This was definitely a bucket list trip and we are hopeful to return for some of the adventures that we just couldn’t fit in within the three weeks! We met great people while there, friendly and helpful to a fault (if that is possible.) It was a whole series of fantastic adventures. No worries at all! Thanks to our New Zealand travel company for organizing such a memorable trip.
The only minor glitches were with the pick up for the Penguin Tour in Dunedin—they still had the original location-- and the Taxi was about a half-hour late in Taupo. The Hilltop House and Waitomo Guest Lodge both have great hosts, great views, great food, and good location. Hotels had great locations within Queenstown, in Taupo, and in Rotorua for walking to lakefront and free attractions.
If we had to pick a ‘best of’, it would be the dolphin swim (although very cold!) . Most of the stateside folks we know who have been on South Island seemed to have done this swim and have the same praise. A close second would be the penguin tour—on the beach with the penguins—although people should be forewarned that this requires quite a bit of walking over hilly and uneven terrain.
We realize now it might have been better to start on the North Island and then go to the South Island. This would give the visitor an easy introduction to New Zealand. We think this would also decrease the amount of time spent traveling to pick up and drop off vehicles on the two islands.
The hotel in Taupo was very nice and close to the lake, but it was far from the tour location. We had a pick up at 6:30 a.m. to go back south towards Wellington an hour and half in order to start the canoe trip on the Whanganui.
We also think that anyone traveling should spend at least two full days at Abel Tasman and at Kaikoura.
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