Tag Archive for "Air New Zealand" - About New Zealand

What’s it like to vacation in the Cook Islands?

Posted on: October 18th, 2016 by MelissaM No Comments

Cook Island Island Vacation

A vacation in the Cook Islands is a vacation in tropical paradise. The Cook Islands consists of 15 small islands in the South Pacific. Rarotonga, where you will most likely stay, is the largest island and the capital. It’s surrounded by a reef, making the sandy beaches white and calm waters a tropical turquoise color. You’ll also find lush dense rainforests and mountain peaks on this island.

Unlike many Caribbean islands, the ‘Cooks’ remains unspoiled. Many of the islands are uninhabited making this destination one of the few paradises in the world to remain relatively ‘undiscovered’. It’s a great place to relax, hike, swim, snorkel, and really just ‘get away from it all’. Here is what you might expect when you travel to the Cook Islands.


Coming from the US, you’ll likely fly out of Los Angeles (LAX) on an Air New Zealand red eye. Maybe you’ll watch some New Zealand sitcoms, read, or catch up on your sleep. Air New Zealand is a notoriously fun airline and most people have a pleasant experience with the staff and crew. You’ll arrive in Rarotonga around 6am and your tropical paradise awaits!

Where to stay in Rarotonga

Still relatively untouched by “Western Culture” you won’t find common franchise properties anywhere on the island. The locals are quite proud of this fact and even through you won’t recognize the name of your hotel, you will have great service and a wonderful experience. Your About New Zealand Destination Specialist will find you the best deal on the perfect Rarotonga accommodation for you.

Getting around

At this point, you’ll want a way to get around the island. Most people rent a car or a scooter. To rent one of these, you will have to buy a Rarotonga driver’s license. It’s a fairly easy process, you just have to have a current driver’s license and pay about $20. For the scooter rental, you either have to have a motorcycle license or take a test for an additional $5 to show you can handle the motorbike.

There is also a bus that goes around the island (about 20 miles) and takes about an hour to circle the entire thing. The buses are labeled “Clockwise” and “Anti-Clockwise” so it’s pretty easy to get around without the rental.

You can also rent a bike.

Insider Tip: Scooter rental is the way to go. It’s a great experience and adds to the uniqueness of the vacation. Just be careful! Scooters aren’t toys but often seem like it while you’re on vacation. “Scooter Scars” (as the locals call them) are common due to many tourists’ lackadaisical attitudes.

Stuff to do in Rarotonga

There is an abundance of well-priced tours and adventures in The Cook Islands to keep you entertained. Ask your About New Zealand Destination Specialist to find you the best deals that fit in with your idea of fun.

Options include boat tours to surrounding islands, snorkeling around the reefs, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, hiking, lagoon cruises, sunset sailboat rides, horseback riding, safaris into the jungle, and more.

We highly recommend visiting Te Vara Nui Village where you can enjoy a delicious dinner and night show featuring the traditional hip shaking Polynesian dancing. Yes, just like in Hawaii!

Likely, you’ll have a lot of free time to relax on the beach. Most resorts we work with are walking distance from the beach but we also recommend checking out Muri Beach. The water is blue, warm and inviting. The sand is golden white and soft. It’s easy to rent kayaks, catamarans and windsurfers here. The best part about this beach is that it’s swimming or canoeing distance from the smaller islands of Koromiri. These smaller islands are nearly uninhabited and pretty amazing to see.

If you enjoy a good hike, be sure to hike out to Papua Waterfall. There you will find a natural pool where you can take a swim after your long hike!

Another spot to check out for snorkelers is the Maitai Wreck. The Maitai was on her way from San Francisco to Wellington when she wrecked on South Reef, Avarue, Raratonga on Christmas Day in 1916. Pretty amazing history! You can dive there too, but the wreck is only about 16 feet underwater, so it’s great for snorkelers.

Last tip! Don’t leave Rarotonga without checking out a black pearl shop. The black pearl is a great Cook Islands souvenir. Every time you see it, you’ll be reminded of the time you spent in a true tropical paradise with a small-town community feel to it. You’ll remember the sandy beaches, the Polynesian culture, the amazing marine life, the reef, the forests, the lush tropic plants, and the delicious tropical fruit.

The people, the atmosphere, the sights and the experience all make a Cook Islands vacation a truly magical adventure.

Check out our Cook Islands itineraries or call 888-359-2877 to speak with a Destination Specialist.

Houston to Auckland Flights Open Doors for About New Zealand

Posted on: October 19th, 2015 by MelissaM No Comments

City scape of Auckland New Zealand

In December 2015, Air New Zealand will host direct flights from Houston to Auckland, New Zealand. This means traveling to New Zealand just became even easier with five Air New Zealand hubs in North America!

Training with Tourism New Zealand

In preparation for the inaugural flight from Houston, the staff at About New Zealand partnered with Tourism New Zealand for a massive training event Thursday. 24 vendors from all across New Zealand showed up Thursday morning and, after a Texas sized breakfast, the teams got to work.

About New Zealand meeting with Tourism New Zealand

The morning jumped right into fast paced training sessions for our staff. The vendors in town ranged from luxury accommodations to award winning Maori Cultural experiences and even self-drive experiences in the comfort of a camper van, like tourism New Zealand’s Kombi Diaries.

There are some pretty interesting things waiting you in New Zealand including Helicopter Tours to Franz Josef, luxury day cruises on Doubtful Sound, accommodations fit for royalty (literally) and lots of Hobbit inspired experiences. We even got a look at a real prop worn by a Dwalin in The Hobbit!

Dwarf prosthetic worn by an actor in The Hobbit

  Photo courtesy of Weta Workshop in Wellington, New Zealand

By midday the About New Zealand staff was full to the brim with New Zealand knowledge and Tourism NZ was out the door to Houston for their final stop. Housing this many vendors in one day was a milestone for About New Zealand. It was exciting and exhausting but most importantly it was another way we can improve your travel experience!

What does this mean for you? Our partnership with Tourism New Zealand and the amazing turn out of New Zealand vendors ensures your next New Zealand vacation is one you’ll never forget! After extensive training, our Destination Specialists are even more excited to start planning your New Zealand vacation!

Call us Toll Free 888-359-2877 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:00pm Central US) or Start planning my trip

About New Zealand Reviews
Rating of  Average of 4.88 on a total of 33 Ratings
Cheryl Dubs
One of the best vacations ever!

Didn't know how this campervan experience was going to go but it turned out to be one of the best vacations I have ever had. About New Zealand Travel Agency had information we needed and was(...)

Nancy Goetze
Exceeded expectations!

This was a very well planned trip by About Australia of both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. The included itinerary was terrific and the add ons were of great value. In some cases(...)

Scott Nowak
What a great way to spend our 40th Anniversary! Thank you!!

It was a fantastic vacation to both New Zealand & Australia (Melbourne area). Bekah arranged a self drive tour in NZ with all the tours/hotels to fit into our schedule. Amazing views of the(...)

Gene and Sandy Bauman
Perfect Adventure

Our trip covered several stops in New Zealand, Australia and Fiji over about a month. Each accommodation, shuttle, arranged tour and request was fulfilled beautifully. We couldn't have asked(...)