We took a 2-week trip to New Zealand planned ...
New Zealand | Jan 23 - Feb 5, 2024

Ann
Ann A.
Tampa, FL | Reviewed on Feb 12, 2024

We took a 2-week trip to New Zealand planned especially for us by kimkim. NZ is big and spread out- very overwhelming for first-timers to plan where, when and how. Kimkim knew all the best things to do based on our interests and we stayed in great hotels, saw amazing things and had fabulous adventures. We saw and did things we might have overlooked if we’d been on our own- and we loved it all! I never knew I’d get so excited gazing at a newly hatched kiwi chick- but it was thrilling to see a bird that is slowly being brought back from near extinction. Have you ever held a chunk of an iceberg? Taken a trip on a coal-fired tramp steamer? Gasped at the beauty of unspoiled mountains and mirror clear lakes? Swung on the world’s largest swing (70m drop, 300m swing)? Slathered yourself with silky smooth volcanic mud? We did all that and more.
Checklist for my next vacay:
Passport ✔️ Visa✔️ Contact kimkim✔️

Hotel Reviews
Hotel Ibis Rotorua

Not my favorite, old & dated. There is a Novotel next door that looked much nicer. Great location though, 5 minute walk to bars & restaurants.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Hermitage Hotel
Mount Cook Village

Historic hotel. My room had a breathtaking view of Mt. Cook. Staff is great- the chef was circulating the buffet & showed me how to eat a green-lipped mussel & explained the bigger mussels are female & sweeter, smaller ones are male & not as sweet (I couldn't tell a difference in taste).

The White Morph - Heritage Collection
Kaikoura

Darling beachy hotel.

The Hotel Britomart
Auckland

One of, if not the, most fabulous hotels I've ever stayed in! Absolutely beautiful. The bath & body products in the room are soooo nice I bought some to take home. I took pix of the shower so I can remodel mine like theirs- I loved the rough hewn herringbone tile, the shelf instead of a niche, and the horizontal drain, just in case you're curious what I found so special in a hotel shower! I hated to leave. I'll def stay here the next time I'm in Auckland.

Activity Reviews
Auckland Harbour Dinner Cruise
Auckland Harbour Dinner Cruise
Auckland

It was by sailboat not motorboat, which was extra special. The commentary was really interesting- we sailed right by the entire New Zealand navy, 8 boats, one with a gun! The crew was great. Meal was a bit strange, served in bowls, but the guys were so enthusiastic it was a fun excursion.

Te Pō - Indigenous Evening Experience
Te Pō - Indigenous Evening Experience
Rotorua

The Māori are a proud people, eager to share their heritage with outsiders. I was afraid the show would be touristy and cheesy, but it definitely was not!

Hells Gate - Hell's Gate Experience (Geothermal Walk, Mud Bath, Sulphur Spas)
Hells Gate - Hell's Gate Experience (Geothermal Walk, Mud Bath, Sulphur Spas)
Rotorua

Don't miss a dip in the mud baths. The mud is luxuriously silky smooth. Listen to their instructions- they said don't wear jewelry for 48 hrs afterward, it will tarnish. I scoffed. I was wrong- see photo of the sterling silver earrings I put on that evening! They polished up nicely once I got home, however.

Swim with the Dolphins Tour
Swim with the Dolphins Tour
Kaikoura

Where else can you swim with hundreds of dolphins in the OPEN OCEAN??

TSS Earnslaw Farm Tour & Dinner
TSS Earnslaw Farm Tour & Dinner
Queenstown (NZ)

Interesting coal-fired tramp steamer ride. Best buffet of the trip! Sheep shearing with Quinn and his dog Mist was fun.

Milford Sound Full-Day Adventure
Milford Sound Full-Day Adventure
Queenstown (NZ)

Unfortunately we had to drive back instead of fly back because of weather. Our flight was promptly refunded. I'm sure it's spectacular from the air...

Shotover River Canyon Jet Boat Ride
Shotover River Canyon Jet Boat Ride
Queenstown (NZ)

Don't miss this! It would NEVER be allowed in the USA. A very hairaising ride- at times I thought we'd for sure crash into the canyon walls or flip on rocks in the river but the boat driver was very good.

National Kiwi Hatchery Tour
National Kiwi Hatchery Tour
Rotorua

I'm not into birds at all but the hatchery was very interesting, it was thrilling to see newly hatched kiwi chicks and learn how this unique bird is being brought back from near extinction.

Redwoods - Nightlights
Redwoods - Nightlights
Rotorua

It was tons of fun walking across narrow suspension bridges high in the treetops in the dark by the glow of beautiful lanterns.

Visit the Te Papa Museum
Visit the Te Papa Museum
Wellington

Fabulous museum! Don't miss the preserved giant squid. The Gallipoli exhibit (think of it as New Zealand's Dunkirk) is absolutely incredible.

Glacier Explorers - Mount Cook
Glacier Explorers - Mount Cook
Aoraki / Mount Cook Village

Pretty amazing! One of the few places in the world where a glacier feeds into a lake - and the lake is accessible!

AJ Hackett Nevis Swing
AJ Hackett Nevis Swing
Queenstown (NZ)

Loved it! Not as scary as bungee jumping with a rope.

Local specialist: Laurel Thachuk
Laurel
Laurel Thachuk
Local specialist in Wanaka, New Zealand | Replied on Feb 14, 2024

Hi Ann,

Thanks so much for the review. I love the detail too regarding each accommodation and activity. This level of detail really helps us to evaluate the products and services we use and get first hand feedback. It surely is a diverse country and I'm glad you enjoyed the unique experiences we have to offer.

Kind Regards
Sabina
(On behalf of Laurel)