The trip was marvelous. But what we really want to comment about is our Kiwi expat travel agent, Jillian, the founder of our New Zealand and Australia tour operator, and the joy we experienced working with her. Five stars aren't enough to capture our enthusiasm. We have used bespoke high-end travel planners in the past (several of whom we have found through Zicasso) but *never* have we dealt with someone who was more responsive. From our initial contact -- she responded to our first Zicasso inquiry about our trip while she was traveling in New Zealand -- to the very end, Jillian was responsive, responsive, responsive. She listened actively and closely to every question or comment, made proposals/suggestions/alterations based on her deep understanding of what our travel goals were. And she was 100% on point. We were in touch with her (via email) throughout our trip. And because her planning of our trip was so thorough (and, also, because we were traveling in English-speaking countries), we found that, when we needed help (which was only once or twice), we had the materials at our fingertips to get what we needed by contacting her New Zealand - based partner, or by contacting our vendor/guide/hotel directly. We will use Zicasso again for our next adventure. We only hope that the planner with whom we connect can come close to replicating the level of service we received from Jillian. If you are considering a trip to New Zealand, let Jillian, our New Zealand and Australia travel agent be your planner!!
Our days at the Wilderness Lodge at Lake Moeraki were the absolute highlight. They reminded us why we travel. Glorious turquoise Tasman sea. Glorious green green rain forest. Glorious black lava rock formations. Glorious isolation -- there was no one there but us! Travelers cannot script days like we had at Lake Moeraki; we can only put ourselves in the situation that, should the gods of traveling smile on us, such days can unfold. And, lucky, lucky us. They did.
Before we headed to New Zealand, we spent 3 days in Sydney, and then 3 days in Port Douglas to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, something I very much wanted to do. What we learned is that the best weather season for temperate New Zealand (their autumn, Mar-May) is *not* the best weather season for northern, tropical Australia. The weather in Port Douglas (and in Sydney -- what a weird summer they had this year!) was, shall we say, not at all propitious for the activities we so very much wanted to do there. It was still the rainy season, and rain, rain, rain it did! Next time, I will pay much closer attention to weather expectations before adding a destination to an itinerary.