bigger than the state of Colorado, New Zealand may not look like
much on a map, but the southernmost island nation in the Pacific
Ocean is full of must-see destinations and attractions. The country
has breathtaking natural beauty, extraordinary cultural history and
great food and wine.
No matter the
destination, leisure travelers looking to take in as much as
possible while avoiding logistical stresses and aggravations often
turn to escorted tours. When it comes to New Zealand and motorcoach
travel, that often means Scenic Tours.
owned Australian company got its start in 1987 when the managing
director, Glen Moroney, began running packaged holidays for seniors
looking for competitively priced, all-inclusive tours.
"When he first
started the company, his markets were purely aimed at Aussie and
Kiwi [New Zealander] travelers, those traveling in their own
country or across the Tasman Sea," said Neil Dudley, Scenic's North
American sales and business development manager. "And then as the
company grew and sold more and more tours, he started branching out
and selling tours in North America and U.K. markets."
Today, Scenic Tours
hosts visitors from all over the world, offering first-class tours
ranging from two-night city stopovers to 24-night itineraries that
hit all of the highlights.
Overnight stays in
New Zealand's finest hotels and meals at many of the country's
excellent restaurants are part of all the packages.
Clients have the
option of upgrading to luxurious, five-star lodges at several
stops, which gets them a little closer to their
"New Zealand is
very ecofriendly, very much one with nature," said Dudley. "And
that's what all these lodges are aimed at: big, beautiful sprawling
grounds, lots of things to do that are nature related. But they're
all still very high-end."
clients enjoy a great deal of freedom on each tour. The company's
Free Choice program gives customers a wide range of
activities and tours to choose from at each stop.
dolphins, sailing, hiking, trout fishing, jet boating and bungee
jumping are just a few of the many options clients can enjoy at no
extra cost. And, according to Dudley, the introduction of all these
choices had a dramatic impact on the business.
"We used to be a
pretty traditional coach- touring company with clients whose
average age was about 60-plus," Dudley said. "And then when we
introduced the Scenic Free Choice concepts about eight years ago,
it actually lowered the average age to about 46. So it opened us to
a whole new class of coach-touring clients."
Not that Scenic
Tours has ceded the seniors market. In 1998, it purchased Evergreen
Tours, a provider of escorted tours that operates in New
Focused on budget
touring, Evergreen offers trips ranging from eight to 17 nights,
complete with three- to four-star accommodations and meals. While
both operators cover similar territory, the Evergreen brand appeals
to a more mature demographic.
"We aim it at the
60-plus crowd," Dudley said. "It's all-inclusive, value-minded, and
we still want to give them all the highlights, but it's definitely
a more traditional coach market."
Evergreen tours are sold exclusively through wholesalers. Dudley
said Pleasant Holidays is the company's largest account in the U.S.
Offering travel agents commissions starting at 10%, Pleasant
Holidays has been selling Scenic and Evergreen tours for the past
"We've enjoyed a
wonderful and beneficial relationship with Scenic and Evergreen
Tours for several years now," said Glen Stewart, vice president of
Pleasant Holidays' Asia and South Pacific division. "They're a
company with an unsurpassed passion for Australia and New Zealand,
which really shows in their extensive product
Dudley, passion, often imparted on the front lines by capable tour
directors and drivers, is a key part of every Scenic or Evergreen
Evergreen strive to hire gracious and knowledgeable employees, he
said, stressing the importance of recognizing each customer as an
individual as well as cultivating an open, friendly group dynamic
on every tour.
In New Zealand,
every Scenic and Evergreen director and driver is a New
"When we're hiring
coach captains and tour directors, we look for local individuals
who can interact with clients and talk freely about their own
experiences," Dudley said.
"We really want
people who live here and know the area well because the local
culture is an extremely important part of the New Zealand touring
course, it's the destination that attracts customers, and both
Scenic and Evergreen strive to show clients the best New Zealand
has to offer.
From the relaxed,
balmy beaches in the Bay of Islands, where Kiwis go for sand and
sunshine, to the remarkable geothermal region of Rotorua, Franz
Josef Glacier and countless pristine national parks, New Zealand's
stunning natural beauty is priority No. 1.
itinerary also exposes visitors to the culture and rich history of
the indigenous Maori, a Polynesian people.
Clients also get a
chance to "live dangerously" down south in Queenstown.
itself as the adventure capital of the world," Dudley said. "They
invented the Shotover River jet boats down there. They invented
bungee jumping. It's the home of all of those canyon swings. So
they really live up to that adventure capital title, and then
With so much to
enjoy, it's no wonder the little island nation has become such a
popular place for travelers.
"The great thing
about New Zealand is that it's a country that has a whole range of
different things to see and do but in a very compact area," Dudley
said. "So it's really just a fantastic coach-touring
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