Diversity Down Under: Exploring Australia and New Zealand

September 24/26-October 13, 2014

Note: Registration is now full. To be added to the wait list, please contact us.

For registered travelers:

Australia has many of the world’s “-ests.”  As Frommers puts it, “It has some of the best natural scenery, the weirdest wildlife, the oldest rainforest, the oldest human civilization, the best wines, and the best weather … all bathed in sunlight that brings everything up in Technicolor.”

We will encounter all of these “-ests” as we explore the many diverse environments of Australia, from large cities and the rainforest to the unparalleled Great Barrier Reef. We’ll also study the influence of Aborigines and Europeans, before heading to New Zealand to learn about the Maori culture, explore the wine country, and dip into the South Island.

Our journey takes us from Sydney with its stunning harbor, to the teaming rainforest of Lamington National Park, through Brisbane, where we’ll visit the Koala sanctuary. Then it’s on to the Great Barrier Reef, home of the largest living organism on earth, and over to Rotorua, on the North Island of New Zealand, to experience the hospitality of a Maori family marae (a cultural meeting place) for powhiri (an official welcome), wharenui (entertainment in the Maori ancestral house), and hangi (a traditional feast). We’ll continue down to Wellington, ferry to the South Island to cruise the Marlborough Sounds, and then take the TranzAlpine Railway – rated one of the five most spectacular train journeys in the world – across to Christchurch.

Program leaders

 Ted Johnson, professor of biology, and Michelle Johnson, retired medical technologist at the St Olaf Health Center, are veteran travelers and program leaders. Ted and Michelle lead the St Olaf Global Semester in 1998, the Environmental Studies in Australia Semester in 2004 and Term in Asia in 2006 and 2012. Ted led students on an Interim study service program in Peru multiple times in the last eight years.

Ted graduated from Augsburg College in 1968 and received an MS and a PhD from the University of Illinois in 1973. He has been with the biology department at St Olaf for the past 30 years, teaching primarily courses in microbiology and immunology. He has been chair of the Health Professions Committee and has served as an advisor for many students interested in a career in the health professions.

Michelle graduated from Millikin University in 1969 and received a masters in English from Mankato State University. Ted and Michelle have three children.

What to Expect

 Most of our movement will be by air-conditioned private motor coach. Movement within each city and at cultural / environmental sites will at times be on foot, or by water taxi. You should be capable of walking up to five miles per day over possibly uneven terrain, of climbing stairs that may not have handrails, of climbing in and out of various types of transportation, of keeping pace with an active group of travelers on long days of traveling, of dealing with the emotional highs and lows that can occur when experiencing different cultures, and of traveling with a group for several hours each day.

Hotels will be tourist class with private baths.

You should plan on seeing your family physician or a travel doctor at least four to six weeks prior to departure, preferably earlier, to talk about routine vaccinations. For more information on travel health, visit cdc.gov or who.int.  

Program fee

 The program fee is $7,000 through May 15, 2014. Based on double occupancy, it includes discussions led by Ted and Michelle Johnson, all accommodations, internal program airfare, breakfast daily and several other group meals, admissions for group activities, ground transportation except airport transfers in Sydney and Christchurch, and gratuities to guides and drivers. After May 15, 2014, the program fee is $7,150 per person. For single occupancy, add $1,580.

The program fee for the Optional Add-On is $474 per person based on double occupancy and $501 per person for single occupancy.

Flights to the start of the program and flights home after the program ends are not included in the program fee.

You should plan to leave the U.S. on Wednesday, September 24, 2014. Plan to arrive in Sydney on Friday, September 26 and to depart Christchurch on Monday, October 13. If you choose to take part in the optional add-on, you should plan to arrive in Sydney on Friday, September 26 and to depart Queenstown on Wednesday, October 15. 

For assistance with flight arrangements, may we recommend Noreen Deiss of Travel Leaders / Suntime Travel. She can be reached at 651-429-0039 or noreen@suntimetravel.com.


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