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Rick Steves Alternative for Australia/New Zealand

Does anyone know of a tour company for Australia/New Zealand that operates under a similar philosophy that Rick Steves does for Europe?

Posted by
100 posts

Our very first overseas trip was Australia/New Zealand with Trafalgar. Been hooked ever since...

Posted by
5688 posts

I took a New Zealand tour with Mondumo in February and it was excellent. Colin Mairs guides Rick Steves tours in Scotland. He lives in New Zealand and has his own company. His tour was operated very similarly to how the RS tours operate and Colin was an outstanding guide. This was one of my favorite tours and I loved New Zealand. He also has a tour in Australia which is led by another RS guide.

https://mondumo.com/

Colin also appeared on a RS Monday Night Travel on New Zealand
https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/travel-classes/monday-night-travel/new-zealand

Posted by
256 posts

We took the 2 week Odyssey Unlimited tour of New Zealand this past February. It was great and very similar to Rick Steves except that the group size is limited to 24 (we had 21 on our tour), hotels are bigger and luggage handling is provided. Odyssey will also book your flights and provide airport transfers, but we paid the cheaper “land only” tour cost and booked our own flights just like we do for RS tours. We were so impressed with Odysseys that we have booked their Japan tour for next year.

Posted by
6101 posts

We just recently traveled to New Zealand and had a spectacular time. Just, my two cents, I saw a Tauck tour brochure, and I was quite surprised at the itinerary. I felt it missed quite a few highlights. I would recommend doing a bit of research to get an idea of what you would be most interested in and then pick a company that ties the best to it. I did look at Colin Mars itinerary and it seemed fairly good, it just depends on what you think would be highlights for you.

Posted by
222 posts

We have booked a tour for next February/March with MoaTrek recommended by someone on the forum a while ago. Their New Zealand tours are a 21 days for 18 people. Many of the 2025 tours are fully booked over a year out so I’m hoping that means that they are good. We’re past the refund window.

Posted by
1599 posts

Last fall I did a trip to Australia and New Zealand with OAT. Similar to RS except they handle luggage, maximum of 16 participants, extra cost options (not many) and you tip only the tour leader. They will also provide the air if you want them to. Hotels are maybe a class higher but still centrally located.

Posted by
99 posts

My husband and I went on the 21-day MoaTrek tour in Feb/March 2024. This was an exceptional tour. Graeme, our guide/driver, was excellent. The tour was limited to 18 people and this convinced us that we will not go on a tour with more than 18. We went on 3 RS tours - 2 the first year RS tours began after Covid and the Best of Scotland tour in 2023. The first two tours were less than 20 and the third tour had 28. We didn't enjoy the larger group.

Other similarities of MoaTrek and RS was the number of independent meals (fine with us), specialty guides at different sites, a lunch at a winery and at a farm, and free time.

Differences - you don't have to carry your luggage to your room in most cases and the MoaTrek hotels are a higher quality. I no longer enjoy european quaint - old tiny rooms, etc. We pack light and don't mind bringing our bags to our room, but I would rather not carry it up to the fourth floor. We never felt rushed at a site with MoaTrek - I can't say that always happened on the RS tours. Also with MoaTrek there were optional hikes that our entire group chose to take.

Communication before the MoaTrek tour was detailed with daily activities, optional sites, accommodation details, & distance traveled each day. They made reservations for us at the group rate at our first hotel and provided recommendations for a hotel near the airport when the tour ended.

With MoaTrek there are also optional activities in different areas at an additional cost. Also, while a tip to the guide/driver is not required, the majority of people in our group chose to tip Graeme.

Our guides with RS were quite good, but our guide for the Best of Greece set the gold standard for guides. We continue to talk about him - he was exceptional as well.

Enjoy New Zealand. It's a beautiful country and the people are very friendly.

Posted by
528 posts

Another vote for Mondumo! Colin Mairs is an exceptional guide. New Zealand is gorgeous!

Posted by
8648 posts

Gate 1 Discovery tours is another option. The Discovery designation means that they are the smaller group size.

Inspiring Vacations is an Austrailian based tour company and it has some smaller group tours as well.

Posted by
85 posts

We did a trip to New Zealand several years ago. We just rented a car and drove ourselves around—-no tour. I planned the itinerary myself. It was one of the easiest trips I’ve ever done (other than the long flight toget there). We did take a day tour with boat ride in Milford Sound.

Posted by
23 posts

Another vote for Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT). We had 14 on the main 3-week trip in Australia but only 2 plus the guide on the New Zealand pre-trip. Listed prices also include Air so are usually less expensive than most similar tours. We have never been disappointed on our 6 OAT trips or 4 RS.