Twelve Days of Christmas & New Year’s in Australia Tour

A 13 day trip to Australia 
4.81 out of 5 stars
735 reviews

Savor exotic Australian landscapes and treasured beaches while celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Down Under. Dive into the Coral Sea to explore the radiant submarine life of the Great Barrier Reef on Christmas Eve. Relish a New Year’s Eve of decadent cuisine accompanied by an enchanting Opera Gala in the Sydney Opera House. Listen to stories of Dreamtime told on protected Aboriginal lands and dig your toes into the soothing sand of Bondi beach while surfers wearing Santa hats glide beneath crashing waves. Your customizable tour immerses you in the gift of Australia, which you unwrap at your desired pace.  

Customize This Trip For Me
Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Blue Mountain National Park in Sydney, Australia.
Beach in Port Douglas, Australia.
Stunning sunset over Port Douglas, Australia.
Aerial view of Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Fireworks on New Years Eve in Sydney.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Port Douglas, Mossman Gorge, Great Barrier Reef, Sydney, Blue Mountains 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Home – Like Santa on His Sleigh

Australia conjures images of pristine beaches and kangaroos hopping across an open landscape with the sun setting in the horizon. You board the Virgin Australia flight from Los Angeles International Airport and ascend into the expansive blue sky to cross the Pacific Ocean. The days have slowly passed as you have been counting them down, eagerly awaiting your flight. The shores of California quickly fade, replaced by the luminescent cobalt waters of the ocean and the streaks of drifting clouds. Soon you will discover the true nature of Australia beyond the iconic Red Dessert. The water swells with rainbow colored coral. The beaches shimmer with warm waters splashing against golden sands. You fly through the air like Santa on his sleigh traversing the globe in time for Christmas.

Day 2: En Route – Sunrise on the Horizon

The flight crew on Virgin Australia has helped make your time on board the plane comfortable and elegant. Today you cross the International Dateline, which propels everyone on board into the future by a single day, taking you past the eastern point over which the sun first rises in the morning. You have already crossed over the Equator, bringing you from the chilly days of winter into the refreshing warmth of summer. In the distance, you can make out silhouettes of islands rising from the Pacific Ocean. Soon the shores of Australia will come in to view, leaving the vast ocean reaching toward the horizon.

Day 3: Port Douglas – Reserving Australia Near Christmas

The lush rainforest flourishes in the west as the radiant Great Barrier Reef sparkles in the east. Puffy clouds create a fleeting veil over the plateau of Atherton Tableland. The esplanade fills with social activity, from the lively restaurants to a seafront-swimming lagoon. Locals cycle along the pathways and roll through the sunken pools of the skate park. Your flight lands at Cairns International Airport, where your private transfer meets you at baggage claim. The beauty of Australia strikes you immediately as the airport stands between the rising slopes of the mountains and the stretching cobalt hues of the Pacific Ocean. The tropical summer warmth hangs in the air. Your transfer escorts you out of Cairns en route to the neighboring northern town of Port Douglas.

The coastal road winds in and out of the panoramas of elegant shorelines and hills draped in verdant rainforest. Palm trees and mango trees speckle the soft, gold-sand beaches. Charming cafes and boutique shops open in town against the backdrop of blond sand glistening across Four Mile Beach. Your eco-friendly lodge at Thala Beach Nature Reserve blends into the trees. The private headland offers resort style living in both luxury and views. A graceful lobby constructed of wood and polished stone tile establishes the ambiance of opulence and relaxation. The lush jungle encircles your private suite offering the feeling of seclusion. Indulge in the beauty of your resort-style accommodation spread across 145 acres, with over one mile of private coastline.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation 

Day 4: Port Douglas – Christmas Eve on the Reef

In the morning, the sunlight washes over the gold sand of the private beach and spreads to the verdant trees of the rainforest. Blue Argus butterflies flutter their radiant wings, contrasting the surrounding greenery. The double-eyed fig parrot produces a high-pitched, short call echoing beneath the canopy. At breakfast, you sit in the restaurant located in the treetops offering a superb view of the palm trees along the shoreline. You have a private transfer meet you in the lobby and escort you to the marina of Port Douglas for your full day tour of the Great Barrier Reef, just in time for Christmas Eve.

Board a 147-foot yacht and cruise upwards of 45 miles per hour to visit Agincourt Reef to experience the Outer Barrier Reef. The ocean breeze wafts against your cheeks, carrying a briny mist. The shoreline disappears behind you. The Great Barrier Reef is in fact a collection of nearly 3,000 separate reefs encompassing 1,600 miles. The Agincourt Reef is a small collection of reefs parallel with the Continental Shelf near the drop off reaching a depth of 1,640 feet. A marine biologist accompanies the group eager to answer any questions about the coral or aquatic life seen while in the water.

From the boat, you can see the surreal colors of the reef below. You don your snorkel and mask and hop into the water. The warm Coral Sea enraptures you. Sea anemones wave in the gentle current, as clown fish hide between the tentacles. Sea fans move with elegance against the water pushing back and forth, as angelfish swirl around you. The subaquatic world becomes a dance of color and light with the sun able to pierce more than 600 feet below the ocean’s surface. The coral emanates the colors of the rainbow, including the red and white hues associated with Christmas.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, accommodation

Day 5: Port Douglas – Summertime Christmas

In the morning, the blue-winged kookaburra calls out in the jungle brush. The bird reaches a height of 16 inches tall and has a flourish of indigo feathers on the wings with cerulean tail feathers and strikingly white eyes. The call sounds like an uproarious laugh, bringing a jovial air to Christmas day. A yellow parasail floats in the distance, breaking the blending blues of the sky and ocean. Before your spectacular Christmas lunch, you can wander through the garden-like landscape spreading across the acreage of the resort. The forest trees rise up from the sand dunes, which act like a dividing line between the coastline and the rainforest.

Eucalyptus trees provide a refreshing aroma blending with the semi-sweet hints of the ocean. A weaver rests in its nest, dangling from a tree branch. The bird’s bright yellow plumage contrasts with its black mast and bill. The refreshing warmth of an Australian summer feels far different from the usual cold air of Christmas back home. The sunlight feels comfortable on your skin. At lunch, you arrive in the dining room to find a traditional Australian feast. Christmas lights glint around dining room, strung between the wooden posts. The aroma of honey glazed ham and ruby prawns emanate from the kitchen. You sip a glass of chilled sparkling wine, accented by the aroma of fresh mint from mojitos. The coral hues of the sea shimmer in the sunlight framed by the verdant foliage, snapping an unforgettable picture of Christmas in Australia.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, accommodation

Day 6: Port Douglas – Dreamtime after Christmas Time 

You look into the trees to spot another weaver’s nest dangling from a thin branch near your window. The bird weaves twigs, fallen leaves, and any material it can carry to build a nest deemed acceptable by its female companion. The bird carries on without noticing you watching from the window. The shops of Port Douglas have opened for Boxing Day, with locals eager to enter the boutique stores and enjoy the seaside restaurants. After breakfast, you have a private transfer to Mossman Gorge, an area connected to the traditions of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people.

A trail loops through the rainforest near the Mossman River, creating a nearly two mile long pathway. Indigo wings of Ulysses butterflies flurry past the trees. Boyd’s forest dragons perch on tree trunks and blend in with the brown and gray bark. They can grow to more than 18 inches long when including the length of their tail, which encompasses more than half their body length. Spurwood trees and ferns grow alongside the trail with flowering Pittosporums, dripping sticky nectar from the seedlings sprouting on the branches.

Your Aboriginal guide from the Kuku Yalanji tribe leads you through the forest, pointing out the hidden fauna and flora utilized by the community for millennia. Bush turkeys run through the jungle brush. The trees meander across the coastal lowlands to the steep edges of he valley. Cold, crystalline water cascades down smooth boulders connecting to the Mossman River. In a secluded region of the forest, your guide teaches you the techniques of making soap from the brush by hand, along with how to squeeze ochre hues from the soil to make lasting paint.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 7: Port Douglas – A Restful Day in Nature

You have fallen into the habit of looking out your window in the morning in search of butterflies drifting past or birds swooping through the canopy. The opulent view into the wondrous life of the rainforest allows you to observe unhindered, while relaxing in the comforts of your room. Today the luxuries of northeastern Australia is at your leisure, offering you the chance to experience the shores, trees, or streets around Port Douglas at your whim and pleasure. Stay on the nature reserve and relish a unique coconut tour or follow a guide through the native flora on a nature walk.

You could also bask in the sun, sand, and surf on the private beach connected to the property. For a unique view of the rainforest, you can take a trip to Kuranda, a charming town located on the Atherton Tableland plateau. The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway leads from Cairns to Kuranda, traveling a distance of more than four miles. The gondola glides through the canopy and passes over the treetops, offering you a different view of the rainforest. The canopy rises and falls like a rolling hills guiding your eye to the coastal plain, pristine shoreline, and edging mountains.

The summer warmth fills the streets of Kuranda. The aroma of grilling sausages emanates from German Tucker Wursthouse, a restaurant serving various types of delicious sausages. A crafts market displays the local artisans shaping the jewelry of the region, along with intimate sculptures telling tales of Aboriginal folklore. You wander along the Rainforest Canopy Walk for a remarkable stroll through the upper levels of the trees. The sunlight pierces through the leaves before the trees open to a lookout, providing a spectacular view of Barron Falls. The cascade twists and turns along the rock face, reaching a height of 410 feet with four distinct drops. 

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation 

Day 8: Sydney – Lifestyles of between Christmas and a New Year

At breakfast, you enjoy the refreshing taste of hot, black tea with a twist of lemon while gazing out the open wall to the sea. The water can’t help but remind you of the best gift you’ve received so far this Christmas: a perfect view of the Great Barrier Reef within arm’s reach. After your meal, you have a private transfer to Cairns International Airport. The short flight touches down at Sydney Airport, where your private transfer awaits your arrival. Sydney represents Australia’s oldest city, which was founded in the 1780s. The iconic Harbor Bridge arches over the water and frames the promontory supporting Sydney’s Opera House, both located near the doorstep of your luxurious accommodation.

The vibrant heart of downtown Sydney surrounds you and the windows open to views of boats gliding across the water. The Christmas spirit continues to fill the streets with lights strung between the high rises and along the streets near Darling Harbor. The Rocks, a shopping district commemorating the spot on which the first European settlers arrived in Australia, stands close to your hotel. Sandstone warehouses now hold a collection of local pubs, residences, and boutique shops. The aromas of decadent chocolate and airy macaroons emanate from La Renaissance Patisserie. Cyclists follow the road around the coastline and soak in the spectacular views of the city. Over 100 different heritage sites frame the narrow streets, including a home erected in the early 19th century.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 9: Sydney – A Summertime Christmas Time on Land and Sea  

The Royal Botanic Gardens blossom in the summertime, offering a sweet aroma of roses and indigenous Australian flora drifting across the 74-acre space. The sandstone rock known as Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair was cut into a bench in the 19th century. The Governess of New South Wales would watch the ships arrive and depart the port from the vantage point of the rock. It continues to offer a marvelous view of the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, and colorful gardens in bloom in a single panorama.

After breakfast, you meet your skipper aboard a marvelous 52-foot yacht. You sip a freshly brewed tea as the boat weighs anchor and cruises along the coastline. Sailboats catch the breeze and glide over the horizon. Speedboats cast a wake of whitewater behind them. Elegant homes rise out of the greenery sprouting along the sloped shoreline. The captain offers commentary on the history of the harbor, the splendor of the coast, and the majesty of the architecture. As the ship pulls back to dock, you have a gorgeous view of the city as a whole.

Once on land, you meet your guide to continue your exploration of the city, this time by land. The classic image of Sydney derives from the ecstatic crowd of beachgoers on Bondi Beach, famous for its depiction in Bondi Rescue. Surfers catch the waves curling towards the shore. The golden beach glints in the abundance of sunlight. Walkways circumvent the rugged coastline away from the beach along Bronte Coastal Walk and a pool overlooks the splashing waves. The aroma of fish and chips emanates from the food stands on the promenade and locals continue to wear Santa hats while dipping their toes into the refreshing sea.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation 

Day 10: Sydney – Closing Out the Year with the Blue Mountains

During the days between Christmas and New Year’s, locals enjoy the holiday festivities and take the time to indulge in the pleasures of Sydney life. The Romanesque design of the Queen Victoria embodies the prestige to which the structure aspired. The building contains elaborate underground arcades leading to Town Hall Station. Over 20 small domes surround the central dome, which allows natural light to pour over the sandstone walls and polished mosaic floors.

The urban style of the city contrasts the captivating nature of the Blue Mountains located 50 miles outside the city proper. Your small group tour allows for intimate guidance through the national park, which encompasses more than 1,000 square miles. The protected landscape contains waterfalls, ravines, eucalyptus forests, and spectacular rock formations. You stop first at the Three Sisters, a remarkable collection of sandstone karsts rising nearly 3,000 feet above the Jamison Valley. A stairway of 800 steps leads down to the base of the peaks and showcases the true magnitude of the rugged outcroppings decorated with layers of color.

Govetts Leap offers a panorama of sandstone cliffs and an exciting main ridge of the Blue Mountains. The scent of eucalyptus and fern fills the air. The thin cascade of Bridal Veil Falls plunges into the eucalyptus forest. Beneath the façade of the mountains wind the network of Jenolan Caves, which contain some of the oldest caverns ever discovered. Subterranean rivers carved the limestone formations and shaped chambers as large as cathedrals.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, accommodation

Day 11: Sydney – Glitz and Ritz for a New Year Inside the Sydney’s Sails

The Opera House is more than just an icon of Sydney, but a monument for all Australia. The ceiling has been cast as an image of endless sails catching the sea breeze around Darling Harbor. The brick esplanade encircles the elegant structure on a promontory separating the glistening glass windows from the city and the sea. Today is New Year’s Eve and you have an evening of sophistication before you. The city pulses with excitement for the New Year. Partygoers make their way to Bondi Beach to enjoy the refreshing cool evening and watch the fireworks over the bay. Clubs at Kings Cross fill with eager dancers. Couples and groups of friends chat in elegant restaurants in the Bohemian neighborhood of Newtown.

You step into glamor, molding into ball-gowns and tuxedo clad patrons of the Opera House. The three-course meal at sunset provides the perfect ambiance. Indulge in the refreshing flavors of summer, forgetting for a moment the differences between a snow-clad New Year and sundrenched New Year’s Eve. Boats continue to glide past the harbor with groups of people angling for the best position to enjoy the coming fireworks. The songs of Verdi, Puccini, and Rossini will soon echo through the seashell gallery beneath the thronging fireworks spouting above the sails. When the clock strikes midnight, the thrills begin, accentuated by your being one of the first major cities in the world to bring in a happy New Year.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, tour, accommodation

Day 12: Sydney – Sydney City at Play

New Years day blends quiet streets in Downtown with vibrant beach life spread across the coastline. Eager locals head to Blackwattle Bay Park to enjoy cold beer and barbecuing in view of the Anzac Bridge. Cafes in Glebe serve frothy cappuccinos and open their windows to the warm air wafting past an antiques market. The day is at your leisure to enjoy New Year’s Day in Sydney like a local. Brunch is a popular way to enjoy the sunlight and delicious food in the inner neighborhood of Surrey Hills. To explore the outer reaches of the city, you can mount a bike and traverse the trails crisscrossing the coastline and wealth of artsy neighborhoods. A nearly 20 miles of track leads from Oxford Street in Bondi to the Victoria Barracks.

A cool breeze carries the aroma of the sea. The suspension bridge at Parsley Bay offers a unique image a quiet narrow inlet leading of Sydney Harbour decorated with the elegant design of the bridge. The view from Nielson Park at Vaucluse reminds you of your window at Thala Beach Nature Reserve. The native brush frames your view of the harbor and the skyline of Sydney across the way. Cafes line the promenade looking out into the diverse shades of blue lapping at the soft pale sand. Although you can see the Downtown Sydney, you feel far away, tucked into a gorgeous suburb where locals enjoy a perfect New Year’s Day in real Australia. 

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 13: Sydney – Enjoying the Seconds in Australia 

Local life in Sydney returns to normal on January second. Cyclists wind along the various pathways. Surfers make their way to the water on quiet morning sands. The shops around The Rocks open once more amidst an air of freshly baked pretzels and decadent chocolate ganache. Ferries pull in to Darling Harbor and dock beneath the moving shadows of Downtown’s high-rises. The simple beauty of Sydney in summer has added layers of elegance and charisma to your Summertime Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. When you are ready, your private transfer meets you in the lobby of your luxury hotel and escorts you to Sydney Airport for your flight home.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer 


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.