Exploring NZ with a guide – 5 ways to enhance your holiday


New Zealand is a land of such astounding beauty; one never has to drive too far to feast your eyes on something breath-taking and amazing. The contrasts between the massive mountain ranges and the broad, empty beaches, the forests, the waterfalls, the crystal-clear lakes, and indigenous fauna and flora are unique and fascinating beyond words. There is an immersive cultural mix which combined with a host of activities could fill more than lifetime.

There are endless trails, hikes, Maori carvings, movie sets, glow worm caves, golf courses and natural mineral spas that you can access in a multitude of ways; you could fly, walk, drive or ride. There are over 500 wineries to visit, with a delicious selection of red and white wine blends that could have you quaffing wine for days on end.

New Zealand also has a very dedicated coffee culture, where cafes are the epicentre of the social hour. Over the last couple of decades, New Zealand has undergone a coffee revolution as many Kiwis have become connoisseurs of the of the black beverage, the modern-day elixir of life. Coffee has become a fine art in the highly competitive cafe scene.

Once you have indulged and gotten to grips with both coffee and wine, it’s time to start exploring the culinary delights that abound. You need to plan to partake of a traditional Māori meal cooked in an underground pit called a Hāngi, or feast on Kina and crayfish pulled fresh from the sea or enjoy fish and chips on the beach with an ice-cold L&P. You will need to savour a Hokey Pokey ice-cream eaten freshly served in a sweet-biscuit cone as you wander along the beachfront.

Loads of must dos, but ‘how to’?

1. The challenge of choice

Whether you are traveling as a couple, a family or a group of friends why not take the stress out of putting together the “ultimate” itinerary by getting someone to do the hard work for you? Engaging a trustworthy private guide could be the key to unlocking your dream holiday. Finding that perfect someone to introduce you to all the cultural nuances, different foods, trips and experiences may provide the solution to your holiday planning.

A personalized tour created for your group with someone in the country you plan to visit could provide new ideas, insights and possibilities of what to visit and where to explore. They could help you plan according to your preferences; just the right amount of adventure and relaxation, which venues would suit your food preferences and which hotels would best suit your needs.
While it may not the ideal solution for everyone, maybe now is the time to consider the benefits that having your own private guide brings to the table.

2. Access to hidden gems

It’s hard not to fall in love with travel, and if New Zealand is on your list then you’re making the right decision! Both the country and its people know how to charm visitors with the right amount of friendliness and mind-blowing scenery. Obviously, a bit of planning will make a trip here so much easier. But you don’t know what you don’t know, right? So, what to plan, where to visit and which activities are best suited is the big question.

A good guide is not just a chauffeur but should be a real story teller. They should be your personal key to the best spots in the country… to insights and stories, history and traditions. Having someone guide and drive you delivers a completely stress-free solution to navigating not only the best roads but also the best routes to your destinations without the hassle of maps, route planners and trying to accurately estimate arrival times.

3. Unlocking your dream holiday

Your own local travel guide is also an amazing resource; it’s like having a friend on the journey to advise, share local knowledge, and take you down the path less traveled. Many monuments and traditional sites that may be closed to the general public are often open for a private guide who is entrusted with bringing visitors. These places may not have the resources to service visitors on-site and as a result, they are keen to give this privilege to a known travel guide.

Your guide becomes your host, someone who can connect you with local people and take care of all the logistical worries, planning for bad weather or rearranging where necessary, making everything about your personal preferences.

Engaging with a guide can improve traveling through any country, certainly not only New Zealand. When considering destinations in Europe, the Far East or Asia the day to day organisation can be daunting for an international tourist in a foreign country. A local guide who is able to communicate with the local people removes roadblocks and makes it an adventure rather than a challenge.

4. A question of value

There is a misconception that a private guided tour is too expensive. But one could argue that there is more value to engage a personal tour guide to plan your perfect holiday in a place that they know well, rather than spending your own precious time doing it.

The cost-benefit ratio works really well for families and friends traveling together. The endless hours spent trawling through sites to find the finest-fit agenda, with matching hotels, car rentals and entry tickets to sites or activities can consume more time and energy than you have readily available.
A private guide can save you money by knowing which tourist traps to avoid and by taking you to locations that are only known to locals, saving both time, money and effort by eliminating the sites that are not of core interest to the group as a whole.

5. Creating connections, sharing moments

Choosing your travel guide is so important to make the most of your next international holiday, but it is just one decision that you have to make versus the hundreds you’d face if you were to plan your entire holiday alone. Making the decision to choose a tour guide is the best time you can invest in your holiday. Authentic knowledge of all things local is perhaps the most important advantage.
A guide takes all the stress out of holidays, leaving the fun in every moment, from the time you touch down as a stranger at the airport to the moment you say farewell to your new friend and fly home with a pocket full of memories.

Veronika Vermeulen is Director of Aroha New Zealand Tours Ltd. Aroha New Zealand Tours Ltd. has been offering 100% tailored journeys and private guided luxury experiences in New Zealand since 2000.

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Comments (12)

  1. Bruna says:

    Whoa, NZ is such a unique country! I keep seeing amazing photos on Instagram and I can’t avoid but to dream about visiting it.
    Surely hiring a guide is essential to learn about the history of this singular place. Great article!

  2. Roger says:

    I would definitely agree that investing in a guide provides good value. Without expert local advice it is all too easy to miss key sights. Too often have I returned home to find friends telling me that I should have visited x or y or even z. Very frustrating!

    • Most places are beautiful in our country, so you cant get to wrong even if you miss out on something. BUT we want you on your return home to think, that you had a very special and very personal experience. Hopefully, you will be the one that tells your friends what they have missed out on some very unique sights and people.

  3. Sarah Bugden says:

    Ah the problem of choice! There are just too many places to see, too many things to experience. Even if money isn’t a problem time is always short.

    That’s why it’s worth spending time getting some advice. And come to think of it that’s why most of us read A Luxury Travel Blog to make sure that we are as well informed as we can be.

  4. Darius says:

    What you say about storytellers is really important. In the olden day’s people used to like listening to stories as they helped them to make sense of a big world that they didn’t understand. When we travel we need stories because we are in a different environment, with an alien culture, and we like the stories that help us to make sense of it all.

    Recently I was watching a TV drama set in a dystopian future and one character was a storyteller drawing a vast crowd, probably because people couldn’t understand all the high tech around them.

  5. Brian says:

    When money was a bit tighter I would never spend the money on a personal guide. Now that the mortgage’s paid and the kids have left home I have a few more pennies to spend and usually book private guides for some of our travels.

    One of the best things about a private guide is that they’ve got an intimate connection to the land, it’s their history, it’s in their DNA.

    Another thing that I have found is that usually they quickly get to know you and understand what you want to see and do.

    • A good guide has to be able to fast figure out what the clients he is traveling with is about. How does the traveler like to spend his day, what are his likes and dislikes and what does he/she like to see and do?

  6. Kirsty says:

    I think it’s a really good tip about investing in a tour guide. I would want local knowledge and a more in-depth experience, which a local guide would be able to provide and show you the best places and how best to plan your adventures. I were looking at going to New Zealand I would end up being a bit lost at where to start as there’s so much to explore. Taking away a little stress in that respect would be really beneficial.

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