Zicasso was contacted for travel plan assistance six months before the vacation was to commence. My husband made a general inquiry about key sites including former Lord of the Rings movie locations to visit in New Zealand during a three week trip in February. Three companies offered suggested itineraries, but only one, our travel company, spoke to us on the phone PRIOR to submitting an initial itinerary. The owner of the company called one evening and spoke at length (at least 30 minutes) about possible options based on our interests, flexibility of travel (month and number of days), budget restrictions, and the importance of relaxing and truly enjoying the trip. Based on our conversation, she then planned a well-balanced itinerary of the North and South Islands. We requested only a few changes--to be routed through a different airport due to potential weather issues, an excursion change, and several excursion additions. At this point, no deposit had been made, yet our agent still made the adjustments. Only after we were pleased with the full itinerary did she request funds and that was simply to book the flights (Air New Zealand had a promotion that was likely to expire). We did make an initial deposit, but the full balance was not required until approximately one month before travel.
Communication did not end once the trip was booked. Any questions I had were directed to and, for the most part, handled by our agent. We were emailed flight information; we were updated of flight information changes. Hotels were changed because our agent felt the quality of the property had declined. (She had stayed at the hotel during her own holiday and felt it lacking.) An updated itinerary with new hotel information was emailed. A week or two prior to travel, our agent called again to review all the arrangements and answer any questions. I questioned if it would be difficult to find a restaurant on Valentine's Day so she arranged a booking in Wellington on our behalf. DURING the trip, our agent called again to verify all was going well and asked if there was anything that needed to be addressed. No assistance was needed because everything was working out splendidly. I would highly recommend this travel company for your NZ travel.
There is a definite difference in taste depending on what region you are visiting (Hawke's Bay, Marlborough, Queenstown). Be sure to take some wine tours and sample some platters. The progressive dinner in Hawke's Bay was enjoyable. We especially liked the boutique winery, Nautilus, in the Marlborough region.
We stayed overnight in the fjord and took a plane ride back to Queenstown the next morning. It was wonderful to experience the area by water and air.
Matamata Hobbiton Evening Tour with Dinner Viewing the holes as the sun was setting, I felt as if I were halfling. I truly felt transported when I danced on the party field and tramped by the pond with my lantern. The meal was good too.
Wellington Flat Earth Tours/Full Day Middle Earth Tour Our tour guide was a knowledgeable guide who provided props, movie clips, and photographs; but, most importantly, he shared his excitement about the movies and the film industry in NZ.
I would probably focus on one island rather than both. Although three weeks allowed us to see many places without feeling rushed, I still missed many areas.
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