Most Inspirational Moment
Certainly there were the 'stars of the show' - trekking across the stunning Tongariro crossing, marvelling at the craters, volcanoes and emerald lakes; a drenching at the magnificent Milford Sound; the grandeur of Mount Cook. But there were inspirational moments every single day: staring in awe at the ancient Podocarp trees in Whinnaki forest; diving into the sea on arrival at Bark Bay, then waking up to the sun rise the next morning; watching the cheeky Takahe bird in the 'ballroom balcony' launching determined raids on our camp; the charming 'wee bookshop' in the middle of nowhere; delicious lunches by aqua blue lakes; cocktail hour in Queenstown. The list goes on and on. So many moments to cherish.
Thoughts on Group Leader
Our two guides, Justin in the North Island and Ali in the South were both great. They were fun, knowledgeable and clearly committed to ensuring we all had a good time. As well as guiding they did all the driving and some cooking and bag carrying too. They really did work very hard. Ali in the South was assisted for some of the time by Vince, who kept us entertained with his regular handstands!
Advice for Potential Travellers
There wasn't much time to explore Auckland or Christchurch at the start and finish of the tour so you may want to consider adding extra days in you have the time. I particularly wished I'd had more time at Auckland, as I would have liked to visit Waiheke Island, and the Hobbiton film set. I followed Exodus' and the trip note advice not to bring a bag with wheels, but most of my fellow travellers did have soft bags with wheels and this wasn't a problem at all at any stage. Wheels would have made my life a lot easier when travelling! If you decide to fly via America without breaking your journey, do leave plenty of time for your connecting flight. LA Airport was mad busy, and even though I had 3 hours between flights I nearly missed my connection. As everybody else has said, don't underestimate those pesky sandflies! Long sleeves and trousers, and the local repellent seems to be the way to go.
Pack your sense of childlike wonder, and enjoy every minute!