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Often we are asked whether holidaying in New Zealand is better by self driving a rental car or by joining an escorted coach tour. Of course, there are pros and cons that need to be considered and it largely depends on the style of vacation that suits you best.
Guided coach tours certainly offer relaxing days when you can ease back into your comfortable coach seat and enjoy New Zealand’s spectacular scenery through wide panoramic windows. Being more elevated in the coach means you’ll see everything!
Having a professional driver, and often a tour director as well, ensures all the daily logistics and details are taken care of. You’ll depart each morning on time so that there is no rushing during the day. Refreshment and photo stops are synchronised and any activities planned for the day are carefully scheduled. It might sound a little “organised”, but it works, so you can relax and enjoy your holiday. Each day will roll out beautifully. Your luggage will be magically delivered to your room each night, you’ll always have preferential seating in the hotel restaurant for dining and you’ll always arrive at sightseeing and activities right on time.
When selecting an escorted coach tour, take into account the number of days you have available for your New Zealand tour. As a rule of thumb 14 days is the minimum you'll need to cover the highlights of both the North Island and South Island. If you have 18 days or more, even better! If time is short, perhaps select a one island tour. For the North Island 8 days is ideal and for the South Island, 10 days is perfect.
Other considerations include the standard and style of accommodation you prefer and the meals & sightseeing included. Some people prefer all meals to be included, others like to have more options to dine out independently. For excellent value for your holiday dollar, low cost escorted tours that stay in good quality 3-3.5 star tourist hotels will be the way to go. If you prefer a little more luxury with a premium guided tour, then look for tours staying at 4 star hotels and resorts.
You’ll be travelling with other people and this can be a wonderful opportunity to socialise and make new friends from all around the world. Typically the maximum coach capacity will be 48 people, travelling in comfort with onboard bathroom and dual doors for easy entry and exit. Although the coach capacity might be 48, often some departures will have fewer people. If you prefer a more intimate experience, a “small group” tour might be more suitable. These tend to travel in smaller coaches, typically without onboard bathroom, and can visit gorgeous places just a little off the beaten track. Some offer special features such as overnight cruising at Milford Sound.
Booking early and taking advantage of early-bird discounts can save you $100s - literally! So start your planning well in advance, at least 6 months, so you get the best deals for your airfares as well as your New Zealand coach tour. For New Zealand summer coach tours (October to March), early bird deadlines are usually late April but sometimes there can be special offers to watch out for.
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