My wife and I had a great trip that was planned by Stuart Rigg and his team. Their impeccable planning was a key component to helping us navigate and enjoy two countries, AU and NZ, with which we had no prior experience. The hotels were great (we often got corner rooms with views for the normal price), the route was trouble free and the tours and suggestions never failed. The best item, for me, was the Abel Tasman National Park cruise. The operator was superb and we would have had to be extremely lucky to have found this small company on our own. Most people were on large, crowded boats. Ours had 4 people, and the captain was also an ecologist. I could go on… I highly recommend Stuart and his team.
My wife and I have used Stuart Rigg and his team on two occasions. On both trips, everything proceeded without a hitch—resort and car reservations all equaled or exceeded our expectations, our adventure activities guides were top-notch, and our various transfer drivers always arrived a bit early. But what really distinguished Stuart in our mind was the way he handled the “unexpected emergency” when we found ourselves stranded in Lamington National Park with the only exit road closed because of rock/mud slides and fallen trees caused by Cyclone Debbie that battered Queensland during the first days of March 2017. The resort we were staying at could do nothing more than keep us up-to-date on efforts to reopen the road. Fortunately, one call to Stuart’s cell phone late on a Friday night (i.e. it was after normal office hours) ended with him arranging for a helicopter to pick us up the next day to fly us back to Brisbane. His ability to do this was especially impressive because almost all helicopters in the greater Brisbane area had been diverted to rescue work.
We’ve traveled extensively. Most travel agents are good at doing the easy stuff. But exceptional agents like Stuart Rigg have the contacts and ability to get the traveler out of unforeseen jams.
March 2017 / Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and surrounding areas
For our first trip to Australia in February 2017, Stuart carefully considered our interests and ideas and turned this into a well-organized itinerary that was truly custom-fit. We spent 9 days in Sydney with side trips to the Blue Mountains, the Hunter Valley and Uluru. The companies he worked with for tours and activities where clearly top-notch, as were the accommodations. All the transfers and hand-offs worked seamlessly. During our trip we noticed that Stuart and his team kept in touch with the hotels and tour operators continuously to assure that we had their full attention to our needs.
Stuart Rigg booked us a wonderful trip over the 2016 Christmas holidays. We took our 14 year old grandson with us and requested that the plans include events that would be enjoyable to him. We were booked at Hayman Island resort where we went open ocean snorkeling; at the Wolgan Valley resort where we enjoyed a wide variety of native animals (kangaroos by the score; wombats, etc.); and in Sydney (at Park Hyatt) where we visited the zoo and had surf lessons at Manley and Bondi beaches. We finished with New Years Eve at the Sydney Opera House where we enjoyed the amazing fireworks over the harbor. All in all a wonderful experience.
Stuart could have given us more options on what to do during the planning stage.
It would have been nice if they had checked in with us more often. The New Zealand agency you had us work with called us several times to check on us.
The tour guides that they had us work with were very good – particularly Local Eyes and John Lont.
Park Hyatt in Melbourne is dated.
The 3 1/2 hour ride to One and Only was painful. Bad vehicle and zero viewing opportunities made it seem longer than it was. Helicopter would have been much preferred.
We highly recommend Stuart Rigg and his team for an Australia tour. We had a great planning experience prior to being in country for 2 weeks and good contact once we were there. We had requested boutique hotels or 4-5 star city hotels and were very pleased with the selections and treatment. Everything was planned thoroughly and every guide and driver was on time and organized.
Because of illness, we had to dial back a bit on a couple of the scheduled activities. Stuart and his assistant Debbie were great. They arranged to modify one tour to add on what we had missed a prior day. They touched base along the way. Each guide and driver said Stuart and his team were great to work with, very detailed and very thorough from their perspective, too. The private guides were exceptional. We had requested tours that omitted forts and churches and museums, preferring to get a feel for neighborhoods and culture, and aboriginal sites, and were very satisfied. We also used the Stuart’s office in Auckland to organize our week in New Zealand, also with excellent results.
Stuart Rigg and Debbie, on his team, organized an absolutely amazing trip for us! We contacted them in July 2016 to help us with our anniversary trip to Australia for October 2016. We had started doing research and planning out where we wanted to go but were having issues with the logistics of the trip. We also didn’t really have any idea for the transfers, the order of travel and how long we should stay in each place. We were a bit late in the game planning the whole thing and were worried we wouldn’t be able to stay at all the places on our list, many of which were small and in high demand.
Our initial contact with Stuart was via email, but they quickly organized a time that we could all talk on the phone to get the ball rolling, which was very helpful. We spoke for about 45 minutes, we told them what we liked and disliked when we traveled, the places we thought we wanted to go, hotels we had researched, and type of travelers we were, and they provided information about each of the places, feedback on hotel options, and answered our questions. We had round trip tickets to Sydney, Michelle definitely wanted to go to Uluru, and I wanted to make sure we went to Tasmania, and both of us wanted to go to Great Barrier Reef. The exact places, the sequencing, what we did, and how long we stayed was up in the air. The rest of the planning took place via email; despite the time difference the communication always seemed quick. We asked lots of questions and waffled on some things but the emails were always friendly and never felt short or like we were being too demanding. Based on our previous travel experiences they made recommendations for hotels and activities to quickly finalize an itinerary that ended up being spot on. We imagine putting the itinerary together to be a bit like a puzzle to accommodate openings at the various hotels and for specific activities. We had to crisscross the eastern part of the country a bit, but they fit in every single place and activity we wanted.
Execution of the trip was virtually flawless from the second our driver George met us in the airport on October 2nd to when he dropped us back off October 16th. During all of our transfers our drivers were always there before the allotted pick up time, never rushing us, but silently waiting for us to either arrive in airport or come down to lobby. We never had to wait on anyone or try and figure out when we needed to be somewhere because they had let us know ahead of time. Not having to worry about all the transfers for our 5 flights really took some of the stress of travel off of us and made the whole trip more enjoyable. And other than a weather issue in Hobart we didn’t have any issues the whole trip with activities, hotels, checkins, checkouts, or anything really. We fit a lot into a two week trip but it was the perfect amount, we honestly don’t think we could have or would have wanted to do more and it didn’t feel like we were too rushed either. Every place we stayed was spot on for us, it was a good mix of perfect locations, luxury, and privacy. Each place we stayed was aware it was our anniversary trip, and most places went out of their way to do or provide something special for us. We also had a welcome card and champagne from Stuart and his team to start our trip and a nice bottle of wine and a cheese plate for our final night.
We had communication with Stuart and Debbie throughout the trip, they helped finalize some dinner reservations and spa appointments as we went along, just as during planning they were easy to contact and quick to respond. We also had a phone call from Debbie to check in and make sure we enjoyed ourselves and we discovered they’d been checking in with hotel staff the whole trip to make sure everything was going perfectly.
We would definitely recommend Stuart and his team to anyone looking to go to Australia and hope to use them again on a return trip!
Wendy Perrin, you recommended Stuart Rigg to us and he got us the most amazing small boat cruise to see the NYE fireworks on Sidney Harbor the year before last – it had been my husband’s dream to do this! His expertise was priceless – there were many to choose from online but you don’t really know what you are getting for sure, so having an expert from the area was imperative. He got us a great one and at a better price than we could have gotten booking on our own. He also helped to book the rest of our trip – we knew a lot if what we wanted to do and he got it done and often found better choices for us on places to stay – like an amazing apartment style hotel in Sydney. Thank you!!! We recommend him highly!!! And NYE/Winter Break was the most amazing time to go to Australia! We went with our 4 teenaged kids and had a blast!
We used Stuart Rigg with Southern Crossings for our August 2016 trip to Australia. We spent time in Sydney, The Kimberly and North Queensland. From the outset, dealing with Southern Crossings was simple and efficient. Their guidance was invaluable and they handled all of the bookings for our hotels, transfers and day trips (both private and group tours). Everything up until we arrived in Australia was handled via email (much easier when there’s a 14 hour time difference between you and your travel agent), and when we arrived in Sydney, they had a representative from the company greet us at the airport and ride into the city with us. Every hotel we stayed at was lovely and in a fabulous location. Every tour they recommended was excellent. Above all, I liked knowing that I had a resource in Australia to help should any problems arise. HIGHLY recommend! They made me look like a hero to my family and we all enjoyed the trip of a lifetime.
Totally smooth and perfectly arranged.
We used Stuart Rigg based on Wendy Perrin’s recommendation. From the planning to the execution, Stuart’s team was very informative, helpful, and did their best to accommodate whatever we wanted. They gave us the restaurants we requested, and even recommended to try certain restaurants in some cities, which turned out to be really good restaurants.
Our trip was flawless and hassle free, the arrangement was perfect, and they appointed the best vendors in every city we visited. From limousine transfers to the different city tours, all the selected vendors performed their best.
Stuart gave us a call during the trip to make sure everything went well.
It was definitely one of our most memorable journies. We surely will contact them again for our next visit, and definitely recommend to our friends and families.
My wife and I traveled with two friends on a return trip to Australia arranged completely by Stuart Riggs. We started in Hobart staying at the very unique and comfortable Henry Jones Art Hotel and then traveled to Freycinet and were treated like royalty at Saffire, a 20 room lodge overlooking Wine Glass Bay. Our stay at Saffire was exquisite– excellent food and impeccable service. Great hiking and delicious oyster harvesting. From there we traveled to Melbourne to visit some friends and we stayed at the Park Hyatt which was very comfortable. Our traveling companions went on to Bali and we traveled to Daintree and stayed at Silky Oaks, again a very comfortable accommodation. I do wish they had a better gym, but everything else was great. Rick, our guide in the Daintree Forest was excellent. From Daintree, we flew to Lizard Island and again the accommodations, food and extremely personal service were exceptional. The diving and snorkeling was quite good but there were unfortunate evidences of coral bleaching that really did not interfere with the array of fish. One dive site which is a must is Cod Hole where you are greeted by the most incredibly docile and huge potato cod. Finally we returned to Sydney, a beautiful city which we had visited 10 years before and it had all the grace and beauty and sophistication which we had remembered. One of the highlights was staying in another Park Hyatt Hotel, overlooking the harbor and the Opera House and each night we were totally entertained and fascinated by the Vivid artistic lighting display on the Opera House structure. Stuart did an exemplary job for us. We loved our trip.
My husband and I just completed a trip, March 2016, to Australia and New Zealand with the help of Stuart Riggs at Southern Crossing in Australia. Everything went very smoothly, he gave us great options to choice from, arranged all hotel, air, transfers, most importantly he listened to what we wanted. We had speciality guides for custom private tours that were arranged specifically for us.
Our guide in the Blue Mountains, Tim Tranter took us on a 5 hour walk in the mountains and pointed out the different biospheres that we walked though and discussed the landscape. Who knew the trees didn’t lose their leaves in the fall..they lose their bark.
Lord Howe Island was just what we needed for a few days after the long flight. We snorkeled and saw so many beautiful fish and we swam with a four foot turtle!
New Zealand was equally as beautiful. Milford Sound is not to be missed and Queenstown was a delight. Darryl Gunn, our guide from Black, was a fifth generation New Zealander who was very enthusiastic about showing us the back county where you could only go with four wheel drive. That was an awesome trip, we really enjoyed Darryl’s stories regarding the area when he was growing up in Queenstown and his sharing stories from the region during his grandfathers time.
Everything was just as we wanted and Stuart’s team called us several times while we were in Australia/NZ just to check-in and let us know they were there to help if we needed anything.
I would definitely recommend using them if you are traveling to that part of the world.
All the places we stayed in were fantastic and fitted the criteria we discussed with Stuart in advance. All arrangements went smoothly as planned. The only improvement would be that normally on self drive holidays I expect a map, some driving directions and suggestions of where to stop off. None of this was in the arrival package. Some of the drives were long and I am not sure whether this could have been mitigated by using more regional airlines. However, I would not have wanted to miss any of the destinations, apart from Penola.
Stuart Rigg from Southern Crossings is The Best for planning your trip to Australia. I had a complicated trip with 14 plane flights, multiple destinations, half by myself, half with others. Stuart did the Australia portion and handled my specific requests beautifully. He kept it within budget, found me the perfect hotel and guide in Hobart, Tasmania who took care of me perfectly for 4 days, and ensured that the rest of the trip to the Great Barrier Reef with drivers and flights in between all went smoothly. Thank you, Wendy and Stuart. My trip exceeded my expectations because of you!
Stuart Rigg and Jane Reynolds with Southern Crossings helped prepare an absolutely amazing trip for my wife and I. Southern Crossings helped us experience as much of Australia as we could fit into a two week holiday, and patiently worked with us through several iterations of our itinerary as we finalized our ultimate plans. The suggested tour companies were as advertised, and the organized transfers helped us enjoy seamless travel throughout the country – from enjoying everything Sydney has to offer, to shark cage diving in Port Lincoln, diving the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, and sailing the Whitsundays. Would recommend Southern Crossings to anyone interested in traveling to Australia.
Stuart and his team were a pleasure to work with. They organized a thoughtful itinerary that was responsive to our multiple and sometimes conflicting desires and filled with creative and luxurious elements. Logistics were handled seamlessly, as if Stuart was at our side throughout. Where problems arose (as they inevitably do), Stuart helped to address and resolve them quickly. We would gladly work with the Southern Crossings team again, and in fact already intend to.
The land travel was smooth. The day trips were well thought out and fun. The recommended hotels were perfect. The welcoming gifts were wonderful. We were delighted with our experience.
We knew we wanted to go to Australia and that’s about it. Both Stuart and Debbie were very knowledgeable and helpful when it came to suggestions of where to go and what to see; even what restaurants were worth a visit. When I had a health issue and had to cancel my trip, then turned around days later and wanted to re-book, they were understanding and quick to recapture my itinerary. We had ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEMS with Southern Crossings’ plans for us. Everything went off as planned. Every time we needed a driver, one was there. Even when our flights were late, someone was there to meet us. We had wonderful tours with the best of tour directors. As far as the planning and travel advice were concerned, our trip was perfection. WHEN we take our next trip down-under I will call Stuart and Debbie and no other.
Stuart Rigg of Southern Crossings put together a fabulous trip to Australia for our family. My husband and I took our sons, ages sixteen and thirteen, and there was something for each of us on this trip. We stayed at beautiful properties and had magnificent experiences. We will cherish our memories forever. We felt like we really experienced Australia. Stuart and his staff were so friendly and easy to work with, and they took our preferences into account. I would highly recommend Stuart to anyone thinking of going to Australia.
Stuart and his team did an incredible job planning our dream honeymoon. After a long wedding planning process, the last thing we wanted to do was deal with the stress and uncertainty of planning a trip to the other side of the world. After describing our travel style and preferences to Stuart, he immediately provided us with an impeccable itinerary that incorporated all of our must-sees along with other great suggestions that we hadn’t known about. It also balanced the level of luxury we were seeking with our budget as newlyweds. Not only did we have an incredible time exploring Australia and Fiji, but every detail was accounted for along the way—all of our connections, reservations, pickups and tours were executed perfectly and promptly. We can’t say enough good things about the level of professionalism and care that was provided by Stuart and everyone at Southern Crossings. Thank you!
Worked with southern crossings for a trip to Australia over the holidays. In retrospect, we are very happy that we worked with them. They did an excellent job of listening to what we were looking for and provided constructive and candid feedback. The tour guides they used were excellent. They were constantly available during our trip for restaurant reservations and the like (despite the holiday). Also were able to come up with contingency options when flight schedules changed or when resorts were shut down due to weather (Lizard Island).
Spent Thanksgiving week in Sydney on a trip planned by Stuart Rigg and his team at Southern Crossings. Marvelous from start to finish. The specialists asked us great questions (not too many, and fun questions like “what is a favorite memory from another first time trip to an international city?”). We replied and they offered us really great suggestions, so many that we had trouble picking. They gave some helpful feedback, then booked everything, from someone meeting the plane on arrival to departure. We loved every minute of the trip they arranged, some of our favorites were a seaplane tour, which landed for a divine lunch at a quaint cottage; a day with Suzanne Ackerman of Walkabout Tours seeing beach towns, art galleries and neighborhoods; a sail around Sydney harbor; and a hike with an Aboriginal expert talking about plants and wildlife. When a small problem with a vendor for a planned fishing trip arose, Stuart and the team handled it without a fuss so we could zip on to our next activity. We were particularly pleased that our travel specialists paid careful attention to our group’s needs and abilities (ranging from a 60 year old to two energetic college kids) so that everyone enjoyed every activity. The documentation Stuart’s team provided was detailed so we had contact names, phone numbers, drivers waiting, etc. every step of the way. And a 24 hour a day hot linking us to Stuart’s team was also appreciated.
Wanted to formally thank you and your staff (especially Jane) for the wonderful trip. Everything was as promised and we had “the trip of a lifetime” which will provide many pleasant memories for years to come. All properties were wonderful. Great locations, outstanding rooms and excellent service. The Park Hyatt and Southern Ocean properties were quite special. Our guides were terrific and ensured we saw and experienced as much as possible. All airport transfers and flight arrangements went well too and helped to ease the city transitions. The Sydney Bridge Climb was actually easier than we imagined and the pictures will serve to prove to friends and family members that we actually did it. Thanks for your encouragement. The flight along the Great Ocean Road coast was another special moment that will long be remembered. Of course, we have many shots of the Remarkable Rocks and our Flinders Chase adventures and that day is burned into our memory.
The country is vast and we feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to see so much of it in just under 3 weeks. We certainly hope to return one day and experience a bit more. Again, many thanks for orchestrating our fabulous adventure.
We recently returned (October/November 2014) from a fabulous three-week visit to Australia organized by Stuart Rigg at Southern Crossings. We outlined our interests (animals, nature, and history), travel preferences (including some hotels), and general guidelines on timing and budget, and Stuart came back with a thoughtful, well-paced itinerary that met our criteria. We started with three days in Sydney, moving on to Orpheus Island for three days of recovery time (Stuart’s suggested substitute when Lizard Island was damaged by the cyclone), then to the Daintree Rainforest and Kuranda, four days on Kangaroo Island, four days in Tasmania, and finally two days in Melbourne. The private tours he organized were all outstanding, led by very experienced guides. I would strongly recommend using Southern Crossings for a trip to Australia.
Our family group of six adults have just returned from two weeks in Australia on a tour orchestrated by Stuart Rigg and his staff. It was very well planned and executed and gave us a good mix of experiences to savor. All of us are raving to all we encounter about what a fabulous trip we had. We got to know and enjoy the cosmopolitan and vibrant nature of both Sydney and Melbourne while taking in the best of both cities and their environs, hiking in the Blue Mountains, traversing the Great Ocean Road and watching the penguin parade on Phillip Island were all wonderful and memorable adventures. For all of us getting to know Sydney and Melbourne through various touring experiences, enjoying our own explorations or partaking in the food and nightlife of each city were all highlights.
The snorkeling we did with the small group operator that Stuart arranged for us at the Great Barrier Reef was spectacular. Four Mile Beach is breathtaking and the rainforest excursion was so informative and enjoyable. Stuart recommended that we make Port Douglas our base for our visit to this area and it was a marvelous suggestion. Uluru was fascinating, and seeing the Rock at sunrise and sunset was breathtaking. Learning about the Aboriginal people—their history, customs and religion—was very interesting.
All in all this was a very well balanced trip that made the most of our time. Stuart put together an itinerary that was reflective of our stated interests and budget. We can all wholeheartedly recommend Southern Crossings to help you with your travel experiences in Australia.
We worked with Stuart and Debbie to create a custom tour with some difficult requirements: We needed to be in Brisbane, Sydney, Brisbane on successive weekends; we wanted a few off-the beaten-path locations; and we needed to eat in places that are accommodating to people with food sensitivities.
Stuart was wonderful. We had the smoothest vacation ever. Australia itself is terrific—friendly people, stunning vistas and a real range of options from the Outback to the Sydney Symphony, from a private cruise in Sydney Harbour to a self-driving experience fighting for a share of the road with triple road trains in the Outback. It is a magnificent country to visit, and Stuart is the perfect travel planner for whatever type of experience you want it to be.
I called on Stuart this past winter to help me arrange a trip to Melbourne, for the Australian Open tennis tourney, and then for a two-week business trip to Sydney, with a short pit stop somewhere-anywhere-in-the-country in between. He and his team did a flawless job. I’m a big DIY kind of traveler, haven’t worked with agents much, and won’t ever plan a big trip without one going forward. In Melbourne he booked me at The Olsen in Melbourne, where my next door neighbor was tennis player Serena Williams (Venus was right down the hall and I believe Lleyton Hewitt was also on the same floor—so heady location). He got me terrific tickets to the tennis, as well. Then it was on to Daylesford, which was lovely, and in Sydney he had found me a flat to rent in the neighborhood I requested. It was all perfect… (Oh, and Stuart, looks like I’m coming back…).
The bonus I didn’t expect was that Stuart’s team was so thorough and so responsive that I felt like I had friends on tap should I need them in a place so very far from home.