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We booked a tour through Tauranga with Jim Archer a few weeks before our arrival by cruise ship. Now I can see how lucky we were to be able to have booked with him. He is so knowledgeable about every aspect of this tour and area. The geo thermals are amazing and learning more about the land and people made us really connect with this very special place. And Jim is very funny!! It was so great to be on this smaller tour compared with those other huge tour buses. It was our favorite tour and stop of our entire cruise. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to book him again someday when we come back!
Overall the Archer tour was not what I expected. When we assembled at the time requested to go on the excursion, two people did not show up. The tour guide insisted on waiting 30 minutes to see if they would come. We really had to press him to leave so we could start the tour. The excursion was listed on Viator to include a tour of a Kiwifruit farm. The tour guide told us that the posting on Viator was wrong and they no longer tour the farm. Another friend took a tour from another operator to the same Maori/Thermal valley as us and was also taken to a Kiwifarm. While at the Maori cultural center we missed seeing the exhibit for the Kiwi bird. We certainly seemed to have had time to make sure that we saw that exhibit.
An amazing tour of the area. From walking on the beach to going to the geo-thermal valley and seeing steaming geysers erupt. The Maori Cultural Centre gave a wonderful explanation of their culture. Our guide was extremely knowlegeable about this culture being part Maori himself. Wonderful experience.
Problem with our tour, which was booked and paid for and confirmed by Viatour before the date. When we arrived on the dock 15minutes early the driver was a no show. We looked and looked for him and finally were told by 2 separate people that he had been there and left! Fortunately another driver was doing a similar tour and happened to have room for 2 more. He put in a call to the Jim Archer driver who had left us and was told that he was overbooked. Why would he not have waited to tell us in person. Very upsetting! We were lucky that the other driver heard our distress and took us on the tour which was great but had a very bad start. We are not certain that the tour we took was as inclusive and was perhaps less expensive than the one we originally booked and paid for.
Just arrived home after 4 weeks of travelling around New Zealand and this was only a few days in to our holiday but stands out as an out-standing day which was made more enjoyable by the wonderful Jim Archer who was so knowledgeable and an generally lovely guy. Would thoroughly recommend.
We had a wonderful time on this tour right from when Jim our Tour Guide picked us up from the Port of Tauranga where our ship had docked to when we were dropped back to the Port. Jim with his Maori heritage and his love of New Zealand was so interesting and this gave a special touch to the drive to Rotorua through the forests, rolling hills, farmlands and lake areas of the New Zealand country side. The beautiful Maori Culture display is a must see when visiting Te Puia at Rotorua. We received a traditional Maori Greeting before entering the Wharenui to enjoy harmonious singing, the ferocity and passion of the Haka, the skill of the Tititorea and the graceful dancing of the Poi. A trip to Te Puia is not complete without having one or two of their delicious meat pies at the cafeteria. As I have very limited mobility and use a light weight folding powered wheelchair. The visited to Te Puia was most suitable for me with easy access to the toilets, wheelchair access and assistance to the Wharenui, paved pathways to view the Geysers and mud pools. We appreciated the care and assistance offered to us by Jim our tour guide and we thank him very much for his kindness. We highly recommend Jim and his services for this very interesting tour.
AMAZING! Our guide, Julie, was great -- the perfect mix of knowledgeable, entertaining, and friendly. It was more like sightseeing with an old friend than doing a paid tour. My mother is 80 and had trouble getting in and out of the van. Julie never lost patience and even helped to push my mother's wheelchair at Te Puia. Julie went above and beyond to be sure we were comfortable and entertained, and that we learned a lot about New Zealand.
The tour is just as described on the website. Sometimes you sign up for things and then are told that this or that can't be done because of whatever. Not the case here!! We did EVERYTHING. Also, the timing was good -- not too much or too little time at any venue. It was a nice mix of culture Te Puia, fun sightseeing Kiwi 360 and Rotorua lakefront, and relaxation Papamoa Beach. I haven't listed everything we did! It's a long day but well worth it.
The group size is great. Granted, our tour wasn't full but the van just isn't that big. Even if your group is full, your tour will be a fraction of the size of the cruise ship tours. And it's cheaper! This is NOT a case of you get what you pay for. Our tour was top notch even though we saved money. I'm very picky and often find fault with accommodations, tours, etc. Not in this case! The only thing that wasn't perfect is that the Kiwi at Te Puia was asleep so we couldn't really see it. Obviously, this is beyond the tour's control!
Customer service is excellent. I ask a LOT of questions. Being from the US, I sent several emails to Jim Archer prior to our trip rather than calling. He ALWAYS responded within 24-hours even with the huge time difference and was very gracious and patient with all of my questions. I felt/feel like a valued customer!
We did this tour as part of a 14-day cruise through New Zealand and Australia, and it was definitely one of the highlights. I recommend that you book a tour that exposes you to Maori culture but I further recommend THIS tour.