Frequently asked questions

How much advance notice do you need to plan my trip?

It depends on when you are going and how flexible the itinerary can be. For trips in high season, the more notice the better. For a low stress itinerary planning process, 4-6 months is ideal. We need you to contact us at least 21 days to plan your trip, but have accommodated requests on occasion within this timeframe dependant on how busy we are when your booking comes in.

If I send you details of a tour I found online, will you create the private version for me?

Absolutely. And, you should ask us for a cost comparison as the vast majority of the time, we can create the comparable trip for a lower cost.

You charge fees, so what's the return on my investment?

Return on your investment is in 2 parts:

  1. Time saved during the planning process:
    To organise a trip to New Zealand with the level of organisation and detail provided by your Kiwi travel designer, plan on spending about 8 hours per travel day if you are going to do it yourself.
    A 10-day trip would therefore take about 80 hours for an average person to plan (including internet and guidebook research, time spent on the phone, booking time, and double-checking everything).
    By contrast, plan on 2-3 hours spent via email with your Kiwi travel designer for a 10-day trip, that’s about 77 hours of time saved.
    How much is your time worth per hour?
  2. Time used more efficiently on the trip:
    When a trip is well-organised ahead of time, you won’t waste time getting lost; showing up at the train station and realising that train doesn’t run on Sundays; fixing errors due to miscommunications during the booking process; or missing out on a dinner reservation you've had your heart set on that could have been pre-booked.
    We estimate that travellers with organized pre-booked itineraries can accomplish 20% more in a day, and don’t forget: you accomplish more in a single day, at a lower stress level, for more enjoyment.
​An Example: Let’s say your 10-day trip to New Zealand works out to cost $600/day, including everything. Let’s say you have 12 hours per day of “out and about time”, to enjoy, explore, and relax. Each New Zealand vacation hour essentially costs $50. A 10-day vacation has 120 vacation hours. Therefore being able to do 20% more because of a well-planned vacation equates to 24 hours during the vacation which are spent relaxing and enjoying New Zealand rather than spent problem-solving and stressed in a foreign country. To put a dollar value on it, those 24 hours x $50 per hour is $1200 worth of time that can be used to enjoy New Zealand instead of lost due to planning mistakes. ​Put your own numbers in to the scenarios above in 1) and 2) (and take into account that part 2 can be multiplied by number of people travelling together) to calculate how much you will actually save by having your Kiwi travel designer plan your New Zealand vacation!

What on-trip support do I get?

You get access to your Kiwi travel designer's phone number, email and WhatsApp contacts during your New Zealand trip, which means we are here for you 24/7!

Past examples of clients using on-trip support include:

  • Please cancel/change our dinner reservation
  • My son is suffering motion sickness, can you direct me to the nearest chemist/drugstore?
  • We need to do laundry, what are nearby options?
  • Extremely wet weather has made our plans to be outdoors on a hike tomorrow look like a bad idea. Can you update tomorrow’s itinerary to include an indoor activity instead.
  • The road we were to travel on tomorrow we've found out is closed due, can you please suggest an alternative driving route.
  • We've been caught up in an earthquake. What do we do?
  • We heard there’s a great concert on tomorrow night. Please get us tickets while we are out today if you can, and have them ready at the hotel front desk for pick-up.
  • Our trip to Milford Sound has been cancelled due a road closure, what should we do now?

Do you have ideas for trips with children?

We often have our own "big kid" moments, and have plenty of suggestions for those travelling with kids in New Zealand. I have 19 nieces and nephews and my Mum, Pamela, used to manage multiple childcare centres for under 5 year olds, so we'll make sure it is fun for the whole family.

What influences trip planning more than anything else is how you travel with kids: some people want a kid-oriented vacation, so move from beach to playground to children’s museum/activity. Others want to do the same things they’d normally do, but move at a slower pace and be back at the hotel in the middle of the day for nap time.

Whatever you prefer, we’ll tailor the trip to cater to your needs.

Does the written itinerary I receive replace a guidebook?

No, you’ll still need the guidebook, however our Trip Planning itineraries include some information that can replace a guide book at times. The written itinerary is an outline of activities, contact information, and a daily route map, and will be about 1 or 3 pages per day. If you would like guidebook suggestions we are happy to provide them.

Can you get me discounts on hotels and guides?

Sometimes. But more importantly, you can be assured that all recommendations are good value for the money. You get what you pay for, so I don’t necessarily recommend the least expensive option. However, we are used to working within a budget, and this will be at the forefront of our decision-making mindset

We're not sure whether we're 'independent travellers'. We want to be, but we've traveled very little and we definitely want to see New Zealand.

Your day-by-day detailed itinerary will be pre-organised. Your Kiwi travel designer will have everything pre-booked, double checked and reconfirmed, but you have to be able to execute it on your own when you get here. You’ll know where to go, when to be there, and how to get from A to B, but you’ll still have to leave your hotel, on your own, in a foreign country and using foreign currency (and possibly in a jet-lagged fog!). Local guides can help a lot here, and fortunately Kiwi's are very friendly, and are often happy to help, but there's only so much assistance we can provide when we're not right there with you. If you get really stuck though, a helpful voice on the phone from your Kiwi travel designer may be all you need.

What's the difference between a travel designer and a travel agent?

We love the way this New York Post article explains our mindset, so read this if you get a chance. The short answer is: the business model. Your Kiwi travel designer can offer all the services a travel agent can offer, except we don’t book your international flights to get you here. We specialise in all things New Zealand, our in-depth knowledge greatly surpasses your local travel agent. Travel agents receive commissions for booking hotels, cruises, flights, or tours for travellers from their portfolio. From a business perspective, they must spend their time booking things that give them commission, or they won’t be in business for long. As travel designers, we charge for time and expertise. We want to be able to spend the time on the areas that will make your trip absolutely amazing. We spend a lot of time on things that do not offer commissions such as driving route suggestions showing you how best to get from A to B within New Zealand, specific shopping recommendations, and recommendations for restaurants, cafes, and local markets. We will always recommend the hotel, villa, B&B, hostel, holiday park, farmstay, AirBnB, or other accommodation that best suits the traveller.

Why should I use a travel designer?

This Travel Market Report artcile does a great job of outlining 10 reasons you should use a travel designer:

  1. Buying travel is a unique purchase, because you are buying both a product and a service. A travel agent know how to sell both parts—the airline and resort and cruise line that best match your needs, and the service that will guarantee your vacation is seamless and stress-free.
  2. Travel agents are trained to take a critical look at each piece in your trip puzzle. They make sure each piece meets your specific needs, so you’re happy with every penny you spent.
  3. They can make sense of the multitude of offers from cruise lines and airlines and hotels. This year travel companies are offering more brands than ever before in history—on land, in the air and on the seas. Is Fathom the right cruise for you? Is Delta Light good enough? A travel professional can decipher the subtle differences and choose the one that fits your requirements for this unique trip.
  4. Travel professionals save you time and money. Whether they charge a fee, as many do, or base their businesses on commissions, the time and money you spend with them will be returned to you many times over in the form of perks, upgrades, convenience and great service.
  5. They are your advocate. Whether you need an upgrade to an ocean view or a ticket out of harm’s way after an earthquake, your travel agent will be there for you, intervening with suppliers on your behalf.
  6. They are the experts. Like a doctor or an accountant, a travel counselor will ask the right questions, listen to your answers, understand your pain, and offer expert advice to guide you in making one of your most important decisions—how to spend your invaluable time off. Because there are no do-overs for a vacation gone wrong.
  7. Knowledge is power. From the visa and passport requirements to the name of the maître d’ at the best restaurant in town, a good travel agent has the inside information that makes your trip perfect.
  8. They have your back. When things go wrong, a travel professional knows whom to call to get it fixed on the spot. If your flight is canceled, just have a seat and pick up the phone while the rest of the passengers are lined up trying to rebook. Didn't get the room category you booked? No need to argue with the front desk. One call will get it corrected.
  9. They are your personal shopper. Over time your travel professional gets to know you and your family, your likes and dislikes. You are so much more than a sale to them—and they provide the human connection that makes every transaction more pleasant and meaningful. Plus by supporting local businesses, you support your community.
  10. They can offer customised experiences that no one else can. After 20 or 30 years in the business, a travel professional has the connections to arrange for the side trips, the special passes, the upgrades and little touches that are not available to the general public. Because in this wide and amazing and wonderful world, you just don't know what you don't know. So ask someone who does—ask your local travel agent!

Why should I choose you?

Here are specific reasons you share your trip ideas and collaborate with us:

  • I live in New Zealand. This benefits you as I know how things work, including the little things, and how to navigate them. I know what can go wrong, and how to fix it. I have the answers to questions about New Zealand that you didn’t even know you should ask.
  • I travel extensively and often all over New Zealand. This is a huge benefit to you, as I know how to find great hiking and biking trails in New Zealand; I can recommend lots of great hotels and out of the way places and unique experiences; I have detailed knowledge and will share these across all of the varied regions across New Zealand. And probably most importantly, I understand New Zealand’s “wow” factor and can ensure you have it on your trip.
  • My finger is on the pulse of the Kiwi psyche and what's going on. Nobody can keep on top of every hotel and restaurant and activity in New Zealand, but my processes and methods mean I can make the best possible recommendations for your specific trip. I can ensure that each of my travellers have a personalised, high-quality and a unique trip that caters to you best, and is in line with your personal budget and expectations.
  • I’ve visited more than 40 countries around the world. This benefits you as I have experienced what it’s like to feel like a foreigner in a foreign land. I have tips about travel insurance, luggage and staying connected, and make sure I keep any instructions clear for you to follow.
  • When I'm not at work, I'm getting out and about and experiencing New Zealand first-hand and loving every minute. I enjoy sharing these experiences with you, and re-living my own memories vicariously when I check-in with you and hear your highlights.
  • I will spend time on details like transportation, food, festivals, and overall flow and balance of your itinerary. Travel agents cannot earn commissions on any of these items so many will not spend their precious time on them. This is part of the reason that I charge consulting fees up front; these special inclusions are often the details that will make your entire trip flow smoothly and more memorable.
  • Because I'm fun to deal with, and want you to have a great time visiting my country!

Do you only plan New Zealand trips or will you plan other destinations for me as well?

Officially, we focus only on New Zealand which keeps us very busy! However I have spent time visiting Fiji, Australia, and Tahiti and I realise people often package these destinations with New Zealand. On occasion I will plan other destinations for clients — but only if I have worked with those clients in the past. I'm more than happy to pass along your information to some friends in the travel industry that I know well, and that I'm confident will provide you a great deal when booking other destinations around the world.