We were 3 couples from New York looking to plan a trip of alifetime visiting French Polynesia, New Zealand, and Australia. Welooked at cruises, land tours offered by tour companies and couldn't find anitinerary that captured all of the bucket list items each of us had. Icompleted a Zicasso travel questionnaire and they connected us with a travel plannerfrom this travel company. Our travel planner was phenomenal from the start - responsive, attentive,understood our travel objectives and immediately began putting together anitinerary for us. With us in New York and our travel planner based in New Zealand you mightthink the time difference would complicate the planning process - not at all.We worked collaboratively over the phone, text, and email planning our trip (aU.S. number was provided so there was no international communication charges).Our planner drafted an itinerary (including destinations and air flights); offeredtour options, suggestions and recommendations; and wherever possible providedsmall personal tours. With our travel plan nearly complete we decided to dropone of our destinations (Melbourne) and add a new destination (AyersRock/Uluru). In order to make this work the Australia part of our itinerary hadto be reworked. No problem at all - our travel planner quickly had all of the hotel, flight,tour and transport arrangements made and the pricing finalized. Our finalvacation plan had us traveling almost 4 weeks visiting Moorea, Auckland,Rotorua, Queenstown (NZ), Cairns/Port Douglas, Ayers Rock, and Sydney - allwith amazing tours to enrich and highlight our destinations.
About 2-3 weeks before our trip we received our detailed electronicitinerary complete with flight, hotel, tour, and transport (to/fromhotel & airport) information. Also provided was travel tips for each of thecountries being visited and local contact information should we have any issuesat all during our journey.
Our trip started in Moorea where we stayed at a Resort and Spa. The pool was closed due to renovation - something we and our travel planner did not know when the reservation was made and found out about 3 weeks prior to arrival - but the hotel provided us a room credit and upgraded our accommodations to an OTW bungalow. The hotel beach was beautiful, accommodations amazing, staff warm & friendly and our stay in Moorea incredible - would highly recommend this island and hotel. While in Moorea we did two tours - Private Sailing Cruise on the Taboo - Half Day, and Private 4WD Safari Tour - Half Day. I would recommend both tours but the Sailing Cruise on the Taboo was exceptional and highly recommended.
From Moorea our next destination was New Zealand - we spent an evening in Papeete, Tahiti to catch an early morning flight to Auckland. The hotel in Papeete we stayed at - we would not recommend this hotel at all. It was dated, very low level exterior nighttime lighting, and a host of other problems and issues. I strongly suggest staying at a better hotel on the outskirts of town.
Our New Zealand itinerary was magnificent. In Auckland we stayed at a Hotel (highly recommend) and took the Auckland Luxury Day Tour. We enjoyed the tour and our guides (our primary guide and driver and our Maori guide) - Our primary guide was excellent (knowledgeable, informative and fun) and our Maori guide flavored the tour with Maori history, culture and traditions. Our next tour was a coach tour taking us from Auckland to Rotorua stopping along the way at Hobbiton and Waitomo. Hobbiton was beautiful and although the six of us did not read the books or see the movies we all loved the tour, the beautiful landscape, and the stories provided by our guide. The Waitomo caves and glowworms is something you should see but we found the tour groups large and clustered to close together making it difficult to hear the guides. Our day ended in Rotorua where we stayed at a lakeside hotel - a nice hotel located on Lake Rotorua. In Rotorua we did a Geothermal Hotspots and Boat Cruise. This was a small personal tour and our tour guide was excellent providing the history, insight and science to this geothermal park. That evening we attended a tour of a Tamaki Maori Village, dinner, and a cultural show - a fun time had by all. Our last stop in New Zealand was Queenstown where we stayed at a beautiful and charming hotel - located on a hill top overlooking the lake and walking distance to town - we loved our stay here and highly recommend this hotel. From Queenstown we did the Milford Sound Nature Cruise - this is a long day with a lot of hours riding the coach bus but the cruise and beautiful landscapes are well worth it. Our last tour out of Queenstown was the Dart River Jet Safari. Our tour bus driver to the start station and river was fun, knowledgeable, and very passionate about the beautiful natural resources and landscapes of this wonderful country. The jet boat part of the tour was exhilarating with scenic stops coupled with jet spins and zooming down the scenic river. From Queenstown we left New Zealand for Cairns/Port Douglas Australia.
Australia was incredible. Our first stop was Port Douglas. Here we stayed at a Resort and Spa – a boutique type hotel that was just a few minute walk to the town and restaurants. We loved our poolside rooms and enjoyed the pool after a day of touring – definitely recommend this hotel. Our first tour here was where we explored Daintree National Park. As we cruised the river, hiked in the rain forest, walked the beaches, and toured the park, our tour guide was terrific providing information and insight into the cultural history, the ecosystem, wildlife, and plant life. From the rain forest one day to the Great Barrier Reef the next - here we experienced the reef - Outer Reef and Snorkel Tour. Our tour group of 10 boarded the beautiful catamaran and was greeted by the captain and two mates. It was the crew that made this day fun and special. There were some that were apprehensive about swimming/snorkeling the reef - they took the time and patience to make sure everyone was comfortable and had the opportunity to enjoy this magnificent experience. The next morning was a very early start to catch our 6:25am flight to Ayers Rock. At Ayers Rock where we stayed had a beautiful room with a view of Uluru. Given the early start, we had a chance to relax and enjoy the pools our first day here. Two of our friends did the helicopter tour of Uluru in the early evening and thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular views from the air. The next morning we did the Desert Tour Including Breakfast with our guide. We enjoyed a pre-dawn breakfast and witnessed the beautiful sunrise over the desert and Uluru, and then toured Uluru where our guide told us about the history, culture, people, and geology of this incredible landmark. That night we enjoyed the A Night at the Field of Light with the Dinner tour. Here we were able to see the breathtaking views of Uluru across the desert at dusk and the sunsetting on Kata Tjuta, enjoyed an outdoor buffet dinner, and walked the pathways through the Field of Light - a wonderful way to cap the end of our last night at Uluru. Our last destination - the beautiful city of Sydney. Here we stayed at a Sydney Harbour hotel - a beautiful boutique hotel with friendly attentive staff, delicious food, and is walking distance to many restaurants and city attractions. Our first tour, was a full day tour that took us to the Featherdale Wildlife Park (where we were able to feed kangaroos and pet koalas) and tour Blue Mountains National Park. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate and due to the cloud cover we were only able to get a glimpse of this beautiful park. We did get to see kangaroos in the wild and our tour guide made the outing fun and informative. Our last tour of this incredible journey was the Full Day Sydney Including Harbour Sailing tour. The tour included all the key city points of interest, and a pretty drive through the suburbs to Bondi Beach, all insightfully narrated by our guide. Our tour continued with a sailboat cruise around Sydney harbor. We had some on and off rain during the cruise but the captain made the trip enjoyable with his knowledge, tidbits of information, and stories about the surrounding harbor sites and homes. From the tropical Port Douglas; the deserts of Uluru; to the harbor, sites and mountains of Sydney - this was an amazing Australian adventure.
There were many moving parts to this trip of a lifetime, and everything executed like precision clock work. I have to complement our travel planner and her attention to detail for the seamless execution that allowed us to fully enjoy this amazing journey. What also made this special were the tours - most of our tours were small personal tours of 6-10 in very comfortable luxury vehicles with guides that were engaging, knowledgeable, friendly and made the experience both informative and fun.
When I look back on our journey what I liked the best is the diversity that each destination provided. From the tropical paradise of Moorea; the volcanoes, black sand beaches, beautiful landscapes, caves, geothermal parks, indigenous cultures & villages, waterfalls & cliffs, and river jet boating in New Zealand; to the rainforest, Great Barrier Reef, the desert sunrise and sunset on Uluru, mountains & wildlife, and beautiful city of Sydney in Australia - every destination and every tour offered something uniquely different, special and memorable. This is what made this vacation remarkable and we thank our travel planner of this travel company for orchestrating this wonderful itinerary for us.
I have to say with the exception of the hotel in Papeete (see above), I would not change any aspect - destination, hotel or tour - of our trip. If we had the luxury of time we could have spent more time in French Polynesia, New Zealand and Australia. But given the time we had, the itinerary developed by the travel planner was perfectly crafted allowing us to experience a sampling of the diverse offerings for each country.
Travel Company Comments
Thank you so much for your review and I am so glad to hear you had a fantastic time everywhere you went! With regards to the hotel in Tahiti for your overnight – we will certainly take your great feedback into consideration for future travellers and suggest a hotel that might be a little further out of town but be of a better standard. Feedback like this is so important to us in ensuring all of our guests receive the best experience possible. I so enjoyed working with you and hope we can help you again in the future.
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