South Pacific Islands with White-Sand Beaches and Geothermal Formations
The volcanic islands of New Zealand and Fiji are stranded more than 1,000 miles off the eastern Australian coast. The remoteness of the two islands allowed them to develop in relative isolation for a long period of time, and they were some of last lands on earth to be discovered by hunter-gatherers from Asia. These settlers found untouched sand beaches, mountainous interiors populated by exotic birds and mammals, and powerful geothermal hot springs, volcanic crater lakes, and geysers.
There is still an exotic, unexplored feel to these places. On a 12-day, 9-night tour from PacificIslands.com, you can experience the pristine natural landscape of New Zealand and Fiji and then settle into modern accommodations in bustling city centers. The package includes round-trip economy-class airfare from Los Angeles and an executive-sedan car rental for the duration of your stay in New Zealand. Click here for more information on the trip and additional upgrade options available.
Days 1–3: After flying across the International Date Line and under the International Limbo Pole, you’ll arrive at Auckland Airport (AKL) and pick up your rental car, an executive sedan. From here, you'll drive a half hour to the Copthorne Hotel Auckland City, set in the heart of New Zealand’s largest and most populous city. The hotel is just a short walk from boutique shopping along Queen Street and the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, home to more than 15,000 pieces of modern and contemporary art, including works by Maori and other Pacific Islanders.
Days 4–5: On the way to Rotorua, stop off at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, about a 2.5-hour drive south, where you can take a guided boat tour along underground rivers and caves that are illuminated by thousands of tiny glowworms. From here, it's a 90-mile (135 km) drive west to Rotorua, which is lined with hot springs, volcanic crater lakes, and geysers. You can see these geothermal formations on a self-guided walking tour at Waimangu Volcanic Valley, just a 20-minute drive away from the city proper. You’ll also have easy access to watersports at Lake Taupo, historic Maori villages, and Zorb globe riding.
Day 6: Once you return to the Copthorne Hotel in Auckland, you're free to explore the city at your leisure. Waitemata Harbor is a nice spot to go kayaking, sailing, and fishing.
Days 7–8: The tour’s next leg brings you 150 miles (250 km) north to Paihia, a coastal town on the Bay of Islands. You can kick back on an outdoor deck and at the Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge Paihia and get a lovely view of the Pahlia Wharf, a turquoise inlet situated just 100 meters away. To fully experience the natural beauty here, it's worth it to take a boat trip; a number of fishing and sailing charters navigate the craggy waters of the Bay of Islands. While you’re here, travel to nearby Russell, one of the first European settlements in New Zealand, or journey 130 miles (215 km) north to Cape Reinga, the country’s northernmost point.
Days 9–11: An early-morning departure delivers your group to the Auckland Airport just in time to return rental cars and catch a 12:50 p.m. flight to Nadi Airport (NAN) in Fiji. From here, you’ll transfer to the Sonaisali Island Resort, an island paradise separated from the mainland by a small lagoon. The resort is just a three-minute boat ride away from the Fijian mainland if you want to take a day trip, but the resort itself has several onsite activities to keep you occupied, including cultural performances, windsurfing, and water bikes. As a group, you’ll embark on a guided jungle cruise along the Nadi River, passing dense mangroves, cane fields, and a bubbling thermal spring on the way.
Day 12: The group will depart Nadi (NAN) and return to Los Angeles (LAX).