Our clients, Glen and Seonaid spent some time in Auckland and Queensland and toured Hobbiton in New Zealand. They were kind enough to provide Travel Time with some thoughts. Enjoy!
The hotel was great! A super location close to restaurants and shopping. For the record Auckland is long and has poor infrastructure for transportation and there is one main road running the length of it. Everyone has to use it to get into the city and out so our driver said you always give yourself an extra hour at least to get anywhere! Just a little heads-up for any other clients intending to drive!
Our driver was great though not a big fan of Tolkien (He never even read the books???) but he was very informative about New Zealand and the drive was like a little tour in and of itself. He gave information when it was interesting and answered any questions we had but was not over the top talkative (Glen loved that).
Our private tour guide in Hobbiton was Sunny and he lived up to his name he was lovely! Private is definitely the way to go - each group gets their allotted time in each section for the tour talk and pictures and they do not like it when people wander away from their own group and get in the way of another tour (i.e. taking pics when it is not your turn) so with a private tour you get great info and lots of photo time (you can imagine if you are in a group of 25 how you might be pressed for time).
Another lady who had a larger tour commented “How did Sunny get a private tour when he was so new to working there?” She was grumpy so I am glad we got Sunny! As a huge devotee of J.R.R Tolkien it was bucket list stuff for me, I almost cried in the gift shop before the tour even began! Sunny was constantly quizzing us on trivia; super geek-fun for me and I think Glen enjoyed the spectacle and I quote “it was cool!”
Sofitel was excellent and we had a great time. It was a good idea to have a car and we used it lots on lovely drives and to take us to bungee jumping spots. We also took the Gondola this time and it was worth the price of the ticket! Note to any clients going who are mountain bikers you can take a bike up and ride down! It is a pretty hard-core ride so experienced cyclists only but I saw cyclists going up and down more than once so there must be a good deal if you are biking it. There are packages that include dinner (or lunch) in a nice restaurant and it is a pretty extensive buffet but the views are unreal and I bet dinner (if buffets are your thing) would be beautiful. We got all the weather from +30 to barely 12 all with in 5 days! Lots of fun :)
It was a dream come true to see Hobbiton and to get to jump everything in Queenstown!