Guided Tour or Not in NZ?

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Feb 8th, 2009, 07:14 AM
  #1
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Guided Tour or Not in NZ?

We are 2 couples (late 50's) very active and wanting to explore NZ for @ 3 weeks. Are we better off going with one of the tour groups such as O.A.T. or Active New Zealand, or should we attempt an itinerary on our own?

Are there other tours that are recommended? We want to hike, walk, kayak for a day or so and really enjoy nature. We need your advice! Thanks for your help.

mairseydotes is offline  
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Feb 8th, 2009, 08:57 AM
  #2
Jed
 
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We 2 couples had the same question. We ended up making all our own arrangements and driving our own car.

It takes a great deal of work researching and making the reservations, but it is so much more rewarding, because of the freedom you get. Your memories will last longer.

We usually take tours, but in NZ you don't need a guide or a group.

If someone can do the work required, and someone can drive on the left side of the road, then that is the way to go.

There are many TRs here. Mine is http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...3&tid=34602230
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Feb 8th, 2009, 11:47 AM
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Drive yourselves; it's easy enough and you can go at your own pace.

Lee Ann
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Feb 8th, 2009, 01:43 PM
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I'd suggest an itinerary on your own. As Jed mentions, it does take some time to research and plan your own trip, but I think you'll better aappreciate a trip you've planned yourself and you'll be able to see and do what YOU want.
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Feb 8th, 2009, 03:27 PM
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I am not familiar with what O.A.T offers but whether you want to do it yourself or use a tour has several aspects worth considering:

. cost if that is a concern and it is to most and if you do not mind sharing a campervan, hiring a 4 berth CV could work out pretty good.

. that in itself raises another issue and that of security of vehicles when parked at trailheads, NZ is known [quite possibly some areas more than others] for vehicle break ins - do not know if it is co-incidence or not but two different lots of travellers at different times both suffered vehicle break ins and losses and whereas some hire cars have remote boot releases disconnected so the boot[trunk] becomes a more secure storage, a CV is not of that configuration - maybe an option would be for one person to always stay with the CV, working a rotation?

. touring yourself means you accept all that driving and NZ roads are not US interstate style but more what you may have as sealed secondary rural routes.
http://www.travelplanner.co.nz/ is one of many such sites and do a Ctrl click on distances there and then click on the next link and you get a handy map.

An alternative to a CV would be getting a vehicle with a secure trunk and then making use of motels, caravan park cabins, bed and breakfasts, home stays etc., also some beautiful old historuc hotels about, usually with cheap accomodation too and so there are many accomodation options - quite possibly as cheap as a CV when you take less fuel and park site fees for a CV and 4A into account.

The downside of doing itself, both islands in three weeks is going to mean more planning, frustrations of too much to be seen in too little time and all that driving, someone supposedly missing out on some gorgeous scenery other than that in view with the road.

http://www.flyingkiwi.com/ may be a type of tour you would want to consider or if nothing else it may give some further insight into route planning and something comparable for cost.
Another site that will also give some idea of highlight locations is www.magicbus.co.nz
www.doc.govt.nz is also a site that maybe helful and if perhaps thing you may like a tiddle or a toddle as you travel http://www.winesofnz.com/ is one site that will help.
A number of seakayaking companies operate out of Abel Tasman area, perhaps NZs prime area for that - http://www.seakayaknz.co.nz/

But one way or another with only three weeks you need to do some prioritising - maybe everyone individually numbers 1-40 what their interests are and then compile a list with least numbers, mark them on a map and see how a route will fit.
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Feb 8th, 2009, 03:28 PM
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You can have so much fun planning this trip for yourselves.

I travel with 3 girlfriends and we can spend two years planning a trip (well, that's how often we travel together every two years).

So we have 'trip meetings' - usually lunch and we take it in turns each time. I am the main organiser but we compare notes, present new 'discoveries' - offer them choices on various places to see, proposed budgets etc etc.

We really have a lot of fun with this side of things and the planning is half the fun.

Our next trip is Scotland/Ireland April 2011 and we are having our first trip meeting this Saturday. Can't wait.

Doing it yourself can be very rewarding and of course, you have us all here to help you along the way!!!
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Feb 9th, 2009, 05:46 PM
  #7
 
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Definitely NOT an organized tour. There is no language problem and a well developed tourism support network. With four people the cost of renting a car will be reasonable.

I don't think I would recommend a camper van for your trip, instead a comfortable sedan or minivan. By not going OAT, you will be able to stay in local homestays, farmstays, B&B's and house rentals for part of your trip, and meet the locals. Motels are a good way to save on meals since they are really small apartments with outfitted kitchens. Two-bedroom units are not that hard to find.

It's easy enough to sign up for focused tours and activities if you want a guide for hiking or kayaking. The local i-sites are helpful, or check out the official NZ tourism website in advance, it has a very good search function and suggested itineraries.

www.newzealand.com
www.aa.co.nz

Also of course the numerous trip reports here on Fodors (such as Jed's).

Your biggest problem will be trying to narrow down your itinerary, and trying to see too much. Although it looks small on a map, it does take longer than expected to go between places. Average driving speeds are quite slow due to two lane roads with limited passing, lots of construction, and slow moving vehicles. At times it was barely possible to average 50 KILOMETERs per hour.
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