Bill and Vicky Cox, 9 Day Taster Tour of the North Island, Travelled on 1 November 2018
—We had an enjoyable, wonderful, and unforgetable experience!
Arrived on schedule, and it was very nice to be met at the airport by the driver to take us to the hotel room. The maps, itinerary, and other materials provided were very helpful and informative. Unfortunately, when we got to the hotel, our room was not yet ready and we were asked to wait a couple of hours. After almost 30 hours of travel, we just wanted to get cleaned up and a change of clothes.
The hotel, upon prompting, did find us another similar room. The Rangitoto tour was excellent and very informative. We learned a good deal about New Zealand's geological history. Our ferry ride back to Auckland was 25 minutes late, so we missed our Whale and Dolphin Safari. It may have been a bit optimistic to plan the schedule that tight. (Thank you very much for getting us the refund on the safari.) We improvised for the rest of the afternoon and rode to the top of the Skytower. Wonderful sights all around the city!
The Hamilton Gardens tour was very good, even in a light misty rain. The Waitomo Glowworm caves were an amazing sight. Lodging at the Kamahi Cottage was a truly wonderful experience. Beautiful and tranquil, with lovely gardens and gracious and helpful hosts. The Hobbiton Movie Set tour was everything we expected it to be -- walking through the shire to see Bilbo Baggins' hobbit hole and then to the Green Dragon Inn made for a very delightful afternoon.
The B & B at the Redwoods in Rotorua was another great choice for lodging. Our host had some suggestions for local attractions -- the Redwood Tree Walk was close by and was an unexpected, and very pleasant way to explore another aspect of New Zealand. The Te Puia daytime and Tamaki Maori Village tour and dinner were excellent introductions to the early NZ culture. Food was delicious.
The drive to Whakapapa Village and on to Wellington provided gorgeous scenery the entire distance. Accommodations at the Chateau Tongariro gave us breathtaking views of Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu.
When we finally got to Wellington, the only difficulty we had was in parking the car. We discovered how limited the parking is, but once we figured that out, it was manageable. The Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night tour was excellent! We got to see several native animals -- a kiwi or two, a tuatara, and several others -- which made for a very memorable evening. The next day we toured the Weta Workshop in Wellington (a recommendation from Vivian, our Redwoods B & B host) and got to see where some of the movie props were made for the Lord of the Rings movies and many others. Loved it!
After dropping the rental car off at the Wellington airport, we flew back to Auckland and then back to the US. The rental car was great. The GPS option made getting around so much easier. The flight back to Auckland was delayed by weather for about an hour, so we were glad we had requested a bit more connection time.
Overall, we want to thank you so much for putting this trip together.
—Bill and Vicky Cox, USA
1 November 2018