Paradise is exactly like Australia only more crowded.
My entire foodie trip in the Lands Down Under went off with nary a hitch. The business class flights were the best splurge I’ve given myself in years!
The Hotel Lindrum in Melbourne was well positioned with easy access to shopping and attractions. The Lanes and Arcades tour is an absolute must for anyone visiting Melbourne for the first time. As our guide pointed out, by not knowing to look down the city’s narrow alleyways many Americans would walk right past them and miss out on so much vibrant local culture.
There is so much colorful history in Melbourne. At our guide’s advice, I even stopped in and had a drink upstairs with the famous Chloe in her namesake bar across from Flinders Railway Station! The Yarra Valley winery tour was great fun. I really enjoyed seeing the Chandon Estate and didn’t realize Chandon had a vineyard in Australia!
Hobart in Tasmania was a really nice respite after the hustle and bustle of Melbourne. The Old Woolstore Hotel was so close to the downtown area and harbor that I was able to walk virtually the entire downtown during my stay. My private tour and lunch at the Morilla Estate was fantastic though the artwork at MONA came as a bit of a shock! The trip to Bruny Island was great. The weather started out very rainy but by noon everything cleared out and I had a lovely day.
And then came Queenstown in beautiful New Zealand. The Dairy may have been my favorite accommodation – had I not stopped at The Manse later! The view, room, breakfasts and staff service were all superlative. I also enjoyed the hot tub on the back deck – a great place to sip wine while enjoying the view! Although the weather was on again, off again, I had mostly great weather for my wanderings about town, the public garden, and the narrow streets. I also enjoyed great meals at a couple of unique tapas bars on Lake Wakatipu. The Doubtful Sound trip was quite majestic, but as The Sound is so remote it was a very long day. The winery tour to Otago was great and the charcuterie lunch was quite good.
Lastly came Hawkes Bay. I knew I was in for a treat when I saw the plane I’d be flying on the leg from Christchurch to Napier – a regional aircraft not unlike some I have been on in the Pacific Northwest! After staying at The Manse and being totally spoiled by the fantastic accommodation, the pool, the drinks before dinner, Gary’s sumptuous meals, and his and Dietske’s hospitality, I can only say that I wish I had had spent more time there! My guide on the winery tour had spent years in the business himself, and it showed in his insights into the various wineries and producers. My tour of Napier with Gary on the last day of my trip certainly cemented my wish to spend more time in stunning Hawkes Bay.
The trip was spectacular and I will have great memories to share for years to come. Thanks for all your help in making this happen!
Our dedication to excellence, our wealth of local knowledge and the ability to sprinkle a touch of Aussie magic turns your next vacation into a BRILLIANT Adventure.
Dine under the stars at the quietest restaurant on Earth. Sip champagne and listen to the haunting sounds of the didgeridoo as you watch a magnificent sunset over Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). When the sun has finally set, lanterns will be lit and a delicious gourmet barbecue served. After dinner the lights are dimmed to reveal a clear and bright, star filled sky. A resident astronomer introduces the magnificent constellations, stars and planets that make up the skies of the Southern Hemisphere. Truly a night like no other.
Our two week Australia/New Zealand adventure experience was truly one of the finest vacations either of us has ever had. Karen and her Michigan office and international staffs executed a fine-tuned, action-packed, successive whirlwind that we slept dead 12 of the 14 return hour flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles. Exploring the north Sydney beaches on Harleys, flying low along the Sydney beaches in a sea plane, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, swimming in the Coral Sea with three sharks, sand boarding, New Zealand jet boating, paddling the Waka (Mori outrigger), gazing in awe walking the Milford Track, mountain biking down a 3,000 foot mountain to downtown Nelson, hiking the Abel Tasman and Heaphy Traks, climbing active volcanoes of New Zealand’s north island, and chartering 11 helicopters, 3 planes, and a sea plane are just some of the excitement included in Karen’s adventure itinerary.
Now to the hotels. Wow! Park Hyatt in Sydney, Eichardt’s Private Hotel in Queenstown, Edenhouse near Nelson, Peppers Awaroa Lodge in Abel Tasman National Park are just a few of the perfectly suited for the experience and location we enjoyed. Even with walking/trekking, mountain biking, paddling a Waka, and climbing mountains, we still gained an average of 7.5 pounds each; enough said on the naturally nutritious, delicious, and extremely well-presented food.
We spent nearly two years working with Karen to get the trip we wanted. Gerald wanted to end his 60s with a bang and Siamak just lives life with a bang. Together we all pulled it together, but the nucleus was Karen and her staff. Thank you.
Gerald Fuller and Siamak Gholami
We want to thank you for putting together yet another incredible South Pacific vacation for our anniversary! Jenny, Peter, their daughter Larra and the entire Nukubati staff made this an experience we will never forget! From the wonderful meals, beautiful grounds to the activities offered this was a wonderful way to take in both the Fijian culture as well as the luxuries of such a nice, exclusive resort. The attention to detail was like no other from all of the staff knowing our names from the moment we arrived, to the beautiful flowers placed throughout our bure and various places at the resort daily!
We especially enjoyed our time with Lote who took us out snorkeling twice on The Great Sea Reef. She was also part of the team that put on an incredible BBQ Fijian-style for us and lead us on an extremely interesting medicine walk on the island. We’re not sure how she had time for anyone else!!! Aside from the amazing snorkeling, I think our next favorite thing was the private picnic on our own personal sandbar!!
The entire trip was fantastic! So that’s Australia and now Fiji Karen. We may just have to try New Zealand in another 5 years!!! We’ll be in touch for sure!!!!
Thanks again to you and your associates,
Jim and Krystal Brown
I want to thank you for planning a wonderful trip for me. I know I did not give you that much time to plan it, but everything was perfect from the accommodations to the tours. Even the weather was perfect. ( How did you manage even that?)
Out of the places I stayed, the apartment in Port Douglas was probably my favorite. The beach was only a quick walk from my apartment, but it was paradise just to sit on the balcony outside my apartment and listen to the tropical birds call.
I don’t think I could pick a favorite out of the tours. They were all fantastic. The guides were very enthusiastic, so much so that I wanted to ask them if they were hiring. The other people on tour were a lot of fun. It actually made me glad to be traveling alone, because I don’t think I would have met them otherwise.
Although I couldn’t pick a favorite tour, I will say that my sailing tour of Sydney Harbour was extra special. There was only other one passenger scheduled; they didn’t show up, and I got a private tour of the harbour. When we anchored for lunch, I waved to the paddle boarders and kayakers who went by. I was being served steak and salmon on a yacht, and I think they thought I might have been a movie star in disguise. (Very much in disguise, I had been warned about the UV and was wearing a large sun hat.)
I have been recommending your company to everyone I can, and I would love to travel with you again if I get the chance. I can’t thank you enough for what you planned for me; it was the best vacation I’ve ever been on, and one of the happiest times in my life.
A country of dramatically diverse environments, New Zealand offers an array of activities for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike..New Zealand’s remarkably varied landscape includes beaches, mountains, fjords, glaciers and rain forests, making it one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth. The small country consists of two main islands, the North Island and the South Island, each boasting a surprising variety of natural wonders as well as urban centers. read more
Yes, it’s true, New Zealand is a place that will satisfy even the most thrill seeking adventurers’ adrenaline rush; however it is also the perfect destination for anyone who appreciates natural beauty set amongst a stunning variety of landforms such as rugged mountains, spectacular fiords, glaciers that cut through the mountains, subtropical forest, bubbling mud pools, and miles of coastline dotted with sandy beaches.
Originally named “Aotearoa” by the Polynesian settlers, which means the Land of the Long White Cloud; New Zealand is approximately the same size as Japan and yet is compact enough that one can sample a wide range of diverse land masses in a single trip or even a single day.
Many travel professionals have seen a decline in business or have shut their doors altogether as travelers turn to booking their own airline tickets, tours and accommodations online but those who offer specialized service focused on taking the burden off of the traveler are leading the way in this new travel era according to this Washington Post article.
“…For years, it looked as though the travel agent had gone the way of the milkman. As online booking sites such as Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity and others soared in popularity…. The travel agents who have survived have had to change their modus operandi…. And most now have specialties.” Read article…
More than ever people are cautious of spending their hard earned money as the economy slowly rises from recession. More time is being spent at the office with the building pressures in the work arena as so many struggle to keep the jobs they have. With little time and energy left for much else, many simply do not have the time it takes to plan, research and coordinate a well deserved break. Savvy travelers are turning back to travel professionals who can take the burden off of their shoulders to plan a well organized vacation with little or no effort from the traveler.
As technology is taking over practically everything it touches perhaps it’s time to get back to basics, human contact and interaction. This NY Times article touches on the both sides of the issue.
Some hotels have begun to expand the definition of concierge to mean more than just a knowledgeable employee. It now can also mean smart digital devices. Software companies are creating programs that offer information like restaurant tips, flight arrivals and departures and driving directions via these devices to guests at midtier hotels that do not provide traditional concierge services.
Even more upscale brands that employ human concierges are joining in, by offering location-specific information, accessible via the Internet, iPhone apps and even live chats. And all Hyatt hotels let guests send requests, via Twitter, to customer service agents who are on call 24 hours a day…read more
Karen and Hillary,
Our second trip from Australia 2000 was as sensational as the first. In January, we visited Fiji and New Zealand; and as was the case for our trip to Australia in 2007, it was expertly planned and went off without a hitch. The diversity of the vacation was ideal. There were so many highlights that one cannot be singled out. Each day was an adventure.
On the island of Nukubati, the lap of luxury awaited us. We toasted sundown with campaign at sunset, viewed the undersea world snorkeling on the pristine reefs, ate gourmet food at every meal cooked from fresh island ingredients, and had every whim taken care of by an excellent staff.
After a totally relaxing week, New Zealand beckoned from top to bottom, north to south. We arrived to our own limo in Auckland and after a grand couple of day’s visit, we were off to Waitomo to do Black water rafting. Since hiking is our thing, Karen had us walk the Tongaririo Crossing, an amazing 7 hour trek across a volcano with some of the most amazing scenery to be seen.
The South island proved to be as dramatic and varied as the North island of New Zealand. A three day 28 mile hike along the Abel Tasman coastal trail was followed by sipping wine in Marlborough. Next we had a spectacular drive to Kaikoura where whale watching was no fluke. Christchurch was a bustling city between earthquakes (no big ones when we were there) and off to Queenstown, a must see vacation wonderland, where we just might have seen Gandalf and Frodo. Finally but definitely worth waiting for was a two day trip to Fiordland National Park where the scenery was so awe inspiring that it could have only been created by our Lord.
Every aspect of our trip was taken care of. All we had to do was follow the customized, fully complete itinerary and have FUN doing it.
Ron and Barb Luginbill
Traveled to Fiji and New Zealand January 2011