We began our trip to Australia and New Zealand on April 1 and returned on April 24. We were happy that we selected this time of year as we did not get much rain (2 days altogether) and the temperatures were mild. We started in Sydney and spent 2 nights there and found it to be a very cosmopolitan city. We had a tour guide take us around the entire city and its suburbs. We had a good selection of restaurants for dining.
The next day we flew on to Tasmania. We landed in Hobart, where we were picked up and driven to the the Freycinet National Park. We stayed 2 nights in a very simple cabin and had wonderful meals at the Freycinet Lodge. On one of our walks in the forest we saw a wallaby. We returned to Hobart and spent 2 days exploring the area. While there we visited Maria Island and hiked. Along our hike we got to see some wombats and beautiful natural rock scapes. Hobart is a very interesting city with lots of history and we enjoyed our short stay.
The following day we flew to Cairns, as we wanted to experience the Great Barrier Reef out of Port Douglas. The snorkeling at the reef was amazing. Very surreal. This was our most memorable time in Australia.
All of our excursions, our guides and drivers were wonderful. We never experienced any glitches and our accommodations were beyond our expectations. We found the Australians to be warm and very easy to get along with. We left Melbourne feeling we had truly experienced Australia from one end of the coast to the other. Sarah did a good job with our itinerary, our accommodations and our excursions.
From Melbourne we flew to Auckland, and early the next morning headed to Rotorua. This was almost a 4-hour drive, which gave us a good taste of the North New Zealand Island and again a wonderful driver with good information about New Zealand. Rotorua is a geothermal area of North NZ and while it was very interesting visiting many of these natural hot “pools,” learning about the Māoris, and seeing the Redwood forest, we found it difficult to find good eating restaurants and the accommodation was mediocre. We spent 3 nights there and we would recommend 1 night. On the 4th day our driver picked us up and drove us to Wellington (3-4 hr drive) to catch our flight to Nelson.
Nelson is a beautiful city on the Southern Island of NZ. Our accommodation was spectacular. Pihopa Retreat was formerly an Anglican bishop retreat and sits on 5 beautiful acres of trees and flowers. Here the service was impeccable and the reservations for our restaurants were made by the person who managed this wonderful gem. The dining experience in Nelson was spot-on.… Nelson has beautiful national parks along its coast. It is a must see to explore. We spent an entire day there, hiking in the forest and walking on its beaches. A wonderful excursion. Next day, we then flew to Christchurch and again we were driven by an excellent driver/guide to Kaikoura where our accommodation was right on the ocean and superior. Again we took an excursion offshore to see albatross, whales and lots of dolphins. Another wonderful day. We spent 2 days there and then flew to Queenstown where we were met by our driver and spent 2-3 hrs driving to Lake Te Anau. We spent another 2 wonderful days in a beautiful lodge situated on top of a beautiful hill on 2,000 acres with spectacular views. We did an excursion in the Fiordland National Park. Absolutely spectacular forest, which included a boat excursion viewing waterfalls and also a hike. The visit to this area was most enjoyable. We could have stayed here longer, the chef at the lodge fed us delicious meals, and everything about this area and place was magical. After 2 days we headed to Queenstown for 2 nights in this beautiful, vivacious city with great dining, shops and a port. Once again, our accommodation was beyond our expectations. This boutique B&B was also situated on a hill with great views of the city and harbor. We went on a jet-boat excursion that was exciting and exhilarating. This trip was a whirlwind trip, in retrospect if we were to do it again we would stay longer at some of these cities.
Sarah did a great job at putting together within our timeline a well-organized itinerary customized to our requests of nature activities and experiences we had talked about. Everything throughout the trip went exactly the way it was planned.
The Sara(h)s were absolutely amazing. It wasn’t the easiest trip to plan because things kept changing — United massively changed their schedule after we’d booked our tickets and so our itinerary had to be rejiggered. Then two of the hotels closed and they had to find replacements last-minute. Throughout it all, they were calm, efficient, full of good ideas, and very reassuring.
Sarah’s office did a fantastic job helping us plan and execute an amazing trip to New Zealand. With their help we spent three glorious weeks exploring both the North and South Islands. Their experience and expertise were invaluable. Also much appreciated was their initiative. With the weather looking iffy for our ferry crossing to the South Island, they jumped in to put us on a flight to avoid any issues. They were extremely professional and attentive. Very highly recommended.
Our foursome has traveled extensively and frequently do not utilize the services of a travel agent, preferring to spend weeks together, studying guidebooks and maps, hammering out an itinerary and familiarizing ourselves with the history and culture of our intended destination. However, this time we decided to put ourselves in the hands of Sara’s office, after being directed by Wendy Perrin, and it was the best decision we could have made!
Sarah and Sara (or as we called them, The Saras), arranged our 2 1/2-week stay in New Zealand from 2/12 to 3/1. Before even departing from the USA, we felt assured we had made the right choice. Through a combination of phone calls and emails, with return communications always occurring without delay, the Saras helped us to put together a FOMO’s dream vacation. Whenever we wanted to add additional sites, we never heard the word No, always being told that it could be worked out, even if it meant revamping plans already made. The Saras listened carefully to our interests and prioritizations and put together a trip that exceeded our specifications.
It is easy to give praise when everything works out exactly as planned, but the true worth and value of your travel advisor is tested when conditions go awry. This is where we cannot give enough high praise to The Saras.
The day we arrived, we were one of the last flights into Auckland before the airport (and everything else) closed in anticipation of the arrival of a Category 3 cyclone. While we were still in the transportation van from the airport, we began to receive information from Sara Devenie regarding mass evacuation orders issued for the Coromandel, our first planned stop, bridge closings and expected transportation problems made worse by 3 weeks of rain and epic flooding which preceded our arrival. She preemptively presented suggestions to reroute our trip, giving us options and suggestions, and was able to extend our Auckland reservations and add additional nights to another reservation, so that our trip could continue with relatively minor inconvenience. She also provided us with a 24/7 hotline phone number should we need any assistance and texted us daily to ensure everything was going smoothly.
After that rocky start, the trip went seamlessly. On the North Island we explored the geothermal parks of Rotorua, relaxed in the hot springs of a day spa, hiked the trails at Tongariro National Park, and enjoyed the Te Papa museum, botanical gardens and Aucklandia Reserve at night in Wellington, to name a few of our activities. A unique experience was a private walk with a guide through her husband’s Māori village. She shared tribal history, culture, and traditions to give us a deeper understanding of New Zealand’s history. This is exactly the kind of experience we requested, rather than attending a tribal “show” along with busloads of other tourists.
Crossing by ferry to the South Island also required some readjustments, as the cyclone had affected shipping in the channel as well. But again, Sara made all the needed arrangements and communicated these changes quickly and clearly.
Thankfully, the weather improved and our South Island activities were all as planned. The only hitch was a weather-enforced cancellation of a heli-hike on the Franz Joseph glacier. When we called Sara and apprised her of the situation, she again jumped in and was able to schedule a similar excursion on Mount Cook the next day! This was above and beyond! Our other activities included a private daylong boating excursion at Abel Tasman, wine tasting and lunch at a vineyard in Marlborough, whale watching in Kaikoura, glow worm caves in Te Anau, jet boating in Queenstown, and a most spectacular night of astronomy and star viewing of the Southern Hemisphere sky—at the Dark Zone at Lake Takepo, while comfortably floating in a large, hot springs pool. There was even a spectacular showing of the aurora australis on our night in Queensland.
While most tourists find themselves visiting Milford Sound, with many day visitors and large boats plying the waters, we were directed by Sara to Doubtful Sound, an equally stunning location in Fiordland of towering cliffs, tumbling waterfalls and local wildlife. The difference was, we spent our overnight boat trip on a 5-cabin small vessel and never saw another boat during our 24-hour stay. This was the trip’s highlight for me—seeing incredible vistas, accompanied by a large, playful group of bottle-nosed dolphins following our vessel, eating fresh lobster taken from traps set the day before and fishing and catching our dinner of blue cod straight from the water. The tranquility, splendor and induced awe could not be matched.
I could go on about the beauty of New Zealand, the friendliness of its people, and the many opportunities afforded for hiking, boating, biking, and just rounding a corner to see jaw-dropping vistas at every turn, but I know that we wouldn’t have seen half as much, or been better directed and cared for than by the team of Sarah and Sara. We have never had a better experience with any travel consultant, large or small, anywhere else in the world. I have already referred 2 of my friends to their company and will continue to do so in the future. Thank you, thank you to The Saras!
Sarah’s office did a commendable job planning our trip to New Zealand. My name is Gary Gabel, and my wife and I visited New Zealand from February 13 to 23, 2023. Our first stop was Queenstown, a vibrant city among the mountains on the South Island. We stayed at the Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel. The hotel was small, very nice, with afternoon wine and munchies served. The people working there were incredibly accommodating. We were supposed to go to Hawkes Bay after a few days in Queenstown—but the Cyclone hit and devastated Hawkes Bay. Diego at the hotel found rooms for us for several additional nights. We then flew to Rotorua and stayed at a nice room at Peppers on the Point. We had a driver, Kevin, who took us on several excursions, and eventually drove us to Auckland, where we ended the trip. Kevin owns Signature Chauffeur Services, and he was absolutely the best!
We used Sarah’s office to plan our New Zealand trip. We were very happy with the comprehensive approach that they provided. We liked all of the local guides and drivers they arranged. Local guides and drivers were also very complimentary of the team as a partner to work with.
Sarah really shone when she rearranged our itinerary on the spur of the moment to get us out of the path of a cyclone and associated airport closings. We would not have been able to manage this on our own.
Our favorite day was a tour of Waiheke Island with Gabrielle of Terra and Tides. Gabrielle was very knowledgeable about New Zealand as a whole, in addition to the one island she was showing us. We had a wine tasting and lunch and she drove us to many different sites on the island where the views were fantastic, and she always added historical and cultural insights about what we were seeing.
I felt like the unique benefit of the experience of working with Sarah’s team was the chance to have extended conversations with our various drivers and guides, which yielded insights into the New Zealanders’ character and culture.
This was our second trip using one of Wendy Perrin’s WOW List travel planners, and we had another incredible experience! Sarah was phenomenal—she was extremely organized, listened and really heard us, and tailored a trip that was above and beyond what we had hoped for. I could go on and on about her and the details of our 3+ week trip to New Zealand, but what I think really stood out, that others would want to know, was that to begin with, she was very mindful of our budget and in the end, we were shocked at how she planned such wonderful things for us and the trip felt very reasonably priced for so many unique and private experiences and exquisite meals and lodging. She really listened to our interests and tailored the activities, meals, lodging and transportation to be what was right for us. We did not feel like we had a typical or cookie-cutter trip, but a very bespoke experience. In addition, she was worth her weight in gold when we encountered some weather-related issues due to extreme weather conditions. When an internal flight was cancelled, she had the expertise and was immediately available to help us re-route and get our rental car switched to a new city—while everyone else was waiting in line at the airport, with one call she had us sorted out and our holiday continued with only a 25-minute delay! In addition, her knowledge of unique experiences (like spending the night on a boat with just 5 couples in Doubtful Sound) was wonderful. When we told locals what we were doing, they were surprised and pleased that our plans were not typical tourist plans but really took us to interesting places that locals love and are proud of. Before we even left on our trip, we already felt so much confidence in Sarah that we recommended her to some friends to plan their trip, which was a month after ours. When we saw their itinerary, it was completely different from ours and that made us feel that she really listens and creates trips and experiences that are for individuals. We also loved that she knew and had been to the places and people she was sending us to. Her depth and breadth of knowledge and experience and her keen listening skills make her an outstanding choice for planning a trip (and a trip that won’t break the bank). I love that I can always count on Wendy Perrin to find the best travel planners. This was another home run!
Sarah Farag, and Sara Devenie who works with her, made arrangements for us to spend two weeks on New Zealand’s South Island from January 20 through February 1, 2023 (the middle of New Zealand’s summer).
Wanting to have a very relaxed, unscheduled vacation, we requested only accommodations, a rental vehicle, and recommendations for sightseeing while we were there. Sarah and Sara, responsive to the type of trip and arrangements we requested, recommended a new hotel in Christchurch, the Mayfair, where we had a very comfortable room within walking distance of the central business district, several lovely parks, and the botanical garden. The city, well underway in its recovery from the major earthquake of 2011, offers lots of parks, good and diverse restaurants, and shopping. Sarah and Sara suggested several side trips, including one to Akaroa, a small, picturesque community established by the French on the coast south of Christchurch, and to Arthur’s Pass National Park, several hours drive to the west in the Southern Alps. Both drives offered beautiful and unusual scenery.
For the other half of our trip, Sarah and Sara recommended staying in Wanaka, a small town on the southern shore of the lake by the same name about a six-hour drive southwest from Christchurch. After the route turned inland from the coast, there was an interesting variety of terrains and landscapes — plains, rolling hills, and mountains variously covered in pasture land, forests, and mountain vegetation. The route passed several large lakes that were an otherworldly color of blue, including one that provided a framed view of snow-covered Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s highest at 12,316 feet. Sarah and Sara recommended we stay in a rental condominium that was directly across a street from the shore of the lake (and had a beautiful view of the lake and the mountains beyond). It was spacious, clean, quiet, nicely furnished and maintained, and only a block from the commercial area of the small town which offered good restaurants and interesting shops. Queenstown, which has been called “the adventure capital of the world,” is only a 90-minute drive from Wanaka, through old gold-mining towns and impressive mountains with amazing natural scenery. For those interested, Wanaka is a base from which to access boat rides, jet skis, swimming, mountain hiking and climbing, ATV and horseback rides, helicopter and airplane rides over the Southern Alps, and other outdoor and water activities. For those who want stunning scenery, peace, and quiet, it offers those as well. It was a place with which we were unfamiliar, so we greatly appreciate Sarah and Sara recommending it to us and arranging an excellent place for us to stay while we were there.
If you are interested in traveling to New Zealand, our experience is that Sarah and Sara can build a trip that provides the kind of vacation you prefer using dependable, high-quality vendors — if you tell the trip planners what you want and don’t want and what you like and don’t like, and respond to their initial proposal so it can be tailored to your satisfaction. While we didn’t need to make use of it, we were reassured that Sarah’s office provided us with the ability to contact its personnel by phone 24/7 to obtain their help in addressing any serious problems that were encountered.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in New Zealand; we’re glad we went and chose this time to do so, and glad we used Sarah and Sara to make the arrangements for us.
I managed to get a steal on business-class flights using miles to New Zealand. I only had 10 days in the country and I wanted to maximize my time, so I turned to Sarah Farag and Sara Devenie. They produced a wonderful ininerary for me. They booked some great experiences (like seeing sperm whales in Kaiboura), while giving me enough time to explore on my own. All of the accomodations were excellent. No fault of theirs, I had issues — my flight outbound to New Zealand was impacted by weather and I missed my Auckland connection. My return flight was cancelled. It was great to have someone on the ground to rework my itinerary in real time and get be back on track.
We travelled to New Zealand and Australia over the holidays (Dec 2022 – Jan 2023) and had a wonderful time. Because both of these countries had only recently opened up, they were fairly busy. Fortunately for us, our travel agents for both countries helped us make all necessary reservations, not only for activities but for dinner reservations. If we had not done this, we now know how difficult it would have been to do once we were there. We were very grateful for this coordination, as we saw many folks turned away at the various restaurants we went to. The hotels our agents recommended were great. Our highlights were the helicopter trip over Millford Sound and a surfing lesson on Bondi beach. We loved our trip.
Let me start by saying that, to me, excellent is an impossible standard for trips extending five weeks or more. There are always lowlights, but that’s part of travel and often leads to interesting stories. I would, however, highly recommend Sarah and her team to any traveler going to NZ. First, the initial arrangements were exactly to our specifications. Second, when adjustments needed to be made (and there were a few as we were traveling during a developing pandemic), the agents handled the details quickly, efficiently, and to our complete satisfaction. Finally, the guides, charters, room assignments, etc. were all very special and we could easily see the influence of our booking agents. This is something I could never do on my own! That alone would make me come back for more. So, if high end travel to NZ is on your agenda, don’t hesitate to use Sarah. Period!
My husband and I and two other couples (three golfers) went on a fabulous 2 week trip to New Zealand – organized by Sarah and Sebastien.
The trip exceeded our expectations.
We started in the bay of islands – Keri Keri – kauri cliffs lodge – The staff and activities that were part of our itinerary were so well organized. We hiked , biked , swam in the ocean – played golf and had a Mauri guide teach us the history of his people.
We went on an all day boat ride around the bay of islands with Marilyn and don who couldn’t have been nicer- they even built their boat from scratch!!
Our driver Merv who transported us was full of personality and made the time in the car a hoot. He even bought us blueberry ice cream.
From there we flew to Queenstown where we toured Arrowtown and had a fabulous time with Kate – an art specialist- She drove us to galleries and introduced us to many of her artist friends in the area. One artist took us to a private home where some of his sculptures were on display – it was a magical place!!
– when we thought it couldn’t get any better…Kate surprised us at the end of our tour with champagne strawberries and chocolate – lakeside as the sun was setting!!
The next day was our full day Milford sound excursion. We had planned on flying in and out of Milford but because of weather conditions we had a change of plan – Sarah and Sebastien were quick to reroute us so we could still fly in but the weather and winds were increasing so we would have to drive back to Queenstown-they rearranged everything to make our Milford sound day happen!!!
Even though it was a very long day it was a highlight- we saw bottle nose dolphin – seals -spectacular waterfalls – a lush 3hr hike in Fiordland- absolutely spectacular!!!
I can easily say that every part of our tripped was carefully crafted by Sarah to make sure it was flawless – there was nothing that was missed on our itinerary- every lodge that we stayed at offered us a unique experiences different then the others (and great golf).
Our activities were so unique –
In Taupo we were guided by a Mauri elder thru his wife’s Mauri village. We were greeted by children of the village between the ages of 5-14 – they performed Mauri songs and dances. We then sat and chatted with them about life – it was such a moving experience – we were the first group that they had ever performed for –
I applaud Sarah and Sebastien because we tried to change up that day and they told us not to that it would be very special and they were right!
We ended our trip in Hawks Bay
We stayed at Cape Kidnappers – another wow lodge!!
So different then the others…
A 6000 acre working farm
Cows and sheep every where!!
Me being an animal lover I was in heaven!!the kiwi discovery was a dream come true ( I saw a kiwi) the work being done by cape sanctuary to save the kiwi bird from predators and extinction is amazing!
The sheep herding and shearing was incredible to watch.
Viewing the gannet bird colony on the cliffs of hawks bay – standing inches away from their nest egg and babies was truly a highlight!
Our husbands came to golf and Sarah & Sebastian set up an amazing itinerary so they could do it all!
I can honestly say that this was a trip of a lifetime
I would highly recommend Sarah & Sebastian and use them again when we revisit New Zealand they were fabulous!!
Sarah and her team planned a wonderful family trip to New Zealand for our family of 5 (kids ages 10, 13, 16). We had two weeks over the very busy Christmas period, and she handled our requests so well. With the constraint of flying from the US in and out of Auckland on the North Island, a certain amount of internal travel is simply necessary. Sarah chose excellent times for the flights and arranged those transfers as seamlessly as possible. We were worried about our initial post-flight adjustment and jet lag and didn’t want to land in Auckland and get on yet another flight. So she suggested we stay on Waiheke Island for two nights to adjust. The property and its owner were simply wonderful. We loved exploring the island and enjoying the many beaches. Our next stop was a sheep station outside of Christchurch near Arthur’s Pass. It was truly a magical place to stay, with sheep available to romp among and feed (such a hit!), gorgeous hiking and scenery and warm hosts. We also hired a car to self-drive here and were happy we did. On to the bigger tourist destination of Queenstown (though from a NY perspective, the “crowds” here were minimal) for exciting outdoor actives and NYE. The fireworks were great for those of us who stayed up to watch them from our hotel window–perfect view! Finally, back to the North Island for a stay at a lodge near Rotorua. When small changes or issues arose immediately before and during our trip, Sarah was always available to help and reached out herself a couple of times to check in. We always felt we could ask for advice. Thank you!
When I plan a trip, I do not always utilize the services of a travel agent. We have traveled extensively, and pick and choose when we use an agent. Usually, if we are putting together a complicated planning trip, with a lot of moving parts, we will always use a travel agent. Moreover, when we are not familiar with the country and we have no direct contacts inside the country, we find a travel agent to be a great source of comfort, especially when Plans must be unexpectedly altered.
I must say, Sarah and her team are a brilliant example of how an amazing company of travel experts, can make or break one’s trip.
First, let me say we spent two months on our vacation; a month in Australia and then off to New Zealand. Together with Sarah and her team, we had a number of pre-trip conferences and e -mail communications, in order to frame the trip we desired. I can only say that Sarah listened to us, because the trip we experienced was amazing. More important, Sarah was able to get the specific rooms at the specific hotels which she had discussed and recommended. The trip was framed around such intricate knowledge and planning, known to Sarah and her team.
During our trip in New Zealand, there were changes that had to be made on an immediate basis. As examples only, the infamous New Zealand weather conditions challenged planned helicopter rides, speed boat experiences, and other plans at the last minute. Other examples were predictions of rising flood waters due to anticipated rains, which were due to arrive. Sarah and her team monitored all of these situations, not delaying modifications pending the outcome of the rising flood waters, and made amazing substitutions, which in no way decreased the enjoyment of our trip. Without going into intricate details, I can say that only an agent with an amazing web of contacts in her country, could have made the miracles happen, to adjust aspects of the trip and lodging, last minute, from these unexpected pressures on our travel. In some instances, Sarah’s newly devised plan, or hotel substitution, was actually at a higher grade than we had been booked, without any additional charge to us!
Moreover, Sarah made sure that on any activity that had to be cancelled, a full refund from the provider would be made. Sarah promised the refunds and they all were completed within a very short time after the trip! Not one additional follow-up was needed on our part.
Well, one can tell I am a fan of Sarah and her team. When the problems arrived, she handled them all with ease, humor, and a sense of being stress-free for us.
We can only give our highest praise for Sarah and her team. Thank you.
We used Sarah Farag’s deputy, Sara Devenie, to plan our family trip to New Zealand. All five us went during the winter for roughly three weeks, and it was the best three weeks of our lives. Wendy’s team put us in contact with Sara, and I can’t imagine planning the trip with anyone else. Sara accounted for everything and anything we requested and wanted to do while we were there. Even the changes and other requests we made while we were on our trip. She was extremely responsive, accommodating, helpful, insightful, and the list could go on and on about how amazing she was throughout the planning process and trip.
I was actually put in contact with multiple specialists for New Zealand but none were nearly as great as Sara. Even after the trip, I still stand by that statement and my choice to go with Sara over others. She was so quick to respond and gave the advice you need when you plan on going during a less traveled season. She tailored our trip to all our requests, including just about everything that she thought we could do during the winter while seeing the most of the country.
Not only was the planning process a breeze but the trip was as well. This was my dad’s first time using a travel specialist and he can be a tough one to sell — and now he says he would never do it any other way. THAT is how amazing Sara was! The guides and drivers that she used throughout our trip were just as amazing. They were extremely informative and helpful on what were other things we could do on our time off and really added to the experience altogether. One driver even took us to get the best pies (which quickly became on of our favorite New Zealand dishes) ! I don’t think I would be able to find such amazing guides and drivers without Sara’s expertise and they really were that great. She even included little pitstops on recommended places to visit on the parts we drove ourselves. She made all of our restaurant reservations, which were especially necessary in most cities because lost of places were all booked up. She had a restaurant guide for each city and that was so helpful because it can be so overwhelming. We LOVED Azabu in Auckland, highly recommend it! We went to two All Blacks games and she told us the most affective ways to get to and from the game since they can be quite chaotic for the city and streets even are closed. Everything was stress free and done in a breeze. The only slightly stressful part, and rightfully so, was driving ourselves in the extreme weather conditions. We ended up leaving a day early and spending an additional night in Queenstown to try to beat the worst of it. Sara worked everything out and rearranged everything so we left Franz Josef in a breeze and got to Queenstown just in time to relax after driving in the whiteout. It seemed like when we snapped our fingers with a request that would need to be done in a timely manner, in this case trying to beat the bad weather, Sara made it happen.
Although during this time of year in New Zealand the weather can be quite rainy and cold, we still got to do almost everything we planned on. A lot of the stuff started to get canceled during the beginning of our trip because we got there right when their largest storm of the year hit. Lucky for us it was perfect for skiing because the resorts finally opened the entire mountain since there was enough snow! My mom doesn’t ski so Sara arranged for a spa day for her and we all ended up enjoying the day. Unfortunately, a lot of our activities were canceled due to this extreme weather but we called Sara, as we were obviously starting to get a little bummed out, and she reworked TWO itinerary options and gave us her recommendation on what she would do. She made all the calls and arrangements to see what would be available if we were to reroute our trip, and we are forever grateful for her time and effort that she put into it. Our visit to Fiordland National Park got canceled because of the weather and we could no longer do a helicopter ride with a glacier and beach landing but Sara flipped around a few days to get a driver to take us to Fiordland National Park and do a boat tour. I had done this before but was more than happy to do it again so my family could at least see it and they were ecstatic that Sara was able to work this all out, weather permitting. She even managed to get Hapuku Lodge, one of the luxury lodges of New Zealand in Kaikoura, to open early and accommodate only our family while we were there. They were closed for the season but Sara managed to book us for our stay there. This something we definitely could not manage planning on our own and are so grateful for it because our stay there exceeded our expectations!
Stuart Rigg and his team in Australia and New Zealand made our honeymoon trip a dream come true. Six months prior to our trip we had a conference call with Stuart and Trevor on Sarah’s team, who asked detailed questions about our likes and dislikes. That was followed up with a written proposal for activities and excursions in both countries. As we were traveling on a Seabourn cruise, they had to consider our cruise itinerary and ports of call to coordinate the days and times we would be in port. This was complicated and they handled it all for us. We did not want to book our excursions through Seabourn as we wanted a more personal approach, rather than be part of a larger group. Stuart and Trevor on Sarah’s team planned an amazing itinerary for us.
Highlights included a driver and guide, Adil, to Auckland’s spectacular West Coast Beaches where we saw many gannets in their natural environment. Another was a day on Waiheke Island. We had a very knowledgeable guide, Geoff, who has, as we do, a big interest in wines. He guided us to 3 vineyards, all different in style, including a wonderful lunch at one. At every stop on our cruise, we had terrific guides who met us as we disembarked at the various ports and whisked us away on another adventure and delivered us back to the ship in time to move on to our next destination.
After the cruise ended, a driver was waiting for us and again, took us directly to our hotel. We had great tours of Sydney and Bondi Beach as well as a day hiking in the Blue Mountains with locals who have lived in these places their entire life. So much knowledge!
At the beginning of our trip after a long day of flying from Savannah to Auckland we were met by our driver and taken to our hotel. Stuart’s team booked excellent hotels in both Auckland and Sydney and everything was in place when we arrived. There were no gaps or misses.
This was our first time in both countries and we would not hesitate to call on Stuart the next time we go down under.
Thank-you to them and to Wendy Perrin for a gorgeous WOW Moment gift–we really appreciate it.
We had no idea what was happening until our driver delivered us to the Rose Bay Seaplane sight for our flight over Sydney and the surrounding beaches.
Tom and I both love flying so our introduction to Sydney in this way was so amazing. We were the only 2 passengers and Tom sat in the co-pilot seat enabling him to take fantastic photos of the beautiful city below us. The weather was perfect that day. It was over the top in every way!
You could not have planned a better surprise for us. We have been fans of your WOW list for many years, using your trusted advisors in Italy, Paris (twice), London, Africa (twice), and now NZ and Australia. Our next trip using one of your advisors will be to Argentina.
Wendy, you are providing a wonderful service to those of us who travel often and like to travel well.
Thanks also for the personal attention you gave us when we had a glitch with another advisor booking our cruise.
Note: Post-pandemic, Sarah is no longer assisting with cruise shore excursions.
My family of four spent three weeks in New Zealand and Australia in January. The entire trip was planned by Sarah’s New Zealand team and Stuart in Australia. We spent three months exchanging emails to plan this trip, and they always responded within 24 hours to my communications and were consistently pleasant and flexible. At the end I got exactly the trip I wanted.
We stayed at beautiful resorts throughout New Zealand. We saw incredible natural beauty and my husband fished for trout with knowledgeable guides. When weather prevented us from doing a trans alpine hike, the guide seamlessly changed plans to provide us with an extraordinary experience in the Fiordland. When my daughter decided at the last minute that she wanted to bungee jump, Sara and Trevor switched things around to make that possible as well. And, when weather caused our second Trans Alpine Crossing to be cancelled, Trevor spent a Sunday morning on the phone with me completely reorganizing our itinerary so that we wouldn’t miss a beat. Though we traveled in high season and most lodges were full, making room upgrades impossible, Sarah’s team worked its magic wherever it could. At Huka Lodge our dinner was served on the jetty, the nicest and most private spot available. At Fiordland Lodge, our kids were each given their own room rather than sharing. And we enjoyed a wonderful wine tasting experience on Waiheke island planned on the fly on a Sunday morning! They were supremely professional, extraordinarily flexible, and had deep knowledge of the country. I wouldn’t have done it any other way!
Stuart arranged 9 days for us in Australia, specifically in Sydney and on Lizard Island. Stuart and his colleague Tanya were extraordinarily responsive, always responding to emails within 24 hours. They were very flexible and tried to accommodate everything on my wish list. When I was struggling to choose between various GBR options, Stuart and I spoke by phone for about 45 minutes until we got everything sorted. I agree very strongly, Wendy, with your admonition to SPEAK with the travel specialists in addition to email correspondence. I was able to transmit in that call the nuance that can sometimes evade the written word. Our time was flawlessly planned. Stuarts VIP escort service met us at the airport and brought us to our lovely Sydney hotel, The Langham. We had two beautiful connecting rooms there. At every restaurant in which we dined Stuart had magically arranged for the best table with the best view. At dinner on our first night, we were presented with a bottle of sparkling wine, courtesy of Stuart and Southern Crossings. Stuart also arranged for Opera tickets, the BridgeClimb, and a surfing lesson–all of which were huge hits. When we traveled to Lizard we were upgraded, courtesy of Stuart. Our adult son who accompanied us had to work while in Australia. He was concerned with the internet connection given the remoteness of the island. We shared these concerns with Stuart who contacted the Lizard Island GM, who, in turn, generously offered his own office and landline for our son to use for certain hours each day. These are the moments (and those when you can see the Sydney Opera House through your wine glass) when one feels so very grateful to be using one of your WOW specialists! Thank you!
Wow! What can I say? I don’t even know where to begin. This was an amazing trip for my family! My two daughters, husband, and I had an awesome time in Australia– many thanks to Stuart for such great planning, execution, and many memorable touches! First, we loved all the activities– from biking in Sydney, the Sydney Harbor Bridge twilight climb, to the magnificent Uluru and Field of Lights dinner/walk, to snorkeling with green turtles on the inspiring Lady Elliots Island! Each accommodation was fantastic– our favorite was the Ovolo Inchcolm in Brisbane! And the Lady Elliots Island eco-resort was magical and the perfect finishing touch to an already incredible and wonderful trip! My daughters loved the sunset over the Harbor Bridge and the chance to embrace a koala. We were celebrating my husbands 50th birthday and he could not have asked for a more memorable holiday. For him, stargazing in the clear night sky was an added delight! We truly recommend Stuart and thank him for the incredible trip! And bonus points for the fruit basket waiting for us on our last night.
New Zealand— the Land of the Long White Cloud— such a magical place! My family and I absolutely loved how beautiful and how eco-conscious this incredible place is! It was a wonderful way to begin our journey. Thanks to Sarah, Stuart’s colleague in New Zealand, we had plenty of time to wander and enjoy New Zealand at our own pace while still having pre-arrangements to hit all the highlights we wanted. Auckland was charming and a great start point. We really enjoyed the Waitomo Caves around Rotorua to Hobbiton in Matamata and the Weta Workshop in Wellington. And the drive along the green and lush hills were breathtaking. And of course, we were utterly taken by the breathtaking magnificence of Queenstown, the Remarkables, Milford Sound, and Skippers’ Canyon. We had the good fortune of comfortable dry and sunny weather throughout our time and we must give a shoutout for the beautiful Rees Hotel and the wonderful 2-bedroom suite with fireplace and private balcony overlooking the Lake Wakatipu. The people were so friendly and we were pleasantly surprised and very impressed that Maori is the 2nd official language in New Zealand. And while Queenstown and New Zealand are places of high adventure (don’t forget to do the Shotover Jetboat), we were particularly charmed by the Kiwi Wildlife Park where you learn about how New Zealand’s efforts around conservation are some of the most aggressive and yet sensible we had ever heard. Thank you to Sarah for arranging a most magical trip for us in the Land of Kiwis.
Stuart and Sarah did two things that are very important to me – they listened to what my travel partner and I wanted out of this trip, AND they were great at communicating expediently and thoroughly. We had less than two months to pull together a two-week trip to Australia and New Zealand coming from the US. They asked our budget, we requested a luxury experience, and our expectations were surpassed. We had one lodging experience that was booked to our specifications, but upon arrival did not meet our expectations. It was late evening and Pam on Stuart’s team answered our call right away and arranged new lodging within minutes without questioning our reason for wanting to change lodging. If/when I return down under I will absolutely use them to create another amazing itinerary.