Wondering how the Kiwi Experience works? Wondering how to plan you itinerary?
Whilst all of the Kiwi Experience bus passes cover a very good route through out both Islands of New Zealand depending on the time and budget you have, I chose the route that included both the Bay of Islands and Millford Sound.
If your bus pass covers both the North and South Islands you will likely travel via Ferry if you stay hopped on the bus – this will cost you $50 per person. (Not mentioned when you purchase the ticket) A great hack is to fly between, as the cost is sometimes the same – it is a very short flight and both Air New Zealand and Jet Star operate the service, the earlier that you book the cheaper it will be. I took the ferry on my way from North to South and then flew in the opposite direction from Nelson to Auckland – the other added benefit of this, is that if you stay on the bus, it will take you 4 days, and cost you 4 nights of accommodation too, plus the $50 for the ferry.
Another thing to note is that I landed in New Zealand in October – this is the end of Spring and although the usual route begins with the bay of islands I didn’t want to go there with iffy weather as there was still some rain hanging about so I decided to head south from Auckland to Hot Water Beach and then completed my route by going up to the Bay of Islands last – and it was such a treat – Don’t skip it unless you have to!
There are two stops on the route which I felt were a complete waste of time – something which many other travellers were short on, both the visits to River Valley, which offered 30 ish bed dorms and a rubbish roast dinner for £50+ dollars and very expensive optional white water rafting which under 10 people took part in, whilst the remaining 40 passengers sat around as there is nothing to do here. The second was the stop in Mahanipua (kiwi experience owned) to a pub with onsite accommodation, which again included a mandatory roast dinner and pancake breakfast. Mahanipua includes a fancy dress competition, where you can win prizes which are activities – usually a bungee jump or canyon swing in Queenstown. However, I should also mention the drinks were really watered down, the hot tubs closed before it got dark and was too hot to use them in the day, and the fancy dress competition winners were the ones that sucked up to the driver and staff the most!
My favourite places and must dos in New Zealand were Wanaka, the Bay of Islands, Abel Tasman, Mount Cook, Coromandel (Cathedral Cove) Hobbiton and Taupo.
In 2017 the bus was not visiting Kaikoura sadly, however some of my friends have recently visited and it looks incredible – so I’d recommend checking it out!
This is how I spent 2 months travelling on the Super Funky Kiwi Experience bus Pass:
Day 1 – Auckland (Base hostel)
Day 2 – Free Day in Auckland – Museums/Skatepark
Day 3 – Waiheke – Ferry from Auckland and then a local bus to our Accommodation (Waiheke Lodge)
Day 4 – Waiheke – Hiking
Day 5 – Waiheke – Hiking and Vineyard
Day 6 – Hot Water Beach – First day on the Kiwi Experience Bus! Cathedral Cove (Top 10 Holiday Park)
Day 7 – Hot Water Beach at LOW TIDE
Day 8 – Hot Water Beach – Cathedral Cove
Day 9 – Hot Water Beach – Free Day/ Planning
Day 10 – Waitomo Caves (Kiwi Paka) Abyss tour of glow worm caves
Day 11 – Hobbiton – Rotorua Maori Village
Day 12 – Rotorua (Crash Palace) Gondola and Luge
Day 13 – Rotorua – Mountain biking in the Red Wood Forest and swim in the Blue lake.
Day 14 – Rotorua Wai-o-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland (car hire)
Day 15 – Te Puia – Taupo – Haka Falls (Finlay Jacks YHA)
Day 16 – Taupo – Skatepark and Natural thermal spa on water fall and pools and swim in the river
Day 17 – Taupo Tongariro Crossing
Day 18 – River Valley
Day 19 – River Valley – Swim in the river – Wellington (Base)
Day 20 – Wellington– skatepark
Day 21 – Wellington – Hike to Mt Victoria, Botanical Gardens, Tram, Te Papa Museum,
Day 22 – Ferry to Abel Tasman
Day 23 – 2 Day Kayak and Camp in Abel Tasman National Park with Kahu Kayaks
Day 24 – Hike in Abel Tasman
Day 25 – Westport – Surfing
Day 26 – Mahanipua -Fancy Dress Party
Day 27 – Franz Josef (Rainforest Retreat)
Day 28 – Franz Josef – Hike to view the Glacier
Day 29 – Wanaka (Base)
Day 30 – Wanaka – Rob Roy Glacier Hike and Blue Pools – Hire car 4×4
Day 31 – Wanaka – Skatepark
Day 32 – wanaka – Roys Peak Hike
Day 33 – Queenstown (Nomads)
Day 34 – Queenstown
Day 35 – Queenstown – Gondola and Luge
Day 36 – Queenstown – Milford Sound – Te Anau (YHA)
Day 37 – Queenstown – Omaru (Left the bus with a hire car to travel further south and also to Mount Cook)
Day 38 – Moraki Boulders – Skate Ramp – Mount Cook (YHA)
Day 39 – Mueller Hut Hike
Day 40 – Mueller Hut – Lake Tekapo
Day 41 – Tekapo – the good shepards church
Day 42 – Tekapo – Hot Springs
Day 43 – Christchurch
Day 44 – Christchurch
Day 45 – Christchurch – Botanical Gardens and Museums
Day 46 – Nelson
Day 47 – Nelson- Hike to the centre of New Zealand
Day 48 – Nelson – Auckland (Nomads)
Day 49 – Bay of Islands (Haka Lodge)
Day 50 – Bay of Islands – Russel Island
Day 51 – Bay of Islands – Cape Reinga
Day 52 – Bay of Islands – Dolphin Echo Tour and The Rock Boat Trip
Day 53 – Auckland
Day 54 – Flight to Sydney
When planning your Itinerary remember that Kiwi Experience do not book your accommodation and if you want to hop off the bus you will need to check availability and book yourself.
TOP TIP – TOP TIP – Use this code Booking.com and earn £15/$25 cash back! You can use this code once, but up to 10 referral codes from friends, family and fellow travellers to top up your money! So can earn £150 in total per email address! I used three different email addresses whilst in South America and New Zealand and effectively saved hundreds of pounds on accommodation! (Minimum spend £30 – book more than one night! Or for two people)
All of your buses are amendable as long as you give Kiwi Experience enough notice, so if you are struggling to finalise your plans or like to travel really casually – then book a rough itinerary with them and amend it as and when you need too.
The best people to gain advice from regarding your itinerary other than other travellers – are your drivers, that being said some drivers were amazing – and others rude and moody. So make sure whatever you plan it is around what you love – as there is no point planning 4/5 days in Wanaka if you hate water and hiking for example.
Kiwi Experience ALWAYS have a sale on! Always!! It is also worth having a look around and comparing prices if you are sure that Kiwi Experience is for you – travel agents can also offer great discounts!
I hope that this helps some of you have an amazing time travelling this beautiful country!
Love B x