Travellers praise Fiordland tour firms

Fiordland tourism companies Southern Discoveries and Real Journeys have been recognised for excellence by independent travellers.

Online travel review site Rankers named Southern Discoveries' Go Milford coach and cruise business, based in Te Anau, the winner of the site's 2012 New Zealand Bus and Coach category. Real Journeys' Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruises won the New Zealand Boat Cruises section.

The wins were based on rankings posted by independent travellers during the past 12 months.

Southern Discoveries general manager John Robson said recognition from independent travellers was an important part of the company's business strategy.

"The product is a Te Anau to Milford Sound operation with three small coaches and it offers a personalised, value-based experience," he said.

There were several reasons independent travellers enjoyed the smaller tours, Mr Robson said.

"The personality of the drivers is often highlighted by our customers and because the tour starts and ends in Te Anau, our clients are able to leave later but still beat the traffic and have the place to themselves," he said.

Te Anau also benefited from independent travellers using the Go Milford service, Mr Robson said.

"Travellers who choose our product normally drive to Te Anau but decide they may not be comfortable driving the Milford Road or want the value of our tour," he said."This means they will often stay in Te Anau before and after the tour and spend money in the community."

Real Journeys chief executive Richard Lauder said the Doubtful Sound cruise was one of the company's flagship products.

"It's not our biggest seller but it is an experience that is universally praised."

Mother nature was the centrepiece but customers highly valued the staff, the vessel and the food, Mr Lauder said.

Other southern winners in the Rankers review included AJ Hackett Nevis Highwire in the Bungy section and Hillview Camping Ground at Nugget Point, which won the New Zealand Basic Facility Camping Winner 2012.

The Southland Times