This was a fabulous, once-in-a-lifetime trip! We had always wanted to see the flora and fauna of Australia and New Zealand. We liked Zicasso's process of linking us with multiple agents so that we could choose the most compatible one. The process was easily handled online, and we quickly settled on a great agent. The trip planner with the travel company turned our wishes into a delightfully detailed itinerary which came off seamlessly. Her vast knowledge and experience of these two countries enabled her to link us with a variety of excellent tours and adventures. She also created a delightful mix of accommodations that ranged from lovely bed and breakfasts to lodges in national parks and excellent hotels in major city centers. She sent us to both remote, off the beaten track locations as well as major tourist attractions in order to cater to our interests. She worked with us interactively for several months to tailor the trip to fit our requests. Every email that we sent was answered promptly and warmly, and she gave us good advice on our travel questions. We kept in touch with her throughout the trip, and she helped us resolve alterations in our schedule due to weather conditions. We really had a wonderful trip, and are very pleased with both Zicasso and the travel company. We have and will continue to recommend both companies to friends that are planning to travel.
IAlmost every part of this trip was enjoyable and memorable, but we will mention only the very best. We are listing them in chronological order from our journal rather than in order of quality. Our first day visiting You Yangs and Serindip State Parks with our guide was an exceptionally good introduction to the flora and fauna of Australia. He showed us koalas, kangaroos, emus, and numerous birds in their natural environment. We also enjoyed trips to Healesville Wildlife Preserve and Moonlit Sanctuary where we saw performances by trained animals and could pet and hand-feed several native species. Watching the Little Penguins come ashore at Phillip Island was delightful. In Tasmania we were thrilled with the Bruny Island cruise and hikes in Freycinet and Cradle Mountain National Parks. In the Adelaide area our favorites were the Cleland Wildlife Park with the photo opportunity while petting Mandi the koala and the overnight trip to Kangaroo Island where we walked quietly through the bush to view kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, koalas, and sea lions in their natural habitat. This tour company served the most delicious gourmet three-course hot lunches complete with local wine under the eucalyptus trees! In the Perth area the Rottnest Island was incredible; aboard their inflatable boat we viewed three pods of humpback whales up close and saw fur seals lounging on the rocks. On the island itself we fell in love with the adorable little quokkas. The three day tour of Lichfield and Kakadu National Parks was a truly great, memorable adventure. The comradery and friendship that developed among the fourteen of us aboard the four wheel drive safari truck as we careened over gravel roads, hiked remote trails to ancient Aboriginal rock art and swam in clear plunge pools below huge waterfalls (especially Jim Jim Falls) still exists now as we exchange emails, photographs, and memories. Another highlight of this tour was the cruise through Kakadu where we saw many salt water crocodiles and birds. In the Cairns area our favorites were the train ride through the World Heritage listed Barron Gorge to Kuranda, the visit to Bird World, and the return by the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.
In New Zealand we especially enjoyed walking the Coastal Track from Torrent Bay to Bark Bay in Abel Tasman National Park near Kaiteriteri. In the Punakaiki area we loved our stay at the hotel and our hike on the Truman Track and our visit to the Punakaiki Rocks in the Paparoa National Park. In the Wanaka area our favorites were the Bridle Trail walk and the wild jet boat ride adventure and wilderness walk up the Matukituki River. The drive from Wanaka to Bluff over the Crown Mountain Range was spectacular as we headed to Steward Island. On Steward Island we loved staying at the hotel; our host and hostess, went out of their way to make our stay enjoyable. The Ulva Island bird and forest walk was the highlight of our stay on Steward Island. At Dunedin we were thrilled with the Royal Albatross Center with nature guides. In Wellington our 2.5 hour twilight tour of Zealandia was so great that returned the next day for another 5 hours. Lastly, we loved the tour of Teriteri Mantangi Island. The incredible walk through the rainforest filled with native and rare birds was phenomenal.
There are very few aspects of the trip that we would change. But we would probably delete the tours in which we rode on buses for long distances and hours to spend a short time at a few tourist sites. Examples were the tours to Wave Rock and the Pinnacles. Our favorites were private or small group tours with less riding and more active outdoor experiences. We didn't mind the occasional early morning starts, but we did not care for the few late night return or arrival at our hotel. We understand that some of these could not be avoided in order to see nocturnal animals.
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