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Ruth Grau

I grew up in small outback towns in South Australia before starting in the travel industry in Adelaide. After working many years in Sales & Marketing with tour companies, wholesalers and airlines, I headed off to the United States in 1994 for a ‘brief stint’. I started the US operation of an Australian tour company, and was Vice President of a South Pacific wholesaler for 7 years. I am married to and working with co-owner Warren Grau, a mother of 2 and am both a US and Australian citizen. We started Springboard Vacations in 2001.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"I specialize in creating customized itineraries throughout the South Pacific for singles, couples, families and small groups. I like to find unique and interesting ways for travelers to get to know our destinations. So instead of a coach city sights tour, I like to offer a guided bike riding tour, or a walk with an indigenous guide, a pub crawl through historic pubs, a progressive dinner to the hottest new restaurants or a surfing lesson with a local. We like to include romantic moments, family bonding experiences, a chance to meet locals in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti, Samoa, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia. "

How did you get involved in travel?

"I was an exchange student in Germany when I was 15 years old. It changed my life and set me on a path to travel the world. When I started working as a professional photographer, I traveled as often as I could. By age 22 I had moved into the travel industry and started exploring the globe seriously. As the song says... no matter how far I roam, I still call Australia home! I am passionate and excited about discovering new and interesting experiences within the South Pacific and creating unique and authentic experiences for my clients."

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"I was in New Zealand traveling through the north east of the country. It had been a long day and I had not eaten much so I was hungry and in a pretty bad mood. I just wanted to eat and go to bed but I had committed to doing a night kayaking trip. As I get kitted out and organized with my co-kayaker I was not in a good place and the thought of paddling upstream in the growing dark was not improving my mood. We struggled to coordinate our paddling and wound up in frustrating circles. Eventually we got it together and headed up stream. It has hard work and the night grew dark. Then it came time to paddle into a cave grotto. It was pitch dark and you could not see your hand in front of your face. Our group of kayakers were all silently entered the small cave and sat in the pitch dark. The guide then turned on a red right which caused thousands and thousands of glow worms to... well glow! It was magical! It felt like we were inside Christmas! It was truly awesome to sit in the blackness and be surrounded by the sparkle of these tiny creatures. Mother Nature is so awesome and unpredictable. It was so incredibly captivating and unexpected. No-one uttered a sound but it was an emotional and spiritual experience. As we left the cave some time later to head back, the moon had risen and cast an ethereal silver light across the water as we floated downstream and back home. In the silence we absorbed the display that nature had provided. It was truly an amazing and humbling experience, in a little known area of New Zealand that almost no-one visits. I will never forget it.
Its these life changing moments that I love to find for my clients. "

Top itineraries and travel advice
Family itineraries
Luxury itineraries
Road trip itineraries

Recent trip reviews for Ruth

Overcharged& Poor Communication
Fiji | May 21 - May 31, 2024

Heather
Heather G.
West Point, VA | Reviewed on Jun 07, 2024
This was our 2nd international trip with Kimkim. The first was in Greece- exceptional communication & tours were exactly as described. We had a couple of things that concerned us this time. First- our first tour - we (& another couple at a different resort) were told by Rosie that the transportation to the tour was a 40min drive. It was 3hours each way! Due to another stop for another party- 6 hours on a bus-longer than the tour. Also- ended up with car sickness.
Second: we knew the surfing...
Read more

This was our 2nd international trip with Kimkim. The first was in Greece- exceptional communication & tours were exactly as described. We had a couple of things that concerned us this time. First- our first tour - we (& another couple at a different resort) were told by Rosie that the transportation to the tour was a 40min drive. It was 3hours each way! Due to another stop for another party- 6 hours on a bus-longer than the tour. Also- ended up with car sickness.
Second: we knew the surfing needed to be booked on & paid on site. We were told to book dives onsite with due to levels & sites- BUT we were led to believe it 2dives 2 days were paid for in our price. This was even listed under “The included” section in our itinerary. We were approached to pay upon check-out. Ruth then stated she explained we had to book onsite to the owner & said she told us more than once- Not the case- we did not know it wasn’t paid for. Super disappointed & pretty sure with the amount of money we have spent on this trip - I would not recommend Kimkim again.

Hotel Reviews
InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa, an IHG Hotel
Natadola, Fiji
Authenticity & Character
Too American like
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Malolo Island Resort
Nadi Airport
Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Paradise Taveuni
Waiyevo
Authenticity & Character
Location
Transportation guide was a bit uncomfortable- personal truck that was very dirty & smelled very bad-just needs to be cleaned -
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Beds were super hard
Activity Reviews
Jewel of Fiji Tour
Jewel of Fiji Tour
Fiji
Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Was told 40 min drive was 3 hours each way
Welcome to Fiji !
Welcome to Fiji !
Fiji
Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Half Day Cave Tour
Half Day Cave Tour
Fiji
Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Welcome to Taveuni
Welcome to Taveuni
Taveuni
Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Diving in Taveuni
Diving in Taveuni
Taveuni
Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Local specialist: Ruth Grau

The trip was great!
New Zealand | Mar 24 - Apr 6, 2024

C
Carlos R.
Puerto Rico | Reviewed on Apr 07, 2024
The trip was great! Is was our honeymoon and it will be unforgettable for both of us. Organization was great. Accommodations were great. Transportation was great and always on time. All tours were excellent and provided the experiences that we were looking for in all cities. Our planner Ruth did an amazing job!!! Read more

The trip was great! Is was our honeymoon and it will be unforgettable for both of us. Organization was great. Accommodations were great. Transportation was great and always on time. All tours were excellent and provided the experiences that we were looking for in all cities. Our planner Ruth did an amazing job!!!

Hotel Review
Garden Court Suites & Apartments
Queenstown

Great space. Amazing view from the balcony. Had a washer and dryer which was helpful for our trip. Very close to the city center.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Activity Reviews
Full-Day Jet-Boat Adventure & Funyak River Safari
Full-Day Jet-Boat Adventure & Funyak River Safari
Queenstown (NZ)

Very very fun!! Must do if you go to Queenstown. They provide all equipment: wetsuit, jacket, boots, etc... Staff was great.

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Evening Progressive Degustation Walk
Evening Progressive Degustation Walk
Melbourne

Must do if you go to Melbourne. This city has so many great restaurants that was very difficult for us select which one to go. Luckly this tour helped us go to 3 great restaurants and taste lots of food in each one along with different wines. Great experience.

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Morning  Best of Melbourne by Bike
Morning Best of Melbourne by Bike
Melbourne

Great way to see the city in a timely and fun fashion. Our tour guy Craig was excellent!!!

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Full Day Outer Reef Mackay Coral Cay
Full Day Outer Reef Mackay Coral Cay
Port Douglas

The tour was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. To be able to see the corals close was spectacular. We saw turtles, rays and lots of different fish. The staff is excellent. The full day is an awesome experience. The food was descent. They provide you with all equipment. Never felt safer.

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Full Day Wildlife, Waterfalls and Wine
Full Day Wildlife, Waterfalls and Wine
Sydney

Great tour. We were able to touch and being very close with Kolas. Took lots of pictures close with them. Also we were able to feed Wallabies and Kangaroos. Wine tasting was great. The lunch was great as well. The tour guide was excellent.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Full Day Mossman Gorge Adventure Day
Full Day Mossman Gorge Adventure Day
New Zealand

Guy was a great tour guide! You start with a river tour seeing lots wild life and then you ride the river which was very fun. The lunch was great!! Then the afternoon you go to the forest and can dive into the river which was also cool.

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Local specialist: Ruth Grau
Ruth
Ruth Grau
Local specialist in Adelaide, Australia, & Palm Springs, USA | Replied on Apr 11, 2024

I am thrilled that you loved your honeymoon! Thanks for booking with me! It was a fun trip to put together and you were really lovely to work with.

Excellent South Australian Trip
Australia | Mar 20 - Apr 3, 2024

Annette
Annette F.
New Zealand | Reviewed on Apr 04, 2024
This is the second time that Ruth has organised an amazing trip for us. We cannot recommend her Australian trips enough. Read more

This is the second time that Ruth has organised an amazing trip for us. We cannot recommend her Australian trips enough.

Hotel Reviews
Barossa Shiraz Estate
Lyndoch

Fantastic place to stay, great location and beautiful surroundings in a private vineyard. Wonderful local provisions provided and super comfortable bed.

Authenticity & Character
Stand alone period villa
Location
5 minutes out of a small country town and local eating places
Cleanliness & Comfort
Everything immaculate and very comfortable
Wilpena Pound Resort
Flinders Ranges

Great staff, excellent food. Really good value for food and drink. Good family place. Loved the tours on offer

Authenticity & Character
Very suited to the location,
Location
50 kms from the nearest town, stunning scenery. Set in the bush
Staff
Staff in the restaurant and bar were really accommodating. And the local tour guides excellent
Cleanliness & Comfort
We struggled with the ants in our room.
Clare Country Club
Clare

Lovely hotel, it was a shame that the hotel restaurant was closed over a holiday weekend.

Authenticity & Character
Sited by a lake and a golf course. Lots of birdlife
Location
Not far from Clare town and surrounded by excellent wineries
Staff
Loved the barmaid but can't remember her name!
Cleanliness & Comfort
Very comfortable bed and very clean
Crown Plaza Adelaide
Adelaide

Fantastic room on the 15th floor, beautiful night views of Adelaide

Location
Lots of eating and drinking places close by if you're not going to eat in the hotel restaurant
Staff
Very helpful and polite reception staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Wonderful bed and bedding. Beautiful restful room and a decent shower
Activity Reviews
Drop off Rental Car
Adelaide

Easy to find for pick up and drop off

Guides, Drivers and Staff
All the guides on the tours at Wilpena outdoor do a wonderful job explaining the geology and cultural aspects of their environment
Morning Time Travel & Gorgeous Gorges Tour
Morning Time Travel & Gorgeous Gorges Tour
Flinders Ranges

Jackie was our guide and we thought she was really informative and interesting.

Afternoon Sacred Canyon - Yura Mulka - Cultural Walk
Afternoon Sacred Canyon - Yura Mulka - Cultural Walk
Flinders Ranges

Excellent tour with a local guide who explained the significance of the drawings in the canyon and told stories about his people in a quiet way. Really enjoyed this tour

Local specialist: Ruth Grau
Ruth
Ruth Grau
Local specialist in Adelaide, Australia, & Palm Springs, USA | Replied on Apr 06, 2024

It was my absolute pleasure working with you again!

Excellent!
New Zealand | Oct 27 - Nov 10, 2023

Michelle
Michelle S.
San Francisco, CA | Reviewed on Mar 02, 2024

Ruth was extremely helpful, mindful of local activities and our limitations. We had the best time.

Local specialist: Ruth Grau
Ruth
Ruth Grau
Local specialist in Adelaide, Australia, & Palm Springs, USA | Replied on Mar 04, 2024

I'm so glad you had a great time. It was great fun planning your trip.

Review of Trip to New Zealand
New Zealand | Feb 9 - Feb 26, 2024

P
Paula B.
Canada | Reviewed on Feb 28, 2024
Our trip included a portion supported by KimKim and 9 days organized through a different cycling company that we have travelled with previously. Overall, our trip was very good/excellent. Planning the trip with Ruth, in advance of leaving Canada was a very positive experience. Ruth was knowledgeable, flexible and understanding, very pleasant, responsive and helpful. We were not as impressed with Southern World after arrival in New Zealand. We did not receive the package from them in... Read more

Our trip included a portion supported by KimKim and 9 days organized through a different cycling company that we have travelled with previously. Overall, our trip was very good/excellent. Planning the trip with Ruth, in advance of leaving Canada was a very positive experience. Ruth was knowledgeable, flexible and understanding, very pleasant, responsive and helpful.

We were not as impressed with Southern World after arrival in New Zealand. We did not receive the package from them in our hotel room until the second day, although that might have been a hotel issue. Otherwise, all of the logistics worked according to plan, with one exception. All of the tour guides were very good and punctual.

Up until the point we left Canada, our itinerary included a sunset walk in the National Park at 7:-00 pm which was a minimum 1.5 hour drive from Taupo where we were staying (this was our first experience driving in NZ and thus it likely took us a little longer even than the predicted 1.5 hours). We were asked to call the day before (during business hours) to confirm the time of the sunset walk the following day. Unfortunately, although we were scheduled to arrive back from the rain forest the prior day by 4:00 pm, we did not get back to our hotel (where we had internet service) until 5:30 pm, so could not call; we were in areas with no service during the entire window provided to us to call to confirm. We had not noticed that the time in the booklet for this sunset walk had changed to 5:45 pm. However, even if we had noticed it, we would not have been able to make it in time for this rescheduled walk (and it would not really have been a sunset walk either!) - we did not arrive in Taupo until 12:30 pm, had lunch and took the cruise on Taupo Lake from 130 to 3:00 pm. We then had to go and check in to our hotel. So the earliest we could have left Taupo for the National Park would have been around 3:30 pm or so.

Even if we had seen the change, we had to drive to the park and would not have arrived prior to 5:00 pm at the earliest, but needed to grab a quick bite to eat for dinner, so this change in time could not have possibly worked for us.

We did not find the communication with Southern World very sympathetic to say the least. When we called the office, the timing was not acknowledged as being tight and we never received any sort of apology. I am not sure what the cost of this sunset walk was - we arrived at 6:45 pm, waited til 7:00 pm and contacted the office to learn it had been changed. Needless to say, we did not have the experience of the sunset walk in the national park and our only choice was to get back into the car and drive 1.5 hours back to Taupo. This was most unfortunate. The last communication on this matter that we had from Southern World was that the time had not changed - it was always 5:45 pm, which is categorically not correct.

On our final day in Queenstown, there was a pick up from our hotel which was not really necessary as he dropped us off a half block from our hotel! We arrived back at the end of the day from Doubtful Sound about 15 min early; we looked around for a taxi, as we didn't want him looking for us; we could not find one, so we just walked back to our hotel, which was our preference anyway - but we just thought you should know. We hoped that he had not arrived later looking for us - we did stay around for about 5 min.

Our only suggestion is that ground/local operators communicate via imessage/what's app as a rule of thumb since these are internet-based communication mechanisms. We had eSIM cards while in New Zealand and could do calls and messaging through What's App, messages through imessage, or via email - however, we did not have access to phone which was their default method for communicating. 

So, overall - a great experience doing the planning with Ruth; a generally good experience with all logistics on the ground in New Zealand, with one exception - which did colour our perspective a bit in regard to Southern World - not because it happened, but more the tone of the communications about the issue with their staff.

Activity Reviews
Full Day Whirinaki Forest Walk with Lunch
Full Day Whirinaki Forest Walk with Lunch
Rotorua

Excellent guide; punctual pick up; very knowledgeable Note that they did not ask about allergies and i could not eat the lunch as a result

Quality of Experience
Food
Ask about allergies
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Daily Scenic Cruise
Daily Scenic Cruise
Taupō

Enjoyable, pleasant staff; just the right amount of time; comfortable boat

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Full Day Famous Routeburn Trail
Full Day Famous Routeburn Trail
Queenstown (NZ)

Excellent guide; did this in torrential rain

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise (ex Queenstown)
Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise (ex Queenstown)
Queenstown (NZ)

Beautiful scenery, guide on bus very knowledgeable

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Should plan to make a stop on the two hour drive
Local specialist: Ruth Grau
Ruth
Ruth Grau
Local specialist in Adelaide, Australia, & Palm Springs, USA | Replied on Feb 29, 2024

I really enjoyed working with you Paula and am so very pleased that you enjoyed New Zealand. I look forward to working with you again when you are ready to plan your Australia Trip!

Ruth

Truly an adventure
New Zealand | Feb 11 - Feb 23, 2024

Nick
Nick M.
Chicago, IL | Reviewed on Feb 24, 2024
Loved most everything except the very long days of bus trips. It was a bit too much. The hotels were good and the tours were good. In retrospect I would have included some down time but we enjoyed seeing the country. Thanks Ruth for all the time you out into making our trip and adventure. Read more

Loved most everything except the very long days of bus trips. It was a bit too much. The hotels were good and the tours were good. In retrospect I would have included some down time but we enjoyed seeing the country. Thanks Ruth for all the time you out into making our trip and adventure.

Hotel Reviews
QT
Queenstown

Nice hotel but we had the back side view of a side of a mountain and a construction site. So ask for the view.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Grand Suites

Motel so get your bags to your room yourself. But very nice room. Probably the best in the town.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Distinction Christchurch Hotel
Christchurch
Authenticity & Character
O
Location
Pullman Rotorua
Rotorua
Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Heritage CityLife Wellington
Wellington
Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Heritage Hotel Auckland
Auckland

Older hotel needs some updating but nice. There are better choices in the area. The german restaurant in the hotel however is terrible. They need to rethink that space. Both our dinners were disgusting but my husband ate his anyway.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Activity Reviews
Boutique Wine Tour - Half Day
Boutique Wine Tour - Half Day
Queenstown (NZ)

Fun day drinking wine and talking to people from all around the world. Iy was a lovely day.

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Very knowledgeable and super friendly
Transport
Full Day Milford Sound  Van/Cruise/ Van (Shared small group tour)
Full Day Milford Sound Van/Cruise/ Van (Shared small group tour)
Queenstown (NZ)

The tour was great and our first for our trip. Our guide was amazing he knows so much about the area and vegetation. Very nice too. The bus ride however was too long. With the bus and the boat it was 12 hours. Long day!!

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Skyline Gondola Ride
Skyline Gondola Ride
Queenstown (NZ)

Fun!

Quality of Experience
Transport
Crater Experience (Cowan's Observatory)
Crater Experience (Cowan's Observatory)
New Zealand

Amazing star gazing. Our guide was a super enthusiastic astronomer. We are not but it was interesting.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Grand Traverse Scenic Flight
Grand Traverse Scenic Flight
Lake Tekapo

I was scared my husband thought it was great. We had a very windy day and they needed to use a different plane for the flight. But at 3000 feet it was much better. Amazing views! I couldnt wait to be on the ground.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Shared Transfer Tekapo to Christchurch
Shared Transfer Tekapo to Christchurch
Lake Tekapo

Innercity bus. Crowded and we were last on so we couldnt sit together. 4 hours of crowded uncomfortable bus. 2 thumbs down from us.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Full Day Akaroa & Harbour Cruise
Full Day Akaroa & Harbour Cruise
Christchurch

We loved this day. The ride wasnt terrible and the boat was nice. Our driver was great. The guy that owned and drove the boat was also the builder of thr boat which is amazing. We didnt see many Dolphins, we also saw tiny penguins and seals. Nice day. Great little town. Lunch was delicious too.

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Coastal Pacific Train - Christchurch to Picton
Coastal Pacific Train - Christchurch to Picton
Christchurch

Nice and comfy ride. Theres food on board. Great scenery including a huge pod of Dolphins feeding in the water.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Interislander Ferry - Picton to Wellington
Interislander Ferry - Picton to Wellington
New Zealand

Nice ride. But be quick to get your spot. We bought an upgrade to an area and didnt end up sitting there because we thought we were in the right spot. It was fine we had nice seats in the front of the ship.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Zealandia Twilight Tour
Zealandia Twilight Tour
Wellington

We are not usually bird watchers but this place is amazing. Theyre trying to restore this habitat back to pre settlers and succeeding. We saw 3 Kiwi which are extremely endangered and a bunch of other endangered birds and a few reptiles. Way better then expected.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Te Po Combo - 90 Minute Guided Tour & Evening Experience
Te Po Combo - 90 Minute Guided Tour & Evening Experience
Rotorua

Fun cultural event to learn about the people, have dinner and to see Geysers

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Left without us but they had another vehicle get us back to the hotel
Full Day Rotorua to Auckland Hobbiton and Waitomo Tour
Full Day Rotorua to Auckland Hobbiton and Waitomo Tour
Rotorua

Fun day at Hobbiton. Fan or not will enjoy the day.

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Our guide was great! Very animated and fun.
Transport
Morning Eco Thermal Park Tour - Waiotapu & Waimangu
Morning Eco Thermal Park Tour - Waiotapu & Waimangu
Rotorua
Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Auckland Best of Both World:  Bush and Beach  - Full day
Auckland Best of Both World: Bush and Beach - Full day
Auckland

The guides are great. The morning was a city tour and the afternoon volcanos, rain forest and the black sand beach (hot sand but beautiful). We've done a lot of this already so it was a repeat. But nice if your first time.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
America's Cup Sailing Experience
America's Cup Sailing Experience
Auckland

Super nice. Took the ride on a real Americas Cup Racing boat. Helped the crew raise and lower the sails. It was a great way to end our trip.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Local specialist: Ruth Grau
Ruth
Ruth Grau
Local specialist in Adelaide, Australia, & Palm Springs, USA | Replied on Feb 26, 2024
Welcome home Randi and Nathan! I am so pleased that you enjoyed New Zealand! Its is a wonderful destination! I know we were covering a lot of territory but glad you got a good look at the country without needing to self drive which was important to you. The Intercity bus is less than ideal but without driving one of the only options for that leg of the trip. The Milford Sound tour is a long day as the Sound is a long way away but that can be shortened by flying or helicoptering in one... Read more

Welcome home Randi and Nathan! I am so pleased that you enjoyed New Zealand! Its is a wonderful destination!

I know we were covering a lot of territory but glad you got a good look at the country without needing to self drive which was important to you. The Intercity bus is less than ideal but without driving one of the only options for that leg of the trip. The Milford Sound tour is a long day as the Sound is a long way away but that can be shortened by flying or helicoptering in one or both directions but that does up the cost and I knew Randi was not partial to flying (so glad you did the Mt Cook flight and enjoyed it)!

For travel in high season of Nov - April we recommend booking as early as possible so you have the widest range of hotel options. 4 months prior does limit what is left to choose from. Thanks for the feedback on those!

I'm glad you enjoyed the rest of your tours and experiences even some you were not sure about before you left. Its always nice to be pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed working with you on the trip! Welcome back! Australia next time???

Ruth was AUS-ome!
Australia | Jan 23 - Feb 7, 2024

James
James B.
Westbrook, ME | Reviewed on Feb 13, 2024
Ruth was terrific to work with. Ruth worked with me patiently, though a number of options as to number of days for the trip; cities to visit; areas and activities to pursue. Every itinerary, including the final version aligned with our interests and priorities. Upon completing our 16 day trip, it is evident Ruth knows the areas we visited and created a unique experience I could not have accomplished on my own. Her local knowledge of Australia was invaluable. Read more

Ruth was terrific to work with. Ruth worked with me patiently, though a number of options as to number of days for the trip; cities to visit; areas and activities to pursue. Every itinerary, including the final version aligned with our interests and priorities. Upon completing our 16 day trip, it is evident Ruth knows the areas we visited and created a unique experience I could not have accomplished on my own. Her local knowledge of Australia was invaluable.

Hotel Reviews
Vibe Hotel
Melbourne

Well appointed room in a great central location with a beautiful view. Great breakfasts as well!

Authenticity & Character
Location
Look for a higher room with a river view .
Staff
Responsive . Expecially the waitstaff - especially Lucy . Friendly front desk staff.
Cleanliness & Comfort
MACq 01 Hotel
Hobart

Probably the best hotel we have ever stayed in. The spacious rooms, views of Hobart Harbor, the super friendly and helpful staff , sumptuous breakfasts, and overall vibe made this our favorite hotel on our trip.

Authenticity & Character
We loved how so much Hobart and Tasmanian history is infused into the hotel and our stay experience.
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Stewarts Bay Lodge
Port Arthur

A Washer / dryer are in the cabins which was very helpful . A Good restaurant is open “on campus” for breakfast and evening dinner . This is helpful as there are limited dining options in port Arthur . The cabins have a full kitchen so dinning in is also an option. Check the hours and days the restaurant is open as they can be variable. There is a beautiful walking path along the waterfront at the lodge that continues to the Port Arthur Historical Site .

Authenticity & Character
Location
Close to the Port Arthur Historical Site and the meeting point for the Wilderness cruise
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Hyatt Regency Sydney
Sydney

We upgraded our Room to a Harbor view . That was well worth the cost of the upgrade , from a bland any big city office building view to one overlooking the beautiful and bustling Darling Harbor . The roof top bar is a must with a stunning view of Darling Harbor with great cocktail and small bite food options. Loved the vibe . The breakfasts were excellent , combining a huge selection of options from various buffet stations with a choice to have made to order omelettes and Eggs Benedict . Bonus mimosas or Champaign included. The rooms were clean and bed very comfortable.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Location made it easy to access most areas of downtown Sydney with less that a 20 min walk or Uber ride
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
We requested for our room to receive housecleaning after erroneously indicating we did not need it , but they did not clean or refresh our room for another 24 hours and on,y then after a second request . Once they did refresh the room it was perfectly clean . The bed was very comfortable .
Freycinet Lodge
Coles Bay

Our upgraded room was amazing , with a private view of the granite mountains ( the Hazards) and an outside secluded bath . A nice perk is that everything in the mini bar and fridge was included in the room rate - no extra charges. The location was also unique , inside the National Park , affording easy access to hiking to overlooks with stunning views and access to a number of white sand beaches with pristine waters , with very few fellow beach goers. Excellent breakfasts. We liked the bistro for dinner - it seemed a better value and the food was great. The property has a beautiful expansive deck overlooking Cole’s Bay . An added plus - the lodge as free laundry facilities.

Authenticity & Character
Location
The only Hotel / Lodge located in the National Park . Stunning sunsets every night over Cole’s Bay
Staff
Especially Steffi she was so friendly and accommodating
Cleanliness & Comfort
Rooms were spotless and thoroughly refreshed during our stay
Activity Reviews
Best of Melbourne by Bike
Best of Melbourne by Bike
Melbourne

A wonderful way to see the city and get an initial overview / lay of the land. Dave ( a retired solicitor) our guide was excellent. We felt safe and learned so much about Melbourne. Also what areas to revisit . We loved the lunch stop at Brunnelli’s. The tour ended just in time before the heat of the day was too much.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Evening Progressive Degustation Walk
Evening Progressive Degustation Walk
Melbourne

The food and wine / beer were extensive, varied and excellent . I rarely post food on social media but I felt compelled to do so in this instance . Our guide Deanna was top notch and a lot of fun too ! Though not an inexpensive tour , it was well worth the cost. A great value .

Quality of Experience
Food
The restaurants and our wonderful food and tour guide Deanna
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
We walked so this Q is N/A
Full Day Phillip Island + Penguin Plus  with Dinner
Full Day Phillip Island + Penguin Plus with Dinner
Melbourne

A must do . On of the highlights of the trip. The Penguin plus ( upgrade) viewing platform also a must . It is special experience to witness in less than a hour, the 1, 000 plus little blue penguins exiting the surf in unison and marching up the beach dunes to their burrows .

Quality of Experience
It is all about the Penguins
Food
As noted we did not have enough time (30 min) at the stop to order and finish our food before the departure from town . The food did not come for 20 minutes . Though the food was good , We were stuffing it in our mouths and it was not enjoyable . I would skip the food option and go for a quick fish and chips , sushi or pizza or deli.
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Long day but the driver (AL) was top notch , funny and went above and beyond . He even stopped to demonstrate boomerang throwing , letting us all give it a try .
Transport
Full Day Reverse Great Ocean Road Experience
Full Day Reverse Great Ocean Road Experience
Australia

We loved the twelve apostles and shipwreck cove . Just a gorgeous coastline and beautiful place .

Quality of Experience
Twelve Apostles, shipwreck cove
Guides, Drivers and Staff
He was ok
Transport
Night Tour of the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary & Tasmanian Devils
Night Tour of the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary & Tasmanian Devils
Hobart

One of the best wildlife tours we have ever experienced . What makes this unique is that this is a rescue shelter so the wildlife is here either as their only resort due to injury or human abandonment or in a state of rehabilitation to be returned to their natural habitat. The early evening is a wonderful time to tour as for many of the animals this is their natural feeding time. This is also a semi private tour that has limited participants , otherwise closed to the public. One gets close to the kangaroos, wombats, ichybnas( our favorite) , 110 year old cockatoo (Fred) , and of course Tasmanian devils. Bono-Lou our tour guide was fantastic.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Bono-Lou our guide was wonderful . She is clearly passionate about the animals and loves her work.
Transport
N/A no transport involved , we drove
Afternoon Grand Hobart Walk
Afternoon Grand Hobart Walk
Hobart

Perfect way to start our Hobart Stay . The center city is compact and walkable with a lot of history. Dave our tour guide was wonderful . He is a history buff and highlighted aspects of Hobart’s history not necessarily generally known. As an example he took us into a Real tennis club ( fascinating to visit ) as he learned of our interest in the Aussie Open . It is clear Dave loves to show off Hobart .

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Dave is wonderful
Transport
N/A as we walked
Depart Australia
Depart Australia
Australia

Smooth pick up and drop off . We requested a route without tunnels and the driver Miguel was very accommodating. We also request a pick up 30 min later than scheduled and they accommodated.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Miguel was wonderful
Transport
Full Day Bruny Island Traveller Tour (Shared Tour)
Full Day Bruny Island Traveller Tour (Shared Tour)
Hobart

Fun tour , we loved all the stops along the way . Yummy artisan food and drink ( cheese , beer, honey, chocolate) . The lunch stop was also excellent . It is a long day but is broken up by several interesting stops as well as a ferry ride each way that helps break it up. The tour guide was terrific. It is a relatively early start so I would build in time for an early breakfast before arriving if one is like me ; a big breakfast person .

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Hobart City Kayak Tour
Hobart City Kayak Tour
Hobart

A great way to get some exercise, see the City of Hobart from the water and have a fish and chips snack right from the kayak! .Our tour guide, Kane was wonderful. We felt safe , even while navigating the busy waters of the port.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Kane our guide was great !
Transport
N/A as we walked to the beach
Half Day Sydney Harbour Bridge Ride (Shared Tour)
Half Day Sydney Harbour Bridge Ride (Shared Tour)
Sydney

The best way to get an overview of Sydney . The sandwich lunch was excellent and was included. In addition to the description , we also rode along by the Barangoo Reserve, Sydney Observatory, Darling Harbor , Chinatown , Hyde Park, the Botanical Gardens, along Woolloomooloo bay and Sydney Opera House . Our Tour Guide Ruben was great .

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Ruben Rocks!
Transport
N/A as we walked to the bike tour start
3 Hour Wilderness Cruise
3 Hour Wilderness Cruise
Australia

Fantastic way to see the stunning and rugged Tassie coast. We felt like we were at the end of the earth . Wildlife abounds . We saw albatross up close - what a magnificent bird. Cliffs , caves, an iconic lighthouse and wildlife. What’s not to love !

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
The guides were righ out of central casting
Transport
Bus ride to and from the dock was comfortable
Sydney Harbour Long Dinner Cruise
Sydney Harbour Long Dinner Cruise
Sydney

What a treat ! A wonderful meal and way to tour the harbor from the water .

Quality of Experience
Food
Though there was only one stop vs two as the second place is closed on Sundays , we liked it as this made the dinner stop at Doyle’s longer and more relaxing with a spectacular view of the Sydney skyline in the bacgriud as the sun set . The tour portion of the boat ride continued after dinner for another two hours.
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Jamie was very helpful
Transport
My only suggestion would be to show the pickup spot on a map . We were not quite sure we were at the right spot and frantically walked the entire length of opera Quay as the boat was not there yet and arrived right at the pickup time , not a minute earlier . Understand as they may only be allowed to bump and run , but as a result a map in addition to the description would have helped .
Climb the Harbor Bridge
Climb the Harbor Bridge
Sydney

A must do . First class treatment all the way . Pete our tour leader was a veteran guide and the best , right out of casting central . My wife is not always comfortable with heights and she did it and loved it.

Quality of Experience
The whole thing
Guides, Drivers and Staff
You can’t beat Pete our guide
Transport
N/A
Sydney Opera House Tour
Sydney Opera House Tour
Sydney

A great way to get an overview of the opera house ,and its design and construction while also visiting stunning performance venues within the opera house complex. After the tour I wanted to attend a performance, just to get an actual experience of venue in action. It is a first class tour conducted by a very knowledgeable docent.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Excellent docent
Transport
N/A
Local specialist: Ruth Grau
Ruth
Ruth Grau
Local specialist in Adelaide, Australia, & Palm Springs, USA | Replied on Feb 14, 2024

I really enjoyed working with James and was pleased they were open to trying some different things. I had just returned from Tasmania in October so it was great to be able share these amazing experiences that fitted with their interests. I have personally done everything included in this itinerary so its great to speak from the heart and from actual experience.

Four seniors in New Zealand.
New Zealand | Nov 3 - Nov 21, 2023

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Elizabeth M.
Ashland, MA | Reviewed on Nov 28, 2023
Between myself and our specialist Ruth we had to pare down ideas to make a trip that would be feasible with respect to travel and having more than one night in each hotel. Having done that, Ruth was respectful of the flexibility we needed to visit with relatives in various places and of the fact that we were four seniors. The hotels and apartments Ruth chose for stays were wonderful. The car arrangement worked very well. We did feel overwhelmed by one of the long guided tours and opted... Read more

Between myself and our specialist Ruth we had to pare down ideas to make a trip that would be feasible with respect to travel and having more than one night in each hotel. Having done that, Ruth was respectful of the flexibility we needed to visit with relatives in various places and of the fact that we were four seniors. The hotels and apartments Ruth chose for stays were wonderful. The car arrangement worked very well. We did feel overwhelmed by one of the long guided tours and opted out of it but enjoyed the others she had recommended. New Zealand is a wonderful country to explore one's personal interests. Our interests were in horticulture and I would certainly recommend New Plymouth for anyone interested in plants. The openness of the horticulture people we met at various sites was delightful. Bathing in the thermal pools in Taupo on our one rainy day was wonderful. We saw a variety of incredibly scenic places such as Punakaiki and the Pancake Rocks, Mt. Taranaki in all its glory, the road over Arthur's Pass and the drive to Akaroa. Altogether it was a very successful trip for all four of us.

Hotel Review
The Reef Resort
Taupo

We were booked into one of the apartments at this site and not only was it a wonderful, well-equipped apartment but it had a garage for the car. The hosts were great fun to meet. it would be a wonderful place to stay for a longer time.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Local specialist: Ruth Grau
Ruth
Ruth Grau
Local specialist in Adelaide, Australia, & Palm Springs, USA | Replied on Dec 01, 2023

It was a pleasure working with you and Sarah and I am so happy you had a great trip!

Feedback Australia-Trip Annette and Michael
Australia | Sep 27 - Oct 11, 2023

E
emse e.
Germany | Reviewed on Oct 29, 2023
Feedback Australia-Trip Annette and Michael Sereny Breaking the long journey from Germany to Australia in Singapore (3 days/2 nights) to get used to the time difference was very helpful and extremely interesting.
Sydney offers the arriving traveller a wide range of sights and attractions to explore daily for more than a week if necessary.
After our one-week stay in Sydney (congress and on our own) our organised trip took us first by plane to Cairns, where we were already expected upon...
Read more

Feedback Australia-Trip Annette and Michael Sereny

Breaking the long journey from Germany to Australia in Singapore (3 days/2 nights) to get used to the time difference was very helpful and extremely interesting.
Sydney offers the arriving traveller a wide range of sights and attractions to explore daily for more than a week if necessary.
After our one-week stay in Sydney (congress and on our own) our organised trip took us first by plane to Cairns, where we were already expected upon arrival. The arrival instructions in our travel description were helpful and accurate. The driver was extremely friendly and communicative and the drive to Port Douglas (1 hour) flew by, with the driver also making a short stop for some photos at our request. The car was spacious and clean and the driving style very pleasant.
We found the accommodation Villa San Michele very pleasant, the flat was clean and spacious and also very quiet at night. On arrival we were given very friendly and competent information. Due to the weather conditions, the receptionist also tried to reschedule our excursion to the Reef (a lot of wind, stormy sea) for another day, but this was not possible due to the travel time (holiday season Australia). There are many good restaurants and shops within walking distance.
The trip to the Reef was great and gave a lasting impression of the diversity and benefits of the Reef. However, with the stormy seas and lots of wind, the crossing was relatively long and sensitive people would probably be more comfortable with a shorter crossing from a port closer to the Reef (bus transfer).
The subsequent day of rest could easily be filled with sightseeing in and around the town on foot.
The small group excursion with "river drift snorkelling" and the guided tour through Mosman Gorge was also great and the guide was able to competently answer our every question and also give us an insight into the diversity and importance of the rainforest.
After another day of rest, we were again transferred on time and in an equally pleasant drive to the airport in Cairns for our onward flight to Brisbane. The pick-up at Brisbane airport also worked out very well and the driver took us to our hotel, the Crystalbrook Vincent. We were delighted with both the location and the design and facilities of the hotel room and could not imagine a more suitable one in Brisbane. We spent the day with rental bikes from the hotel on a tour along the river, which gave us a first, very good impression of this lively and interesting city. On the second day, we took public transport to the Koala Sanctuary, a slightly further but wonderful excursion, as well as more walking and sightseeing within the city.
Picking up the rental car at the Avis station in town was quite easy, the staff friendly and competent. However, the planned schedule: car pick-up, drive to Byron Bay and afternoon kayak tour, would not have been manageable, if only because of the time difference and the distance.
However, the communication with the organiser regarding the kayak tour turned out to be less than happy. The kayak tour was cancelled two days before it was due to take place due to the bad weather (waves/storm), which is completely okay, but we then received further emails with details about the tour, which were probably generated automatically and gave us the impression that the event was taking place after all. The organiser would have to improve his communication.
The accommodation in Byron Bay was well located and had the advantage of free parking in the underground car park. After the good accommodation in Port Douglas and the outstanding one in Brisbane, the flat in Byron Bay was much easier. It was clean and quiet, but there are other rooms there clearly affected by the kitchen smell of the pub below. The town of Byron Bay is very (too?) touristy; if we were to do another tour, we would personally prefer much smaller and more pleasant places on the coast. The Byron Bay Hinterland Tour was unfortunately cancelled at short notice due to cancellations of other participants, but our rental car gave us the opportunity to drive into the national park ourselves and do the hike to Minyon Falls on our own.
The accommodation in Coffs Harbour at the Pacific Bay Resort was okay, but clearly outside the town. If you are not playing golf, a smaller accommodation closer to the town would be more pleasant. Again, for a future trip or for other travellers with less need for tourist attractions, we would prefer smaller places in the area by the beach.
The Afternoon Giingan Cultural Walking Tour took place even though we were the only two participants, but this gave us an exclusive tour with a lot of information that was new to us and our excellent guide was able to answer all our questions competently. This also resulted in very interesting and further discussions.
The drive to the Hunter Valley, as we preferred roads close to the coast, was much longer than expected, but with beautiful views and wonderful stretches of road.
The accommodation at the Chateau Elan was fantastically located overlooking the golf course, clean, spacious, well-furnished and quiet. Unfortunately, however, the hotel's restaurant was closed for kitchen renovations and we had to settle for a rather mediocre bistro nearby. Breakfast, however, could be had on a very good scale.
The group tour to visit various wineries was very pleasant, entertaining, informative and also culinary. Our tour guide was able to accommodate our wine preferences for the tour at short notice in the morning, as we were the only guests with a full-day programme, the lunch package for midday was plentiful and delicious, and the afternoon part of the tour with other guests on board was also very worthwhile. We spent the second day cycling in the Hunter Valley. Unfortunately, the number of rental bikes at the hotel was limited, so we had to drive a short distance to the nearest bike rental. On the second evening, we were able to enjoy an excellent dinner in the restaurant of another, nearby hotel, but the final enjoyment of a local red wine we made in our hotel room due to the strict and reasonable alcohol restrictions when driving.
For the final drive back to Sydney and especially for the drop-off of the rental car, we would have wished for more detailed information from the car rental company (by email?). On the one hand, we did not realise that the car could only be dropped off until 4:30 p.m. (we had 5:00 p.m. on the schedule) and that the catastrophic traffic conditions in the one-way maze of Sydney, combined with the extremely poor signage of the Avis parking spaces to and in the car park, cost us so much time that we only found the Avis employee locking up the offices, but were able to hand in the keys and parking ticket at an adjacent hotel on his advice. Furthermore, it would have been very pleasant to be informed that there is no petrol station in the immediate vicinity of the drop-off point and that one should therefore fill up the tank in good time. We were therefore unable to return the car with a full tank. It was very positive that the car, a VW Tiguan, was almost new and that the road traffic in Australia is generally very pleasant and considerate. However, we have not yet received any feedback from the car rental company with the final invoice.
Overall, however, we did not regret spending the money for the trip. We saw and experienced a lot, which has a lasting and very positive impact on our image of Australia. It was clear to us that we could only travel part of Australia in the time available to us, and our progress so far has encouraged us to make further plans for Australia. The people are mostly friendly and sociable. However, we could not get used to the loudness in many pubs.
All we need now, as mentioned above, is the rental car bill, the refunds for the two cancelled activities (kayak tour and backcountry tour) have been advised in the meantime.

Local specialist: Ruth Grau
Ruth
Ruth Grau
Local specialist in Adelaide, Australia, & Palm Springs, USA | Replied on Oct 29, 2023
I enjoyed working with Annette and Michael on their trip. I am very disappointed with communications with them by the Kayak company in Byron and then the tour cancellation also in Byron. I am glad you had the car and could still get around to see the area. The refunds for these 2 tours have already been sent by us to kimkim so you should get them from kimkim shortly. I willc hase the car rental company for you too! There are indeed many other great areas of Australia for you to... Read more

I enjoyed working with Annette and Michael on their trip. I am very disappointed with communications with them by the Kayak company in Byron and then the tour cancellation also in Byron. I am glad you had the car and could still get around to see the area. The refunds for these 2 tours have already been sent by us to kimkim so you should get them from kimkim shortly. I willc hase the car rental company for you too!

There are indeed many other great areas of Australia for you to explore! I am headed to Tasmania this week so will have some new first hand information on new experiences there that I can share! Maybe you could get to my home town of Adelaide too? Anyway, I am glad that you had a wonderful trip!

Ruth

Amazing trip!
New Zealand | Oct 5 - Oct 17, 2023

S
Sheri M.
Sparks, NV | Reviewed on Oct 20, 2023
Ruth from KimKim/Spring Board and Nathan from Southern World we’re just amazing! I couldn’t have asked for a better pair of travel agents. Ruth listened to what I wanted and help me set up an amazing trip schedule and Nathan set up my accommodations, rental car and trip events. I had an amazing time in my number one bucket list location, New Zealand and I cannot thank Ruth and Nathan enough. Read more

Ruth from KimKim/Spring Board and Nathan from Southern World we’re just amazing! I couldn’t have asked for a better pair of travel agents. Ruth listened to what I wanted and help me set up an amazing trip schedule and Nathan set up my accommodations, rental car and trip events. I had an amazing time in my number one bucket list location, New Zealand and I cannot thank Ruth and Nathan enough.

Hotel Reviews
Robertson House
Rotorua

First class! Wonderful B&B! I can not recommend it enough!

Authenticity & Character
Oldest Victorian in Rotorua.
Location
Staff
Lovely hosts! They go the extra mile and I cannot say enough about them…amazing care and attention!
Cleanliness & Comfort
World class!
Queenstown House B&B
Queenstown

Wonderful staff and accommodations. First class room and view. You could do your laundry without being charged, big bonus. Loved it!

Authenticity & Character
Well cared for!
Location
Staff
Attentive staff!
Cleanliness & Comfort
Ocean View Retreat
Punakaiki

Wonderful Hotel!

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Cobden Garden
Napier

Wonderful B&B!

Authenticity & Character
Beautiful 1800s house.
Location
Staff
Lovely hosts.
Cleanliness & Comfort
Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Franz Josef Westland

Beautiful Hotel!

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Abseil Inn
Waitomo Caves

One of a kind experience!

Authenticity & Character
Each room has a theme.
Location
Tough to find, but once there lovely location.
Staff
They knew I had to leave earlier than their scheduled meal times and adjusted it without me asking so I could have breakfast.
Cleanliness & Comfort
Local specialist: Ruth Grau
Ruth
Ruth Grau
Local specialist in Adelaide, Australia, & Palm Springs, USA | Replied on Oct 20, 2023

I am so happy you had such a great trip! I really enjoyed working with you and planning your vacation. I'm glad you liked all the accommodations and hosts! Thanks so much for booking with me!