Package tours are simply a way to buy the airfare, accommodations, and other elements of your trip (such as car rentals, airport transfers, and sometimes even activities) at the same time and often at discounted prices. One good source of package deals to New Zealand is the airlines themselves. Most major airlines offer air/land packages, including American Airlines Vacations (tel. 800/321-2121; www.aavacations.com), Delta Vacations (tel. 800/654-6559; www.deltavacations.com), Continental Airlines Vacations (tel. 800/301-3800; www.covacations.com), and United Vacations (tel. 888/854-3899; www.unitedvacations.com). Several big online travel agencies - Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Site59, and Lastminute.com - also do a brisk business in packages. Qantas Vacations USA (tel. 800/641-8772 in the U.S., or 310/322-6359; fax 310/535-1057) and Qantas Vacations Canada (tel. 800/268-7525 in Canada; fax 416/234-8569) offer good deals as well.
In the United States, Artisans of Leisure, 18 E. 16th St., Ste. 301, New York, NY 10003 (tel. 800/214-8144 in the U.S.; www.artisansofleisure.com), offers exclusive, highly personalized luxury tours for individuals and small groups, and New Zealand is one of their most popular destinations. Their tours run 7 to 19 days and combine top rooms in premium lodges with activities that can range from tasting wine and food to arts and cultural events and outdoor activities - your choice. Active Downunder, 1220 Rosecrans St., #911, San Diego, CA 92106 (tel. 800/425-9036 in the U.S.; www.activedownunder.com), is owned and operated by New Zealanders; their specialty is highly customized active, leisure, and luxury vacations in New Zealand. They are experts with insider knowledge, and their personalized itineraries include boutique and luxury accommodations, along with cultural and adventure activities. Nature Expeditions International, 7860 Peters Rd., Ste. F-103, Plantation, FL, 33324 (tel. 800/869-0639 in the U.S.; www.naturexp.com), offers 1- to 15-day guided cultural, wildlife, and "soft" adventure tours to New Zealand. They cater specifically to small groups.
In New Zealand, there are many companies offering escorted tour options. Some of the reputable operators include:
- Contiki Holidays, P.O. Box 68640, Newton, Auckland (tel. 0508/266-8454 in NZ; www.contiki.co.nz), offering 3- to 18-day coach tours for 18- to 35-year-olds throughout New Zealand.
- Thrifty Tours, P.O. Box 31257, Milford, Auckland (tel. 0800/803-550 in NZ, or 09/359-8380; www.thriftytours.co.nz), with well-planned 2- to 16-day tours.
- Discover New Zealand, 120 Albert St., Auckland (tel. 0800/330-188 in NZ, or 09/356-2190; www.discovernewzealand.com), offers a range of 3- to 16-day tours designed for travelers who want the value and security of pre-booked arrangements combined with the freedom and independence of doing their own thing.
- Scenic Pacific Tours, P.O. Box 14037, Christchurch (tel. 0800/500-388 in NZ, or 03/359-3999; www.scenicpacific.co.nz), offers a large range of day excursions, short tours, and independent holidays.
- Navigator Tours, 553 Richmond Rd., Grey Lynn, Auckland (tel. 09/817-1191; www.navigatortours.co.nz), offers a diverse range of unique, personalized, guided tours throughout New Zealand, staying at high-end accommodations.
- TIME Unlimited Tours (tel. 09/446-6677; www.newzealandtours.travel) is an award-winning company offering a range of Maori cultural, kayaking, fishing, and walking tours of regional New Zealand.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.