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New Zealand trip March 2012

22 Mar 2011 Lydia asked


Hey All!

I was looking into the New Zealand Grand Explorer 18 Day trip and I'm travelling solo from Maryland, U.S.

Has anyone else travelled solo on this trip before?

Is March a good time to visit NZ?

How many people usually go on this tour?

Do I need to book a hotel before the trip?

Any reviews from previous trip takers on this tour?

Thanks so much!

  • Read the responses 26 responses so far
  • 29 May 2011 Kristy said



    I went on the Grand Explorer in May 2010 by myself from Australia. Just about everyone on the tour was there on their own, you quickly get to know everyone so I didn’t find it a problem.

    March should be quite good as its the start of autumn (fall).

    There was close to 40 people on the tour that I went on.

    I did book accommodation the night before the tour started, Contiki do great deals on accommodation. I think its a personal choice, I didn’t want to be rushed before the tour started.

    Thoroughly recommend this trip, NZ is such a beautiful country and there is heaps to do and look at. Best 2 weeks of my life (still talk about it now).

    Hope this helps.

  • 29 May 2011 Lydia said


    Very helpful Kristy thank you! I’m booked for Auckland 3 days then the Grand Explorer on March 26, 2012. What did you enjoy most about your trip?

  • 30 May 2011 em88 said


    Hello. I am booked to do the grand explorer in march but doing it the 14th of march. :( I am meeting up with friends that i met on my USA contiki last year, they live in NZ (and yes there doing the NZ contiki!!) Should be a blast! Enjoy ur trip :)

  • 4 Jul 2011 Lydia said


    Awesome Em88! Glad to see some people already booked for March next year! :) I am looking forward to it! Anyone else booked for March 26 trip?

  • 7 Jul 2011 Tez090585 said


    Hi Explorer1240117
    My name is Terri and am looking to do the Grand Explorer (Auckland – Christchurch) in February / March 2012. I am quite nervous about travelling on my own!
    Have you booked your tour yet? I think the Contiki community is good to try to get to know a few people that might be on your tour.
    Have you done a Contiki Tour before?
    Hope to talk soon :)

  • 7 Jul 2011 Lydia said


    Hey Tez!

    This is my first Contiki tour and yes I am booked for March 24, 2012! I’m travelling solo too! I’ve done some extensive travelling throughout Europe, but to celebrate turning 30 next year, I decided to take a BIG trip around the world and heard New Zealand is the place to go! :)
  • 7 Jul 2011 Tez090585 said


    It all sounds great. I have a friend who lives in New Zealand so hoping to see her at the same time.
    I was hoping to go February as it is their Summer time.
    What did you book first, your flights or your Contiki Tour? I have never travelled further than a few hours from the UK so don’t really know the best way to plan it!
    And what a good way to celebrate turning 30 :)

  • 13 Jul 2011 Danielle090 said


    Hey guys,
    I’m looking into going to new zealand too but was wondering what the rooms are like. Is it all bunk beds?

  • 13 Jul 2011 Kristy said


    The rooms are really good, there was only one place where there was bunk beds and that was in Franz Josef.

    If anyone’s got any questions, I can try to answer them.

  • 13 Jul 2011 Tez090585 said


    Explorer105672, when are you thinking of going?
    Thanks Kristy for the info. I have just booked for Grand Explorer Auckland – Christchurch for 3rd Feb 2012 if anyone else is going at that time.
    I have heard that the rooms are good, and that in all the cities it is nice hotels – there is a list of them in the New Zealand part of this website.

  • 14 Jul 2011 Danielle090 said


    Cool the rooms sound nice. I’m looking at going on the grand adventurer reverse on dec 29 :)

  • 18 Jul 2011 JackDarcy said


    For the newly trip to New Zealand I have already booked a chauffeured service as this will make my trip much more happening and I will be able to visit each and every places there and enjoy a lot.

  • 5 Aug 2011 U2 Runner said

    U2 Runner

    Hey Explorer1240117, I did the Grand Explorer this March and it was nothing short of perfection. I’ve provided answers to your questions below.

    Has anyone else travelled solo on this trip before?
    Most on my trip – including myself – were solo. You’ll have friends within a day. Something like 85% of Contiki passengers go solo, and they go solo b/c they want to travel with people but have no one to travel with. So don’t worry about going solo.

    Is March a good time to visit NZ?
    Excellent time. It’s still warm enough that you can wear shorts, but cool enough that you won’t be sweating your face off. Not very good for swimming though, but in all honesty you won’t have time for swimming. Bring two pairs of jeans and two pairs of shorts. You can do laundry in Wellington – everyone does their laundry there – so there is no need to overpack.

    How many people usually go on this tour?
    30-40. The bus was 8/10 full for the north island, then we picked up a few more in the south island. Doesn’t feel like a large group though. And again, it’s super easy to meet people. Between dinner, the bus, excursions… you’ll get to know people

    Do I need to book a hotel before the trip?
    It depends on where you’re coming from. I came in from Canada, so I did. I booked my flights through Contiki, which meant that I got the Auckland Explorer for free. The Auckland Explorer is two nights accommodations and a hop-on hop-off bus pass. The hotel is right downtown, and it’s where the tour starts. So on tour day, you can simply take the elevator to the lobby, check-out, and wait for the bus in the lobby. It’s really easy, and the because the tour always starts there, the hotel staff are well-versed in the contiki process. If you’re coming from far away I would recommend a day or two to get used to the time zone. Auckland is nice, but it’s no different than any other city. Harbourfront, buildings, booze… the real New Zealand is outside of Auckland.

    Any reviews from previous trip takers on this tour?
    Best vacation ever. You will not regret it. The sights are nothing short of amazing, the adrenaline sports (bungy, white water rafting, luging, zorbing, etc…) are incredible. My advice would be to do the excursions. I did 11 excursions in 14 days, and so did most people. It sounds like a lot, but it’s the best way to experience it all. You have to do the black water cave tour, zorbing and luging. They are too much fun to pass up, and you don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie to like them. But if you crave thrills, do bungy jumping, the canyon swing, rock’n’ ropes and sand boarding. And always – always – do optional dinners. They’re very affordable and crazy fun. Usually you’ll get drink deals all night (two-for-one for Contiki, all night happy hour for Contiki, etc…) and everyone from the tour does them. If you don’t go, you’ll be alone. So always do them.

    I saw a response a few lines above asking about hotel rooms… They’re all good. The two best words are safe and clean. Are they 4 star? No. It’s a Contiki. But not once did someone from my tour say that they felt unsafe or that their room was dirty. Comfortable beds, TVs, alarm clocks and clean bathrooms.

    So if you’re on the fence about the Grand Explorer, I saw, get off the damn fence and book it!!!
    Honestly, the best vacation of my life.

    But if you still don’t believe me, check out my video:

    Safe Travels
    Evan McGinty

  • 9 Nov 2011 Lydia said


    Thanks for the info U2 Runner! Can’t believe it’s only about 4 1/2 months away! Looking forward to the adventure! Anyone else going March 24, 2012?

  • 10 Nov 2011 Aimz2416 said


    Hi – I live in NZ and March is a great time. Depending on where you are though it may get cold at night so be prepared. Weather has a tendency here to go from hot in teh day to cold at night. Have fun!

  • 22 Dec 2011 Lydia said


    Can believe it’s only 3 months away! woo-hooo! Who has booked the Auckland Explorer & what do you recommend seeing? I think I may try touring “Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter Underwater World”. Anyone else visited that aquarium?

  • 25 Jan 2012 Lydia said


    wow leaving in 2 months!!! What is the weather like around end of March/April and what is the suggested attire?

  • 26 Jan 2012 Krista said


    Im doing this tour in march :) starting on the 14th :) first overseas holiday. Can’t wait!!!

  • 26 Jan 2012 Krista said


    Im starting in christchurch though

  • 26 Jan 2012 Lydia said


    Cool! I wonder if that means our trip overlaps together….very excited! I’ve travelled throughout Europe, but this will be my first time in the South Pacific. Just not looking forward to the looooong flight from the eastern side of the States :).

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