic jetboat ride took Members through iconic landscapes, towering mountain ranges, and ancient native forests.

After lunch, Members took helicopters to Milford Sound — first landing on the beach and flying by one of the most beautiful waterfalls. Check it out below!

Exclusive Resorts Milford Sound Helicopter Experience

Day 12

Today the group had a final day of choosing your own adventure with options like golfing on the #62 rated course in the world, Jacks Point. We sat for a final meal at Botswana Butchery and recounted stories from the trip late into the night.

Farewell Mates!