Among companies that sell tours to New Zealand, the following are nationally known organizations with a proven reputation. The key difference between the categories listed here is usually in the accommodations, which run best to better-yet, and better to budget.
Abercrombie & Kent, otherwise known as A&K, is the benchmark for pairing deluxe accommodations with soft adventure. Its itineraries can be combined with a visit to Australia or focus solely on New Zealand. Sometimes better deals can be landed by booking a flight package with their affiliate airlines, Qantas. Tauck World Discovery leads trips with private chartered plane service. Antipodes Tours combed New Zealand for posh accommodations and tailors tours to individual requests. The "Connoisseur Collection" tour series with Luxury Vacations New Zealand takes small groups of just eight people to both the North and South islands.
Luxury Tour Companies
Abercrombie & Kent (1520 Kensington Rd., Oak Brook, IL, 60523. 800/554–7016. www.abercrombiekent.com.)
Antipodes Tours (5777 W. Century Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 90045. 800/354–7471. www.antipodestours.com.)
Luxury Vacations New Zealand (1/333 Remuera Rd., Remuera, Auckland, 1050. 09/520–4963. www.luxuryvacationsnz.com.)
Grey Line of Auckland and Pacific Travel of Christchurch formed a joint marketing venture to promote North and South Island tours called Scenic Pacific Tours. Their tours depart daily from Auckland, Wellington, Picton, Christchurch, and Queenstown. You can mix and match your tours and choose your level of accommodations to fit your budget. Travel2 and Australian Pacific Touring (APT) both specialize in South Pacific vacations and can arrange everything from self-drive to fully escorted tours.
Moderate Tour Companies
Travel2 (300 Continental Blvd., Suite 350, El segundo, CA, 90245. 888/282–4346. travel2-us.com.)
Australian Pacific Touring (APT) (2 Augustus Terr., Parnell, Auckland, 1052. 0800/278–687 toll-free in New Zealand; 800/290–8687 in U.S. www.aptouring.co.nz.)
Scenic Pacific Tours (03/359–3999; 0800/500–388 toll-free in New Zealand. www.scenicpacific.co.nz.)
Thrifty Tours New Zealand packaged holidays are flexible, combining regular bus, train, and ferry services with prebooked accommodation. Flying Kiwi Wilderness Expeditions Ltd. helps tie up loose ends for those on a shoestring budget. It's geared to camping rather than hotels and sometimes the major means of transit are your two feet, but this tour company has been a longtime Kiwi favorite.
Budget Tour Companies
Flying Kiwi Wilderness Expeditions Ltd. (4B Forests Rd., Nelson, 7011. 03/547–0171; 0800/693–296 toll-free in New Zealand. www.flyingkiwi.com.)
Thrifty Tours New Zealand (5/18 Martins Lane, Grafton, Auckland, 1010. 09/359–8380. www.thriftytours.co.nz.)
Golf Wine New Zealand and Grape Escape Food and Wine Tours share astute insights on Hawke's Bay, Martinborough, and Marlborough vintages, the former with some time on the links as well. Homestay NZ Ltd. will arrange theme trips based upon your individual interests, be it wine tasting or whale-watching. One of their more unique options includes having dinner at a local New Zealand family's home.
Lord of the Rings fans will find there are numerous companies giving tours of Middle Earth by helicopter, four-wheel drive, and bus. One of the most stunning trips is a horseback tour around Glenorchy—contact Dart Stables about the "Ride of the Rings."
Serious outdoor enthusiasts can take a walk on the wild side, or bike, kayak, or bungy jump with Active New Zealand.
Active Adventures New Zealand (03/450–0414; 800/661–9073 in U.S. www.activeadventures.com.)
Grape Escape (0800/100–489 / toll-free in New Zealand. www.grapeescapenz.co.nz.)
New Zealand Wine Tourism Network (www.wtn.co.nz.)
Dart Stables (Box 47, Glenorchy. 03/442–5688; 0800/474–3464 toll-free in New Zealand. www.dartstables.com.)
Birding New Zealand (www.birding.co.nz.)
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