Great trip - would definitely do it again with minor variations! Planned on meeting my daughter in Sydney after she finished a college course and then on to NZ to try to see as much as we could in two weeks. Spoke with this travel planner on the phone and knew immediately that I would choose her agency even before I got preliminary itineraries from two different agents. She just asked the right questions from the start and was very helpful in arranging a final itinerary which included both her recommendations and incorporated some of my ideas together. There were some minor glitches along the way, as expected, but she was so much closer to a 5 than a 4 that I had to go with the 5/5 rating. Would definitely use her again.
Best part of the trip was getting to do the Franz Josef Heli Hike. Stomping around the glacier in crampons was an amazing once in a lifetime experience! The 4 wheel drive excursion into sheep country from Queenstown was also great - nice views of the river valley from above and thousands of sheep running around trying to get out of the way. Sydney has to be one of the nicest and friendliest cities I have ever visited.
Would probably skip the Maori cultural experience - knew it would be touristy but thought it would be more educational/authentic.
Would not have done the Trans Alpine train from west to east as the scenic part was late afternoon and getting dark as hour trip was in June. Going East to west would have been OK as it travels in the morning in that direction.
Milford sound trip from Queenstown was quite long and tiring in terms of travel. Considered a scenic flight back but weather was iffy. Arranging a stay closer to Milford sound may have worked out better.
Some of the limitations were beyond the control of the travel agent and basically due to the short day as it was winter - would love to return during one of the other seasons and spend some more time in Australia as well.
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