In addition to the included excursions, we offer opportunities for students to continue exploring their cultural surroundings. These excursions are often adventurous and exhilarating such as ziplining over the treetops of a rainforest or hiking up a volcano to name a few! Below are the excursions currently available to register for. Optional Excursions for the other terms will be posted at a later date.
2016-17 Term 3 Optional Excursions
(Sydney) Surfing, Manly Beach
Manly, a seaside village just 15 minutes from Sydney CBD, is the perfect place to escape the big city. On one side of the suburb you’ll find Sydney Harbour, and on the other you’ll find the Pacific Ocean – and a beautiful beach, where we’ll take our surf lesson. With shops, cafes and nature walks there’s much more to discover here too!
Manly Surf School has been teaching since 1983, and has been voted by Surfing Australia as the number 1 surf school in New South Wales. It offers a safe environment for students, with highly qualified and professional staff. In fact, the surf school’s purpose is ‘to give the stoke of surfing’. Definition? Excitement, thrill, pleasure, smiles, skills, challenges, adrenalin. What a great way to spend the morning!
Please bring a swimsuit, towel & sunscreen. Surfboards & wetsuits are provided, along with change rooms, showers and storage for valuables.
(Whitsunday Coast) Whitehaven Beach day sail
Climb aboard our America’s Cup racing yacht, Southern Cross, for our adventure today as we take to the seas and cross from mainland Australia to one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Today we’ll be visiting Whitehaven Beach – consistently voted one of the best beaches in the world – and you’ll see why! Clear aqua waters and pristine silica sand, this beach stretches over seven kilometers, and has a backdrop of unspoiled lush forest. We’ll set anchor at Tongue Bay so you can hike the short route up to the Hill Inlet Lookout giving us amazing vistas. After some time on the beach it’s back to the yacht for lunch before an afternoon swim and snorkel exploring the local coral reef.
While on-board Southern Cross guests are welcome to get involved and help the crew set the sails or simply sit back, relax and take in the experience and the scenery.
** Includes morning/afternoon tea, lunch & marine park fees **
(Brisbane) Moreton Island (snorkel, kayak, sandboard)
This full day adrenaline-charged excursion takes us out of Brisbane to the small island of Moreton. We’ll be picked up from our hotel and transferred to a local port for a short ferry ride to the island. On arrival we have a number of activities, the order of which will be defined by the day’s weather conditions.
- Guided Snorkelling of the Tangalooma Shipwrecks
The Tangalooma wrecks are a collection of 15 vessels that were deliberately sunk to form a dive and snorkel site. Clear waters allow for wonderful visibility allowing snorkellers to see an array of marine life and coral. Our guide will ensure we can explore this safely, with all gear and instruction will be provided.
- Transparent Kayaking
In these innovative kayaks even the seats are see-through! Kayaking through the smooth waters, we see a new perspective on the ocean life passing under us. Feeding the fish will create a frenzy of activity right beneath us. If we’re lucky, the playful local dolphins will even swim alongside us!
- Sand boarding
Taking a 4WD bus up into the desert area of the island, we’ll get to surf down high sand dunes for an exhilarating ride. Getting up to speeds of 60km/h this is fast and furious! We’ll have special boards and get a safety brief before hitting the slopes.
In addition to all of that, we’ll get to re-charge with morning tea and a picnic lunch on the beach. There are café facilities to purchase snacks and drinks locally, however we do recommend that you bring water. Please also bring swimwear, sunglasses, sunscreen, sunhat and a towel.
(Brisbane) Stand Up Paddling
We’ll take to the water on the Brisbane River and explore the city from a different viewpoint. We’ll cruise past green parks, city skyscrapers, and historic buildings, and pass under Story Bridge.
An offshoot of surfing (so you can put to use those balance skills learnt in Manly, Sydney!), Stand Up Paddling is one of the world’s fastest growing sports. This laid-back activity is easy to pick up, and you’ll be enjoying yourself too much to notice you’re actually getting a full body workout.
This excursion is suitable for all fitness levels and abilities. Experienced instructors will teach you the techniques to confidently paddle at your own pace, and all equipment is provided, including a Personal Floatation Device. Kayaking is possible if you decide that Stand Up Paddling isn’t for you!
You will need to bring: clothes that will get wet (board shorts/¾ pants and t-shirt), spare change of clothes, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, towel, and water. No shoes are required as we will paddle barefoot. Showers are available for use. Locker hire is possible.
(Queenstown) Skydiving - 12,000ft or from 15,000ft
Take to the skies and leap back down to earth, (attached to your sky diving instructor).
It takes a certain kind of person to leap out of an aircraft to the ground. It takes courage. You step out of that aircraft door and for some 60 seconds you freefall at 200km/hour. The personal challenge is immense!
Students who have previously participated in this say it was one of the true highlights of their year so if you’ve got the nerve – go for it! There are 2 choices: dive from 12,000ft or 15,000ft. The 15,000ft gives you a longer freefall. Your height will need to be decided upon reservation. Please note: It is not possible to upgrade elevation on site.
12, 000ft Price: $450
15, 000ft Price: $550
(Queenstown) Bungee Jumping
The Kawarau Bridge Bungee is home to the world’s first commercial bungee site. With a 43m bungee, and an 8 second free fall, this excursion is perfect for anyone looking for a lot of adventure!
The bungee site is a short drive out of town. Here the trained bungee staff of A J Hackett Bungee New Zealand will give the group an introduction, along with safety information on the jump. Then it is jump time!
Students will have the option of many different jump styles, and whether you want to bob above the water, touch the water or be fully immersed it will all add to the experience. After the jump, we will let the thrill sink in before being transported back to the hotel.
The Staff of A J Hackett take safety considerations and gear testing very seriously. They were one of the pioneers of the Australian and New Zealand Standards Authority Guidelines for commercial operations in Bungee Jumping and frequently request auditing from two external corporations: Bureau Veritas, an internationally recognized auditing company, and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). The combination of a thrilling experience, quality product and highly-regarded safety record has meant that A J Hackett has achieved widespread recognition, with awards from New Zealand Qualmark, and Tourism New Zealand.
If you wish to watch your friends jump (but not jump) you may sign-up as a spectator.
Please note: It is not possible to upgrade to jump on site.
Want to just come out and watch? For those students that are not feeling as adventurous, we offer a transportation-only option which allows for all the fun of watching, but none of the thrill of actually jumping. Come and watch as your friends take the leap!
Spectating Price: $50
(Auckland) Rotorua weekend
On Saturday, we depart Auckland after breakfast and set out to the town of Waitomo, famed for its population of glowworms, Arachnocampa luminosa, which live in the local caves. We’ll learn more about the caves’ historical and geological importance from our expert guide and take a short boat ride in the caves to view this magical starry wonderland.
Arriving in Rotorua, we’ll have some time to settle into our hotel, before spending the evening at a Maori village. During the cultural performance we’ll learn about the Maori history, carvings and ta moko (tattoo art), watch displays of weaponry, watch a poi dance and experience the power of the magnificent haka. We end our evening with an authentic hangi dinner (a traditional method of cooking food in an underground oven).
On Sunday, after breakfast we begin the day by visiting Hell’s Gate for a mud bath and sulphur pool swim. The heat from the geothermal mud and waters will relax and rejuvenate us, in this unique and beautiful landscape surrounded by native trees and plants.
As we begin our journey back to Auckland, we’ll explore the Shire and Middle-Earth on a visit to Hobbiton. Originally the filming location for part of the Lord of the Rings movies, the film set remains in place and is now a popular attraction. We will enjoy a tour where you can learn the story that transformed this lovely sheep farm into a film star, so channel your inner Hobbit before enjoying a soft drink at The Green Dragon Inn.
Please pack a small weekend bag, to include: swimwear, a towel, comfortable walking shoes, a warm jacket, water-bottle and weather-appropriate clothing.
2016-17 Term 4 Optional Excursions
(NIcaragua) Masaya Volcano - Lava Rock Evening Tour
Experience the mysterious sights and sounds of the Masaya Volcano by night. Feared by both indigenous people and Spanish conquerors, the Masaya Volcano was baptized “La Boca del Infierno” or “The Mouth of Hell” by the Spanish.
Just before sunset we set off to the volcano where we hope to get a glimpse of green ‘chocoyos’ (parakeets) returning to their nests inside the volcano crater. These birds have amazingly adapted to withstand the sulfurous fumes emitted from the volcano. While the parakeets are returning home, the bats are just leaving their caves in their masses. What a remarkable sight!
We’ll don helmets and take a flashlight to explore the underground tunnel and rock formations formed by lava streams, before we end our visit to this majestic volcano with a hike to a viewpoint giving fantastic vistas of the crater mouth, which is continuously emitting smoke and sulfur gases, and allowing us to see a crater created by lava activity as recently as 2006!
Please wear comfortable walking shoes, and bring with you insect repellent, bottled water and a light jacket.
(San Juan del Sur) Horseback riding
Horseback riding is a great way to get up close and personal with the beautiful country of Nicaragua.
On this excursion we will visit a private local ranch, where we’ll meet our well-cared for and loved horses. The ride leaves from the ranch through the local community, into open fields and over hilltops for spectacular views, crossing the river several times for excellent wildlife viewing (we almost always see monkeys!) and then to a secluded beach for a refreshment break and more riding adrenalin.
Our knowledgeable trail boss will lead the way and a portion of your ride fee will go to the ranch’s local community development fund. Our ride will be scheduled to arrive at the beach at low tide for safety and a bigger beach to ride on.
If you’ve never been on a horse before, or if you are an experienced rider, you horse will be chosen based on your experience level. All horses are well trained and you can take it slow, or trot and canter to your delight!
Please note: Riding will be Western Style, and there is a rider weight limit of 210lbs. Please bring long pants. Boots and cowboy hats will be provided.
(San Juan del Sur) Day Sail Excursion
Sail away for the day to sun-drenched beaches and dream of a day in paradise.
On our private yacht, our captain will set sail and take us to discover the untouched stretches of coastline. We will enjoy snacks and soft drinks aboard the boat, throw anchor and swim in the turquoise ocean, and land at pristine beaches. We’ll return to San Juan del Sur and dock as the sun sets.
If we’re lucky we’ll see dolphins surfing alongside the boat, and may also be privileged enough to see turtles or whales.
Lunch is included. Remember your beach towel, sunscreen and bathing suit.
(Playa del Coco) Stand Up Paddling
Whether you know it as SUP surfing, paddle surfing or stand up paddle boarding, this new sport is taking the world by storm. Let’s join the movement and grab a paddle and board and get cruising!
This is the perfect way to enjoy the ocean for surfers and non-surfers alike, and you can tailor it to your comfort zone, from flat water paddling to riding the waves. Its fan base is growing so rapidly because everyone can do it and its great fun!
With our instructor we will learn the safety, basic strokes and turns both standing and kneeling and by the end you’ll be a SUP pro.
Included: equipment, including a life vest.
Please wear your swimsuit, and bring insect repellent, sunscreen, along with a hat/sunglasses, a towel and a change of clothes.
(Playas del Coco) Discovery Scuba Diving (no certification required)
This half-day adventure is for the non-certified diver who wants to experience underwater life first hand. A highly trained instructor will teach students the basics of scuba diving in a swimming pool and then take them on a shallow one-tank dive in the ocean.
Signed waiver required.
PADI Scuba Certification Course, Playas del Coco
Jacques Yves Cousteau himself chose to film a diving special in Costa Rica, leaving little doubt as to the quality of this activity in the region. The same underwater wonders that attracted the great Captain Cousteau to Costa Rica continue to attract divers from all over the world. These qualities include: pristine azure waters, hundreds of miles of unexplored coasts and islands, and an abundance of tropical marine life. While beginners may not yet be ready for a large school of hammerhead sharks gliding soundlessly overhead, Costa Rica has snorkel and dive sites for everybody, from the newcomer to the most experienced professional. Join us and complete your full PADI diving certification while on location in Costa Rica.
Course duration: approximately 3 afternoons.
Equipment: Participants may bring their own mask, fins, snorkel and wetsuit or borrow from the dive shop.
Signed waiver required.
(Cusco) 2-Day/1-Night Adventure Tour
(Add-On to the Included Machu Picchu Visit, preceding the included overnight tour to Machu Picchu)
This overnight excursion will take place prior to the included visit to Machu Picchu and will give participants an extended time to explore the nature, ecology and history of the area before re-joining the group for the visit to Machu Picchu.
We will see birds such as parrots, hummingbirds and eagles and the plantations of Coca (Sacred Leaf of the Incas), coffee, yucca, and fruit trees.
Our adventure will include hiking and biking through spectacular mountains, exploring ancient ruins and visiting with local communities (descendents of the Inca who still live a traditional lifestyle) to learn more about their way of life. Along the way, we’ll see breathtaking vistas, enjoy delicious home-cooked food and get to relax surrounded by ancient landscapes.
We do recommend you have a basic level of fitness to participate in this excursion due to activities at high altitude.
Price includes: all transportation to, from and during the trek; bicycle and equipment rental; all entry and guide fees; breakfast, lunch and dinner daily; accommodations each night. One male and one female staff will accompany the group on the excursion.
Browse Optional Excursion by Term
Click the links below to see what optional excursions we offer for each term. 2017-18 optional excursions will be added at a later date.