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Jenny United States of ...
This is a semi-independent tour. The travel agency arranges for hotel, buses between cities, transfers to and from hotel and excursions. You will not be traveling with the same people nor on the same bus all the time. We were very impressed with the logistics! Seriously, considering that we took different buses with different drivers each way between cities, excursions and multiple transfers, we were surprised that everything went without a single issue. All the buses and transfers were on-time except the last bus from Mata Mata to Auckland which the Agency reps mentioned that regularly 15 min late. They offered to pick us up at the hotel in downtown Auckland but because our hotel coming back was by the airport, they weren’t unable to accommodate that transfer and we ended up taking a taxi.
The communication with the agency was good. I had called before the trip to let them know that I wanted to see the itinerary a bit before the 1 week mark and they complied by sending it two weeks prior. Please ensure to check your emails sent from Viator as they do not send the itinerary directly to your email. We read everything on the itinerary and made hard copies of it. During the trip I only called them to make a reservation to the Tamaki Maori Village dinner and cultural experience and on our last day as we were waiting for the bus to Auckland and were concerned because it was a few minutes late. I guess we had been spoiled with getting every single driver on time. The hotel in Paihia was ok, well situated in town’s center, close to everything. We absolutely loved our hotel in Rotorua, the Sudima hotel by the lake.
This tour covers a lot of attractions in a very short time, therefore there will be a couple of days where everything will be jam-packed and there will be a lot of driving, but to be fair, unless you plan to drive yourself and stay on each location you visit, I don’t see how you can cover all these attractions in such a short time. This tour is perfect for people like us, that do not like driving abroad and have little vacation time. The third day, it is mostly spent on two intercity buses from Paihia to Auckland and Auckland to Rotorua. They do make a few stops where you can go to the restroom and a 45 min transfer at Auckland. We were worried about this mainly to reading other people’s review but we were pleasantly surprised as it wasn’t as bad as depicted. All you have to do is make sure is to take advantage of the scheduled stops and bring some snacks for the road. You can always buy lunch at the bus station in Auckland. We arrived Rotorua a bit early in the evening, the bar tender at the Sudima recommended to visit the Town’s center and check out the market(on Thursdays only) then we headed to the Polynesian Spa next door to unwind in their hot baths.
Most drivers were very knowledgeable and extremely personable, only a couple were a bit weird. Most of them seem to be local therefore they provide good information while going sight seeing.
The only thing I would recommend to the agency is to ensure to specify on the itinerary that there are any bus changes for certain excursions or if the lunches will be provided by a different bus driver than the one that you leave for during the excursions. On our way to Waitomo cave, the driver began by saying that the bus was going to Auckland instead of specifying that some people will be returning to Rotorua on a different bus. We got a nervous and began asking questions, and then he let us know that some of us will be returning on a different bus and that lunch was going to be served on that other bus.
Overall an Excellent experience, this is a good way to see the main sights of the North Island is a very short time. Grey Sights and Gray line did a fantastic job coordinating this tour, we really enjoyed it.
Our family thoroughly enjoyed this action packed holiday and especially recommend it to those who have a limited time to see highlights of the North Island. We were so impressed by the exquisite scenery, the kindness of the countrys people and the richness of the Maori culture. Our only issue with the 5-day tour was that we would have preferred more detail about our itinerary and how to coordinate with the tour operators. Although Viator organised the bus transportation, hotel accommodations, and individual tours, we were left to coordinate when/where for pickups etc. for tours and transportation to the next locations.
Wonderful experiences everywhere we went. Definitely worth the price. The crew were very friendly and punctual. Would recommend it to anyone.
very organized. packed with value. Great hotels. Clean buses well maintained with WIPI. . courteous bus drviers. Best land tour we have had.
Great Tour have to say it was very organized. Always had are names and picked up on time.
All buses were great as they all had free wifi on board. All bus drivers were very informative and friendly. Highly recommend this trip all the activities are great
An absolutely impressing tour - the only disadvantage: due to big distances sometimes simply to much driving. But all the visits on the tour: just grandious! Will go back to some places one time, that is for sure.
All the reservations, connections and transports worked.
The places visited were nice and very interesting.
There were two in my party, myself and my wife. In the past we have taken bus tours where you literally stay with the same vehicle for the tour duration. Your approach of using whatever transport was available at the time it was required was new to us, and we found it marvelous. It was a genuine attempt to maximize the use of your resources.
All of your drivers were great. They were respectful, incredibly knowledgeable, had a good sense of humour and were always on time. Perhaps one day, we will return to New Zealand and use your facilities again. Until then we will recommend you to any of our friends who are planning a New Zealand holiday.
Regards and thanks for a memorable trip,
Chris and Anita Taylor.
We had a great time. Everything worked exactly as it was supposed to. The itinerary was challenging but very enjoyable. We were able to see a lot of the best of the North Island over a limited duration. EXCELLENT EXPERIENCE.
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