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“Waitomo Caves & Rotarua”

GreatSights New Zealand Day Tours
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Waitomo Caves and 'The Lord of the Rings' Hobbiton Movie Set Day Trip from...
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Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Founded in 1987, GreatSights New Zealand operates the most comprehensive range of premium day sightseeing tours in New Zealand. Our nationwide network provides luxury sightseeing tours to destinations throughout New Zealand. Day tours from Auckland include the Bay of Islands, Waitomo Caves, Rotorua and the Hobbiton Movie Set. Everything is taken care of when you travel with GreatSights. Entrance fees are included within the tour price and optional extras like lunches can be added if required. Complimentary hotel transfers are provided on most tours and our experienced local driver guides will keep you entertained with informative commentary throughout the tour.
Reviewed 16 June 2014

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.

1  Thank John M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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487 - 491 of 596 reviews

Reviewed 2 June 2014

We took the morning cruise in late May 2014. On the way out to the Hole In the Rock we were lucky enough to come upon a school of dolphins, which we followed for some distance (unfortunately not able to swim with them as they were travelling too fast). The Hole In the Rock is amazing and its quite the experience as the captain takes you through the hole at speed! On the way back we skipped the island tour as we came upon a group of orca's (hence the reason the dolphins were probably travelling quickly earlier!). This was great fun as we watched the orca's track sharks and stingrays. We hopped off the cruise in Russell on the way back and had a beer at the famous "Hell Hole of the Pacific". Overall a great tour and the staff are really friendly and informative.

2  Thank Ben G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 June 2014

I took a morning tour of Auckland. i was able to call the day before and arrange for a hotel pick up as well as pay for everything - they couldn't have been more helpful on the phone!

The driver (Pete) arrived a few minutes early, but I'm the type to be outside and ready - early :)

Once we picked up the 12 other folks - it got a bit...weird. Pete was very scattered. Don't get me wrong, he was a nice guy. But I had no clue where we were when we were there because he would be giving us directions, or talking about living in Liverpool (I believe that's where he said he was from).

There was another couple on the bus that expressed a similar frustration as I did. We could barely understand where we were because he would stop mid-sentance and start onto another story or location.

I was disappointed since this was the only time I was going to get to spend in Auckland.

He didn't represent the company well - in my opinion - by appearance and by the tour.

2  Thank jessd716
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GreatSightsNZ, Marketing specialist at GreatSights New Zealand Day Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 3 June 2014

Hi Jess, thanks for your review. We've had a lot of great feedback about Pete's commentary, so we're very sorry to hear you were disappointed with your experience. Our drivers pride themselves on providing commentary that's both entertaining and informative and it sounds like we may have fallen short on this on this particular day. If you'd like us to follow this up with you please don't hesitate to contact us using the email link on our listing.

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Reviewed 28 May 2014

We spent our first day in New Zealand going on a tour to the bay of islands. After an early start picked up on time, we were kept informed all the way as to what we were seeing and doing. We ended up in Paihia, what a pretty place, lots to see and do. We were taken in a boat to see the islands, very pretty, then to the " Hole in the rock" well that was awesome, it takes great skill to get through, as it was quite a choppy sea that day, all credit to our skipper,(a lady driver ! !).On the long way back our driver left us to snooze, thank you.

Thank Karolyn G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 May 2014

We took the Waitomo Glow Worm Cave / Hobbiton combination day tour out of Auckland. As we stayed at Sky Tower Hotel, we had the option of being the first on with hotel pickup, or the last on with metro station pickup on the back side of the hotel. We chose the first pick up so we could get good seats to view the countryside on the way. It rained that day and we stood in the rain waiting for the bus that never came. We walked over to the metro side and boarded last and we were all told by the surly driver, "I went by and no one was there", We were all out there early and knew this wasn't true. We were provided a nice fruit salad to eat on the way out. Everyone on the bus was not on the same tour. Some were doing the caves and then on to Rorutan, others like us would go on to Hobbiton and a working sheep farm was another destination for some as well. Great Sights run the tours in legs. We changed busses four times on our tour.Auckland through the caves and on to the farm where we met the Hobbiton bus, After Hobbiton we were left at the gift shop for another bus to a nearby town where we waited again in the rain for the original bus. There was always a lot of confusion about who should get on which bus at every stop. They need a color coding system or something to organize this better. Lunch was provided on our tour but not for others. When we reboarded at the caves we found that our lunch had been given to others who weren't supposed to get one and the driver had to run back out to get us lunch.

Bus troubles aside this was a great tour, the lunch was really tasty and locations were much better than expected. Both the Waitomo caves and Hobbiton were highlights of the trip,

Thank DugRau
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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