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Holiday Vacations (Tour Company)

Has anyone booked a tour with Holiday Vacations? If so, what was you experience? I am think of booking their 20 day Australia & New Zealand. I have looked at their European vacations and I was not impressed with their itineraries which makes me a little nervous. I would not pick them for any tour of a Europe. I do like the itinerary for Australia and New Zealand however.

If you have any recommendations for a tour of Australia and New Zealand, I would like to hear from you. I have been on a Rick Steves Best of Italy tour and loved it. My wife and I are very physically active and don't mind a tour that requires a lot of walking.

Posted by
13213 posts

My recommendation would be to skip a tour and plan it yourself---especially if you are active. Sydney and Melbourne are beautiful cities and easy to plan and enjoy on your own. New Zealand is best with a rental car, and fortunately my husband was willing to drive ( he has done driving on the left before). In three weeks,mew spend 3 days each in Sydney and Melbourne, and the rest on the South Island of New Zealand. A guided trek on the Milford Track with Ultimate Hikes was the highlight ( we turned in the car at Queenstown before the trek).

If you prefer not to drive yourselves, you could still see Oz on your own (flying between cities) and then maybe something like this for New Zealand:

http://activeadventures.com/new-zealand/regions/south-island

Posted by
6511 posts

I can't help with Holiday Vacations but I agree with Lola, I would plan an independent tour based on your ideal itinerary. I've not been to Australia but I found traveling around New Zealand on my own extremely easy and planning the trip was also very easy. Driving is a breeze because roads are quite good and traffic is light most places. It's probably the best place to try driving on the left for the first time for just that reason. I had no trouble picking up driving on the 'wrong' side in about an hour and I was traveling solo without a navigator. If you don't want to drive you can still plan an independent trip using public transportation to get from place to place. I used the New Zealand national tourism website for almost all of my planning - http://www.newzealand.com/us/.

Posted by
13213 posts

More ideas if you do not wish to drive:

The South Island has some nice trains. Here is what we did for the first part of our trip, before we picked up the car: we flew into Christchurch from Sydney, and took the train up the coast to Picton. ( with more time we would have stopped a day or two at Kaikoura for whale-watching, etc. at Picton we caught a water taxi out to Lochmara Lodge on the Queen Charlotte track, with boat-in access only. Spent two nights at this beautiful Eco-lodge, with hiking and kayaking. From Picton we took a bus to Nelson for Abel Tasman National Park. Nelson has an airport and we flew back to Christchurch to pick up our car.

There is also a train from Christchurch over the mountains to the west coast. This scenic journey on the TranzAlpine is very popular.

From Christchurch you can reach Queenstown by bus or by flying.

Posted by
2989 posts

Since you asked for other recommendations. My husband and I have looked at a couple of tour companies' trips to Australia and New Zealand. One company is www.Tauck.com and the other is www.SmithsonianJourneys.org Both offer high-quality tours to Australian and New Zealand. We have not yet been on either tour. But I have thoroughly checked the reviews for both, and they are all good. We plan to use one of these two companies within the next couple of years. We have friends in Australia we will visit after the tour is over.

Posted by
3656 posts

I believe Road Scholar also does trips to Australia and New Zealand. Used to be know as Elder Hostel. Friends who have used them love them.

Posted by
327 posts

I have not participated on a tour with Holiday Vacations, however, a little online research shows they are a reputable escorted tour company based in Wisconsin and in business since 1973 (company was sold recently). They are members of the top North American tour associations (NTA, USTOA, ASTA, and CLIA) which have membership and insurance requirements. If the Australia/New Zealand itinerary appeals to you, why not give them a call and discuss their activity levels, size of groups, length of time in each destination, and your interests to see if they mesh. Some escorted tours are not designed for physically active people and may have more hours of on and off a motor-coach (tour bus) than you desire, or they may spend considerable time with flight arrangements (Australia is a BIG country). The tour company should be able to provide you with a detailed itinerary. Several of the previous posters have also mentioned other well-known tour companies based in the USA. Only you can decide if you have the time to plan a DIY travel experience or if you prefer the camaraderie of fellow travelers and convenience of a set itinerary designed by the tour company.

Posted by
13213 posts

I just reviewed the Odysseys Unlimited itinerary and really like it ( for an organized tour).

Group size is 12-24 people, so not huge. The 10 days in Australia include much more of Oz than the Holiday Vacations tour does---Cairns/Great Barrier Reef, Alice Springs and Uluru, and Sydney. Then you fly to Christchurch and visit Lake Tekapo and Mt. Cook Aoraki National Park, with an overnight there and time for an afternoon hike (I highly recommend the hike up 2200 well-build steps to a wonderful viewpoint), Queenstown and Milford Sound, then a flight to the North Island to visit Rotorua and Auckland.

Posted by
1058 posts

Thanks for your great responses. As of now, we are planning on taking a tour due to the number of flights to get to what we want to see and the distances involved.