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Guided walking in New Zealand has been my profession since 1999 and over the years I’ve spent a lot of time with guests on guided hiking tours. Without exception, everyone enjoys the experience immensely and often share how much they have enjoyed guided tours in other parts of the world. But what if you’re not sure if a guided hiking tour is for you? So here is what people tell me they appreciate most about joining a guided tour.
Top five reasons to join a small group guided hiking tour on your dream trip to New Zealand:
1. Learn lots.
If you are interested in learning about the destinations you visit then this is probably the top reason for joining a guided tour. Throughout the day on hikes and in transit, your guide provides a commentary on all aspects of New Zealand - ecology, history, geography, society, economy, etc. In the evenings or at any other time, he or she is available to answer your questions, even slightly random ones! Here’s a tip to see if you’ve got a great guide - if you ask a question they don’t know the answer to (it does happen!), your guide says they don’t know the answer but will find out for you and actually does - that’s a great guide.
2. Meet People.
Why do we travel? For me and many people I know, it’s to experience places, cultures and people. On a small group guided hiking tour you’ll be in the company of like minded people from a variety of backgrounds - if they’re on the same tour you’re bound to have something in common but the variety of people on our hiking tours means your curiosity in people will be piqued for sure. Joining a small group walking tour in New Zealand is a great option for people travelling alone to make friends too - instant friends and travel companions.
3. Get off the beaten track.
This really applies to the word ‘small’ in the phrase ‘small group hiking tour’. One of the main advantages of small groups, say a maximum of 12 people, is to experience the best New Zealand has to offer and avoid the crowds. An example of this is an overnight experience at Martin’s Bay, this lodge is not open to the public and only available on a small number of select tours - who wouldn't want to visit this lodge situated deep in Fiordland National Park right on the Tasman Sea, a fully serviced lodge with only your group in residence. When we stay here on our New Zealand hiking tours we have the place to ourselves - this is one of the highlights of anyone's visit to New Zealand and we simply would not be able to stay here if we travelled in larger groups. This also applies to the type of restaurants we visit, just like in your hometown, some of the best restaurants are small and simply can’t take large groups.
4. Save time.
Organizing and booking travel takes time and local knowledge is worth it’s weight in gold. While some people enjoy researching and booking every single element of their holiday themselves, if you are the type of person who prefers leaving that to someone else then a guided tour is perfect. A good tour company will organize every element of your holiday, take care of anything unexpected that occurs along the way and make sure you have all the information and support you need before you leave home.
5. Safety & Support.
New Zealand is a relatively safe country to visit, so we’re more talking about things like outdoor safety and driving. As you love walking in the outdoors you are looking forward to the great countryside New Zealand has to offer but this is not without it’s risks. Travelling in a guided hiking tour means your guide is aware and monitoring any potential hazards - good companies audited safety plans, trained guides and procedures to follow in an emergency. Not having to drive will also add to your enjoyment, New Zealand roads are very scenic but also probably very different to what you are used to at home, on a guided tour you’re leaving it all to a pro. Your guide and the team behind them are always there to help, from making a nice hot cuppa for morning tea, to helping you find that rare bottle of NZ wine for a friend back home to dealing with anything unexpected on your trip, you’re in good hands.
Quick Tips to see if your tour company is operating safely and responsibly:
-Are they Qualmarked? This is the New Zealand Government approved tourism quality assessment benchmark.
-Are they Department of Concession approved? National Park tour operators must be licenced with DOC.
Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to share the travel experiences of so many people through my work as a hiking guide and it’s clear that people are having a wonderful time and making great memories. One of the most rewarding parts of this job is hearing from guests once they are home - we often receive emails and letters from guests saying how much they enjoyed the guided tour experience and would certainly travel that way again. If you’ve never been on a guided tour before, or you’re a veteran of many, if you’re looking for a real outdoor travel experience, including New Zealand’s best walks and memorable activities, in a small group tour setting with all the comforts of home then please take a look at our small group New Zealand hiking tour here or get in touch now.
Andrew Wells - New Zealand Trails
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