Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

A koala at the Taronga Zoo

The Sugiches overnighted at the Taronga Zoo and spotted this koala just outside their window. Photo: Traveler Lisa Sugich

My husband and I recently visited New Zealand and Australia, both of them for the first time. We worked with Sara for New Zealand and Jacki for Australia (and other equally helpful individuals in their offices). We had a total of 3 weeks to work with. Following our initial conversation with them, along with completion of the questionnaire, they began to put together a perfect itinerary based on our feedback. In both New Zealand and Australia our accommodations were superb. In New Zealand rain interfered with several of our planned activities (Milford Sound Flyover and glacier landing on Mount Cook), which was disappointing—however, we found rainy-day activities based on their recommendations and made the best of those days.

It’s difficult to pinpoint just one noteworthy experience, so I’ll name a few of our favorites:

— Waiheke Island Wine Tour (New Zealand) proved to be a great way to kick start our trip
— Ohinemutu Village private walking tour (New Zealand) in Rotorua was really worthwhile and gave us great insight into how the local Maori people live among the geothermal activity in their community
— Dart River Adventure in Queenstown (New Zealand) was loads of fun and in spite of all the rain they’ve had, they managed to coordinate a beautiful wild adventure
— Melbourne (Australia) the back streets/walkways walking tour and peek into the diverse ethnic food options allowed us to see some of the incredible street art. The ethnic food options were incredible and we later enjoyed a delightful lunch at an Asian Fusion restaurant in the area
— Uluru (Australia) visit was an entirely different aspect of the trip where we were able to experience the beauty of Ayers Rock with an amazing guide who shared his very personal spiritual transformation there
— Port Douglas (Australia) a stay at the Thala Beach Nature Reserve was amazing, as were the nature walking trails and food selections at the restaurant there. And of course no trip is complete without a snorkeling adventure on the Great Barrier Reef—we were lucky enough to spot a white tipped shark on our last snorkeling stop on the Opal Reef!
— Sydney (Australia) a one-night stay at the Wildlife Retreat at Taronga brought us great joy, as we were able to access experiences at the zoo that aren’t otherwise available to the public (night time tour to view nocturnal animals; access to a section of the zoo where the animals aren’t in individual enclosures and of course dinner at the restaurant there). Upon waking the next morning we met a charming little koala who was sleeping in a tree about 5-6 feet from our window.

We enjoyed every aspect of our trip and arrived home tired, full of yummy food and fulfilled thanks to our WOW travel advisors!

Stuart Rigg and Jacki Lang planned a fabulous trip for us to Australia. We were there for three-and-a-half weeks and everything was perfect. There were no hitches anywhere along the way. Our guides, when we had them, were all wonderful. The itinerary was perfect and we covered a lot of territory. We had tried to take this trip in April 2020 and again in April 2022 so we were happy to finally have made it there. The bonus was that the Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island was open again and it was amazing. I can’t recommend Stuart and Jacki highly enough. Looking forward to another trip planned by them.

Travelers Brad and Laura Marion diving at Lizard Island, on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

Brad and Laura Marion diving at Lizard Island, on the Great Barrier Reef.

We recently returned from a wonderful trip to Australia. Jacki Lang and the rest of Stuart’s team organized a great agenda. Without a doubt, highlights of our trip included the time on Lizard Island and at Uluru. While those two experiences/locations could not be more different, the quality of the lodges, services, food, and memorable activities were all first-class. Longitude 131 and Lizard Island lodge were highlights for us. We spent about a week in Tasmania. While we had some wonderful experiences in Tasmania, it had some similarities to experiences we had on the South Island of NZ. Great memories.

Our work with Stuart Rigg and Jacki Lang began almost one year in advance with a relaxed video meeting during which we gave them an idea of the things we’d like to see and do while in Australia in March of 2024. It included Canberra, the Blue Mountains, Sydney, and Perth. They asked great questions and within days came back to us with our first draft itinerary. After tweaking it to our liking, we had an exciting plan for just over a two-week stay.

Each step along the way, Jacki kept in touch and explained everything thoroughly. We decided we’d like to see an opera at the Sydney Opera House during our stay and Jacki made it happen. We especially wanted to see quokkas on Rottnest Island, and they planned a day just for that. (The island coast was beautiful, and well worth the ferry trip from Perth.)

Early March was a comfortable time to visit Australia. Warm days and cool nights made it enjoyable.

We had a hiccup with the time preceding our arrival in Australia, and Jacki went above and beyond, at the last minute, to find additional hotel nights for us and to change our rental car pickup city to Melbourne. She was amazing; I can’t praise her enough for her attention and responsiveness.
For anyone who loves nature, animals and/or geology, the Blue Mountains should not be missed. The vistas are awe-inspiring and the history so interesting. With our guide, we saw mobs of kangaroos lounging in the shade, with joeys popping their curious heads out of pouches; we learned about how fire-proof native Australian flora is; we saw goanna lizards strolling through the low grasses.

In Sydney, we had the most wonderful tour guide, Matt, show us all around a city he obviously loves. We had coffee at Bondi Beach and chatted like old friends.

The hotels Jacki chose were perfect — full of character, and comfort, and with excellent service. The trip was celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary, and Jacki had let every hotel know; they each marked the occasion with treats and messages of congratulations.

Perth was a lovely last stop. The sun was always bright and the waters — rivers, harbors, estuaries, ocean — shone everywhere.

Jacki and Stuart made our Australian trip the most effortless trip we’ve taken. I usually plan vacations myself, but their intimate knowledge of Australia was invaluable, and we are so glad we decided to ask them to plan our trip!

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