Budget Self Drive
David Lucas (Australia)
We put together a custom tour, as we wanted to visit the Coromandel region as well as some inland scenery and Lord of the Rings filming locations. While browsing the online options, Relaxing Journeys popped up with a "can we help you" window, and it went from there. Relaxing Journeys proved to be the most helpful and quickest to respond of the tour companies that we checked out. Georgina was our coordinator and she was extremely prompt and helpful throughout, and very patient with all my chopping and changing. I'd mentioned the types of things we wanted to see, and she suggested tours and visits that I would never have even known about. I could never have arranged such an enjoyable and eventful holiday by just doing it all on my own. Upon arriving at our Auckland hotel, our package from Relaxing Journeys was there waiting for us, and included a detailed itinerary, book of vouchers for our tours and events, lots of brochures, and a generous road atlas. I spent a fair bit of time mapping out our routes and reminders for when we needed to phone ahead to confirm bookings. I didn't need to bother as it was all presented for us in our package. The vouchers were immediately recognised and accepted by all the tour/event operators and we never had any dramas. Our only out of pocket costs were for extras like food, fuel, and merchandise. Driving in New Zealand is a pleasure. New Zealanders are courteous drivers and are generally lovely people. We did struggle to find anywhere to park in Wellington, and anyone driving there in a camper or larger vehicle may wish to research this in advance. Our hotel (Distinction Century) let us leave our car there after checking out and before we drove to the airport, for a small additional fee, while we toured Wellington. This was a great help and much appreciated. Special highlights that we most enjoyed included: the glass bottom boat at Whitianga; the Te Puia cultural evening at Rotorua; the Hobbiton tour from Rotorua; Ohakune - everything about Ohakune but especially our drive out to Tawhai Falls and the Tongariro region; and Weta Studios and a Lord of the Rings filming locations tour at Wellington; and the tour to Edoras with Hassle Free Tours, which alone was worth flying to Christchurch for. Anyone visiting Wellington should also set aside half a day to visit the national museum, Te Papa, which was recommended to us by several locals. If we had more time, I would have included the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and finish our trip in Queenstown, but those will have to wait until next time. I'm already thinking of next time! Thank you to Georgina and Relaxing Journeys for an excellent, well organised tour, and to New Zealand for your fantastic scenery, food, wine, culture, and people.