My name is Franck I am the founder of Once Upon a Trip and I am originally French. We had our honeymoon in NZ back to 2003, we felt in love with the country, then we decided to come back in 2009 to establish our business. In 2016 we became citizens of this country that we call home now. I plan tailor-made trips based on my clients' desires. I like to get to know my clients so I can plan for them the perfect vacation in one of the world's top destinations, New Zealand.
What places and activities do you specialize in?
"I specialize in self-drive tours. I tend to work with smaller style accommodations such as bed & breakfasts, as well as boutique hotels and luxury lodges for a higher-end, more personal and authentic experience. It also gives my travelers the opportunity to discover the warmth of Kiwi hospitality! For activities, I specialize in many different ones including cycling (with the option of e-bikes), hiking, water-sports and everything involving outdoor adventures. I also specialize in and support wildlife activities, such as kiwi and native penguin spotting in their natural environment. I also like to offer scenic flights and cruises since they allow travelers to gain a deeper insight into our wonderful country."
How did you get involved in travel?
"As a child, my parents would always take my brother, my sister, and I on back-country adventures: hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, skiing, snowboarding... We didn't travel far, but as I grew older my desire to see the world grew as well. To the point where at age 24, I decided to travel from Normandy, France, to the Dogon country, Mali, in West Africa on... a 50cc moped! From then on, my life has been filled with adventures through Europe, the Caribbean, South-East Asia, North-America, and finally Australia and New Zealand where I decided to settle down. Today I still regularly travel from NZ to France, where I grew up, trying to stop in exotic places along the way. "
Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.
"When I first visited NZ's South Island, I wanted to go for a hike to explore Wanaka's surrounding mountains. I was advised by a local to sleep in a remote hut near the Rob Roy Glacier, which I did. After a lovely walk along the beautiful Matukituki valley, the track suddenly became really steep, winding around sheer rock face and native forest. For about an hour or so, I literally climbed through this Lord of the Rings-like landscape, before reaching an alpine saddle, where the hut was. I spent the night alone in the hut, with only the presence of native kaka birds and summits around me, an amazing experience..."
Featured trips & expertise
North Island Adventure: Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, Tauranga, Rotorua, Wellington, & More - 14 Days
Enjoy two weeks in the North Island of New Zealand on this tour of six different destinations. Begin in Auckland to do some sightseeing, stroll historic neighborhoods, and embark on a day trip to Waiheke Island. Next, head to the Coromandel Peninsula to discover the stunning coves, gorges, and beaches. Then, head to Tauranga for a glowworm cave excursion via kayak, followed by three days in the geothermal city known as Rotorua. Stay on a family farm in Mairenui, and spend two days in Wellington touring museums, parliamentary buildings, and more.
Spend seven days enjoying the best of the South Island of New Zealand. First, take in the popular sights of Christchurch and enjoy a mobile dinner via the Tram Restaurant. Then, visit Akaroa in the Banks Peninsula to get acquainted with the little blue penguins, followed by a trip to Lake Tekapo for a stargazing tour. Next, enjoy several scenic walks through Aoraki/Mount Cook and a trip to Wanaka to explore the highlights and Mt. Aspiring National Park. The vacation concludes in Queenstown with some wine tasting and final adventuring.
On this weeklong tour of New Zealand, explore three entirely different areas of the country. Begin in Auckland, the "Big Little City," to do some sightseeing, kiwi spotting, and island touring. Then, drive to Rotorua to explore the famous geothermal areas and go mountain biking in the Redwoods Forest. Next, make your way to Napier, nestled on Hawke's Bay, and rich with Art Deco culture.
In one week, enjoy an action-packed road trip through New Zealand's South Island. Begin in Christchurch to do some sightseeing. Then, explore the culture, wildlife, and rock formations of Oamaru, the churches and cathedrals of Dunedin, and more. Tour native species along The Catlins from different lookouts, followed by a full day of activities in Queenstown, from flying and cruising over the sounds and fjords to skydiving and bungee jumping over gorges and rivers.
This 11-day adventure explores New Zealand's North Island, as well as one of the most popular regions of the upper South Island. Start in Auckland, and take a short scenic flight to Great Barrier Island, where you can hike, bathe in natural hot pools, or relax on the beach. Continue to Rotorua, with its geothermal waters and the Tongariro volcanoes, before making your way to Wellington. From there, you'll finish with Golden Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, and Nelson—the sunniest town in New Zealand.
Enjoy the outdoors of New Zealand's South Island on this quick, five-day trip. Begin in Christchurch and go punting on the Avon River, stroll Hagley Park, and zipline through the Adventure Park. Next, tour the Banks Peninsula, where time stands still. Discover the bays, villages, galleries, and cafés, as well as Akaroa, nestled in the heart of a volcano. Go swimming with Hector’s dolphins and view little blue penguins on a night tour. Then, head to Hanmer Springs for a therapeutic soak or two in the thermal pools, take a scenic hike, or go mountain biking along New Zealand High Country and Hanmer Forest Park.
Recent trip reviews for Franck
Wonderful cycling (South Island of New Zealand)
Mar 1 - Mar 15, 2020
I wrote to Kim Kim re cycling in NZ having some ideas of what we wanted (and what we did not want). Valentin responded immediately and through some correspondence we planned 2 weeks cycling in Sth Island of New Zealand. He understood our needs and catered to our preferences. The choice of trails, accommodation and attention to detail was fantastic (the trip itself was amazing, so varied in scenery and types of trails. We loved the small towns, the unique accommodations and people, having our... read more
Valentine created an awesome itinerary for us...
Feb 20 - Feb 27, 2020
Valentine created an awesome itinerary for us! If I were to pick out the best highlight (which is hard because everything was awesome!) I'd say it was the Waimarino glow worm evening kyak tour which was absolutely fabulous. However, everything was great from the moment we arrived in Auckland, to the whale and dolphin watching, to the wine tasting on Waiheke island, to the Hobbiton movie set, hiking around Wai O Tapu, and hanging out next to the stunning ocean in Tauranga. We had an amazing time in our 7 days in NZ!
Stellar trip to South Island New Zealand
Feb 8 - Feb 17, 2020
Had a great experience with KimKim and Eloise who booked our travel for our honeymoon in New Zealand. As a seasoned traveler, I usually book my own travel, however the ease and quality of our trip reserved with kimkim has forever changed how I will book future trips! We gave Eloise the places and activities we were interested in and she put together a stellar itinerary where we had flexibility but structure to our trip. It felt like we were on a private self-guided tour. We wanted to hike and... read more
South Island, New Zealand 16 days 19 January...
Jan 19 - Feb 3, 2020
South Island, New Zealand 16 days 19 January through 03 February, 2020. Kimkim organized our self drive 16 day trip of South Island. It was perfect from start to finish. All the BnBs were fabulous. Having a local NZ phone was a great addition for contacting hosts of our arrivals and to check on excursions. Promt refund issued for a cancelled excursion. Would highly recommend and would use again to put a trip together.
New Zealand is beautiful
Dec 20 - Dec 30, 2019
New Zealand is beautiful and definitely worth every minute there! So much to see and hard to choose! Kimkim helped to set a great itinerary after me having to narrow down the list! The best hotel we stayed in was the Park Queenstown Hotel, great location, staff and food!! Spend some time in Auckland! Downtown was a bit of a mess due to the construction of an expanded light rail, but by far my favorite city I’ve visited, relaxing, interesting, diverse and lovely people. Standout was the Hotel... read more
I have had very good experience
Dec 3 - Dec 20, 2019
I have had very good experience . All people I interacted with (Valentin, Eveline and Ben) were very professional and skill. I am sure that will be happy to advice this local specialists to my friends/
Lord of the Rings and Scenic Sights
Jun 29 - Jul 7, 2019
Thanks so much to Valentin for planning our amazing trip. Everything was so well organised and our trip flowed seamlessly. Our trip incorporated everything we wanted to see and more. The accommodation Valentin chose for us were all fantastic, the hosts made us feel right at home. Looking forward to booking our next trip with Kim Kim.
A short adventure from Auckland NZ
Apr 20 - Apr 26, 2019
We traveled a lot and It was our first time to try a self guided tour. It’s an amazing experience since we have our time and choices to maneuver which places we like and explore. It’s an adventure that time is not pressured but it’s laid out for you to venture. As long as your provided SIM card is activated then everything is easy. Our best unforgettable adventure is the hike to Mt Tarawera by kaitiaki adventure which was arranged by Kimkim and the thermal spa . Breakfast was substantial... read more
Trip to New Zealand
Feb 21 - Mar 9, 2019
Everyone we interacted with from the beginning of our trip planning to wrapping up was excellent. Valentin helped us build the perfect trip and patiently answered all of our questions along the way. Each and every bed & breakfast owner was extremely professional, welcoming, and helpful and we also found KimKim's partner company in NZ to be well-regarded. This trip was the perfect way to view the beautiful country of New Zealand and so much of what it has to offer. At one point, we had in our... read more
Jan 31 - Feb 16, 2019
Valentin gave us an itinerary that well suited our needs. We were able to cover a lot of territory in a relatively short stay. All of our reservations and arrangements went according to plan. A highlight in the South Island was the cruise on Milford Sound, but the overall scenery was very beautiful. We appreciated that city accommodations were on the edge of town to avoid city driving. In the North Island we especially enjoyed the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Hobbiton and also a day trip we took took to Waipu. Again the scenery was absolutely beautiful all along the way.
Dream cycle trip
Jan 4 - Jan 20, 2019
Overall I enjoyed a really cool holiday. My highlights were definitely the cycling days, and particularly doing the Twin Coast Trail. It was brilliant to have the shuttle services and flexibility around accommodation for that as well as for the Haureki Trail. While I also enjoyed cycling Waiheke Island, the cycle hire place was less helpful which limited the cycling I felt confident to do.
The walking aspects of my trip were good - certainly the Park Run events were great, but the other... read more