You’ve worked hard, saved up and aren’t sure when you’ll get the chance to do it all again. You’re here to see the country – not the inside of a bus. You’re here to meet people – not have the backseat to yourself. You’re here to experience a legendary place and be guided by those who know New Zealand best.
Kiwi Experience is the leading off-the-bus New Zealand experience; designed by travellers for travellers. We know when to stop the bus and soak it in, and know when to keep on driving and leave the tourist traps behind. We’ll show you New Zealand’s big highlights, and incredible places so hidden even Peter Jackson couldn’t find them. Whether you’re an adrenalin junkie, a culture seeker, a beach bum, or have come to see the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the world, Kiwi Experience is the trip of a lifetime! You couldn’t have a bad time if you tried.
Over 19 years our reputation, passenger numbers, awards, and word of mouth from thrilled travellers and New Zealand backpackers has spoken for itself. As the country’s largest, leading, and legendary bus experience we’d love you to continue the story and experience New Zealand with us - the way it should be seen.
For the best New Zealand backpacker experience on offer, it’s all about who you know. And our world famous Driver Guides are definitely the ones to know!
These Kiwis are totally passionate about our country and committed to making every traveller or backpacker’s trip the trip of a lifetime – especially yours! Their commentary, insights and advice will ensure you get the best value for money, and take the best possible New Zealand experience back home with you.
They are Kiwi characters from all walks of life, who can book your accommodation and activities for you, provide in-depth commentary, entertainment, travel advice, and drive your bus skillfully and safely around the country. You won't find them in beige walk shorts, long white socks or wearing a tie either. As former New Zealand backpackers themselves, our Driver Guides have all travelled extensively and see the world from your perspective, as a traveller.
Our long history of legendary Driver Guides has made Kiwi Experience what it is today. They are our most valuable asset and what sets Kiwi Experience apart from the competition.
One of the best things about Kiwi Experience is the people you meet along the way: Driver Guides, fellow passengers, locals, and that hottie from Aussie who said you had cool hair. Fun, adventurous, mature, independent travellers of all types from all around the world choose Kiwi Experience for their New Zealand bus travel. There are no limits! Even the locals who travel with us are blown away by what Kiwi Experience can show them in their own country.
While there is a minimum age of 18, there is no maximum and you’ll find fun youthful travellers of all ages doing New Zealand bus travel the Kiwi Experience way. Most of our passengers are between 20 and 35 years old, but we’ve also had our share of passengers in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s too, proving it’s all about attitude not age. The current record for the oldest male is 72 and the oldest female 92!
The majority of Kiwi Experience passengers are travelling alone which is great because often knowing no-one is the easiest way to get to know everyone. Like the diverse ages and nationalities, there’s usually a great mix of singles, couples and groups of 3-4 mates on our buses too – not that you’d be able to tell after a few hours together! New Zealand bus travel on your own is great – you get to look after #1 and have no problem meeting people wherever you go. Couples and groups have the added benefit of getting to share their Kiwi Experience with great mates and find that it doesn’t hold them back from meeting the rest of the bus either. The people are one of the great reasons why Kiwi Experience is what it is. We make it easy to meet people and there’s always someone to do stuff with!
The Funky Chicken shows you the best that the North and South islands have to offer. You can start anywhere you like and end up where you began, or using our unlimited travel offer repeat some sectors again for free! If you love your Funky Chicken and want it to last even longer you can always add on Bay of Islands, Milford or Bottom Bus later on (although it’s always cheaper to buy a New Zealand bus pass at the beginning that includes these sectors).
Auckland to Hot Water Beach
After visiting the Kiwi Experience office we head towards the Coromandel Peninsula and spend the afternoon at Cathedral Cove; accessible only on foot or by kayak. This beautiful coastal spot is great for swimming, sea kayaking, and spotting dolphins if you’re lucky. We then carry on to Hot Water Beach (rated one of the top ten beaches in the world by Lonely Planet) where you can take a surfing lesson and head out with your shovel at low tide to dig your own hot pool in the sand.
Hot Water Beach to Waitomo
After an early start our first stop is the Karangahake Scenic Reserve to explore a native bush-clad gorge, swing bridges and a bit of New Zealand’s gold mining history. Next it’s onto Waitomo (wai meaning water, tomo meaning cave) where you will get the chance to see glow-worms, stalactites, cave coral, fossilized oysters and other crazy stuff in the limestone caves formed from 40 million year old dead fish.
Waitomo to Rotorua
We start the day with a walk through the Ruakuri Reserve and a breakfast stop at the Long Black Café before heading through to Rotorua. In the afternoon you’ll have a chance to go along to a farm show, go Zorbing, luging, and try out a crazy activity or two at Agroventures. In the evening you can experience a traditional Maori hangi (feast) and concert with Tamaki Tours – a night not to be missed!
Rotorua to Taupo
The first activity of the day is exploring the geothermal reserve of Te Puia, with New Zealand’s largest geyser and a chance to see a real live Kiwi bird. The afternoon journey to Taupo includes stop offs to explore the area’s lakes and Taupo’s famous Huka Falls. Taupo is rightly known as the adventure capital of the North Island with optional activities on offer such as skydiving, bungy jumping, jet boating, the Volcanic Centre and the spectacular Tongariro Crossing!
Taupo (extra day)
We recommend staying an extra night in Taupo because there’s so much to do there. If you’re short on time, you can always skip this extra day, timetable allowing, and get to the next stop sooner.
Enjoy a sleep-in (for those not doing the Tongariro Crossing) and experience one of the many activities on offer. A walk down to Spa Park to relax in the natural hot springs by the river is a great way to spend the day (or night). Alternatively if you have time head off on our 'East As': 4 day, 3 night unique add-on trip around the East Cape, which takes you to places few tourists get to see.
Your accommodation is not included in the price however finding somewhere great to stay is never a problem with us and neither is booking it.
After 18+ years in the game we reckon we know where all the great New Zealand backpackers and hostels are. Travel with Kiwi Experience and you’ll get to stay in some awesome places that you wouldn’t find by yourself. Here are a few examples of the kinds of places you’ll only see with us:
Hot Water Beach Holiday Park - next door to a beach that is famous for, you guessed it, hot water!
River Valley Adventure Lodge - so far off the beaten track the bus can’t even get there
Mahinapua West Coast Pub - with New Zealand’s oldest publican, Les.
In addition to the unique accommodation above, Kiwi Experience also stops at more popular (and populated) towns and cities. Here we recommend some of the best New Zealand backpackers and hostels the country has to offer. With the entire bus getting along great, all the passengers usually decide to stay together at the same place. However, you’re always more than welcome to stay somewhere else and our Driver Guides can help you with this.
Kiwi Experience has guaranteed accommodation in every overnight stop every time we go there. This means that even when the rest of the world seems to be travelling through New Zealand, we can still guarantee every backpacker and traveller who travels with us a bed. That’s pretty important since you’ll need to be well rested for tomorrow, where there’ll be heaps of great experiences ahead.
When you travel with Kiwi Experience you can book accommodation yourself or sit back and relax as your Driver Guide rings ahead and does it for you.
A modern bus service is a lot like a modern mobile. When everything’s running smoothly you take for granted what it does for you, but as soon as something goes wrong it can ruin your whole experience! We realized this about buses a long time ago (before mobiles were even invented) so we made sure we used the best vehicles right from day one.
It’s also a very green New Zealand bus service. Our bright green buses are New Zealand tourism icons and turn heads wherever they go (which helps when you need to find it in a hurry). We have chosen to lease our buses from a company that is endorsed with an Enviro Silver Qualmark rating. Because they’re well maintained, they're greener for the environment.
Our Driver Guides are experts at showing off New Zealand, but their first priority is the safety of their bus and their passengers. This is why we only use European designed and engineered buses with a long history and strong reputation for quality. Before they’re put behind the wheel each and every Kiwi Experience Driver Guide must also be put through a rigorous licensing and training programme to ensure the upmost safety of our passengers. We pride ourselves on using a safe and responsible New Zealand bus service.
European coaches also means travelling in unrivalled comfort. Big windows, high viewing seats, arm rests, new fittings, modern sound systems, TV’s, DVD players, air conditioning, and plenty of secure storage space for your bags are all included. Smooth suspension, comfy seats, leg room and a quiet engine are also a favourite with passengers after a hard days adventuring. You’ve got to spend a few hours sitting on the bus so we figure it should add to the experience, not ruin it. It’s cool to be on a comfy green bus and the flash exterior will also look great in those travel snaps of the legendary green machine.
WHAT IS THE KIWI EXPERIENCE GUIDE TO NZ
Get the most out of your Kiwi Experience with the Kiwi Experience Guide to New Zealand. It’s crammed with information on your trip of a lifetime with Kiwi Experience backpacker tours. Discover dozens of points of interest across New Zealand’s North and South Islands that you’ll experience on your adventure, along with high-quality pictures, and up-to-date travel info. Download the app at home and then go completely offline while you travel – no nasty data bill surprises!
Download the free Travel App for Iphone here: http://itunes.apple.com/US/app/id777908996
Download the free Travel App for Android phones here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hummba.guide.kiwi
TRAVEL APP FEATURES
The Kiwi Experience Guide to NZ app includes the following features:
- Dozens of detailed points of interest across the country
- The app knows where you are and lets you know about things to see and do around you
- Offline maps of New Zealand with an easy-to-use category filter and search function
- The “Take me there” feature helps you find the best route to your next Kiwi Experience
- Download the app at home and then go completely offline – no nasty data bill surprises
- Share your favorite points with friends and family back home via email or social media
- Guide content updates automatically, meaning you won’t have to visit the app store to stay up to date
The Kiwi Experience Guide to NZ app gives you extra info and tips to really make the most of your time in New Zealand. Join us on a backpacking tour you will never forget!
How do I begin my travel?
When you buy your New Zealand bus pass you’re given the option of selecting a start date, or leaving the pass open dated. If you have an open date pass then you’ll need to contact us once you know what day you want to start your Kiwi Experience. The more notice you can give us the better so that we can confirm there’s a seat for you when you want it. Some passes have fixed starting points whereas others allow you to start from anywhere along the route. See the passes page for these full details and to compare pass options.
How long can I travel for?
Once you’ve purchased your New Zealand bus pass you have 12 months to begin your travel, and then once you start you have 12 months to complete it. If you’ve got the time you should definitely take it. Each section of a pass can only be travelled once although there are 2 exceptions to the rule 1) the Kea and Top Dog passes travel Christchurch to Kaikoura twice and 2) our four New Zealand – start anywhere passes now offer Unlimited Travel which means you can travel sectors more than once! See our terms and conditions for more information on Unlimited Travel.
What does minimum travel time mean?
We’ve come up with these travel times to help you plan your trip around New Zealand. If you are a little short on time, or who just want to be sure they can make their flight out at the other end, this is a good guideline to work to. Our recommended travel times include spending an extra night (so 2 nights total) in Taupo, Franz Josef and Queenstown because they’re such amazing places with lots to do. If you’re on a deadline then you can easily skip these extra nights as timetables allow. Whether you are travelling in summer or winter can make a difference too so check out our bus timetable for more information, and get in touch with our Reservations team if you have any questions – we are here to help and make your trip amazing no matter how much time you have!
What if I’m travelling on my own?
Most people who start Kiwi Experience are doing it on their own, but you wouldn’t know it by the end of the trip. You’ll meet all sorts of people from all over the world and quite a few locals too. We’ve had people start off as strangers and become lifelong friends forever. The great people you meet is one of the best things about Kiwi Experience.
How do I get between the North and South Islands?
If you haven’t yet noticed, New Zealand’s two main islands are split by a mass of water known as the Cook Strait. To get between each island you can either take the Interisland Ferry or a short flight. Again, like accommodation and activities, your Driver Guide can book all this for you and even hook you up with a discount.