New Zealand with AAT Kings

By Patricia Rosen
This item appears on page 32 of the November 2013 issue.

I took a 15-day tour, “New Zealand Experience,” with AAT Kings Tours/USA (Anaheim, CA; 866/240-1659). It started on Oct. 8, 2012, and was a wonderful trip, with excellent guides and excellent hotels. 

I bought this tour through Travel Downunder (Bellevue, WA; 866/258-1629), which also arranged my flights. The owner, Wendy A. Schatz, was prompt with her emails and very helpful. 

Including 12 dinners, a lunch or two and all breakfasts, the tour cost $4,710. Airfare from New York City was $1,986, and insurance added $414. AAT Kings offers roommate matching; if they don’t have a same-sex match for you, you don’t have to pay the single supplement. 

AAT Kings specializes in Australia and New Zealand, and the majority of the people on our tour were Aussies. We started off on the South Island with 23 people in a bus seating over 40. 

Our tour guide, Ted Ratahi, and our driver, Murray McKinley, were excellent. Ted was so knowledgeable about his country, and you could tell he was very proud of it. Murray kept the coach beautifully clean. 

The day before we were scheduled to go to Milford Sound, a rock slide covered the road leading there, but Ted was able to provide a trip to Doubtful Sound at the last minute instead. As far as I could tell, it was as beautiful and rewarding as Milford Sound would have been. 

The second part of the trip was to the North Island, and only four of us continued on that part. We had a van, which was more than comfortable with plenty of extra seats. 

We had quite a few days of rain but just ignored it. The country is so green and beautiful that nothing like a little rain can stop you from enjoying yourself. 

I highly recommend this trip for someone who wishes to discover wonderful New Zealand. We all had a wonderful time. The only drawback was the 13-hour flight from Los Angeles. (Take a pill and sleep.)


New York, NY