Photo: Easter Island sunrise in Pacific Islands, Oceania

Easter Island is one of the stops on a Ker and Downey tour that takes in islands with Polynesian cultures.

Photograph by Michael Dunning, Getty Images

By Margaret Loftus

Chile, French Polynesia, New Zealand: Island Hopping

Spanning thousands of miles, this journey immerses you in Polynesian cultures in three distinct regions: Easter Island, with its 800-some moai carved by the island’s Polynesian colonizers; Hiva Oa, to see tiki statues unearthed at Te Iipona; and New Zealand’s North Island, for a hike in the world’s largest kauri forest with the descendants of Kupe, the island’s legendary Maori discoverer. Ker and Downey: “Path of the Polynesians,” 15 days; $16,200.

New Zealand: Kiwi Romp

With a niche in “exotic learning adventures,” the outfitter’s typical trips help travelers develop a single skill—from ethnic cooking to surfing—in a foreign locale. But the wonderland that is New Zealand holds too much potential to focus on just one activity, so this dynamic tour lets participants develop mountain-biking, glacier-hiking, white-water-rafting, sea-kayaking, and even wine-tasting chops—all while traversing the country’s South Island. Access Trips: “New Zealand—Adventure Multi-Sport Tour,” 12 days; $4,384.

Australia: Outback Eclipse

What better spot to view the longest total solar eclipse until 2016 than against the big sky of the outback? The trip departs on November 9. Get your bearings in Sydney before heading to Amaroo Tented Camp in the highlands of the northeastern coast of Queensland. Climb to Abori­ginal rock art galleries, watch for crocs and other wildlife on the Barron River, and chat with a local astronomer ahead of the big event. Elevate Destinations: “Australian Outback Solar Eclipse,” 7 days; $5,500.

These guided tours are part of National Geographic Traveler's 50 Tours of a Lifetime for 2012 for the outfitters' commitment to authenticity, immersion, sustainability, and connection.

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