Village News

HOP Onboard Tours

29 April 2024

Valerie and Geoff Herbert at the bus stop where their HOP Tours begin

There are not many places in Auckland that Geoff and Valerie Herbert haven’t visited – and now they’ve come up with a clever plan to help other residents explore the city too.

The Hibiscus Coast Village couple are enthusiastic users of Auckland’s public transport system, and they are on a mission to show the ropes to others who – like them - may one day have to stop driving.

“A number of residents may soon lose their driving license and need to rely on public transport to get around, so we thought it was best they learn how to do it before this happens,” says Valerie.

Taking up to eight residents with them once a month, Valerie and Geoff plan day-long excursions to all corners of Auckland using only free buses, trains or ferries to get there and back.

“The tours start from the bus stop right outside our village gate where buses go in three different directions, so we’re a bit lucky.

“We’ve been to Pine Harbour and Devonport using buses and ferries, and Sylvia Park shopping centre in Mount Wellington, Onehunga and New Lynn using buses and trains. We’re now planning a trip to Wellsford, further north. If the weather is good, we may look at stopping somewhere for a picnic lunch.”

While New Zealanders aged over 65 are entitled to free off-peak travel on public transport, an Auckland Transport ‘HOP Card’ is still required to get on and off buses and trains, so Valerie and Geoff help residents organise this.

“We take them in to get their HOP cards and help load them with their Gold Card concessions.”

The tours take significant planning, and the pair will usually do a test run a few weeks prior to taking others.

“Often if we’re going somewhere different, we’ll take the tour together to ensure it’s viable and all runs smoothly.”

The best part of organising these trips?

“It’s nice company, and most people are very excited afterwards. They always say thank you and how much they’ve enjoyed it.”

The excursions have become so popular in the village that every tour is fully booked, so now Valerie and Geoff are adding in some shorter bus trips to the local shops as well.

“The intention was for people to get used to getting around using free public transport, but it has turned into a great day out for them, so they keep coming back!” says Valerie.

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