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12 Day Heart of the Pacific: Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the Cook Islands

12 Days (11 Nights) | From $6705

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland, New Zealand

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Upon arrival in Auckland you will be transferred to your downtown accommodation. New Zealand's largest city, blending harbour islands, Polynesian culture and a vibrant city centre, Auckland has been ranked amongst top in the world as a lifestyle city.

Overnight: Rydges Hotel Auckland (Dinner)


Day 2: Auckland, New Zealand

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This morning we begin our tour of Auckland. Travelling via Auckland's 'Golden Mile' (Queen Street), our tour takes us through the university grounds past many of Auckland's historical buildings. We will make a stop at the Parnell Rose Garden before continuing to Parnell Village, the Central Business District, the Mission Bay area, Tamaki Drive, and the Harbour Bridge before our visit to the Auckland Museum. Three expansive levels tell the story of New Zealand's history, from emergence as a nation through the loss and suffering of war, to their uniquely ancient natural history and priceless Maori and Pacific treasures.

Overnight: Rydges Hotel Auckland (Breakfast, Dinner)


Day 3: Auckland – Nouméa, New Caledonia

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This morning we fly to New Caledonia which comprises of the main island La Grand Terre, which is over 400 km long, and the Loyalty Islands and also the Isle of Pines which lies directly to the south of the main island. Nouméa, the capital city is located near the southern tip of Grand Terre. The local Melanesian people, the Kanaks, have been inhabitants for over 3,000 years and the French from the 1840’s; New Caledonia is a wonderful melting pot of cultures, tastes and colours. From the bustling atmosphere of the Port Moselle markets to sophisticated French boutiques, classic colonial architecture to the unique Kanak culture, Nouméa abounds with things to do and places to explore. We start with a drive to the vantage point is Ouen Toro hill (132m) located in the heart of town reached by a road that winds to the summit. Two cannons stand guard here, leftovers from an Australian artillery unit stationed on Ouen Toro for seven months during WWII. From the summit, we can see all of Anse Vata, the nearby islands, and lighthouses. Nouméa has various architectural styles with quaint wooden cottages existing alongside art deco properties from the 1930's and the cylindrical volumes and flat roofs of the sixties. On our walking tour around one of New Caledonia's oldest neighbourhoods of Faubourg Blanchot or Vallée des Colons we will see colonial mansions, simple wooden cottages and homes adorned with pretty ironwork and gardens of hibiscus and bougainvillea.

Overnight: Hotel Le Lagon (Breakfast, Dinner)


Day 4: Nouméa, New Caledonia

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This morning we visit the Port Moselle where we will find locals shopping for island produce and the day’s fresh catch. In the luxuriant gardens, under the shade of flame trees in La Place des Cocotiers with its famous bandstand the Nouméens love to stroll or enjoy a quick lunch or just rest for a while. This attractive gardened square at the heart of the city of Nouméa is the perfect spot to watch the world go by. Here Kanak ladies braid hair and many sit to read the Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes daily newspaper. Most afternoons in Place de Cocotiers you will see men playing petanque, a French bowling game in which metal balls the size of baseballs are thrown, not rolled, at other balls.The goal is to get as close as possible to a small wooden ball called cochonnet. At over 400 km in length, New Caledonia has so much to see and explore. Today, we drive to the Blue River Provincial Park (La Rivière Bleue), a scenic 45 minutes drive away from Nouméa. Here, the iron oxide rich soil turns crimson and nickel, a fundamental element, gives life to thousands of plants species and endemic animal like the famous bird of New Caledonia, the Cagou.

Overnight: Hotel Le Lagon (Breakfast, Dinner)


Day 5: Isle of Pines Day Trip

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The southernmost of the Caledonian islands is situated almost on the Tropic of and this location gives the island a very mild climate. James Cook set down his anchor on its coasts in 1774. It was the English admiral who gave the island its name, due to its abundance of New Caledonia pines with their characteristic slender silhouettes. Accessible by boat, the island has long been one of New Caledonia’s most visited locations, without losing anything of its soul or authenticity. The centre of the island is occupied by a slightly raised plateau whose highest point is N’ga Peak (262 m), which offers breathtaking views, but Isle of Pines owes its fame to its bays above all else. We return to Nouméa late in the afternoon.

Overnight: Hotel Le Lagon (Breakfast, Dinner)


Day 6: Nouméa – Port Vila, Vanuatu

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Today we fly from Nouméa to Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. With a population of approximately 221,000, Vanuatu boasts 113 distinct languages and innumerable dialects. This makes Vanuatu one of the most culturally diverse countries on earth. This amazing diversity is a result of thousands of years of sporadic immigration from many Pacific countries. Over the millennia, natural boundaries; large open stretches of water, dense jungle and mountainous terrain, isolated many groups, even from the same ethnic origins, from each other. And isolation bred not just warfare, but quite different, sophisticated societies and political systems. This afternoon after our arrival we will tour the town of Port Vila, the capital and largest town of Vanuatu. We will see the Parliament House, the Cultural Centre (Museum), Hospital, Schools, French and British jailhouses etc. We will explore some of the most picturesque spots in town. Learn about the colonial years of French and British rule, and visit local handicraft and vegetable markets.

Overnight: Melanesian Resort (Breakfast, Dinner)


Day 7: Tanna Island Day Trip

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Today we will enjoy a scenic adventure to one of the world's most accessible active volcanoes! Our Yasur Volcano exploration starts with a scenic one-hour flight to Tanna Island. This journey takes in the spectacular views of Port Vila Harbour, South Efate and Erromango with its beautiful coastline. On the approach to White Grass Airport in Tanna you will have a great view of the magnificent landscape of Tanna Island. Here we will be met by our friendly 4WD Safari staff and taken to a local resort for some refreshments. Our Volcano Tour begins with a 4WD journey across the island, passing local villages, dense native bush, stunning views and passing over volcanic ash plains as we approach Yasur Volcano. Once we reach the summit it is a short 10-minute uphill walk to the rim of the crater, where we will experience the awesome power of the world's most accessible active volcano! This ancient volcano is conspicuously located in one of the most pristine, unspoiled corners of the globe. The Island of Tanna is a natural paradise and a favorite destination for volcanologists and adventure travelers. In the local native dialect, Yasur means 'Old Man'. This volcano is 361 meters above sea level, and the crater itself is 300 meters wide and 100 meters deep. Visiting Mount Yasur is a 'once in a lifetime' experience, and your opportunity to watch nature at work.

Overnight: Melanesian Resort (Breakfast, Dinner)


Day 8: Port Vila – Auckland, New Zealand

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Most species of plants and animals native to the South Pacific originated in Southeast Asia and worked their way eastward across the Pacific, by natural distribution or in the company of humans. The number of native species diminishes the farther east one goes. Very few local plants or animals came from the Americas, the one notable exception being the sweet potato, which may have been brought back from South America by voyaging Polynesians. This morning we will visit the stunning Summit Gardens, the largest tropical garden in the South Pacific. Here we find 10 hectares of gardens that showcase thousands of different botanic species from all over the world. These species include water plants, succulents, orchids, bromeliads, heliconias, palms, cycads and fruit trees. As well, we will enjoy the sights, scents and sounds of the sandalwood industry that has provided a livelihood for over 200 years in Vanuatu. Nearby is a large sandalwood plantation with over 120,000 trees! At the end of our guided tour of the gardens we may take a break here to enjoy tea or a snack in the garden. We may also visit the small Tanna Coffee factory. The Tanna Coffee Development Company was first established in 1982 in order to assist in the development of the newly independent South Pacific nation of Vanuatu. Though the coffee is grown on nearby Tanna Island, it is transported here for roasting and packaging. We later return to Port Vila from where we fly back to Nouméa in order to connect with our onward flight to Auckland.

Overnight: Rydges Hotel Auckland (Breakfast, Dinner)


Day 9: Auckland – Rarotonga, Cook Islands

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The 15 Cook Islands lie halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii. No chain restaurants or brand hotels. It’s a place preserved in time yet still blessed with all the modern amenities of today. Rarotonga is the vibrant centre of the Cook Islands, 32km in circumference the island is dominated by high mountain peaks, lush rainforest and a palm fringed shoreline. We arrive in Rarotonga mid afternoon and have the evening to explore the town on a walking tour.

Overnight: Edgewater Resort (Breakfast, Dinner)


Day 10: Rarotonga, Cook Islands

This morning, we will be guided by one of the fun tuk-tuk drivers to give us an experience that takes in the history of the Cook Islands and includes local demonstrations, visiting tourist attractions, and getting a taste of island life. On our all electric tuk-tuk we will visit places as The Tinomana Palace, Maire Nui Botanical Gardens, Rito organic Virgin Coconut Oil Factory, Muri Lagoon, Avana, Takamoa Theological College as well as local island art and craft shops along the way. There is nowhere else in the South Pacific where we can experience the open air and silence of an electric vehicle that lets us immerse ourselves in the tropical surroundings. This afternoon, we have an interesting nature walk with a Cook Islands institution, Pa, whose interesting tales will bring the islands folklore to life.

Overnight: Edgewater Resort (Breakfast, Dinner)


Day 11: Rarotonga, Cook Islands

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Today we join other travellers on a 3.5 hour long lagoon cruise on a glass bottom boat. The tour includes a cruise through Muri Lagoon to a marine reserve with giant clams, and colourful tropical fish. A delicious fish bbq feast with tropical salads and in-season fruits on beautiful Motu Koromiri ("no touching" island) as well as a cultural experience with awesome coconut tree climbing demonstration and ukelele playing and singalong by the crew are part of a fun day.

Overnight: Edgewater Resort (Breakfast, Lunch)


Day 12: Rarotonga – Auckland, New Zealand

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An early transfer to Rarotonga airport followed by a 3.5 hour flight back to Auckland and then connect with your international flight home.

(Breakfast)

Tour Includes: 11 nights of accommodation (4 star), professional Tour Leader, guided sightseeing with local specialist guides, airfare between islands, private minibus travel, airport transfers in Auckland and Rarotonga, 22 meals: 11 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 10 dinners.

Highlights:

  • Auckland City Tour
  • Nouméa Walking Tour
  • Port Moselle
  • La Place des Cocotiers
  • Blue River Provincial Park
  • Isle of Pines
  • Port Vila Sightseeing Tour
  • Yasur Volcano Tour
  • Tanna Island
  • Summit Gardens
  • Rarotonga Walking Tour
  • Electric Tuk-Tuk Tour
  • Cook Islands Lagoon Cruise
12 Day Heart of the Pacific
Style: Tour of Distinction Start: Auckland
Days: 12   End: Auckland
         
Start End Code Double/Twin Single
       
    Rates and Dates to come!    
         
Pricing is per person
CAD (taxes included)
 
Note: Interisland flights included. A mandatory single surcharge may apply to this tour if you have selected our Twin Share Program and we cannot find a share partner.

What is a Tour of Distinction?


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