Private or Group Tour? Choosing the best option for you and your group.

You’ve decided to do a day tour of your destination. Now how do you choose between a private tour and a group tour? The many offerings and suppliers can be confusing. In this guide we help you navigate your way through booking a day tour by giving you some things to think about when you book.

What is a private tour?

A private tour is when your group of friends and/or family are the only people on the tour. There is usually a suggested itinerary (you are not expected to be experts in the destination) and a good operator will offer to customise the day to suit your needs. At uTours, we contact you after you book (or when you make an enquiry) to find out more about your interests. This helps us to design a local experience which includes all that you want to see and nothing you don’t.

What is a group tour?

A group tour is when you book seats for your group and you join other people, typically on a minivan or bus. There is a set itinerary and you are guided through that itinerary over the

period of the tour. If it is described as a small group tour, you should expect to be in a group of no more than 12 – 15 people but be aware that group tours can involve 40+ people.

Key takeaways

  • Private tours are centred around you and your family/friends. They provide flexibility, personalisation and local connection. They are perfect for a treat or special occasion or if you just don’t want to deal with the crowds.
  • Group tours provide set itineraries and dates and the opportunity to meet other travellers. They are perfect for solo travellers.
  • When deciding between private tours and group tours think about how you like to travel and your budget. Remember to check out a company’s reviews, website and on-line presence.

The pros and cons of each type of tour

Private Tours


On a private tour there is only the group that you have booked for – your family and friends. So, you know (and hopefully like) everyone, allowing you all to be as weird and wonderful as you wish!

On a private tour you get the friendly local guide all to yourselves. You can ask all the questions (yes, even the dumb ones!) and don’t need to worry that you are taking up all the guide’s time, or that you are asking things that others are not interested in. You can connect with a local in a way that is not possible on a larger tour.

A private tour will be tailored to your interests, energy levels and time. A good operator will make contact after you book and find out more about what you are interested in (and what you are not interested in!), how you like to travel and whether anyone in your group has any mobility or dietary needs. They can then take all of this into account as they design your day.

A private tour can include unique interests or requests. At uTours we’ve taken our guests to see particular neighbourhoods from their family’s past, recreated childhood memories of enjoying New Zealand ice cream, designed surprise birthday tours, hunted for local Harley Davidson T-shirts, visited requested cultural and religious sites, and many more unique requests. A private tour makes your interests central to your tour.

You can make the most of your time. On a private tour it is just you or your family and friends, so getting in and out of the vehicle is quick and easy and the transitions between each activity or stop are seamless. No waiting around for that one person who does not seem to be able to follow instructions!

You can dictate the timing at each stop. If you want to stay longer and enjoy a stunning view, spend more time at a gallery or in a garden, you can. If you only want to have a quick 5-minute look and get moving again, that’s all good too.

Children and grandparents are catered for while everyone is having a good time. When you are on a tour with children it can be tricky to keep them entertained (and fed). It is also important to cater for those who have lower energy or mobility challenges. With a private tour your guide can include child-specific activities to burn off some energy and ensure your tour is memorable for everyone. (Check out our top things to do with kids in Wellington here.) A private tour can also be run at a slower pace to allow everyone to take part.

You can indulge your passions – for example stopping to take photos, collecting ocean glass or sampling as many ice cream flavours as possible in one day. On a private tour your guide is usually able to include these requests.


The only real con of a private tour is that they are a little more costly than a group tour and might feel like they are outside your budget. Keep in mind that the price you see on search engines can be the most expensive offering and based on a two-person group. If you have a larger group the per-person cost may be lower.

If you have found the tour on the site of an online travel agent (eg Viator, TripAdvisor, Get Your Guide or Klook) try to find the company’s own site. They may have lower priced options for direct bookings.

Top Tip – The company’s name is often under a ‘more information’ link or sometimes in the replies to reviews.

Group Tours


On a group tour you can share your experience with new friends. This is great if you are a solo traveller. Solo travel can be lonely and joining a group means you will have built-in mates to share the experience with. You may also meet people from all over the world.

The planning has been done for you. There will be a set itinerary so you can just turn up.

Group day trips are usually less expensive than private tours. Volume means that the per-person cost is reduced. On day tours there will not usually be a single supplement.


Group itineraries don’t usually have much wriggle room. If you’re interested in doing or seeing something not on the itinerary, you’ll either miss out or will have to arrange to do it on your own. You could also spend some of your precious time at a site or activity you have no interest in.

You may find yourself in a group with someone negative or who moves at quite a different pace than everyone else. While it is the guide’s job to manage this, it can be frustrating for others who are trying to make the most of their time in a destination.

If your tour is with a larger group (on a bus) you will spend a lot of your day waiting to get on and off the bus. (Remember our friend who can’t follow instructions? – they could be on the tour with you.)

It may be harder to accommodate the needs of any children or older people in your group.


There are many advantages to booking a private day tour, you can see all the main sights while having a day that is customised to your group’s interests, energy and time. Private tours are particularly good if you want a personalised itinerary, flexibility, are travelling with children or older people or just want to get away from the crowds.

A group tour is usually less expensive than a private tour – but there are some compromises such as the set itinerary and the impact of travelling with a (sometimes large) group. You also won’t be able to add any unique requests.

At the end of the day, the type of tour your book and how much you want to spend on the experience is a personal decision. Make sure you do your homework about the provider and the experience you are getting. Read reviews (Google and Trip Advisor are good places to start) and don’t be afraid to ask questions before you book.

Here at uTours we focus on making the day all about you. We would love to host you on a private, fully customised day tour of Wellington, the city we know and love.

Happy travelling!