At Indagare, we believe that each trip should be unforgettable and every single vacation is designed specifically for each member. Pairing our in-depth destination expertise with knowledge of your needs, we match you with the best and most appropriate itinerary, hotels, guides and restaurants. Here, we dive into a behind-the-scenes look at the trip-planning process for the Butterfield family's incredible summer trip to Australia and New Zealand. We talk to Senior Travel Specialist, Janine Yu, who orchestrated the memorable journey and Indagare member Shelby Butterfield, who reflects on her favorite Indagare-planned experiences from the trip. Contact Indagare to plan a trip to Australia or New Zealand with our travel specialists with a customized itinerary, hotel accommodations and restaurant recommendations.
In March, our member Shelby Butterfield and her family decided they wanted to go to Australia and New Zealand in June, so we worked quickly to find space at all the top lodges in both countries. Since June is low season in both destinations because it's winter in the Southern Hemisphere, we were able to secure accommodations at all of our favorite hotels.
We had planned the family's month-long South Africa trip the previous summer, so I knew that Shelby valued staying in special places where the family had opportunities to bond and do interactive experiences together. We split their total travel time evenly between Australia and New Zealand, so they were able to experience a diverse range of landscapes in each country. They started by getting over jet lag at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, located outside of Sydney, followed by time in the city. Afterwards, they stayed at Lizard Island in the Great Barrier Reef and ended their Australia trip in the rainforest at Daintree.
The Butterfields then headed to New Zealand, where they started with a relaxing stay in a villa on the Bay of Islands. From there, they went on to stay at three of New Zealand's top lodges: The Farm at Cape Kidnappers at Hawke's Bay, Huka Lodge in Taupo and Matakauri in Queenstown. They ended the trip with the most special property of all, Minaret Station, a working sheep ranch turned luxury lodge, accessible only by helicopter transfer.
We know how important this annual family trip is for Shelby and that she greatly values having flexibility and authentic local interactions. Like many travelers, the Butterfields like having the option to makes changes on the ground, so we knew that pairing them with the right local contacts is key. In Australia, they preferred having a knowledgeable driver over a guide to take them on long transfers, and we found the perfect person for them. In New Zealand, the family didn’t want to be too scheduled, so we left most of their itinerary open and connected them with our fabulous partner who was incredibly attentive and was able to arrange activities on the fly, such as a helicopter excursion to fish for rainbow trout in an alpine lake.
"We couldn’t have had a better time on our trip to Australia and New Zealand! This is the third trip Janine has planned for us and she outdoes herself every time. Wolgan Valley was just astonishingly fabulous and the best possible way to start the trip. The first day, we went all over the property on bikes and saw kangaroos, wallabies and even a wombat! We all agreed we could have stayed here for a week because our villa was so comfortable and homelike. Our next stop was Sydney, where the Park Hyatt and their staff was top notch. Our rooms had amazing views and we had a blast exploring the light art of Vivid Sydney every night.
After Sydney, we headed up to the Great Barrier Reef and had the loveliest time at Lizard Island. The island was a dream with awesome hiking and incredible offshore snorkeling. We chartered a boat to go to the outer reef, and our expert captain guided us to a special spot where we were able to snorkel with three different kinds of reef sharks below us. That night we had a BBQ prepped and cooked in our villa, a not-to-be-missed experience.
In New Zealand, we particularly loved our stays at Huka Lodge and Alpine Lodge at Minaret Station. Huka Lodge is a great fishing lodge, but anybody can enjoy it. The Huka Experience—a helicopter and fishing trip to a high-Alpine fly-fishing lake—was really fun. The lake's water was so clear that you could drink it straight from the river. We were perfectly coordinated across Tongariro National Park and Lake Taupo and caught fish left and right. It was one of our most magical family days.
Minaret Station was hands down one of the coolest properties we have ever been to. We were able to do multiple helicopter excursions, including one where we landed at an isolated beach. Our pilot proceeded to fly out and retrieve lobster traps and then set up a fire on the beach to cook the fresh lobsters for our lunch. Later that day, we landed at a high mountain stream where a rare blue mountain duck lives and also at a beach with a wild fur seal colony. We were able to walk through the colony and observe the fur seals and their babies up close! For nature lovers, it was just amazing. Overall, this was the best trip. You could confidently send any family on the itinerary you made us and I can’t imagine getting anything but great feedback." ~ Shelby Butterfield, Indagare member since 2015
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