I did the 20 days adventure tour in both the north and south island with tour guide Louisa. I had an overall good experience and met many very interesting people, was left however with the impression that i paid too much for too little and for that cannot recommend haka tours.
To describe the tour, we got on a bus and travel from place to place with our tour guide who was also the driver. People get in and out during the tour, for example 3 people started (had booked the 23 day tour), we joined them in auckland and became 10 people. 4 left at Wellington (had booked only north island), 8 joined in Christchurch (had booked only south island). Ages were mostly 30-40 in the north island and mixed in the south (7 between 20-30 and 7 30-40). 2 people were over 40 years old.
Now the reasons i wasn't satisfied:
- The bus was uncomfortable, hard seats, barely enough space for your legs, especially if you are tall, no wifi or plug.
- Most of the included activities are things you can do for free, but i have to say that probably you ll miss many if not having a tour guide to know them and bring you there. Still it gives a rather wrong impression.
- Because of bad planning, we didn't get the guided city walk in Christchurch and because of bad weather we didn't go to Franz Josef, they changed the plan and we went to Mt. Cook instead, no refund was provided for any of the missed included activities.
- The north island was good paced although i think an extra day in Wellington should be added, but the south island felt very rushed. At least till we got to Punakaiki, we barely had time to really stay in place. We also saw Christchurch only for a few hours and then had to go in the bus again.
- Stops for lunch were normally 45 minutes allowing time only for fast food.
- The main reason for not recommending the tour, is that it felt completely overpriced. We met in a hostel tourists that booked another tour company which provided a tour with only 3 days less for a price of more 1200 NZD less! Same size of group, same size bus. When i complained to them, the answer was basically that we cannot compare the different tours and that i should have searched better before booking (the other tour was almost identical though, mostly same programm, even the hostels were mostly the same).
- About the accommodation, it was 4-6 bed hostels (in some mixed gender) and they were clean, however...a co-traveler who decided to cancel some hostels and book on his own, found almost everywhere a single room that was cheaper than the money needed for an upgrade in our prebooked hostel!!! This is unacceptable!! Means the rooms were much more expensive compared with what they should be. Also in some places the hostel was very far from the city-center, or city in overall (for example in Christchurch, Abel Tasman etc.).
- Our tour guide didn't inform us very well about the hiking places in Rotorua and forgot to tell us that Te Puia-Visit was an outdoor activity and didn't give us time then to put sunscreme, resulting in a bit of a mess when going in and later some sunburns.
Not everything was bad though:
- The co-travelers were amazing people, made friends for life.
- Despite the mentioned mistakes above, our tour guide Louisa was full with energy, made big effort to create a good mood and explained many things during the driving. She is also Maori which was great! I must also comment her great ability to handle the bus, felt really safe while she was driving (managed to sleep easily when needed in the bus!). She also brought everyone to the activities they chose and even brought us in our hotel door when going back to Auckland. Thank you a lot for that!
- Most of the optional activities were great experiences, Milford Sound was my number one (do NOT miss it!), Dolphin Encounter in Kaikoura, Pancake Rocks, Cave tubing in Punakaiki, Cayaking in Taupo etc.
- I liked the breakfast concept, we had to tell our tour guide what we needed and she would go and buy it for us for the morning. It allowed a lot customization and change.
In the end, i cannot recommend haka tours, since when i ask myself the question if i would have booked it again or had chosen the very similar cheaper tour, my choice would have been the other tour. I couldn't find any way to justify the price difference for only 3 extra days.