We had a booking for 7 people from Wainui (end of the Abel Tasman track) back to Nelson at 1.30pm. The shuttle turned up at 2.10pm and only left at around 2.30pm.
Even though we had the 7 of us, it would have been enough for a chartered service, but instead we were provided with a bus shuttle combining to a total of about 30 passengers, many were going to different places (Nelson was the last stop). Our journey that should have been only 2.5 hours took 4 hours long (excluding waiting time). It is also important to note that we were not allowed to eat and drink on the bus, and with the long travel time, it did not make any food stops or toilet stops, not a pleasant experience after a 5 day hike!
Trek Express also offers a free luggage storage service, which we saw as a plus when we decided to go with them. However to our horror, our clean bags were returned to us dirty (like people had stepped all over it) and wet. We were not warned about the "free service" and that this should be "expected". My husband's clean clothes were wet as a result.
The owner, Rory offered his apologies but was not happy to provide any compensation and simply told us we can choose to go with other shuttle service in the future. His business model seem to run well with one-off foreign customers and so was not worried about customer loyalty.
Nelson Lake Shuttle is also run by the same company.
I would not recommend Trek Express and Nelson Lake Shuttle.
We are a group of 7 and booked a shuttle with Trekexpress for our Able Tasman hiking track from Nelson to Marahua (start of our track) and return from Wainui to Nelson. Trekexpress also offered a free luggage storage service which we gladly took as some members in our group were travelling elsewhere after the track.
The return journey was where the problems started. After 5 days of hiking we were all looking forward to some food and rest. Our shuttle was supposed to pick us up at 1.30pm and by 2.00pm when it still hadn't arrived we were starting to get a bit restless. We called Trekexpress and Rory (the owner) apologised and told us it was a busy day for them and the shuttle should arrive soon. Our transport did arrive about 10 minutes later but to our surprise it was a bus and we could see there was around 20+ other people that were also waiting for the same bus. The whole journey back took over 4 hours with multiple stops (at Marahau, Mapua, Nelson Airport, and once turning back as the driver forgot a passenger).
Not only that but when we reached we found that the luggage we left with them which was referred to as a "free luggage storage service" was all dusty and 2 fabric bags with clean clothes got wet along with the clothes inside. In the end a supposedly 2 and a half hour journey took almost 5 hours to complete including the late pick up and along with that, dusty and wet bags we thought would be safely stored for us.
Rory was in no mood to compensate us for our time wasted only offering his apologies and saying it was a busy time of the season and if we were not happy to not travel with them again next time. And his explanation for the dusty and wet bags were that it is expected as it was a "free service".
The trip back from Trekexpress has left a sour note on what has been an amazing experience for us. I don't know how Rory is able to justify charging $55 a head for the one way trip back for a service that is not chartered and can only be described as worse than any public bus transport.
I would advise any other groups that are thinking of travelling with Trekexpress to look elsewhere, you will not be getting a direct service as Rory will try to squeeze as many people in one trip as he can without being transparent as to how many stops there will be and the extra amount of time it will take while still charging a premium price. You will also have to deal with a boss who is not willing to work with his customers to resolve issues brought to his attention and only comes up with silly excuses.
He also operates Nelson Lakes Shuttle which for the same price apparently offers a chartered service with the blurb - "You choose where you need to go and when, specific chartered journeys adapted especially for your needs operating to your own schedule, not ours".
Seaton Valley Rd RD 1 Upper Moutere Mapua
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