AROHA New Zealand Tours

By Jo Bell Whitlatch
This item appears on page 30 of the June 2019 issue.

My traveling companion, Judy, and I visited New Zealand in January 2019 on a tour with Tauck (Wilton, CT; 800/788-7885,, which had a wonderful itinerary, covering primarily the Queenstown and Wellington areas. It was a great experience. However, we wanted to see more of the North Island, so we made arrangements for a private tour.

On ITN’s Tours page, we read about AROHA New Zealand Tours (539C Key Road, RD1, Kinleith, Tokoroa 3491, New Zealand; phone +64 21 890611,, which organizes custom tours.

On the wonderful 4-day tour that company owner Veronika Vermeulen designed for us, we explored vineyards, gardens, a tea estate and Hobbiton on the North Island.

Veronika had an amazing ability to understand and personalize our trip. She prepared an excellent itinerary, covering areas that she considered to be of greatest interest. My friend and I each paid $2,432, which included unique, high-quality lodging as well as breakfasts and two lunches.

Veronika picked us up at our hotel the morning our Tauck tour ended and was with us for about eight to 10 hours each day as guide and driver. She was our guide at some locations, such as the Zealong Tea Estate and TreeChurch. At other locations, we had local guides (included).

TreeChurch, a private garden now open to the public, was inspired by the creator’s love of churches. Among other highlights were a tour of the Footwhistle Glowworm Cave and a private tour of Hobbiton.

Another favorite sight was Hamilton Gardens, featuring a traditional Maori garden as well as gardens displaying the different design philosophies of China, England, Japan, India, Italy and the US. At Hamilton Gardens, we also saw a re-creation of Katherine Mansfield’s short story “The Garden Party.”

Another favorite experience was visiting the Hawke’s Bay wineries — the personalized wine tasting at Craggy Range and the De La Terre Winery, a small winery run by owners Tony and Kaye Prichard, which featured excellent wines and an outstanding lunch!

We highly recommend AROHA New Zealand Tours for designing a custom tour that allows you to explore your greatest interests.

Menlo Park, CA