Pictured left to right outside the new store are: Paul Hardwick, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents Director of Retail; Emma Bailey, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents; Tutti Taylor, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents; Councillor Candy Vaughan, Mayor of Eastbourne; Trevor Ridler, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents Business Development Manager; and Shirley Waters, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents..
Back in 2012, Kathy May, Sales Consultant at our Head Office, ventured to New Zealand for an eight-night stay. Here is the round-up from her trip, featuring all the wonderful things you can do if you are to visit this country yourself…
Destination: New Zealand
(Hotel names/Ship name): Grand Chancellor – Auckland, Marine Reserved Apartments – Coromandel, Scenic Hotel – Napier, Peppers Hotel – Martinborough
Airline: Air New Zealand
Duration: 8 Nights
Sadly, we received no upgrades and so all of our flights were in Economy Class. The Air New Zealand staff were very pleasant on both the outbound and the inbound journeys, but it is important to remember that they do not sell duty free on the plane, so you may want to do any shopping whilst in the airport.
Our outbound journey was via Hong Kong and inbound included a stop off at LAX. I would certainly recommend taking the LAX route both ways as these planes are newer and seemed to have more leg room. However, if this is important to you then you may want to think about upgrading to premium class, as even the newer planes had limited space to relax in.
In Auckland, we stayed at the Grand Chancellor which is also used for private residents as well, which made it feel a little bit like an apartment block. There was no real lobby or bar area; just a reception desk. The hotel is located on the corner of a busy road but I couldn’t hear much noise so I wouldn’t let this affect your decision to stay here. The rooms were basic and could do with updating but OK for a one-night stop. If you are looking for something a bit more upmarket, I would definitely recommend a harbour hotel or even the Sky City Hotel (near the Sky Tower), which we were able to take a look around.
We also stayed at the Marine Reserved Apartments whilst in Whangamata on the Coromandel. This hotel was in a good location and had all the benefits that you would need including kitchen, washing facilities and lots of storage. In this area, we also viewed Breakers Motel, Pacific View B&B, Brenton Lodges and Bushland Park Lodge, which would all be great options and cater for a range of budgets.
Our accommodation whilst in Napier was the Scenic Hotel Te Pania. This was a lovely hotel in a great setting, with every room having an ocean view and friendly staff to look after you. Napier is one of the first places in the world to see the sunrise, so you have to experience this whilst you are there. I got up at 5.30am to see it and it was stunning! I’d definitely recommend this hotel for at least 2/3 nights as it is in a fantastic area with Hawke’s Bay, well known for its vineyards and fishing, close-by. Napier is an Art Deco town and it has lots of interesting buildings and Art Deco references around – it even has a special festival once a year where everyone dresses up ‘Art Deco’ style.
Other hotels we visited in Napier were the McHardy Lodge; a wonderful B&B that accepts only adults (it’s gorgeous), Quest Napier Serviced Apartments; great location and very good for families, The Albatross Motel; a rather tired choice of accommodation and glad I didn’t stay here and the Clearview Estate; a wonderful vineyard which has a one-off, large cottage for hire which can sleep up to 8 people. The food and hospitality during our inspection here were also brilliant.
The third stop on our tour of New Zealand took us to Martinborough, where we stayed at Peppers Parehua Country Estate. All I can say to the standard of accommodation here is wow! They were premium cottages with every little luxury you could ever imagine; a gas fire, lounge area, spa bath, full kitchen and the list goes on. Again, they are situated near a beautiful vineyard and the location is perfect.
In Wellington, we stayed at the Museum ‘Art’ Hotel. This is a very quirky and sought-after hotel in a great location; right opposite the world famous Te Papa Museum. Wellington is a wonderful place with lots to do and should definitely be on your list of places to see when travelling to New Zealand.
Finally, in Queenstown, we stayed at Garden Court Suites and Apartments. These were clean and in a good location. We also viewed the Alexis Apartments and Nomad Backpackers dorms and rooms, the latter offering a great option for those travelling on a tight budget.
Excursions And Activities
The trip was a self-drive, independent itinerary and there were three of us. It felt different to us as we were travelling without a holiday representative, but we were still given so much to do and see. In Auckland, we went on a Harbour Cruise and Auckland Highlights coach tour, whilst we also included a stop off in Rotorua to take a trip on Skyline’s gondola and luge attractions. The former takes you on a cable car journey which offers views that are simply amazing. We also visited the Maori Te Puia Cultural Centre and Thermal reserve. It was very interesting.
In Napier, we went on an Art Deco walking Tour of the city. It was a lovely day and I would recommend this to anyone who wants to explore the surroundings. We also called at Clearview Vineyard and Winery, where it was good to have the different wine growing techniques explained to us. And we couldn’t leave Napier without visiting the Silky Oaks chocolate factory nearby.
The attractions we enjoyed whilst in Wellington included the Cable Car, the Carter Observatory, a Wellington Bus Rover Tour and the Te Papa Museum. I really liked Wellington and would recommend all of the attractions that we were lucky enough to experience.
On the final leg of our tour, in Queenstown, we went on The Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise, which was such a fantastic day. It’s a full day, from 7.45am until 5.45pm, and includes two cruises, a visit to Lake Manapouri Power Station and lots of photo stops along the way. We also went on an Essential Queenstown Nomad Safari 4-wheeled drive experience. This included panning for gold, a 4-wheeled drive tour, The Shotover Jet and was a great experience that I would thoroughly recommend.
I have to say that Queenstown was my favourite part of New Zealand that we visited. The whole area is fantastic and the mountain range known as ‘The Remarkables’ is on its doorstep. The views are amazing and I would love to go back there one day.
My favourite experience whilst here was the Doubtful Sound Cruise. We even saw seals, penguins and dolphins; truly amazing!
The only thing that could have been improved was the itinerary that we were set. It was very rushed at times and not planned well enough. It was such a shame to arrive at places in the dark and not see the beauty of the surrounding areas. Also, if we had two more days on the itinerary this would’ve been great.
I would, and already have, recommend the whole trip to anyone that wants to see everything that New Zealand has to offer. The country is quite vast, but this tour offers a great insight into most of the popular areas.
The car we had was very good and although we had a ‘Kruse’ satnav system, we didn’t really use it as it became very annoying with background noise and twice sent us in the wrong direction.
All the properties that we stayed at were very clean and the hosts in Napier, Wellington and Queenstown were all very helpful and lovely people.
Must see? As much of NZ as you can
Must do? Doubtful Sound Cruise in Queenstown
Must try? ‘Shotover Jet’ in Queensland
Fred Olsen Travel can help you to arrange your own holiday to New Zealand to ensure that you get the best deal. Speak to our team in-store at our East Anglian travel shops or our new travel agents in Lymington and Westbourne. Alternatively, you can complete an online contact form and we will get back to you with some packages that would suit you perfectly.