Late spring, November 15, 2015, I found myself wandering out of the arrivals gate at Queenstown Airport. Little did I know about the two-week journey I had started to embark on; I would experience things I would hold fond memories of, conversations I would keep with me for life, activities that would test me emotionally and physically and I would meet people I would have never crossed paths with before. Those two weeks wouldn’t have flown as smoothly as they did without the help of Contiki Holidays.
Contiki Holidays is a tour company for ages 18 to 35. They hold tours ranging from a couple of days to a couple of months long that vary in pace; something available for every individual. Contiki also travel to Australia, Canada, the USA, Europe and the UK, Asia and New Zealand.
I decided to book my first overseas trip to New Zealand with Contiki mainly because I had heard pleasant reviews from friends, they organize literally everything for you- from breakfast’s, transport, sightseeing, bookings and more- and because it was a relatively cheap option for a university student on a budget. This post is to give you guys a insight into the nitty-gritty details of tripping around New Zealand with Contiki.
Contiki offers camping, hotel stays, hostel stays or lodge stays; with the tour that I booked (Kiwiana Panorama) accommodation consisted of hotel and lodge stays. In general, all accommodation had their ups and downs but were overall better than average. Stays in Queenstown, Christchurch, Waitomo and Lake Taupo were definitely my favorite. Rotorua was also quite nice except the heat that radiates from the ground there was uncomfortable and Franz Josef’s quad share rooms were too crowded. All stays were very homely and no sign of bed bugs anywhere.
Tour Manager and Driver
I applaud Contiki tour managers/drivers; they have to entertain and be responsible for up to 53 people, they have to take on the role of doctors, event planners, entertainers, tour guides and many more whilst planning every single moment. My guides Soki and Pat were welcoming, upbeat and organized all the time and helped me with anything I needed, they also made the effort to talk to you first which I found lovely.
Contiki’s main mode of transport is buses or coaches. In New Zealand, we had two different coaches- on in the south island and one in the north island- both were incredibly clean all the time and unexpectedly comfortable! Our tour driver, Pat, washed and cleaned both the interior and exterior of the bus a couple of times and kept it impeccably clean.
This is where each tour really differentiates, as mentioned above, Contiki has multiple travel styles; Discovery Plus, In-depth Explorer, Camping, Festivals and Short Stays and High Energy. The Kiwiana Panorama tour was in the Discovery Plus category meaning that there were lots of locations visited and we stayed longer in places that had more too offer. Personally, I like being on the road or else I start to think too much and sometimes develop anxiety, so for me it was perfect. Queenstown was our longest stay (3 days) and the rest were either an overnight stay or 2 days stay. The itinerary visited all the must-see places through the country and offered Metime optional activities to other must-see places or must-do activities.
Breakfast was my favorite time of day and I made sure that I never missed it because it was simply that good; they were supplied everyday and were included in Contiki’s full tour fee, so we didn’t need to pay anything extra to eat every morning and the variety was large. We were required to purchase our own lunches as we were on the road most of the time and some dinners were included; there were also always delicious and sometimes included a cultural experience.
Racquel would like to formally thank her tour manager and tour driver on her New Zealand Contiki tour. The tour Racquel took part in was called Kiwiana Panorama (Queenstown to Auckland).