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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.
V. Good if u dont have much time. We had a week in total for all NZ - flew to Auckland on Sun, had the evening, then next day, with this 5 day tour starting on Tues-Sat. It basically takes you around the northern half of the north isl. and covers it all pretty well. Day1- Leave city in a coach, drive over the bridge and begin journey to beautiful Paihia - see nice countryside on way with a cpl stops here and there. It is narrated and I enjoyed this trip. The cruise was very fun. We didn't get to see all sights due to weather, but we did see alot more that normally isn't included. We also didn't see dolphins, so they gave us a another trip for free with no expiry date. The choppy water made the cruise really fun - for me anyways. After the cruise, you get taken to your hotel room. We chose Superior accom, and the rooms were nice, although the hotels were a little away from main areas, then again not really that far though - we walked. I had nothing to complain of. Day2- Long bus drive to the northernmost tip of NZ, and when you get there not really too much to see/do. There's a little lighthouse, and U can see where 2 oceans meet. it was good, but then worth the drive?? The trip back was where it paid off - instead of the same route back, the bus actually takes you onto the 90 mile beach and drives through the water. On the way you get to stop at giant skysrcaper sized sand dunes and boogie board down them. Really fun and weird driving in a bus through water. Buffet lunch provided was not buffet - fish and chips. Day3- Really long drive back to Auckland, Really long drive to Rotorua. Full day. Enough said. Day4- Rotorua is awesome and my favorite place on this journey. So many things to do. Caves were incredible. Glowworms were cool. Afternoon off to wander the town was welcome. We skipped Maori dance. Day5 - Geysers fantastic, all shows fantastic, Hobbiton cool and lame - way too many people to enjoy it properly. Will be back to PaiHia and Rotorua for sure. Very fun!
Everything went very smoothly and according to schedule. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and fun. It was a dream come true to see Hobbiton and the tours were incredible. I definitely recommend going on this trip!
SAW LOTS OF GREAT STUFF BUT THIS IS NOT A TRADITIONAL TOUR!
A great way to see a lot in a small amount of time. There is a lot time spent on the bus but it was worth it for the most part. Someday, I would like to go back to spend more time at Cape Regina, 90 Mile Beach and the Hots Springs. We spent a lot of time driving to locations and then we only had a short time to visit but it was the only way to cram in all of the sights.
My only complaint is that this was not a TOUR! This was several tours pieced together by the bus company. There were some occasions when I had to find my own way to the pick-up spot or my manage my own transportation back to my hotel carting my own luggage around. There is one full day of being on a bus driving from the northern part of the island to Rotorua. The trip could have been done in 5 hours but the bus made lots of stops along the way to pick up and discharge customers so it took 10 hours. We also had figure out how to change buses in Aukland. Your daily bus drivers have no idea what you are doing from one day to the next as they are only with you for the day. Everyone on the bus is doing their own customized tour for various numbers of days so don't expect them to be with you the entire tour. After Hobbiton, a group of us were dropped off at a bus stop on a street somewhere and had to wait 45 minutes for our next bus to come pick us up. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't horrible but I was expecting a traditional 5 day tour where you are picked up on day 1 at your hotel and everything is coordinated until you are dropped off at your hotel at the end of day 5. Be aware of what you are signing up for.
Overall the tour was great. What I would have liked to have known before going on the tour is that it is not a 5 day tour with the same group of people but it is instead a collection of half day/ day tours. The coaches were comfortable, had wifi and the drivers were friendly and knowledgeable. Highlights were the bay of islands - especially the hole in the rock and the Hobbiton movie set. I paid slightly extra and stayed in the Kingsgate and Hotel ibis - both very nice hotels close to local bars/ restaurants. I noticed sometimes there was not always enough time allocated to get food - usually it was a rush to arrange lunch so I would definitely recommend taking snacks to have on the coach.
We really enjoyed most of the sites and events. The only negative was too much time spent on bus rides..
Overall the tour was good. The guides were knowledgeable, friendly and informative. Waitangi treaty grounds tour was rushed and at times the guides commentary was too fast. The Intercity bus trip from Auckland to Roturua had lots of stops and the driver was somewhat rude. After the conclusion of Hobitton tour - wait for the bus back to Auckland was the most disappointing. It was a open shelter - extremely windy, cold and there was heavy downpour while waiting for the delayed bus. We were dropped off without much info other than your connection will be here shortly. Calls to your tour center was also unhelpful. For the tour costs paid for a Superioir Gold package the shortcomings were extremely disappointing.
I loved all the things we got to see and do. The only fall back is that most tours and trips did not come with food (which is fine) and did not leave enough time to get your own and started before hotel breakfast was available
Everything went off without a hitch. Accommodation was very good.
The only disappointment was the accommodation in Rotorua (Ibis). Standard of hotel was very poor, would not recommend this hotel to anyone.
Excellent experience. Covered the beauty, history and people of New Zealand. Highly recommended.
Wonderful experience. Though I had to change coaches quite often but the arrangement was perfect.
This is actually an "independent coach tour", which means they book you on the various day tours and intercity buses and you need to be able to follow an itinerary sheet yourself; might be obvious for Europeans and Aussies/Kiwis who have a strong backpacking culture, but it would not be clear from the tour descriptions to Americans and Asians.
There were a couple glitches with the tour: 1. Bay of Islands cruise was canceled by the local tour operator due to rainstorm and they said they would give refund through whomever paid for the cruise, but when I asked the travel agent that is selling this tour on Viator, they said they cannot give refund to me and told me to either go get travel insurance, or they would only give refund for the cruise minus a $25 "administrative fee"; 2. On the itinerary sheet, Waitomo Caves tour title says excluding lunch but the description paragraph below says includes lunch, and when I asked the travel agent about it, she said to only read the part that says excluding lunch; 3. There was no transport provided from Sky City bus terminal back to my hotel on the last day.
It annoys me that the company that organized this tour believed that they are not accountable for any of the issues that occurred (always had excuses or said it was another person's responsibility). However I give them 3 stars for always responding very quickly and finally gave me partial cruise refund after multiple emails. The actual local tour guides and bus drivers for each of the day tours were wonderful though, always friendly and helpful. Also note that on Day 3, bus trip from Paihia to Rotorua, there is a 45-minute gap at Auckland Sky City bus terminal where we waited to switched buses, however we were responsible for our own luggage since this is an independent coach tour, so if you have a large suitcase, you might end up stuck at the bus terminal with your luggage for that time. I only had a backpack, so I was able to walk out of the bus terminal to get lunch.
Note from Viator:
Thank you for your feedback. We apologize that you had some difficulties with your tour and it did not meet your expectations. Viator unfortunately did not receive any refund requests from you or we would have been glad to process a refund for any cancelled portions of the tour. If you booked through a Travel Agency, then they may have their own personal policies that needed to be adhered to, but these would be outside of Viator's general refund policies.
Please be aware, the Waitomo Caves stop does include a Dinner Meal only. Although there may be stops for Lunch, any purchases would be at the traveler's own expense and not included with the price of this package. We apologize if you were given different information upon booking.
We hope you were able to enjoy your overall tour experience and look forward to being of service to you again in the future.
This tour fit our needs for touring the North Island so I didn't need to stress over driving on the left side of the road.
I was very impressed when I arrived at my hotel and we received a confirmation in the form of a letter from Great Sights confirming bus pick up the next morning. I thought this would be the norm for the rest of the trip - each morning- NOT SO!.
Be aware that each day is a different tour, with a different organization.
Day 1- We had a very informative tour guide on the bus to Paihia. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds was interesting. We arrived to the pier shortly before embarking the ship, with no time to get any food. There were few choices on the ship. My advise is to prepare to bring food for each day on this tour as you don't know when you will get a chance to eat. The bay of islands was beautiful with plenty of seating on the boat. We saw dolphins and then set sail for some of the islands. You see the islands from the boat and the captain was mindful of photo ops and turning the boat around each island to capture pictures from each side. We were tired after a long day and were not prepared for a stop at the last island and were asked to disembark and tour the small island. We were tired and anxious to get back to Paihia and eat. We did get off and walked up a steep hill to get spectacular views. After being on tour all day and arriving to our hotel late we expected to be notified what time and where the bus would be picking us up the next morning. There was no notification. We asked the hotel front desk and they thought it would pick us up in the morning at the hotel between an hour scheduled time based on our tour for the day. One thing I was not happy about... we stayed at the Kingsgate great location right on the water and a block from the maritime center and beautiful sun sets. Our luggage was delivered to the hotel while we were on the boat. It stayed in the hotel lobby very small location right in front of maps and touring information for about 5 hours with access to anyone. I would have preferred it was stored in a safe location.
Day 2 - Fun day packed with great sights and adventure. 90 mile beach was exciting and the sandboarding was a lot of fun. There is ample time at Cape Reigna and each location to see all the sights and take great photos. Again after an all day tour we arrived back at the hotel with no notification for the following day. We were to travel back to Auckland and then to Rotorua. They had no idea where we were supposed to meet. There was no notification about the pick up time or where we were supposed to meet.
Day 3- After an hour of frustration trying to figure out where to meet the bus I called the information on our Viator confirmation. The New Zealand Fine Touring Group was the contact. The associate was very nice and told us where to meet the bus. She also notified us that we were supposed to have received a full itinerary we did not, and she would email it to us. This was the worse day! It was over 9 hours on a city bus. Something they don't explain is you are not on a tour today. This day is transporting you by city bus to Auckland and then on to Rotorua. It is very cramped and picking up the public at several stops. There is no time to get food or go to the bathroom. Prepare for this day! We were on our own to figure out how to get to Rotorua from Auckland also as we still had not received our itinerary. That night we arrived in Rotorua and were able to access email and the itinerary. Hallelujah! It was very informative and stated we would have a taxi pick us up at the bus stop to take us to the hotel. The bus was an hour and a half late. We called the travel agent and they scheduled a taxi to pick us up right away. We stayed at the Sudima. A nice hotel on the lake.
Day 4 - The bus driver picked us up from the hotel lobby. The countryside is beautiful this time of year - very green! The caves were wonderful. Our day in Rotorua was spent looking for a restaurant to eat. There are a lot of great things to do in the city however. The Maori dinner was wonderful, entertaining and very informative. The food was good!
Day 5 - A packed day of tours. We had a great bus driver and went to the 3 tours before arriving in Hobbiton. Hobitton is definitely the high lite of the 5 days. Beautiful scenery and though crowded, people were mindful of those taking photos. We were taken to a bus to return to Auckland. This time it was a tour bus and a straight shot to Auckland. What a difference that made.
To review the whole trip... Make sure to have your detailed itinerary before you arrive for the tours. Get food! Most of the tours don't accommodate eating at your leisure. We learned to get food each morning to last the day. New Zealand is beautiful and I feel we were there at the best time of year with mild temperatures and green, green hills and diverse scenery.
Bear in mind that this is essentially two tour packages--one based from Paihia, the other based from Rotorua, that are stapled together by a day-long journey on the regular Intercity Bus. In other words, instead of being on a comfortable tour couch with an entertaining and knowledgeable driver who stops at scenic locales along the route, you waste one day of your vacation on crowded mass transit that stops in the least scenic part of every town, spending 9 hours on a journey that should only take 5.
With the exception of Day 3, all of the tour activities handled primarily by Great Sights New Zealand were quite enjoyable and professionally done. The drivers handled the logistics of luggage transport very well my bags were waiting in my hotel room when I arrived after the cruise on Day 1, although there were a couple of occasions where there wasn't enough time between activities to eat lunch is only provided on one day. Great Sights seems to hire guides with big personalities and long memories, so you end up learning a lot about NZ.
Of all the activities, the Bay of Islands boat tour was the most enjoyable and unexpected treat. The bay is beautiful and while we didn't see any dolphins, we did see orca, which I was assured is even better! The final day felt a bit rushed, with three tours around Rotorua in the morning and then the Hobbiton set in the afternoon. I would have happily skipped the sheep-shearing demonstration for more time to relax at the Green Dragon Inn in Hobbiton which features a very mellow cat asleep by the fireplace.
One last note: Rotorua STINKS. The volcanic activity responsible for its hotsprings also means the entire town, inside and out, smells of rotten eggs. I never got used to it, and spent most of my stay breathing through my mouth. If you go to the hot springs not included, be sure to wash your swimsuit before packing, or the smell will get on everything.
Warning, this 5 day tour consists of a lot of riding in tour bus, so much of the enjoyment depends on who you have as a bus driver or tour guide that day. The first 2 days of the tour was very good going north of Auckland to Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga. The 3rd day of tour was not enjoyable as it is just a whole day spent riding in 2 separate buses to Rotorua. The 4th day was good going to Waitomo Caves and Mauri village for dinner/show. The 5th day is pretty packed. For us, the tour operator screwed up and did not book our tour on the 5th day, so we were stuck in the hotel waiting all morning. This really bummed us out as we were looking forward to the fully packed 5th day activities, and we were very concerned about being able to get from Rotorua back to Auckland to catch our flight back to US the following day. It took a few hours of waiting for tour operator to get their act together and we eventually got rebooked for the 5th day afternoon tour to Hobbiton, but the mistake by the tour operator really tainted our experience. To make the experience worse, when we were offered the refund for their mistake a couple of week later, the refund came in ridiculously low. I had to contact Viator a couple of times before Viator offered a fair refund amount we asked for 20 back as 1 in 5 days was ruined.
What I learned:
1. Make sure that the tour operator book you for all 5 days reconfirm with tour operator if possible this can get difficult as you are on the move during the tour, so try to reconfirm before tour begins.
2. Viator seems like a reliable company as it did ultimately offer a fair refund, but only after I contacted them a couple of times.
3. New Zealand is a beautiful country with natural and cultural wonders.
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