Darla Searle, a self-professed travel junkie, is giving County residents a once in a lifetime opportunity to live the jet set lifestyle and participate in a twoweek community trip to Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii.

The Haliburton Highlands Secondary School teacher has organized the trip for summer 2026, with participants to spend 15 days away from July 2 to 16.

It’s the latest in a long line of overseas excursions for Searle, who accompanied HHSS students on a trip to Costa Rica in 2022 and has another lined up for Europe during the 2025 Easter break. She’ll also be travelling to Africa as part of a small group this summer.

“I’ve always said there’s no better education, no better way to broaden your mind than to travel, experience new things, and appreciate different cultures,” Searle said. “I’m an advocate that you’re on the planet for a short time. And while we live in a beautiful bubble, there’s a lot more world out there for us to see.”

The trip is being organized through EF Tours, which Searle has worked with several times before. Eight people need to register for the trip to happen, with Searle saying the “sweet spot” would be 30 people.

Breaking down the itinerary, Searle said the trip begins in New Zealand, with stops in Auckland and Rotorura, where people will be treated to a sheep and dog show at the famous Agrodome. There will be a tour of a natural geothermal park; opportunity to ride the skyline gondola; learn about jade carving in a local craftman’s workshop; and visit a Maori village.

Day six includes a flight to Sydney, where guests will spend two days. Searle said there will be excursions to the world-famous Sydney Opera House, and around Watson Bay.

In Cairns, travellers will be treated to a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef for a full day of snorkeling with a marine biologist, and a scenic train ride to the rainforest village of Kuranda.

“Australia and New Zealand have been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I really want to see the opera house, and to go snorkeling and learn all about the reefs,” Searle said. “These are the kinds of experiences you just can’t find close to home.”

The trip will end with a couple of days in Honolulu, which will feature a beach day and visit to the USS Arizona Memorial.

The cost to attend is $10,333 for adults and $8,683 for youth under 18, which can be broken down into 24 monthly payments – $430 per month for adults and $361 for youth. Searle said that covers the cost of flights, hotels, excursions, and some meals.

Refunds can be issued up to 10 days prior to leaving, minus a $400 booking fee, Searle added.

A meeting providing more information about the trip will be held in the library at HHSS June 12 at 6 p.m.

“This is a great opportunity for people to do something they would never usually do. I know people who don’t travel because they have nobody to travel with – joining a community trip like this solves that problem,” Searle said. “You could create lifelong connections – by experiencing this unique trip with other people, you’re creating a bond for life.”