I would choose to go to basic pubs or pizza places for dinners as we did not enjoy the food and felt service was poor at the higher end restaurants we went to which was frustrating and especially when paying higher prices.In New Zealand, I would allow for an extra day or 2 in cities in which excursions are the highlight in order to allow for rescheduling in the event weather cancels excursions. Given our experience with missed flight, I would not rely on TA or airline to notify of flight changes - I would follow-up online 12-24 hours before each flight via airline website to confirm flight status.
Travel Company CommentsDear Amy,It is wonderful to hear that you enjoyed the trip of a lifetime, with so many amazing local experiences and special accommodations. We prioritize matching the experience to the travelers’ style and interests, and we are happy that the personally selected arrangements were a perfect fit.The flight schedule change was indeed an unfortunate disruption to the trip, and we offer our heartfelt sympathy for the major inconvenience and lost day in Christchurch. We completely understand the frustration. We have investigated the situation thoroughly to determine how to avoid a similar issue in the future and, due to the nature and frequency of airline schedule changes, are updating our procedures to ensure that we add additional checks on flights before and during a client’s trip. In this instance, we had reviewed the flight schedule at the time of final documentation, a month before departure. As soon as we learned of the disruption, the trip planner and our team members in Australia, New Zealand, and the US immediately coordinated efforts to secure accommodation and adjust arrangements to minimize the impact of the disruption as much as possible. We refunded the missed Christchurch accommodation and tour, covered the hotel night in Sydney en route to Christchurch, and looked ahead in your itinerary to see where we could offer extra services and amenities, which included a room upgrade at the final accommodation in Queenstown.The weather in New Zealand has been unusually bad for this time of year, and many travelers have experienced cancellations of weather-dependent activities, such as helicopter and small fixed-wing planes. Every itinerary that we provide notes about these experiences as weather dependent to make sure travelers are aware of the possibility. In the case of a weather-related tour cancellation, we attempt to reschedule the same tour for another time/day, or offer alternate experiences if a reschedule is not possible. Unfortunately with a limited window of travel time, and the inclement weather not short-lived, the tours were canceled and a full refund processed. Weather issues have unfortunately continued to affect tour operations well into this New Zealand summer season when weather is typically much more favorable. Our agency does encourage additional time in locations with weather-dependent activities, but that recommendation does not always match with the amount of time that travelers have to experience a destination. The topic is already flagged as a priority discussion point during the planning process, and we are also considering ways to highlight the increasing trend of unpredictable weather in New Zealand.Dining out in Australia and New Zealand can indeed be expensive, depending on the type of restaurant, cuisine, and location. We had understood your preference to eat at nice places and make reservations in advance in order to make the time as stress-free as possible and did not discourage that, due to your tight schedule. The basic pubs and pizza places that you referred to do not take reservations, but are indeed a good cost-saving option.It is our priority and intention for each trip to be a wonderful experience for our clients. We do sincerely apologize that your experience was less than perfect, and have taken your feedback to heart.
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