Hi Shelby, We had an outstanding trip. You & your team did an outstanding job of planning. I require a lot of detail and what was provided made me feel very comfortable. I'm glad that we had a direct flight from Houston to Auckland. Air New Zealand was very good. No matter what seats one has (thank goodness we were at least in premium economy), 14 hour flights are long. I don't sleep. Great selection of movies and good wine, though.
The Skycity Grand Hotel was beautiful, their breakfast was exceptional, and the people were very helpful and friendly. One night we ate at "The Grill", a restaurant in the hotel. We weren't impressed. Our steaks were cooked to the recommendation of the chef, but were very tough. I should have said something, but didn't.
The hotel was ideally located for sight seeing and restaurants. I loved that it was in walking distance to our next adventure as well as to Avis where we got a rental car. On our 1st full day in Auckland, we went on Ananda Tours through Waiheke Island. I'm so glad that we spent the day on the island, that was beautiful. We also had the best tour guide, Ginny, who was vastly familiar with the island and all the people. Kudos to Ginny for making the day outstanding.
The next day we drove to the Waitomo Caves to see the Glow worms. I guess I was glad that we saw them just to say that we did. They are unique.
Solitaire Lodge was incredible. The rooms were huge and modern with fantastic views. The pre-dinner drinks and canapes were outstanding as well as the meals.
McHardy Lodge was beautiful with a nice view of the ocean. Yvonne, the owner made the place an even better experience. She was very engaging, interesting, and helpful. I highly recommend. The Long Island Guides person took us on a very good tour. Speaking to a Maori elder was one of the highlights of the trip.
The Peppertree B&B was one of the best places where we stayed. We loved Heidi and Werner who couldn't do enough for us. Their B&B was gorgeous, but what they did with their property was totally captivating. We picked plums from their tree, ate fresh figs for breakfast, walked among the grape vines and fruit trees, fed the ducks, and watched their sheep and cows. They also pointed us to fantastic restaurants in town.
While there, we went on a tour with Gary from the Marlborough Tour Company. He chose wonderful vineyards to explore and showed us more of the northern part of the South Island. It was great. Hapuku Lodge was outstanding!!! I couldn't believe the great views from the spacious, modern room. The food was also excellent. They were close to both the beach and the mountains. What could be better?
As we drove down the coast from Hapuku Lodge, we came across a pod of seals. They were entertaining. Farther south, we came upon a pod of dolphins off shore. They were moving north, but at a slow rate. We pulled over and watched them do flips, jumps, and swim backwards on their tails. They were a highlight of the trip.
Mt John Observatory Tour with Earth and Sky Ltd. was phenomenal. We had a perfect night to study the sky with extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic tour guides.
Our last place to stay was the ultimate place to stay, Azur. What incredible views from our huge, comfortable, modern room with a spacious bathroom. Everyone there was incredibly helpful and drove us around town or to the airport as needed. I'm glad that we got to stay here. The Milford Fly Cruise Heli was amazing. Riding on a helicopter so close to the mountains was thrilling. The cruise took us through picturesque waterfalls with an entertaining ship captain. The plane ride back was good, but the helicopter experienced fewer bumps so I did like that better.
Our last tour was a half day tour with Nomad Safari. We got to see many of the sites where "Lord of the Rings" was filmed. Our tour guide was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. It was a great way to end our stay in New Zealand. Thanks again for everything.
Candace, FL - Mar 2016