Home Blog New Zealand Tailored to Perfection: A Client Perspective

New Zealand Tailored to Perfection: A Client Perspective

Wednesday, 19th April 2023

Pam Forrest

blog sue new zealand

At Discover the World, our Travel Specialists are experts in creating tailor made holidays. When you need to incorporate key interests, must-see places, special occasions, family commitments and specific time frames, they can design a bespoke itinerary just for you. That’s exactly the kind of personalised service Sue Sparks enjoyed on her recent trip to New Zealand… we asked her about her trip in December 2022.

Why New Zealand?

When an invitation arrived for a December family wedding in NZ, it seemed the perfect opportunity to plan our holiday of a lifetime. We needed to be in Mangawhai in Northland for the special day, so we asked Discover the World to create an itinerary based around this that included both North and South Island. Their tailor made approach also meant we could include all of our bucket-list destinations and experiences, and fit everything comfortably into the time we had available.

new zealand mangawhai northland istk

Where did you fly to?

Christchurch. Some scars remain from the 2011 earthquake, but the overall feel of the city was vibrant, fun and relaxed. There are some great bars and restaurants alongside the Avon River and we enjoyed wandering around the Riverside Market, browsing the stalls of delicious local produce.

What were your other highlights of South Island?

There were so many! We headed first for Aoraki/Mount Cook – 330kms from Christchurch. Normally I can’t stay awake in a car for more than 30 minutes, but my eyes were on stalks during the whole journey. Every corner revealed another spectacular vista. We stopped at Lake Tekapo and took in the deep blue waters against a backdrop of mountains. The next day we walked to Blue Lake and Glacier Lake before driving over the Lindis Pass to Wanaka (think Lake District on steroids!). Wanaka was the first of a number of places I thought I would be very happy to stay forever. The town is on a beautiful lake, with mountains all around. We definitely enjoyed sampling its excellent restaurants – particularly Big Fig and Scroggins.

We took a boat trip to Mou Waho a predator-free island on Lake Wanaka renowned for its native birds, especially the Buff Weka, which became extinct on the mainland in 1920. Our guide was a great storyteller and very knowledgeable.

Our visit to Abel Tasman National Park, on the north-west tip of South Island was also magical – we combined a boat trip and hike to experience the stunning forest and coastline, and on the way back we saw seals and dolphins. Then there was Queen Charlotte Sound and the Bay of Many Coves – so beautiful it made me cry! We spent our two days there walking, swimming, canoeing and relaxing in the hot tub.

Driving through the vineyards of the Marlborough Sounds was a real delight and we realised just how many NZ wines we recognised.  Regretfully our itinerary didn’t allow for any vineyard stops, but this is definitely something we will add to future visits.

And then you crossed over to North Island?

Yes, the Interislander ferry crossing from Picton to Wellington took 3½ hours. It’s a really enjoyable crossing and we relished in the company of dolphins for part of the way.

What were your North Island highlights?

Our first taste of North Island was Wellington, New Zealand’s capital. We stayed at the quirky QT Hotel overlooking the harbour and enjoyed the contrast of big city life. We strolled around the harbour enjoying the sunshine and took the cable car up to the botanical gardens. We also visited Te Papa Museum – a real highlight of the trip and somewhere you could spend many hours.

Next was Rotorua in the country’s geothermal heartland where we joined a guided tour of the bubbling mud pools and geysers at Te Puia. Our tour included a cultural ceremony, which was actually quite moving. On site there is a National Carving and Weaving School where Maori skills are taught. Half the entrance fee goes directly to the school, who only take eight students each year.

After Rotorua, we headed north to Mangawhai and our family wedding.

How did the wedding fit into your holiday?

Perfectly! After two days of fabulous celebrations, we simply picked up our itinerary and continued to Waiheke Island (a 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland) for a lazy beach stay. Waiheke is also known as Island of Wine as it boasts some excellent vineyards. It is another place we will revisit in the future.

And what was the finale to your trip of a lifetime?

We rounded off the holiday at the Bay of Islands, visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds (where we learnt so much about Maori history and culture), took a boat trip to Hole in the Rock (more dolphins!) and visited Cape Reinga at the northernmost tip of New Zealand where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific. The views were spectacular, with huge skies. We drove to a 100ft-tall sand dune on 90 Mile Beach, climbed to the top and then body-boarded down!

The following day we headed back to Auckland for a family Christmas and then home!

Where did you stay?

Discover the World recommended some superb accommodation from B&Bs to historic hotels. At Aoraki/Mount Cook, for example, we stayed at The Hermitage Hotel, which was built in 1884 and has real character. It also houses the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre – well worth a visit. The mountain view from our room was simply breathtaking. In the Bay of Islands, we stayed at the Allegro B&B and our room had a balcony overlooking the bay. Everywhere we stayed the staff were extremely friendly and had lots of suggestions for places to see and things to do.

Planning your New Zealand holiday

Sue’s itinerary was tailor made to suit her interests and fit around the family wedding. Our Travel Specialists will be delighted to do the same for you. As a starting point and source of inspiration, browse some of our recommended itineraries, such as Discover Aotearoa – a wide-ranging three-week self-drive, which includes car rental, accommodation, Interislander ferry crossing, private airport transfers and a range of excursions (such as a Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise).

Get in touch with our New Zealand specialists to start planning your big Kiwi adventure. Call on 01737 214 250, or send an enquiry to start chatting through options.