We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Australia tour companies

Which Sydney hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
St. Paul, Minnesota
posts: 20
reviews: 1
Australia tour companies

We are planning a trip to Australia in January of 2013. I am looking for suggestions on tour companies that operate in Australia/New Zealand. I do not want the "big bus" tour, but something small group where you truly get to know the country and its surroundings. I have investigated a group called, OAT Travel (Overseas Adventure Travel) and also one called, Kensington. Has anyone heard of either of these, your thoughts on these companies, other suggestions. I have the luxury to do some investigation, hoping to find the best value on the dollar, while still getting a "personalized" tour.

New South Wales...
Destination Expert
for Fiji, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory
posts: 3,816
reviews: 198
1. Re: Australia tour companies

Outback Spirit http://www.outbackspirittours.com.au/ is a popular small group touring company and another that offers either escorted or independent touring that my parents highly recommend is Australia Holiday Centre australianholidaycentre.com.au/OurHolidays/e…

I haven't heard of either of the companies you refer to but many inbound tour operators don't advertise domestically.

In NZ - Grand Pacific offer their "Ultimate" tours which are specialist small group www.grandpacifictours.com/tours.asp…

Tasmania
Destination Expert
for Hobart, Tasmania
posts: 16,468
reviews: 71
2. Re: Australia tour companies

OAT is not an Australian-based travel provider, so they would be sub-contracting to some other local company.

Kensington is a regular local travel agent. In a similar vein, you could also look at www.qantasvacations.com.au for a private tour.

On the more boutique side (in addition to Outback Spirit that Tez mentioned) you could look at www.australianwildescapes.com

In the remote areas there are specialists like www.pinnacletours.com.au or www.justtours.com.au or http://www.adventurewild.com.au/

For a cheapie, try www.adventuretours.com.au

IMO, you don't need a tour company to visit the capital cities.

Luigi

seattle
posts: 582
reviews: 1
3. Re: Australia tour companies

I agree with Luigi in that you don't need a tour company. I am a single woman of a wonderful age leaving January 31st for my 4th trip to Australia in 6 years. All my visits have been done independently. I have driven round Tasmania and along the GOR. Also been to Cairns, Alice Springs, Uluru, Melbourne and Sydney. Read a lot, follow Trip Advisor, a fantastic source of information and above all don't try to see the whole country in one visit.

Edited: 12:19 am, January 03, 2012
Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, New South Wales, Cruises
posts: 10,248
reviews: 118
4. Re: Australia tour companies

Friends of mine have used Kirra Tours in NZ and they recommend them - http://www.kirratours.co.nz/

Los Altos...
posts: 338
reviews: 116
5. Re: Australia tour companies

We went to Australia with OAT and just loved the tour. There were only 15 people in our tour group, and our tour guide, an Australian, was absolutely fantastic. (Overseas Adventure Travel always uses tour guides from the country that you are visiting.) Marie did so much more than described in the brochure, including a hike along the beach in Cape Tribulation, and an early morning walk across the bridge in Sydney for those who wanted to do that.

We have taken a total of 10 trips with OAT and their sister company GCT - mainly OAT tours since we like the smaller groups and more active itineraries. Both groups make the tours more interesting by adding interesting cultural immersion activities - often home and school visits.

We have always found the tour groups to be very congenial, and every guide that we have had on an OAT or GCT land tour has been super.

Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions about traveling in Australia or with OAT.

St. Paul, Minnesota
posts: 20
reviews: 1
6. Re: Australia tour companies

Thank you for your reply. I also have friends that have used OAT. Guess I am debating whether it is better to go with a tour group such as OAT or go it alone. I like to "pack as much in during a day" as possible, very active. Know OAT is designed for active people, but have read some reviews that have criticized it in that sometimes you still get people who are not able to keep up, you are constantly waiting for etc. Obviously, everyone has their own ideas on what is the "perfect" trip for them, and everyone also has their own specific physical abilities and limitations. Respect that. I do not have any limitations, and don't want to be held back because of the limitations of others.

Did you investigate other tour groups? Do you feel OAT provides a good value for the trips that you have taken? Overall, what would say is the average age of the group members. I am not retired. I have all the respect and admirations for the older population, but really do not want to go with a group that is composed entirely/primarily of retirees...65 and older.

Thank you for your time and opinions..

Los Altos...
posts: 338
reviews: 116
7. Re: Australia tour companies

My experience has been that OAT travelers are very active. I don't remember being held back by any of them on any of the trips that we've been on. We also are very healthy and love to hike.

We've traveled in the past with Globus, Insight, Trafalgar, and Pacific Delight. Once we tried GCT and OAT, we've stuck with them because of the caliber of their tour guides and the excellent value that they offer. I have compared tours to some destinations (on an excel spreadsheet), I have found that GCT and OAT spend longer in each city than the other tours that I have compared, and are a better value. One of the most important criteria to us is the length of time in various locations. We are very independent travelers and I do lots of research before a trip. So, we generally skip most of the optional tours and just go off exploring on our own instead of taking the optionals.

The average age on most of the OAT tours that we have taken is around 60. The majority of the tour participants are retired. So if that bothers you, OAT may not be the tour company for you.

St. Paul, Minnesota
posts: 20
reviews: 1
8. Re: Australia tour companies

Thank you again for your time and opinons. How recently did you do your trip to Australia? Any insights on what you would do differently if you did the same trip again? Did you use their airfare arrangments to Australia, or is better to perhaps book that independently?

It is wonderful to have someone who has first-hand experience with the trip I am looking at.

Los Altos...
posts: 338
reviews: 116
9. Re: Australia tour companies

We went to Australia with OAT in 2007. We did the pre-trip to Tasmania, which we highly recommend. It was beautiful there. I believe that we used OAT's airfare on that trip. Often, we arrange our own air if we have enough Frequent Flier miles or if we want to stay longer at the beginning or end of a tour. With OAT's air, the transfers are included. You can check to see if it is worthwhile to arrange your own air. The choice is up to you with OAT.

We enjoy the comeraderie of small tour groups and the knowledge of OAT's excellent tour guides who are always from the country that we are traveling to, and also the opportunity to take off on our own. That's why we usually skip optionals, and just do our own thing. With the other tour companies, the tour guides that we had were often from other countries, and just didn't have the first-hand knowledge and insight that native tour guides have.

New South Wales...
Destination Expert
for Fiji, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory
posts: 3,816
reviews: 198
10. Re: Australia tour companies

Great info GoneTravelin - sounds like OAT are an Intrepid for older travellers. Do they only operate out of the US? (Just for future reference on the forums)