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 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!!:)