We went through several iterations of planning a trip to Sydney and New Zealand with the tour company. Our agent was friendly, patient and knowledgeable. We wanted a camping experience in New Zealand and she integrated that with tour bookings and an itinerary that was perfect. The Australia and New Zealand tour vouchers were delivered to us in perfect order and we had absolutely no difficulties with any of the reservations or tours.
We drove over 4,300 km in three weeks and could easily have spent two more weeks absorbing the scenery, culture and doing some more hiking and relaxing.
We spent three days in Sydney and it was jam packed as we wanted. We did tours of the city, opera house, boat and ferry tours of the harbour and a Blue Mountain tour that also included an aboriginal heritage show. Sydney was very impressive and the tours were all excellent.
Our New Zealand tour started in Christchurch and we spent most of the time in the South Island. Highlights in the South Island included Lake Tekapo and Mt. Cook, Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula. We went to the Royal Albatross Centre (outstanding) to see these majestic birds and again in the evening to see the blue penguins come ashore. We drove down the Pacific Coast from Otago Peninsula from Dunedin to Invercargill, Te Anau and Milford Sound, Queenstown and the drive up to Glenorchy, Lake Wanaka, Fox Glacier and Franz Josef, the drive up the East Coast along the Tasman Sea to see the Pancake Rocks and on to Westport, Mouteka and Able Tasman National Park. From Mouteka we drove to Picton for the crossing to Wellington. The scenery was spectacular and we found ourselves enchanted in each new locale.
The crossing to the North Island was exciting due to heavy winds but entering the Wellington harbour everything calmed down. We spent just one night in Wellington and then traveled north to Wanganui and up through Manawatu for views of Tongariro but were disappointed due to low overcast. We proceeded to Waitomo Glowworm Caves and had a great tour there in good weather. The next stop was Rotorua and the thermal areas around it. Rotorua is a wonderful town with the great Tamaki Maori evening dinner tour where you see and participate in customs and crafts from their heritage. From Rotorua we went to the spectacular Bay of Islands area and camped at Russel, a very picturesque peninsula town. Touring the peninsula one day and kayaking another was great. We drove up to Doubtless Bay for a night of camping, had breakfast at quaint Manganui and on down the coast to our final night at Orewa right on the ocean.
Highlights were all of the above!
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