Much of any tour is dependent upon the tour guide. In Hobart we had an excellent guide who knew the city, the state and its history. After the four hours we felt that we saw the primary sites, got a good impression of home styles and understood what we saw in the context of Tasmanian history.
Christchurch, New Zealand
The drive from Akaroa to Christchurch takes about and hour and a half and the scenery is breathtaking. Upon arrivig in Christchurch we were taken to the Botanical Gardens and the Museum next to the Gardens. Each venue needed at least an hour to walk through. We had 45 minutes total and for most on the bus it was a bathroom stop with no way to see or appreciate either. The drive through central Chrischurch which took the brunt of the earthquake, was like tourinng the aftermath of a war zone. Huge parking lots exist where buildings one stood. And many other streets are still barrackaded with massive amounts of debris or buildings are shored up with stacks of shipping containers. The sad part is that it will take another 10 years to rebuild the city and those that could afford it have moved to other areas. There is no time allocated for any sightseeing of Akaroa, a very small, cute village.
Auckland, New Zealand
The tour guide was mediocre which downgraded this tour to three stars from four. Auckland is a big city with few "key" sites. There is a long bridge, parks, monuments...the usual things you see in a city of a milion plus people. The Space Needle could be seen from several places the bus stopped for photographs, but you need to go on your own to get the vista of the city it provides. The tour did not include Devonport, a neat little craftsy area across the bay that sits below the extinct volcano Mt. Victoria.
Papeete, French Polynesia
The guide made this trip. I cannot pronounce his name, but he was a man who grew up in the forest, a true bushman. The trip into the interior of Tahiti was fascinating...we learned which plants and flowers were medicinal, how those living in the bush made utensils and the history of the forest people including a visit to the site of 1400 year old mummies! Our 4X4 climbed through amazing terrain surrounded by craggy peaks and we ended up at what appeared to be a delapidated hotel in the middle of nowhere. They had no guests but us and we had a phenomenal gourmet French lunch on the veranda overlooking the lush valley (lunch not included in tour). The other 4 people on our tour became friends which made the trip that much more enjoyable. Worth every penny!!!!
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