Get To Know New Zealand Guide Tom Taylor

Tom provides bespoke detailed itineraries custom made to your requirements and desires, and with your comfort and safety in mind.
How did you get into your field?

After travelling extensively including stints ski instructing in Europe and working as a dive guide in Indonesia, I fell in love with New Zealand all over again and decided I wanted to take people from all over the world to see this incredible country.

How did you make the transition to becoming a tour guide?

I had worked in New Zealand as a ski instructor, and other hospitality based work, and found myself naturally enjoying the company of travellers. Having spent 13 years overseas on my travels, I looked at New Zealand in a different perspective and had a new found appreciation for all it has to offer. Coupled with my love for driving it was a natural progression to start guiding full-time.

What does a typical day look like for you?

It’s good to be ahead of the game and I will always have my guests excursions and accommodation reconfirmed the day before . I’ll check weather and road conditions, give the vehicle a once over, and then it’s just a case of discreetly waiting until my clients are ready to leave for the day. I really enjoy the fact that my guests don’t have too many time restrictions. I know that sometimes savouring that second cup of coffee, or taking a few extra minutes admiring that view can be what makes a trip. Once we are underway, I enjoy chatting with my guests and getting a good feel for how they want to spend the day. Each day will have a pre-planned activity or two, but I aim to build itineraries that allow for spontaneity and aren’t exhausting. We can always put more in each day to suit. There are so many beautiful things to see and do.

Have you got a certain style of guiding, or do you just run with it on the day?

My guests have a lot of control over their vacation. After lots of consultation prior to booking their vacation, we have a list of activities and excursions planned and booked. But even on a short trip, I can get a good feel for my guests finer interests. Some may want to snap away photos on their phone and stop regularly, others enjoy the serenity of travelling in a luxury vehicle and enjoy leisurely lunches and later starts. Some like to change day by day. By being careful in the planning stages, we can tick off the list, but never feel like it’s under pressure.

What is the best part of your job?

What’s not to love! I get to meet the wonderfully interesting people whilst driving a beautiful luxurious car through some of the World’s most stunning scenery. When I get home I want to do it all over again.

What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had on a tour or trip?

Waiting for some guests to return from an overnight cruise in Milford Sound. It is a truly awe inspiring place at any time, but early that morning, after a fresh dusting of snow on the peaks and with the sun coming up I met my guests at the quayside long before the day crowds arrived. I knew before they had even disembarked that they had experienced one of their greatest travel moments. Pretty hard to beat!

Every job has its ups and downs. Are there any aspects of your job that you don’t like or aren’t that keen on?

Parking! In some of the more populated places parking can be a hassle. It’s nice to know my guests are avoiding it after I drop them off at their restaurant or accommodation, but me driving around looking for that parking spot. GGrrrrr! lol

Without giving away your secrets, tell us the types of things about your area/activity that only a guide would know.

Without doubt, the roads. New Zealand is a rugged country and the roads can be challenging. I am amazed at the number of tourists who take them on, and in doing so spend hours of each day concentrating hard, and missing all of the scenery they came to see. As a professional driver I know the road, distances and times very well. No after-hours, out of fuel, wrong roads moments here!!!

As an experienced guide yourself, can you explain what the benefits of hiring a guide are?

Definitely taking the stress out of travel. Your energy should be focused purely on enjoyment on your vacation. Having a guide removes all of the mundane, time-stealing tasks and leaves you with just the happy, memorable moments.

In your view, what makes a good tour guide?

Communication. Passing information to guests to ensure their safety and maximize their enjoyment is crucial. But equally important is being able to LISTEN to your guests. Even if they haven’t said anything.

And finally, have you got any tips for people who are interested in booking a guide like yourself, but aren’t too sure what to look for?

Any good guide should be happy to answer your questions. Send emails , or have a phone conversation. Try to ensure that the person you are talking to is the person who will be guiding you. If what your guide is offering surpasses your expectations, Go for it!


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