A Luxury New Zealand Manual - Common Mistakes
Probably the biggest errors people make in planning New Zealand trips themselves come from not properly understanding the geography of the country. It looks pretty small stuck down there in the middle of the Pacific Ocean next to that very large Australia. Australia is in fact three hours away by jet, and New Zealand is the length of the eastern seaboard of the United States, or Italy. Some people want to get around that in 7-10 days by road. Good luck!
The state of the roads also has an effect - we have very few motorways here, so getting stuck behind a truck or a campervan can make a significant difference to your day. And some roads are congested where overtourism has been allowed to happen.
The next big mistake comes from believing what you read on the internet. Here, we are increasingly keeping our secrets close to our chest as publicising them will attract a swarm of people. We've actually gone one stage further and developed private experiences on private land which simply cannot be ruined by broadcasting. When we talk to our clients we ask them about themselves and then work out which places suit them. When someone researches something on the internet, they work out what everyone else is doing and ask to do the same. Why would anyone with two brain cells to rub together want to do what everyone else is doing?
Then, another pitfall, people actually believe some of the marketing out there instead of digging a little further. We're aware of occasions where a low-cost competitor has set themselves up near something real, then copied their marketing and made even bigger promises at a discount. They don't care that their clients aren't happy as they've banked their money and spat them out at that point. There are many excellent operators out there - but the bad ones also have a storefront which tells the world they're excellent.
Friends advice is another potential killer. You've seen their taste in wine, curtains, cars and life partner and you wouldn't touch any of them - however, when it comes to spending a large amount on an overseas trip you take their opinions as gospel? That one gets me every time. They have questionable taste, they've been somewhere once, and suddenly their word is law?
In the luxury world some people think that luxury lodges, by some miraculous extension of the brand they are pushing, provide excellent activities. Excuse me? Turning down a room or setting up a private table suddenly allows someone to be an expert on something totally unrelated? Suspicions should be aroused by the fact that activities from lodge to lodge tend to look quite similar and all just happen to be one of the best in the country. Without a doubt, an intelligent lodge operator and those few staff who are not transient should have a decent idea as to some obvious activity providers, but in my opinion and experience, that's where it stops.
When putting together a countrywide trip for our clients we would include maybe 5 'best of' activities, although we usually provide something to do every day - but let's say there will be 5 trophy experiences, real one-offs. For a start, they're truly exclusive and not run every day from a lodge. Secondly we actually select the lodge based on our clients profiles, and select the area they visit based on their interests. So it actually goes in the opposite direction. In our world a phenomenal experience is tied to a place which is in turn tied to a number of possible lodgings. You can see our list of exclusive experiences here.
Transportation is something which can be got wrong. Quite apart from the geography of the country, are you getting about in the right way for that particular bit of the country? Should it be a private transfer with a good guide, should it be a specialist guide, or some private time in a convertible or classic or on a motorbike or a helicopter? And guess what? The answer we would give as true specialists will be different for each individual and each part of the country.
We go into a bit more depth in these associated articles:
A Luxury New Zealand Manual - Accommodation
A Luxury New Zealand Manual - Activities
A Luxury New Zealand Manual - Transportation
A Luxury New Zealand Manual - Luxury Lodges