Once Derik and I figured out we would be leaving New Zealand in a matter of a few weeks, we were hitting things pretty much full throttle trying to arrange flight tickets, get out of our rental agreement, what to do post-New Zealand, and packing up our stuff. We both had this nagging feeling like we hadn’t seen enough of New Zealand (or even participated in an official New Zealand tour) to be completely satisfied before we left
can you ever be completely satisfied?. Yeah, sure we lived in NZ for an entire year, but if you’ve ever visited you’ll know what I mean when I say you can’t ever have enough of “the most beautiful places on earth.”
That’s where Haka Tours came in. First of all you should know that I love planning and knowing where we are going to be, what we are going to do, and where our heads are going to lay at night. I don’t necessarily get overly stressed about not knowing, but it does give me a piece of mind having control over our itinerary. I’ve always been a little hesitant when it comes to booking tours, and our time with Haka Tours was actually our first ever multiple-day tour. Would a tour be our first choice if we only had “x” amount of days in a tiny little country? A year ago I would have said a flat out “No way,” but after being part of such an amazing tour with an incredible company, I would do the adventure tour hands down, every single time.
The real question is: “Can Haka Tours go global?”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could have survived a 16 day traditional cookie-cutter, by the book, non-personal, crowded tour bus, have-to-see-allllll-the-sights kind of tour. Thankfully for us, Haka Tours believes in experiences, being spontaneous, becoming like family, full emersion into all that is New Zealand, and even going off schedule a bit if it means we’ll have an awesome time. Don’t get me wrong, I never once felt the tour was disorganized or sporadic, we still had somewhat of an itinerary, we just had lots of wiggle room to try a bunch of sweet things that weren’t on the list if the weather permitted and our group was keen. Terrific example: Our first few days were horrid weather-wise, but we had fun playing out in the rain and running through empty volcanic parks. We also stopped at a tiny little private hot spring at dusk and drank wine while we soaked up the warmth from the natural pools. You can’t pay to do that anywhere else! The place was out in the middle of no where, and you had to be a local or know a local to even find the spot. Because of this we were the only ones out there. #winning.
Another awesome thing about Haka Tours is that the tour groups are relatively small. When we started our 16-day Amplified Tour we had only 7 in our group, and that doubled toward the end as we had a few people join us down on the South Island. Although it’s always awkward the first day, our group really clicked and got along quite well! All the tour-goers were relatively the same age, somewhere in between 20-35ish, the average age being about 26.
>>Side note: If you’re older than that but have a young heart, you’ll fit right in to a Haka Tour just fine!
I can’t even begin to tell you all the things we saw and did on tour. We started at the top of New Zealand (North Island) in the city of Auckland, and slowly weaved our way down south, jumped on a ferry, and continued our journey on the South Island. I was asked a few times if I found the tour a little tiring on the South Island since we lived there for a year, but the answer was always “Absolutely not, we’re experiencing NZ in a completely different way!” Instead of Derik and I hopping in the car and driving hours ourselves, we had our handy tour guide Tom do that for us. We also didn’t have to pull out a single map or even our phones to try and find directions, a place to stop for food, or accommodation as that was taken care of in the tour! We were able to relax, enjoy, and really soak up all that is New Zealand, completely stress-free.
What did we do on tour? Absolutely everything. We swam [with 300 dolphins], hiked, ate, walked, drank wine, had a gumboot throwing contest, ran, jumped out of a plane, ate again, rode a train, relaxed, had nights out on the town, sailed across the Cook Strait, ate some more food, went ogo-ing (also known as zorbing), rode a gondola, went luging, carved bone, rafted through caves (actually we were on an inner-tube, and took lots and lots of pictures. You’ll be seeing plenty of posts from our time on tour here in the next few weeks
(or more like months because I’m horrible at posting).
Our 16-day tour covered over 3,200 kilometers (that’s almost 2,000 miles), but honestly with all the stopping to do crazy stuff, we barely felt the milage. Want a list of all the places we visited and what we did? Don’t worry, I knew you did.
Auckland (Where it all began! Orientation and city tour)
Coromandel (Cathedral Cove, bone carving)
Wiatomo (Glow worm caves and black water rafting)
Rotorua (Ogo, Hobbiton, geothermal wonderlands)
Taupo (Derik got a tattoo)
Wellington (Insane food, city tours, and jumping on the ferry over to the South Island)
Kaikoura (Dolphin swimming and whale watching)
Christchurch (City tour)
Lake Tekapo (Food and stunning lake)
Queenstown (Food…ha! Rode the gondola and luge, took a tour down to Milford Sound)
Wanaka (Surprised Derik with a skydive…thankful he came out of it alive.
Nothing like accidentally paying for his death.)
Franz Josef Glacier (Hiking, glacier viewing, food, rode a train to Christchurch)
How’s that in a nutshell? Like I said above, I’ll be posting about all that in the following weeks.
As far as accommodation goes, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the hostels we were put up in. I’ve always given hostels a negative rap, but I think that’s mostly because I’ve only known hostels in Asia…and you can just about guess how amazing those were. We were given a warm bed, a full kitchen to cook in (if we wanted), breakfast every day, bathrooms that had both hot and cold water…what more could we want?! Every place we stayed at was unique and had it’s own special story. Every place was also cleaned and well maintained. I was most impressed with Haka Tours’ own Haka Lodges! I had no idea the company had their own hostels, and I kind of wish I would have known before for when Derik and I were looking for accommodation in previous months! The lodges are homey, comfortable, beautifully designed, and easy to relax in. Just FYI, the lodges are located in Auckland, Queenstown, Christchurch, Paihia, and Taupo (opening later this year).
All in all, I have nothing but positive things to say about our time with Haka Tours, and would highly recommend a trip with them if you plan to visit New Zealand. Not only can you enjoy your trip stress-free, but you’ll make friends, experience and see things you wouldn’t have found yourself, and truly see the best that New Zealand has to offer.
Don’t join this tour if…
-You’re wanting to relax in a hotel room all day.
-You enjoy “going it alone” and doing your own thing.
-Going to bed at 7:00pm is your kind of heaven.
-Reading a book or browsing the internet sounds better than jumping off a bridge (bungy) or rolling down a hill in a giant rubber ball. Ok, extreme examples, but still.
Join this tour if…
-You want a once in a lifetime experience.
-You’re ready for adventure and aren’t afraid of new things.
-People call you an adrenaline junkie and you just can’t get enough.
-You enjoy making friends.
-Being outside may be one of the best things ever.
-You’re ready to Y.O.L.O. (wait can I write that on here?) .
So, who’s ready to book a trip to New Zealand?
If you’re wanting a little bit of wanderlust, be sure to follow Haka Tours on Instagram! Daily reposts of amazing things to see and do around New Zealand.
Derik and I were invited on the 16-day Amplified Tour with Haka Tours in exchange for an open and honest review. You should know that all opinions always and forever will be MY OWN.