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Once Upon a Trip

As in country experts, our services ensure your vacation exceeds all your expectations.
We create tailor-made New Zealand tours. We know this country, these regions, and accommodations in a way that the internet won't allow you to. We specialize in custom New Zealand and South Pacific Island itineraries.

Our philosophy is to listen to your vacation dream and then using our first-hand experience of living and traveling all corners of New Zealand, to design the trip of a lifetime specifically for you. No two customers are alike so no two New Zealand vacations we create are alike.

Featured trips & expertise

View of Mount Ngauruhoe  from the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in Tongariro National Park
New Zealand's North Island - 6 Days

From Auckland to Taupo National Park, this six-day itinerary presents the highlights of the North Island's diverse and dramatic landscapes. You'll trek amid emerald lakes and ancient volcanoes, explore The Shire from Lord of the Rings, and discover the sacred thermal waters of Wai-O-Tapu.

View of Mount Ngauruhoe  from the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in Tongariro National Park
New Zealand's North Island - 7 Days

Explore the beauty of New Zealand's North Island, from the foodie's haven of Wellington to stunning Tongariro National Park. This seven-day tour starts in Wellington and ends in Auckland, with a variety of local activities including hiking, visiting Lord of the Rings' filming locations, touring wine country, and spotting local wildlife.

Reflection of Mount Cook on a hidden tarn in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park
New Zealand Cities, Parks & Mountains - 12 Days

This 12-day tour features a perfect mix of adventure and relaxation. Explore New Zealand's cities, mountain landscapes, native bush, and beaches. Begin in Wellington working your way through parks and vineyards to Christchurch and to the mountains and fjords of Mount Cook and Milford Sound, ending your stay in Queenstown.

Stunning view of Lake Tekapo on New Zealand's South Island
Highlights of New Zealand: From North to South - 15 Days

Traverse New Zealand on this two-week adventure-packed trip, covering the highlights of North and South Island. Discover diverse landscapes, from world-class surfing beaches, volcanic islands, and fern forests to geothermal waters, glacial fiords, and imposing mountains. Along the way, you'll visit historic mining towns, go wine tasting and hike, paddle, and fly your way across the country.

Recent Trip Reviews for Once Upon a Trip

New zealand, New Zealand - Jan 31 - Feb 16, 2019

Traveler: Heather F. - Local specialist: Valentin Puech

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.

Valentin Puech, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Heather,
Thanks a lot for your wonderful review!
I am so happy you had a good time and enjoyed our beautiful scenery!
You got to see the highlights of both islands in a relatively short stay but there are many other beautiful locations to explore, if you ever want to come back to NZ, it would be a pleasure to organize your trip again!
All the best to you and thanks again !

Dream cycle trip, New Zealand - Jan 4 - Jan 20, 2019

Traveler: Clare F. - Local specialist: Valentin Puech

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

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 walks I was interested in were a bit hit and miss. I found it difficult to get information about suitable walks, and perhaps the biggest disappointment was being located quite a distance from Turangi, which meant I didn't get to do any of the walks in that area, although I had indicated I wanted to do that.

However, the places I went to were interesting and there was generally a lot to do. The accommodation was good and the car hire worked.

Best accommodations: Blue Water Motel in Tairua, Scenic Hotel in Paihia and Left Bank in Kaikohe.
Most challenging accommodations: i) Heritage Collection Waitakere Estate - while in a magnificent setting with great views of Auckland, they provided basically no information about what to do on site and near by. Even if they had, it would have been challenging due to the steep terrain and and lateness of arrival. There was also no offer to clean the loo despite indicating to the front desk that it was not up to par. Etc. And ii) Palm Motel Waihi, which was just a long way from the shops/cafes when you don't have a car.

The planned activities/tours were all good. And the freedom to take up other activities worked well for me, although the ultimate cost of these was far more than I expected. Highlights: seeing the massive Kauri trees in Waipoua Forest (and around), dinner up the tower in Auckland and fish and chips in Mangonui, and the Te Toto Gorge.

I definitely appreciated the follow-up by Valentin and knowing that I had someone to contact if I had any difficulties.

So all good - and in the end, I had a relaxing and very enjoyable holiday. Thanks!!:)

Sightseeing south island, New Zealand - Dec 28 - Jan 9, 2019

Traveler: Bernadette B. - Local specialist: Kelly Fitzgerald

Christchurch accommodation was awesome. All accommodation was clean and comfortable. Really helpful at the Geraldine place. Loved the Vintners retreat as well.

Great trip Kimkim a big thank you

Memories , New Zealand - Dec 17 - Dec 22, 2018

Traveler: Shelagh T. - Local specialist: Kelly Fitzgerald

Kelly and Valentin both did an amazing job, all our accommodation was first class, loved the wineries tour although that was probably because we were only 4 people , Ken our driver was great.

Quiglayshan vacation, Fiji - Jul 13 - Jul 27, 2018

Traveler: Kristy L. - Local specialist: Kelly Fitzgerald

Wonderfully planned and stress-free trip! Every connection was seemless and timely. Ben was amazing keeping in touch during one unexpected change. We especially liked our quad bike adventure & guide, diving at Kuata with Brad, and with Semi and Epi at barefoot manta. Saki was an amazing host at manta.

When we were ready to leave manta the money hadn’t been paid by Kimkim, but the manager Lauren said, “no worries... they always pay. We’lol sort it out” and they let us leave without $$ in... read more

Wonderfully planned and stress-free trip! Every connection was seemless and timely. Ben was amazing keeping in touch during one unexpected change. We especially liked our quad bike adventure & guide, diving at Kuata with Brad, and with Semi and Epi at barefoot manta. Saki was an amazing host at manta.

When we were ready to leave manta the money hadn’t been paid by Kimkim, but the manager Lauren said, “no worries... they always pay. We’lol sort it out” and they let us leave without $$ in place for our 3 day food and lodging! Glad to hear you have a great relationship with the places.

We discovered a hidden gem in Boitaira ... good food, beautiful beach, chill village hike, friendly staff (be prepared for a few bugs and critters in your bure)