Along with seemingly every other tour operator in New Zealand, Wilsons charges a lot of money for its services. You'd think that the company -- which prides itself on being a family business (SFW?) -- could shell out for live commentary on its boats. Alas, it's canned - and recorded in a dismal monotone. The pronunciation of "grande plage" is horrendously laughable.
Once, when the boat was going back and forth a little, trying to execute a maneuver, it triggered the same commentary for that particular area three times. I almost know it off by heart. Seals, whales, penguins and unicorns could have passed by the boat, and we'd never have known about it.
My wife and I did "The Great Day Out," which was highly recommended by the chap in the Wilsons kiosk on Kaiteriteri beach. It involved a trip all the way to Totaranui, then a bit of a return to Tonga Bay Quarry from where we hiked for an hour or to Medlands Beach for the pickup back to Kaiteriteri.
Besides the turgid commentary, this boat trip seemed like more of an opportunity for Wilsons staffers to lounge about the boat before picking up and dropping off supplies and people at the various stops on the way. At one point, the boat picked up an elderly woman in a Wilsons polo shirt, who was drinking from a wine bottle at 11 am, accompanied by 2 little dogs - not sure dogs are even allowed in the park. Attention to the wellbeing of paying passengers seemed subsidiary.
The sights and all that were nice, but I would recommend going with their rival. Dismayed upon my return, I went to the Abel Tasman Shuttles kiosk at Kaiteriteri and learned from the aghast lady there that they do live commentary.
New Zealand is at risk of becoming a serial rip-off destination, and vaguely insulting treatment of customers will have long-term consequences on its reputation.
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