My wife and I booked the Great Sights tour just about 24 hours in advance and right before our flight left from Sydney into Auckland. Upon arrival to the hotel, just four and a half hours later, our hotel had already received the tour confirmation and pick-up directions for our trip the following day.
We were picked up from the Sofitel in Viaduct Harbour by the tour company's shuttle bus and were dropped off at a central location in Auckland. We checked in very quickly and were given two bowls of fruit as our morning snack. We boarded the bus, which was charter size, and began the tour towards Waitomo Caves. On the tour down the bus driver and guide called out interesting sites and history along our journey. It was interesting and informative.
Our tour fee covered the entrance cost to the caves and we were given just over an hour to go through the cave tour which left a bit of extra time to shop in the gift shop. Between the travel time and tour it was close to lunch by the time we departed. The tour guide picked up lunch from the caves cafe and gave them to us on the bus. They included a sandwich, apple, dessert, and juice. Modest, but okay lunch.
From the caves we traveled to the Agrodome where we went on a sheep farm. The "farm" was rather commercialized and was a tourist destination. There was a sheep sheering demonstration, farm tour on a tractor, and interaction with a sheerer on how sheep sheering works. The demonstration was unique, but the experience seemed rather touristy. While we didn't go on them, there were several rides and the place was probably much busier than the summer months.
Following the farm we headed to Rotarua and visited the Maori cultural center and hot springs. We had a show which was a presentation of Maori culture and dance and then we had a tour of the hot springs and mud baths. The Maori show was one of the must cultured experiences we had with New Zealand. The hot springs was a nice time to see some geysers.
We ended the day with a snack on the bus and travel back to Auckland. We made several stops on the way back to pick up other visitors and transport them back to Auckland - perhaps an extra money maker for the tour company to serve as a transport as well.
Overall, the tour was good. We only had about 48 hours in New Zealand so this allowed us to see lots of places in a short amount of time. If we had more time we wouldn't have taken the tour as we would have liked to take more time traveling the north island and experience more of the country.
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