Auckland, New Zealand (PressExposure) May 17, 2009 -- Tripadvisor's best Auckland attraction, 'Coast to Coast Tours', has held onto top spot, unsurpassed now, since May '08. This accolade of Auckland's No1 'best thing to do' is currently rated out of 96 other Auckland attractions.
New Zealand and Maori owner/operator's; Stuart & Donna, say they are very humbled to still be at number one, and heartfully thank their reviewers for submitting their comments. The owner's also say it has been quite an achievement, considering they are 'just' a husband and wife business.
Donna & Stuart applaud Tripadvisor for a very well orchestrated website, and are simply amazed from the number of people who say they regard Tripadvisor as the 'Traveller's Bible' - "you don't leave home without consulting it". With the ability for reviewers to place photos and videos along with their comments; (be they favourable or not!), makes for a real candid report of tourism products that are available globally.
"This 'experience' of a product is the way a rating system should work", says 'Coast to Coast Tours', "we are simply aghast how the Quality rating and Awards systems in place in New Zealand do not 'experience' the actual product when the assessor rates [in our case], the tour. We'd really like to see a move made to change this, so as the assessment is not pre-announced, and carried out by an incognito assessor who rates the product after their experience, ....then the assessor can come back to look at the paper-work after!".
Operating since 2002, 'Coast to Coast Tours' has seen a few changes in Tourism.
"Today, with there being more emphasis on 'experience', [which is what our tour has always been about], people are moving away from the large group sightseeing coach tours", says Stuart. "Our small and personalised tours of west Auckland, (which also includes coming to our sheep farm & Homestead which has been in our family since 1922), is what we present best."
'Coast to Coast Tours' also prides itself with being a 'true' eco-tour.
"Being a member of TIES (The International Ecotourism Society), has been a real eye-opener for us", says Donna. "There is a lot of 'green washing' being done with ecotourism products. TIES sets out a certain standard, (the basis of which is also used in Australia's Eco-Certified tick-rating system), of what an eco-tour actually consists of. These are; Nature, Culture, Environmental and Conservation elements, and the ecotour must contain all four components. As there's little knowledge about this, we've applied the word 'true' [eco-tour] in our marketing, so people don't get short-changed."
Even though the 'Coast to Coast Tours' only operate in the region they live, Donna & Stuart looked hard at their environmental footprint. "We found that our biggest impact was our vehicle emissions, says Stuart. "This is when we established our own Native tree planting project where our tourists can purchase and plant their own tree which is later planted on our farm. We wanted to be actually 'doing' something, rather than simply buy our carbon credits. It's all to easy just to write a cheque out at the end of the month, where's the visitor participation in that?. And operators can still run up a huge carbon footprint!"
Stuart and Donna went at great lengths to secure the planting blocks of their 100 acre sheep farm had Local Government covenants. "It was a long, expensive and frustrating time to acquire these protection laws, but now all of the planted trees will be protected", said Stuart.
The 'Coast to Coast Tours' are very popular with visitors from all nations. "We really enjoy meeting different people, and showing them around 'our' region", say Donna and Stuart. "But at the end of the day it's all about customer satisfaction; look after your customer, and they will look after you!"