New Zealand Awaits

New Zealand Awaits welcomes travellers who seek authentic, unique and memorable travel experiences in New Zealand.

‘Our home, your journey’ because we live here – we are locals – and when you travel with us, we design your bespoke journey to inspire you, to resonate with who you are.

As seasoned global travellers ourselves, we know that travel can be transformative when immersive experiences allow for exploration, challenge, excitement, awe, reflection, and shared connections with both nature and locals. We ensure these elements by guiding you ourselves, and by connecting you with our trusted local partners who are committed to providing authentic, ‘Kiwi’ experiences in our breath-taking landscapes.

Our partners are small, local owner/operators with deep community roots who share our values of social and environmental sustainability and responsibility, coupled with exceptional guest experience. We are an ethical and conscious travel company.

We are also especially proud to be New Zealand’s LGBTQ+ travel specialist and IGLTA’s global ambassador for New Zealand. We ensure LGBTQ+ travellers are warmly welcomed by our accommodation and activity partners and that they share a safe and fun group experience on our LGBTQ+ small group tours, typically guided by Founder/Owner Debbie Clarke. We are the only New Zealand company designing experiences for LGBTQ+ travellers to help them connect with LGBTQ+ locals in New Zealand.

We provide a full travel concierge service that includes small group tours, private guides, and bespoke itineraries for independent travellers. Let us create your journey of a lifetime.

Features

Q How many travellers are on your small group trips?

Our small group size ranges from 6 to 14 travellers. We do this for several reasons: to ensure a highly personalized level of service from our guide, to limit our impact on the environment, to allow us to stay in smaller locally owned lodges, have more meaningful interactions with locals, to customize for individual activity preferences within the tour, and to foster deeper relationships between trip companions. In some instances when we partner with another organization, we may exceed this number, but then those trips are co-led with that organisation’s leader and are clearly identified as co-led trips.

Q Who are your typical travellers on your small group trips?

We get a variety of LGBTQ+ travellers on our trips, and a few straight friends and allies too. Generally travellers are in their 40s to 60s, but of course we also get younger travellers, and older travellers as well. Our travellers typically want the shared experience of a trip focused on fun, meaningful experiences, opportunities to get to know locals and develop friendships with other travellers, and enjoy the great outdoors.

Q What if I'm travelling solo?

We get a mix of couples and solo travellers, so whatever your situation, you’ll be in good company. We’re happy to connect you with another solo traveller for you to get in touch with to determine if you want to share a room. We don’t make that decision for you. Otherwise we offer a single supplement if you prefer your own room and availability allows.

Q Do you offer optional activities on your small group trips?

Absolutely! Each trip lists the different optional activities available. Because our groups are small, if there is something you know you’ve always wanted to do in New Zealand, and it’s not listed as an optional activity, talk with us and we’ll do everything in our power to make it happen for you.

Q How fit do I need to be to join a small group trip?

It depends on each trip. We add a comment to each trip regarding activity level, so check that out. Also, we typically offer a less active alternative on our more active trips so we can accommodate everyone. It’s an advantage of our small group sizes.

Q What if I have a physical mobility restriction - can I still join one of your trips?

Of course. Talk with us about your physical mobility and we’ll go through the activities in detail with you to discuss how we can make the trip activities more accessible for you. It’s our goal to work with you to determine what works best for you. That goes for any kind of different ability or different need; let’s talk about what we need to do to make it work for you and us.

Q What type of accommodation do you stay in on your small group trips?

Most of our trips use 4 star accommodation, unless otherwise noted on the specific trip descriptions. Sometimes, in order to give you a more authentic Kiwi experience with local hosts, we’ll use 3+ star lodging (for example on remote high country stations). These properties are still clean and comfortable. Where we can we stay in LGBTQ owned accommodation, and in all cases our hosts are LGBTQ-friendly. At times we also use 2 Bedroom apartments, where each bedroom has its own ensuite or private bathroom. There is typically a shared living area that allows for more social connections also. We note this on the full itinerary we send you when you request more information on a trip.

Q What type of transportation do you use?

We use comfortable mini-buses or vans that comfortably hold 14 passengers.

Q Are all meals included on your small group trips?

Our trips typically include all or most breakfasts, some lunches, and usually about half of the dinners. Each trip lists the number of meals included. New Zealand has fantastic dining options, from quick local bites to formal high class dining so we want you to have the freedom to explore those options on your own some nights. You can choose to dine with other travellers, or wander off for time away if you prefer. Don’t worry if you’re travelling solo, there is always someone to explore a restaurant with. Our travellers have told us that having some group dinners together mixed with time for quieter dinners on their own or with just a couple of travellers is very much appreciated. It supports our attitude of offering as much flexibility as possible, even on group trips.

Q Do you cater for special dietary requirements?

Yes, absolutely. Let us know when you book so we can work with our local suppliers to make sure we’re taking care of you.

Q Can I arrange to arrive early or stay on longer than the trip dates?

Absolutely! In fact we highly recommend arriving a day or two earlier so you can adjust to the time difference. Unless you’re popping over from Australia, you’ll have had a long haul flight to get to New Zealand. It makes the trip more enjoyable if you’re rested up and ready to go. And there is always so much more to do in New Zealand, so talk with us and we can help you plan extra days at either end of the trip.

Q Are international airfares included in the trip costs?

No. Travellers come from all over the world to join our trips, so including international airfares is not feasible. We do have partner agents we work with in various countries who will be happy to arrange your flights. Just let us know and we’ll connect you.

Q I'm thinking of an independent self-drive trip. How far in advance should I plan?

Start now! It's never too soon to start planning your New Zealand trip. One of the things that makes us different is the lodgings we use and the private experiences we can help create for you. We don't use enormous corporate owned hotels that can easily be found and booked online. Our small boutique lodgings that off exceptional services can get booked up months and months in advance. For us to create the best trip for you, matched to your preferences, it's best to contact us as soon as you start thinking about your trip. Too often travellers contact us only a few months in advance, and the choice of lodgings we can book at that late stage is extremely limited.

Q When is the best time of year to visit New Zealand for an independent trip?

New Zealand is a fantastic travel destination all year round, depending on what you want to do. Talk with us and we’ll help you figure the best time for you to visit. Our high season is January, February and March so that's the busiest. Don't show up and expect to be able to find quality accommodation on the spot. You'll be out of luck. If you want to avoid the crowds, travelling outside those months can offer a more satisfying trip. Planning months ahead of your trip as well as travelling during shoulder or off seasons will allow us to secure lodgings with our preferred partners who offer you the best experience.

Q Do you arrange trips to other countries?

Nope! We are proud New Zealanders who are passionate about our homeland. We dedicate ourselves to knowing everything NEW ZEALAND - to being up to the minute experts in the very best our amazing country has to offer. We do this so YOU know that when you travel with us, you are travelling with true locals.

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