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  • Luke @ Time 2 Go!

From Glaciers to GlowWorms

How to plan a highly personalised incredible trip to New Zealand

No matter where you go in New Zealand you can expect to encounter extraordinary scenery. Thanks to our diverse geography you'll see a variety of breathtaking landscapes without travelling far. Reaching for your camera to capture special moments throughout your journey will become a reflex as you easily travel your way around the country, while meeting friendly locals and other visitors along the way will likely become an unexpected highlight.

A diverse range of unique, often adventurous experiences will vie for your attention as well. You can easily combine kayaking, horse-riding, cycling, skiing, wine tasting, and set aside time to simply relax - all within in a 1-2 week itinerary. If you can spare time to spend longer, we can promise you your trip will be even more epic.

If the Hooker Valley walk in Aoraki-Mount Cook wasn't on your shortlist, it probably is now... right?

But with so many exciting places to go, and so much on offer to enjoy, how do I make the most of my time in New Zealand?

We like to think we can provide the best answer to that question. Our Kiwi Travel Consultants design personalised itineraries for independent travellers. So, as long as you can follow a detailed itinerary, you can experience the benefits of a well-thought-out organised trip of a lifetime, that runs smoothly and ultimately makes things easier for you from the minute you find us online and start planning, until you arrive back home again with plenty of fond memories. We're fun to work with, and aim to keep things as easy for you as possible.

We live and breathe New Zealand and provide local insight and personal experience into our recommendations and different honest perspectives. We'll work with you create a highly-personalised trip designed to suit your personal interests, that take in considerations you probably haven't even thought of yet. It'll be a trip you just can’t create on your own, and won't find in a quick Google search.

"I want a 8-day trip to New Zealand that takes in Queenstown, Auckland, Mount Cook, Christchurch and Rotorua."

Many people contact us with a list of essential places they want to see like this. While creating a shortlist is a great place to start planning your trip to New Zealand, this kind of request on its own, leaves us with more questions than answers for you. Let me explain with an example about just one of these popular places - Queenstown.

The Remarkables live up to their name when viewed from the top of Bob's Peak in Queenstown

Photos will entice, reading material will offer rave reviews, and friends that have visited Queenstown before will likely endorse the idea of spending a few days here during your visit to New Zealand. I lived in Queenstown for 7 years, and overflow with ideas for how to best spend your time here, including plenty of hidden gems on offer too when you know where to look.

Undeniably, this resort town is a very special place for many visitors and it definitely caters to every kind of visitor imaginable. But while Queenstown is a great place to include in your visit, what we want to know is, what interests YOU about Queenstown?

If you're coming to New Zealand to experience an active volcano, be enchanted by glow worms, or encounter penguins up close in their natural environment, you're going to be disappointed if you spend all your time in Queenstown.

Even the famous Milford Sound is close to 4 hours drive away, and perhaps not as close as you'd imagine from all the advertising material you'll find. You'll have to fly here from Queenstown, or consider staying at least a night in Fiordland to give it the time it deserves.

If you have younger children and infants with you, perhaps consider Lake Wanaka over Queenstown as a more relaxed, child-friendly, family-fun alternative.  And if you love nature and scenery, but prefer a peaceful restful setting each night, perhaps you should base yourself nearby in Arrowtown, Glenorchy or Gibbston Valley, rather than coping with the constant buzz and excitement of central Queenstown.

Queenstown can be quiet and serene, when you know where to look

Local perspectives like this can change the overall #feels of your visit, and that's why we like to get to know a little bit about your personal interests before we offer any recommendations to you.

So, while a shortlist can help narrow options down during your own research, and we can easily make sure you have a great time when receiving a list like this, we find it even better when you start planning your New Zealand trip by letting us know your personal interests via our online survey.

What experiences most excite you about your New Zealand trip, and even in your every day life back home? When we get to know you just a little better, we can more easily cater to you. And in doing so, you're not limiting your trip to specific place names you don't know much about, allowing us to make recommendations of other places that might suit you even better, and ultimately ensuring you get the most from your visit to New Zealand.

Perhaps you're fascinated by our volcanoes, and you love photography.  Or you're a foodie and want to sample New Zealand wine wherever possible.  Maybe you're travelling in a family group and you each have different interests that we can combine together - someone might want to see dolphins, while another wants to see a local rugby game. Whoever you are, and whatever your interests may be, we'll combine them into an awesome well-planned itinerary trip proposal for your consideration highlighting all of our recommendations. We'll provide route suggestions, and take into consideration your own personal tastes, travelling style and budget as well, after all it is your trip, not ours!

How does telling our personal interests help you? 

The best way to explain how getting to know your personal interests assists us with your trip planning is by giving you a couple of examples we come across almost daily. Visiting our GlowWorms and our Glaciers.

GLOWWORMSThese fascinating insects glow-in-the-dark and create quite the spectacle, especially when you've never seen them before. GlowWorms emit a bioluminescence in many of New Zealand's caves, grottos and native forests. The blue-green light attracts other insects towards the sticky threads of their snare.  

if you've already done your research, it might surprise you to know that Glow Worms are able to be viewed in many places all over the country, and not only in the Waitomo Caves region. There is good reason why Waitomo is marketed as the best place to see glow worms in New Zealand - their slick operation suits large tour groups and handles an incredible number of visitors through the cave systems remarkably well. However, there are other places to experience that may suit you even better.

Rather than focusing solely on operations based in the Waitomo Caves region, we'll look at all the options available throughout New Zealand when you indicate your interest in seeing glowworms during your trip, and focus on matching the best experience to you.

Some options include:

- an easy guided walking trip through caves culminating in a boat ride under a canopy of glowworms

- for those with a keen interest in photography, make sure you travel with a tripod and camera capable of 30 second time exposures so that we can get you on a trip that allows you to capture your own shots

- actively participate when you combine a sunset kayak experience and view glowworms in a grotto overhead

- take a scenic boat cruise across a lake into a national park, and view glowworms in a cave

- see glowworms while you enjoy a fun black-water rafting experience at the same time

- take it to the extreme by abseiling, zipline, black-water rafting experiences, as well as climbing, jumping and waterfalls in a cave environment

- or keep my glowworm experience cheap and cheerful with your own torch, and a free of charge visit to an easily accessible grotto


'Last chance tourism' has placed these giant rivers of ice in the spotlight, thanks in part to the media coverage given to climate change. Our glaciers here in New Zealand are some of the easiest in the world to get to, and considered very unique as they have a very low altitude, being only a few hundred metres above sea-level in Glacier Country. One minute you can be walking through the lush greenery of a subtropical rainforest, hiking on top of the ice the next. It can feel pretty surreal and an incredible experience.

These icy giants grind their way down from the Southern Alps to rainforest

These giant rivers of ice grind from the peaks through the valleys in spectacular fashion in New Zealand's Southern Alps, the largest being the Tasman Glacier on the east side of Aoraki-Mount Cook in South Canterbury. To the west Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier.

But which is the best glacier in New Zealand to visit?

There's a few things to consider here, but after completing our online survey we generally have a good idea of which experience is likely to be the best for you.

Gone are the days you could walk right up to the glaciers for free, as they have retreated out of reach. Many experiences involve a short helicopter flight onto the ice of the glacier before exploring, hiking or even climbing experiences. There's even the chance to overnight on a glacier if you're keen to challenge yourself!

Ask yourself:

- do you want to get on to the ice of the glacier? or just get close enough to see it in the distance?

- are you happy to just say you stood on the ice? or are you keen to explore the glacier for more than just a few minutes?

- do you have a fear of heights? Remember, you'll to be transported up by helicopter

- have you got any children? Each glacier experience has different age limits, so the age of your children can limit your options of exploring as a family.

- how fit are you? There's a range of options for different levels of fitness and there's always the option for a more adventurous option too.

- if you're a photographer let us know so we can get you on the glacier that is more likely to have the 'blue' hue when you look at the ice

The weather can play a big part in your visit to one of our impressive glaciers, as helicopters are unable to transport you when the weather is rough. If a glacier is something you really want to experience while in New Zealand, and a big drawcard for you, let us know and we'll ensure you stay here for a couple of days to give you a better chance of the weather co-operating with your plans. There's always plenty to do wherever you stay, and a range of opportunities for fun to be had while you wait for the bad weather to pass, from hot pools, to beautiful walks in the wilderness, to culinary delights in the most remote locations. We'll ensure you know the local tips to keep things interesting.

The sheer size of a glacier is likely to astound you.

Everybody is unique.

We all have different hopes, dreams and aspirations. Yet when it comes to travel, all too often we find ourselves compromising our own interests to fit into a "best of <insert destination here>" package deal.

Of course it'll be a choice that looks to ✔ tick ✔ most items on our wish-list, and at the right price, but will you get the opportunity to interact with many New Zealanders? Or will you end up mostly with other tourists? Can you set the pace?

No one likes being stereotyped, but when we're confronted with a clever marketing ploy, many of us will happily conform, sign up, and find ourselves in a 'box' (or a bus?!) of likeminded strangers that can travel at the same time that you can. I lived this experience when travelling Europe for the first time, and while this type of travel can have its benefits when it comes to language barriers, cultural differences and the like, I feel like I really missed out.

Sure, I can exclaim "yes, Stockholm is a beautiful city, and the scenery in Norway took my breath away!" But I do look back with regret that I only interacted with the odd shopkeeper and shared the occasional smile or glance with passersby.

In stark contrast, soon after Sweden and Norway, I visited Russia. I had a fluent local Russian guide accompany me as I travelled from St Petersburg to Moscow, and on through Belarus to Poland.

Lasting memories flood my mind when I think back to that trip. I can still verbalise the local greetings I was taught, taste the food in my thoughts, and I feel a real connection with photographs that were taken. Thanks to the locals I interacted with during my journey, I took away far more of an understanding to the heart and soul of the place. People coloured my impressions along the way, and that is what I want for you when you visit my home country, Aotearoa - New Zealand.

The Team @ Time 2 Go! Pamela, Neville, Luke with little Lottie + Arran

Our Kiwi Travel Consultants want your experience to be so much more than a run-of-the-mill, unimaginative "highlights of New Zealand" tour that claims to feature all the best bits. We started our small business to fill a gap in the market, catering to you by creating bespoke trips at a budget that you set.

We think differently.

At Time 2 Go! we prefer to celebrate individuality. We enjoy creating bespoke itineraries for anyone that thinks outside the box enough to have found us in the first place. Our jobs are more interesting when we cater to your interests rather than just sticking to the same story over and over again. We know New Zealand extremely well and get enthused vicariously through our customers when they get to enjoy an experience or place we know they'll love.

We're a small team, so over the years we've had to work smarter, not harder, to enable us to cater to you and continue to produce highly-personalised, quality New Zealand trips for independent-minded travellers. Our fun, easy online survey is a fantastically helpful way for us to get to know you better and help you make the most of your time here.

So, what are you waiting for? We look forward to working with you to create a trip of a lifetime - with New Zealand in sight, it's Time 2 Go!