—Our trip was immeasurably enhanced by her careful planning, great choice of accommodations, and experienced advice on activities. We’d use Fine Tours New Zealand again and recommend them to all our friends.
“Fine Tours New Zealand was an exceptional partner for our New Zealand adventure. Shelley Ryder was always responsive and knowledgeable and helped us plan a spectacular itinerary which we enjoyed immensely. Every accommodation she booked for us was very conveniently located right at the center of the action, very comfortable with gracious hosts and super breakfasts, and many had lovely gardens and special touches. We benefited from Shelley and her team's experience in plotting our time spent in each location. We loved her suggestions for activities during our 3 week tour of New Zealand and all were “spot on.” ”
—Bob & Diane Frankle, USA
—Thanks for all your help in making this trip happen for us! Gayle and Carl Marsh
“Hi Shelley, Thanks for reaching out to us. We certainly do have wonderful memories of our time in New Zealand thanks to the stunning beauty, lovely people and a great itinerary! Things that were especially nice were the premium lounge on the ferry, the Bellbird Lodge in Kaiteriteri(gourmet food, very helpful hosts,lovely setting), Hokitika Gorge, the night on Milford Sound and the Glacier Explorer trip. Things we added which we would recommend were the cable car and walk down in Wellington, the World of Wearable Art exhibit in Nelson, the return from Hokitiki Gorge by Dorothy Falls and Lake Kaniere, the Fiordland Cinema in TeAnua and the Antarctic Center in Christchurch. Things which could have been better: Rental car experience-It took almost two hours at both locations. Breakfast at the Motel on York was institutional at best. Check in at Mt Cook was confusing because you don't check in at the Hermitage for the Hermitage Chalets. The Ko Tane Maori Experience needed more cultural information. The printed driving directions in the binder need to be more detailed. They should include mileage and often did not agree with the GPS or Mapquest. It would have been nice to have received an email from you upon our arrival. All in all, it was a lovely trip which we will remember fondly. Thanks for all your help in making this trip happen for us! Gayle and Carl Marsh”
—Carl & Gayle Marsh, USA
—FTNZ, and in particular their excellent representative Salli Smith, were creative, professional, enthusiastic, incredibly responsive and helpful in every respect.
“My wife and I have just finished a 28-day, highly-customized tour of New Zealand, organized by Fine Tours New Zealand (FTNZ). Our itinerary was loosely based around FTNZ’s “21day Classic New Zealand” itinerary, but with several significant additions. FTNZ, and in particular their excellent representative Salli Smith, were creative, professional, enthusiastic, incredibly responsive and helpful in every respect. Their service included a number of discussions with us (understanding our particular preferences and having Salli telling us candidly which of our thoughts on the itinerary were good, bad and really bad – and why!), and booking all of our car rentals, ferries, hotels, B&B’s, and most of our activity day-trips (hiking, day cruises, etc.). Inevitably we placed a lot of faith in FTNZ’s judgment and relied a lot on their recommendations, and we are happy to say that their selection of accommodation and activities was almost flawless and suited us perfectly. This was definitely the longest and most ambitious vacation that we have undertaken, and we have no doubt that it was considerably enhanced by engaging FTNZ’s services. Not only did they provide completely professional and reliable services, they were genuinely a pleasure to deal with. We would definitely recommend their services to anyone considering a New Zealand vacation.”
—Harry & Lucy English, CAN
—Shelley (and the other folks who stepped in once in a while to answer our questions) was very helpful.
“Shelley (and the other folks who stepped in once in a while to answer our questions) was very helpful. There were a couple of glitches -- one car pickup dropped us off at the wrong bus stop and the apartment hotel in Auckland we were booked in was depressing and we wouldn't recommend it -- but overall we were given an itinerary that worked well for the limited amount of time we had in NZ and we had a great time. All the other arrangements were fine, and we got answers to all our questions in a timely and friendly way.”
—Neal Stulberg & Leah Shahmoon, USA
—If you are looking for a customized trip where every arrangement is perfectly executed, then we highly recommend allowing Fine Tours New Zealand to make your dreams come true.
“My husband and I just returned from 37 glorious days in this jaw-dropping beautiful country. With the expert help of Fine Tours New Zealand, we experienced the trip of a lifetime. We asked for a variety of accommodations, from the over the top Hapuku Tree Houses in Kaikoura to simple bed and breakfasts and in all cases, our expectations were exceeded. If you are looking for a customized trip where every arrangement is perfectly executed, then we highly recommend allowing Fine Tours New Zealand to make your dreams come true. Myra Turoff and Ken Weiner”
—Myra Turoff & Ken Weiner, USA
—All in all, our tour of New Zealand was one of the best travel experiences we’ve ever had thanks to your excellent organization and thoughtful selection of places, lodgings, courses, and routes.
“Hi Shelley! Sorry it has taken a couple weeks for me to respond – it has been non-stop craziness since we arrived home on the 28th. While we were enjoying ourselves in your beautiful country, our families and friends had to deal with 5 snowstorms in 9 days, piling up over a meter of snow! And in the past 2 days, we’ve had a blizzard dump another half meter. We wish we were back in Wanaka with you! Our trip was fabulous, Shelley. The accommodations you chose for us were spacious, comfortable, well-appointed, and pleasing. We especially enjoyed our stays at The Loft, Lochiel Estate, and Morepork Lodge. The operators of these B&Bs spent much time in conversation with us and made us feel so welcome in their homes. We would definitely visit each of them again on a future trip. The apartments were also very nice – the one at Lake Tekapo Village Motel was larger in area than our home! The golf courses were excellent choices. We appreciated the nice mix of mountain, lake, and seaside views. I wish I had told you that we prefer to be paired up with others, especially locals, so you could advise the pro shops. We enjoy meeting other golfers and learn so much about them and their homelands. We were able to join up with other golfers at 5 of the courses, and it was lots of fun. We loved the towns and cities we stayed in, with the possible exception of Auckland – too much traffic, and a Pride Parade that closed all the streets around the Great Ponsonby Arthotel, making for a very late check-in. We really enjoyed mingling with the triathletes in Wanaka. We met a fellow from Timaru while having dinner at Speight’s. He explained the rules of cricket to us with great enthusiasm – we loved it! The gondola and luge in Queenstown were a blast. The night observatory tour in Tekapo was fascinating – so glad we did it. We were also very happy with the International Antarctic Exhibit – very educational, and we were able to see a penguin feeding. We enjoyed a wide range of New Zealand beers in quite a few pubs, and met many interesting and fun people. We enjoyed a couple of pubs so well that we went back a second night! As I requested, you organized our tour to allow us to see as much of New Zealand as possible in the 12 days, and we truly enjoyed it. It did result in a lot of time spent driving, so if we are able to come back, we would likely choose a few places on one island, stay several days at each, and do more than play golf. If I recall, you initially advised that kind of tour – I’ll listen to you next time! The 3 nights in Arrowtown were just right for us and would be the model for a future trip. I didn’t take enough photos at the beginning of the trip, and I forgot my camera at a couple of courses. We don’t even think about selfies, so there aren’t a lot of pics of us together. And I really wish I had taken photos of all our hosts and fellow golfers – what a regrettable miss on my part. I have several videos that are fun for us to watch but not so easy to share with others. I pulled a few pictures together into a Powerpoint slideshow that I posted as a video on my Facebook page. The .pptx file is huge (>180 MB) and too large to email. The pdf version is about 12 MB – can you receive a file that size? I’ve attached it just in case. All in all, our tour of New Zealand was one of the best travel experiences we’ve ever had thanks to your excellent organization and thoughtful selection of places, lodgings, courses, and routes. The documentation package, and in particular the map atlas, was extremely helpful and much appreciated. The atlas is a keepsake – we’ve highlighted all the routes we traveled and it amazes people to see how much of the country we covered. A tip we picked up from a fellow in Mangawhai: Maps.Me, a free smartphone app that uses only your phone’s GPS and not any data. You need Wi-Fi only to download the app and maps; once you have the map, you can shut off cellular and Wi-Fi and navigate very successfully with your phone’s GPS. We shut off the GPS supplied with the rental cars – the app was so much better since it allowed us to view entire routes and to reroute as we wished. Can’t do that with a NavMan, and it led us on some pretty strange routes at times. Feel free to use any of these comments on your website. Many thanks to you for a truly special vacation and anniversary celebration. Best wishes, Micki”
—Bill & Micki Meggison, USA
—Everything was great. Hopefully other folks will get to experience your skills as a tour provider that can really deliver a comprehensive package.
“Christina, Well we have returned in good form and except for some Bronchitis we seem to have survived while getting over some residual jet-lag. Just a note of thanks to you for a great plan. Everything was great. Hopefully other folks will get to experience your skills as a tour provider that can really deliver a comprehensive package that gave us a real sense of what is happening in your fine country. A special note relative to all the places/locations we stayed as the hosting was out of sight and could not have been better. For you we both wish you the very best in all your future endeavors. I am not so sure about the Harley as I still carry a bit of gravel in my left elbow from years past. Be careful and stay well. R Ed and Cynthia”
—Ed & Cynthia Seiffert, USA
—Finding a good, reputable and reliable vendor is always important, and your company really delivered!
“Our trip was everything we dreamed it would be, and better! It was such a pleasure to have everything arranged and waiting for us in advance, and all of the accommodations and transportation were wonderful. We were so fortunate to have perfect weather, too! All we had to do each day was decide what to go do, and where to eat. We all loved "Uncle", our driver in Auckland. He drove us on three trips to & from the airport, and was such a fun and caring person who helped us feel welcome. We enjoyed the Canterbury Museum and the Antarctic Center while in Christchurch, and walked all around the city and rode the trolley. We happened to be there to see the dedication of the Earthquake Memorial on the 6th anniversary of that sad day. ”
—Farah Stokes & Randy (Bruce) Campbell, Margie & David Gibson, Richard & Betty Campbell, Scott & Robyn Campbell, USA
—I Congratulate you for satisfying all of my expectations. I will certainly recommend Fine Tours to anyone that I know that intends to vacation in New Zealand.
“Dear Shelley My wife and I arrived back in the UK safely yesterday afternoon. I am writing to thank you for all of your help and guidance for what was a trip of a lifetime. Even the weather was on our side (for most of the time). The hotels that you booked for us were amazing. The homeliness of Lonely Bay Lodge, the stunning views from Pepper’s on The Point and The Hermitage, the lake side views from the St Moritz in Queenstown. The food at The Hermitage and Hotel Montreal. The sight of the trip must be the drive from Twizel to Mount Cook along the bank of Lake Pukaki. The blue of the lake matched the blue of the sky, with Mt Cook becoming closer and closer in crystal clear blue sky. Awesome!! (As New Zealanders would say!!) The Dart River trip will always be remembered for the ‘spinning’ (my wife’s comment was “that she had never been so frightened in her life”) and the hand signal given by the guide when this was about to happen will remain a gesture that will be used by us for all future ‘thrill’ events!! The devastation in Christchurch is something that everyone should see to understand the true forces of nature. I would like, also, to make some observations that may help you in advising other travellers: Sand Flies!!! ALL lake and forest trips need to take into account these pesky blighters. On the Dart River I was attacked by a squadron of kamikaze flies. You need to highlight to everyone that they should have the minimum of exposed skin (perhaps even full protection suits!!) and even then liberally apply any and all types on repellent otherwise a week of sleepless nights lay ahead. The drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound and return took up a considerable amount of time. I am not sure that the overnight cruise was any better than could have been obtained from a day trip. I would therefore suggest (especially considering the cost of the cruise) that you propose to travellers that Milford Sound should be a day trip and make the journey from Queenstown by plane or helicopter. As most people would have been travelling by car to the area they might appreciate being off of the road for this length of time and would have the opportunity of the flight. The drive from Christchurch to Kaikoura was exhausting and very time consuming. Even with a pick-up of 8.30 in the morning we were just able to arrive in time for the whale watching and then had to leave immediately the boat trip finished to get back to Christchurch. It took 3½ hours each way. As a result we could not have any lunch or see anything of Kaikoura. I would suggest reluctantly that until the roads have been fixed this is not a good use of time (although the evidence of nature’s power in itself is an attraction). I appreciate that you try and prepare an itinerary for people of whom you have very little information and therefore it is difficult to satisfy everyone’s expectations. Having said this I can only congratulate you for satisfying all of my expectations. I will certainly recommend Fine Tours to anyone that I know that intends to vacation in New Zealand. If there are any specific questions that you may have to assist in your future trip planning I will of course be glad to respond. I wish you well for the future. Best regards Andrew Knights”
—Andrew & Claude Knights, GBR
—Absolutely every part of our trip was great, but if we had to choose I guess we would both agree that we like Queenstown the most.
“Hi Christina, Absolutely every part of our trip was great, but if we had to choose I guess we would both agree that we like Queenstown the most. The best accommodation by far was Rough and Tumble Bush lodge. It is so remote and in the middle of nowhere, beautiful nature all around, we had a feeling like we were sleeping in a tree house... Peace and quiet :-) And the food there was fantastic too. We really wished we had more time there, both because of the lodge but also because we liked that northern part of the West Coast a lot. The best trip was the helicopter flight to White island (we got upgraded to a helicopter because flights on a floatplane were late that day) and getting to walk on the White Island was such a cool experience. We loved Underwater Adventure too, and the jet boat in Queenstown. We did Canopy Tour in Rotorua which was also very much fun. Our favourite stop along the way was eating salmon sashimi at Lake Pukaki :-) Kind regards, Maja”
—Maja Virnek Zivkovic & Karlo Zivkovic, ARE