—We loved our short trip to the North Island. All very organized, and complete
“We loved our short trip to the north island. All very organized, and complete, we had enough time to veer off the main road and enjoy some scenery close by. The hotels were fine, next time would love to stay at Huka lodge. Uncle Harding was right on time, such a great welcome to your beautiful country. Many thanks for the great atlas. We will return.”
—Richard & Betty O'Harren, USA
—Everything arranged by FTNZ went off perfectly from the airport pick-up to the final return of our rental car.
“We just returned from a three week vacation organized by Fine Tours New Zealand. It was an amazing experience. We chose to stay primarily at B&B's all of which we found to be wonderful places to stay. I would recommend three in particular. If you go through Rotorua, I would encourage you to stay with Christine at Doolan's Country Retreat. She has a beautiful place and was a terrific host. If you stay in Nelson, stay at the Baywick Inn. IT's a very nice place in a good location. The owners were also very helpful. If you are going to Queenstown, and I can't imagine any trip to New Zealand without at least a few days there, stay with Kim at The Turret, right across from Lake Hayes. She was very helpful with dinner recommendations and other site seeing options. We also would highly recommend The Westwood resort in Franz Josef. A feature that FTNZ provided that was a very pleasant surprise was the Kruse GPS system. It obviously gave directions well but it also told very interesting stories about the history of areas as you passed through along with interesting Maori legends. They also provided a cell phone that made it easy to make local calls for reservations and to confirm activities, plus nice to have in case of an emergency. Activities we would recommend would be Waihiki Island wine tasting tour, river rafting in Rotorua (thrilling), you have to attend a Maori traditional dinner somewhere and the one in Rotorua is a good one, Abel Tasman kayaking, Franz Josef helicopter, and you have to bungy jump in Queenstown, along with the Shotover jet boat and rafting tour. Everything arranged by FTNZ went off perfectly from the airport pick-up to the final return of our rental car. They also were very quick to respond to activities that were cancelled and find alternatives or give credit back. We were 100% satisfied and look forward to using them again when we return to see some of the places we missed on this one. By the way, I would have added an extra day at many of our stops if I did it over again.”
—Rob & Patti Penrod, USA
—Everything worked out well from the super hired car to the terrific accommodation.
“Dear Jessica and all at Fine Tours, Many thanks for organising a great trip. Everything worked out well from the super hired car to the terrific accommodation. It was lovely to be chauffeured from and to the airport, as well as being picked up from the station after the Trans Alpine ride back into Christchurch. We were lucky to have perfect weather most of the time so we saw your beautiful country at its very best. We would certainly recommend your company to anyone planning a trip to NZ. Thanks to all involved in providing us with such a lovely holiday. Julie & Richard Moxley”
—Richard & Julie Moxley, GBR
—Would have no hesitation in recommending fine Tours to any first time travelers.
“ We are very pleased to provide some feedback . We particularly liked the B & B in Kerikeri, good position & well placed for touring the area with a friendly host. The motel accommodation in Napier exceeded expectations , very large room, great position & the owners , again , very helpful & welcoming.On our return visit to Trinity Wharf , Tauranga , we thought the hotel better than our last visit and got some free wifi . Room very nice overlooking the water . Taupo hotel OK . Good public areas but thought room was rather small . Again nice position overlooking the lake . Uncle met us promptly from the ship and was helpful & friendly . Also many thanks for the use of the mobile , just a small point , the phone battery needed completely charging on receipt . Thank you personally Shelley for arranging our tour so efficiently , you were most helpful and accommodating . Everything worked perfectly . As you know we have used Fine Tours before and would do so again and would have no hesitation in recommending fine Tours to any first time travelers. Best wishes , Richard & Alyson ”
—Richard & Alyson Wise, GBR
—We had a wonderful week touring the south island. You have a very beautiful country, very nice people, and great hospitality.
“ Shelley, We had a wonderful week touring the south island. You have a very beautiful country, very nice people, and great hospitality. We were glad we added the extra night in Dunedin to allow us to come to understand the peninsula better and do some additional tracking. We especially enjoyed one walk where we found ourselves on the beach with seals and sea lions.I wish we had time to take the more southerly route to the west coast. While nice enough, the drive to the west coast was long and primarily agricultural rather than scenic as I understand the more southerly route is.The drive to Milford sound and the cruise were great! We stopped for some random walks in both directions and we found some really wonderful old growth forest areas with 2 meter plus trees, ferns, and mosses everywhere. The sound was amazing and the tour company did a very good job. The drive to Queenstown was long. Frankly, Queenstown was the least interesting part of the trip for us. The tour was just ok, though the people were very nice indeed. Queenstown was too much of a ski town for our tastes. We did get out of town to nearby areas with nice natural and historic sights, we stopped in an old mining town now tourist area where we had a nice walk and a great meal. The glacier was very interesting and we had a good guide. My only regret was that there were too many people and some were really not up to the tour so they were a drag on the group. Everywhere we went we found excellent walking paths and friendly people. I was a bit disappointed that the drive to Greymouth had less coastal views than I had imagined. We would have made better use of the ones we had if we recognized how few there would be. The train across the alps was amazing and a great end to the trip. I think Andrew took 1500 photos during our two weeks in NZ! Christchurch was nice but they are still very much in the early stages of recovery from the earthquake. It's a long road back to what it was. Yet Andrew had a great time hiking and biking while I did my symposium. Overall, it was a great trip. Thx for your help and guidance. By the way the gps unit was helpful but by the end of the week it was very repetitive. We only used the cell phone to confirm reservations as called out in your instructions, but it was good to know we had it if we had needed it. Thx Craig ”
—Craig & Andrew Beyler, USA
—We had an excellent time, and really appreciated not having to worry about the accommodations, directions, plan, etc.
“Thanks for the follow up note. Overall the trip went very smoothly, and we were very happy with the plan and accommodations and most of the activities (more on that later). The Tiger Moths was probably the highlight of the trip (at least for me). Couldn’t have asked for a better day, and the whole feel of the “vintage” aspect was excellent. Auckland was exactly what I wanted – one night in a nice hotel, perfect weather, and got a nice feel for the town. The hotel staff was super friendly, and my wife says the king-size bed was the most comfortable of the whole trip. Christchurch – The hotel was very nice, large rooms, and great location…… pre-earthquake. The hotel still has no food/beverage service, and Downtown Christchurch is very depressing, lots of chain link fence, crumbling or torn down buildings, and not many things open (especially in the evening). The town has a long way to go for recovery. I would think that unless people need to fly out of the airport, you would guide them away from Christchurch especially if time was limited. We were disappointed that we had two nights there, rather than one night somewhere else (but also recognize there was nothing we could really do about it considering my flight plan). Mt Cook was fabulous – Hermitage had an awesome room with a great view. Activities were excellent, and food/beverage service was good. Mountaineering café was a great dinner choice. Queenstown was beautiful, and the Novotel was a great choice. Location was great, and the room was very nice with a balcony, and they had nice drink specials in the bar. Not sure why the other hotels rate higher in Tripadvisor, but we thought the Novotel was perfect – thanks for insisting!! Franz Josef was ok, but we only did the Glacier Hot Pools – which were kind of disappointing. They were not natural pools, but fancy concrete hot tubs set in a garden. Not exactly what we were expecting, and unfortunately we skipped walking to Lake Matheson because we didn’t think we had time to get to the Hot Pools before they closed. However, the Westwood Lodge was fantastic – just right for the glacier/mountain feel. The host (owner?), Kaz, was very engaging, and even though the lodge was full it felt like we were the only ones there. Rooms were huge! Dinner in FJ was also good (can’t think of the name of the restaurant right now), with free wifi (as it turns out we had plenty of wifi connectivity all week, and never had to pay). The train ride back was a nice end to the South Island tour. We had an excellent time, and really appreciated not having to worry about the accommodations, directions, plan, etc. The phone came in handy a few times, and the Kruse was a nice touch (but it could get annoying when it didn’t agree with the road itinerary). We even got a free upgrade from a Ford Focus to a brand new (and very nice) Ford Territory SUV !! Travel time between sites took longer than expected, which stressed me a little (and driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road may have slowed us down also !). We found the New Zealanders to be extremely welcoming and friendly, and the food portions in all the restaurants was absolutely huge (although we are somewhat used to that in America, I have been living in China for two years, so really enjoyed the meals in NZ). I am working on Tripadvisor reports for the trip, and will gladly recommend New Zealand Fine Touring to anyone who asks! Thanks again. ”
—Peter & Ann Sharpe, USA
—Without exception, the accommodation you recommended was superb.
“ With hindsight we would have preferred just one night in Rotorua. We booked the Mitai Maori Village evening and thoroughly enjoyed it. The only other activity that was of interest was the thermal wonderland, which as your itinerary suggested we visited en route to Tarata Fishaway. We would have loved to have a second night here in preference to the 2nd night in Rotorua. It is a fantastic location, and the owner offers rafting trips and other exiting activities that we did not have time to sample. It really does not make sense to treat this as a one night stop over between Rotorua and Wellington. Without exception, the accommodation you recommended was superb. To ask for favorites is indeed difficult. Again with hindsight, two nights in Matakana Country Lodge, followed by two nights in White House would have helped us get the full benefit of all that Matakana Lodge has to offer. The diversion to Hanmer Springs gave us no time to really appreciate the town; and possibly a lodge on the direct route would have been better than the Heritage Hotel. Westwood Lodge was great, but Franz Josef has little to offer in continuous rain! Wanaka Springs Lodge has new owners, who were keeping up the traditions of the previous owners, and their wine and nibbles reception stands out in the memory. The Dairy is superb, but ought to be at the price! Fletcher Lodge is stunning. The premium plus room in the Hermitage gave us superb views of Mt Cook on the day of arrival, but disappeared overnight as yet more rain meant the cancellation of an independently booked flight over the Glaciers. The welcome at Elizas in Christchurch was delightful, and we were amazed to find it rebuilt to its original glory after the tragic earthquake. I certainly agree that the Restaurant Manager at the Hilton made hard work of the dinner reservation, particularly as it was not full on the night! It was a very nice buffet dinner which we both enjoyed. The car on North Island was a Ford Focus, which we liked better than the Corolla that was supplied on South Island. We also found a number of your estimated driving times to be very optimistic. The Kruse GPS was great, and after 24 days we know some of the Maori legends off by heart. Supplying us with a mobile phone was also a nice touch, which we used to make a few bookings. This is the second trip you have organized for me. I have enjoyed a long career in the travel business, and would have no hesitation in recommending Fine Tours to anyone intending to tour New Zealand by car. Kindest regards Ken Franklin and Mavis O’Nions. ”
—Ruth, Ken, Paul & Moses Stickney, USA
—Shelley did a great job for us ... all the arrangements she made were perfect
“Shelley did a great job for us. We were only touring for a few days, after a long cruise, all the arrangements she made were perfect, and we had a very nice time. Many thanks, Lenita and Stanley Kersen”
—Lenita & Stanley Kersen, ISR
—We really feel we have seen and done all we could possibly do in the time we had
“Hello Jessica Happy New year. We have just returned to England after a fantastic time in New Zealand and would like to thank you for all you did for us and also give you some feedback. Firstly I left the Kruse system and the phone in the post bags ready to be returned with Camelot Motels who seemed more than happy to send them for us. Trips: The trips we booked were all extremely good especially the swimming with Dolphins, Heli Hike and the Doubtful Sound Trip. I was so overwhelmed by the amazing scenery at Doubtful sound and by the experience of swimming with wild dolphins that I actually cried!! I would definitely recommend everyone to do these trips! We also did a jet boat ride on the Buller Gorge (unplanned) and I can highly recommend anyone to do this too. I have the card if you would like details to recommend him to others, he was a highly skilled and very entertaining and pleasant man. Although it was mainly a fast jet boat ride with spins involved there was plenty of time to take in the beautiful scenery and slower moments where he pointed out interesting flora and fauna.Motels: All the Motels were of a very good standard with regards to cleanliness and location and friendly helpful staff although I we did have a couple of issues as below. We upgraded ourselves from the Motel at Mount Cook to the hotel, as the weather was really bad and it saved going back and forth in the car. We also upgraded ourselves at the Anchor Inn for a sea view for a small amount and this was definitely worth doing, The motels we were not happy with was the Red Tussock at Te anau as the room was near the main road which was noisy and also had noisy neighbors, we also thought we had been allocated an upstairs room but were given a downstairs one with no view at all. Also the St Claire's Hotel at Dunedin put us in one of the only rooms with a view of the hill full of houses rather than the sea, given the fact that we booked our holiday back in march this was extremely disappointing as we expected a good room here as it said executive suite. There were no other rooms available for that night but we asked to change the room the following night to all they had which was a standard room (much smaller with no bath) but it had a sea view. (not sure if you need to check the prices you are charged here for this one). Overall the whole trip though was very well planned and the only changes we would have made would have been more time in Mount Cook. We travelled along way to get there and back again but had no time to do any walks etc. in what was obviously a beautiful area. With the star gazing cancelled it was a real shame we couldn't do other activities whilst there. I hope the feedback is useful and once again thank you very much for your help to ensure our holiday was a wonderful experience. We really feel we have seen and done all we could possibly do in the time we had and without pre booking the various trips we would not have been able to achieve them all. Regards Sally and Terry ”
—Sally Austin & Terry Kinsley, GBR
—As a family of 4 (children of 14 and 12 years) there was a joint consensus that it was the best holiday ever!
“I would just like to say that we had an absolutely fantastic time in New Zealand, as a family of 4 (children of 14 and 12 years) there was a joint consensus that it was the best holiday ever! If we had to choose our top activities - they were the Franz Josef glacier and helicopter ride, whale watching, Mount Cook and the Hobbiton (near Rotorua) and Edoras tour (Mount Potts). But all of it was superb – especially the variety of scenery! We loved Queenstown – the old steamboat and farm visit were a delight, especially for my animal-loving daughter. The Maori cultural show was also very good in Rotorua.Despite the Trans Alpine Scenic Train being altered slightly, with a coach journey added due to track maintenance, it was still enjoyable. There were a couple of long driving days, but that was due to our time restrictions, as we wanted to see as much as possible in only 2 weeks. Driving was still pleasurable as the roads were not busy, particularly in the south island. The Milford Sound coach and boat trip (all day) from Queenstown – again it was stunning scenery, but the coach journey itself was too long for us as a family. Everything went very smoothly. The voucher system was so easy to use and all the trips were well organized with excellent tour guides. All the accommodation was very good – to a high standard, ideally situated and extremely comfortable. Having the Cruze system was a big plus too – a ‘A Sat Nav tour guide’, which gave us the option to decide if we wanted to stop off somewhere or not. We would love to go back again at some point - so if we get around to planning it, I’ll definitely be in touch. Thank you very much to Shelley and all at Fine Tours New Zealand for all your hard work to organize our trip. ”
—Rachel Lycett & Family, KOR