During our over three week tour of Australia and New Zealand where we experienced a variety of tours operators in both countries, we found that that Canterbury Trails was the absolute best operator in either country. While a huge part of this extremely positive experience has to do with our specific tour guide, Mandy Mitchell, that the company itself provides small personal touches from beginning to end made the experience a joy.
Unlike other day tour operators we faced throughout our journey, Canterbury Trails pays attention to the details that make a travel experience memorable and positive. For example, when we checked into our hotel, a letter was waiting from the company welcoming us, telling us who our guide was going to be and instructions about appropriate clothing for the tour. Although the time of the tour start was already on our itinerary from our U.S. travel agent, that written Welcome was reassuring as our U.S. agent had gotten several tour times wrong. That Canterbury provided Mandy’s and the owner’s name, and the local contact information the day before the tour was reassuring and considerate.
We first used Canterbury for the Akaroa day cruise in a small group and then the next day our party of three undertook a separate private tour, by train, and then by SUV through Arthurs Pass and then back east down to Queenstown. In both cases Mandy was our tour guide. She was superb, knowledgeable, energetic, friendly, and helpful throughout. As there was some inclement weather during parts of private tour, Mandy made several key suggestions that allowed us see more of the key sights along the way, making much better use of our time than what our travel agent had outlined.
We expected to carry home memories of the South Island’s scenery and history. We didn’t expect that we would also bring back such fond ones of our tour guide.