Getting Around New Zealand, My ‘Kiwi Experience’

Getting Around New Zealand, My ‘Kiwi Experience’

 The Kiwi Experience bus is the no.1 way to explore the beaut that is New Zealand!

I cannot wait to introduce you to and start telling you guys about the Kiwi Experience. For anyone wanting to see what New Zealand has to offer {which believe me, is a lot} this bus service is an absolute must do.

I’ll put it shortly to begin with. The Kiwi bus is a service where an NZ loving driver will take you and a bus load of other travellers around the country, organise you a hostel bed to stay in every night PLUS jam-pack activities in for you every single day.

It’s a hop on and hop off service, so whether you’re just visiting or you’re on a working holiday visa, it’s the perfect way to get around. All passes come with a ‘must complete within 12 months’ rule, leaving you with plenty of time to stick around in each place. Alternatively, they’ll be a minimum number of days that you need in order to successfully get from start to finish and many people stick to this too.

Hop on and off as much or as little as you like!

Will I Make Friends?

Either way, you’ll make some amazing friends along the way. Think about the variety of people that sit on your public bus back home. Now imagine the same scenario on the Kiwi bus but everyone has something in common … they LOVE to travel!

Sooner or later you’ll start recognising faces on the bus. If you stick to the minimum amount of time, you’ll have the same driver for the whole route and remember, anyone also traveling on minimum time will always be on your buses.

You may leave one friend {that loves a few bevvy’s} in Queenstown and catch up with them again a few days later in the deep south. Or you may leave one friend up the North Island and bump into them down South two months later…

If you stay anywhere longer than the minimum amount of time, you’ll be boarding a different bus with a different driver and a load of new travel friends!

Rippon Vineyard Wanaka New Zealand

Where Can I Book The Kiwi Experience?

Me and Louis booked our seats on the Kiwi bus through STA Travel, as part of a 3 month itinerary. However, you’ll want to do your research first, right?

If you take a visit to the Kiwi Experience website, you can browse through various pass types. {Each with very humorous names, such as the Kitchen Sink, which we chose.} Each pass differs dependent on how long you want to travel for and how many places you want to explore. For example, we chose a pass that took us around the South Island and the North Island, however there are plenty of options if you only want to explore the one!

Our bus route also finished in Christchurch which was super close to Louis’s childhood home town where we’d then be spending the rest of our time. Each pass has different start and finishing destinations, so make sure you look at those too.

Super flexible, super fun and actually super cheap…all things considered.

Blenheim Vineywards Winery Malborough Region

How Much Does The Pass Cost?

Obviously the price varies depending on which pass you book. Bus passes alone can range from anything between £200 for a North Island 4 day explorer to £900 for an entire NZ 12 month explorer.

However, they have sales all the time! Also, if you’re booking through a company like STA where you’re also paying for flights, insurance etc…they’re likely to throw in a bit of discount. So keep watching the Kiwi website + GRAB THOSE SALE PRICES. FYI, our passes cost us about £600 each!

The drivers make it super easy to book your activities and accommodation as you go along. But if you want to make life even easier for
yourself {because we all hate that travel organisation stress}…extra accommodation/activity packages are available. These can be added onto your pass or booked in conjunction with your bus pass at an extra cost £££. It’ll ensure you accommodation in certain destinations and you can pre pay for those activities you’re dying to do {cough, Queenstown bungy jump, cough}.

I honestly believe the Kiwi Experience is 100% worth the money. Compared to the likes of Australia, New Zealand is small. That doesn’t mean it’s not gonna cost you a bomb if you choose to drive yourself. The help you’ll get and the easiness of it all is second to none.

Lake Hawea Kiwi Experience Bus New Zealand

How Do I Plan/Book Accommodation and Activities As I Go?

You’re on the bus from Hot Water Beach to Waitomo. You have nowhere, as of yet, to stay the night and no fun activities booked for when you arrive.

The driver will pass round a series of clipboards during the duration of that bus journey.

Lots of clipboardssssss.


One clip board will be for accommodation. It’ll usually be a well-known and highly reviewed hostel that offers cheap as dorm rooms as well as private doubles. If you want a bed, write down your name. That’s literally it, done, simple. You’ll pay the hostel like normal, when you arrive.

You can expect to pay {on average} $25 for a dorm bed, anything from 4 – 10 beds in one room. Alternatively, it’ll usually cost you around $70 for a private double. That’s $35 each and an extra $10 each that me and Louis simply didn’t have, BUDGET TRAVELERS I hear you scream. If you’ve got a bit more cash to play with though, this could be a great option for couples or friends.


Other clip boards will be for available activities in that next destination. In this case, we were given varied options for the famous Waitomo Glow Worm caving {sooooo awesome!}. Usually each activity will have 2 or more different price options, allowing everyone and all budgets to take part.

You could explore the caves for an hour, this was the cheapest. Or be abseiling down 60 meter cave walls for up to 4 hours.

Again, if you were interested in taking part, you add your name to the list on the clip board and pay when you arrive.

It couldn’t be made any easier even if they tried.

Kiwi Experience work with the companies that provide activities all over New Zealand, so the companies reserve spaces every day for riders of the bus. You don’t have to worry about anything being full booked or leaving it too late.

Queenstown Gondola and Luge New Zealand

How Do I Book Each Bus Journey?

When we first boarded the Kiwi bus up in Auckland, with an awesome guy called Rob as our driver {shout out to Rob}, he handed everyone a calendar.

Optionally, you could fill out this calendar with his expert help and produce a day to day itinerary of where you want to be and when. In our case, we filled one out for the 4 weeks we’d be in NZ…he then passed this on to the Kiwi office and all our buses were booked and confirmed.

Id totally recommend writing out a calendar if you can and listening to the drivers guidance!

Buses may get full and you’ll be put on a reserves list during peak season or in popular places such as Queenstown {which we loved}. More than likely and 9 times out of 10, you’ll still get a seat on that bus. Imagine how often other travelers plans and times change. If you find yourself on the reserve list, you just need to call the free  office number closer to the time, or your bus driver will simply let you know!

If you plan on using up to 12 months to complete your journey, you can book your buses over the phone {again, using the free office number}. It’s a quick case of giving them a call and quoting your reference number from your ticket.

I can’t express how helpful the drivers are, the company have been running for over 25 years so they know what they’re doing, you’re in safe, fun hands with the Kiwi Experience!

Queenstown Lake New Zealand Mountains

What’s Included/What’s Free?

The free ‘stop offs’ are another great feature to the Kiwi Experience.

Every drive in New Zealand is a beautiful view in it self.

The driver’s know this all too well and more than anyone else. You want to stop on the road side for a photo opportunity? Just ask!

You’ll also experience some amazing free walks and waterfalls on a daily basis. To name just a few … Taranaki Falls, Lake Matheson, Cathedral Cove Walk and Pancake Rocks! Your days will often start off early, I’m talking 7am and the drives ahead can sometimes be lengthily. A morning walk to an amazing look out, water fall or mountain is regularly thrown in to break up long journeys.

Cathedral Cove New Zealand

There will always be one free option when clipboards full of pricey activity options are being passed around. Examples are free bike hire from certain hostels in Wanaka. You can then plan a bike ride around the lake and stop for a free wine tasting experience {with a view} at Rippon Vineyard. Climbing Mt Eden in Auckland or digging your own hot water pool are just a few others.

Wanaka Bike Trail New Zealand

What Isn’t Included?

One thing to note is that food is never included. Don’t worry, most days your bus driver will stop off at a supermarket so you can buy food and plan meals. They’ll also let you know what kitchen facilities to expect at the hostel. They’re brutally honest too so if the oven or microwaves are crap, you’ll know about it!

Luckily in New Zealand, Domino’s have your back! $5 pizza’s are something I miss considerably back in England!!

If you’re a bit of a luxury traveler or simply hate hostels…hotels/alternate accommodation is not provided. Air b’n’b, hotels or guest houses need to be booked by yourself and in advance. You’ll also need to let your driver know that you’ve got somewhere to stay! Lucky you is all I’ve got to say. One day I’ll be catching my shut-eye in a cosy king size hotel bed. Not a squeaky smaller than single bunk bed.


New Zealand is awesome, the Kiwi Experience is awesome and you’re awesome if you go and book it.  You’ll fall in love exploring the rolling mountains and crystal blue lakes, I sure did.

If you’ve got any questions at all about New Zealand or the Kiwi Experience, please contact me. Leave me a comment on this post or send me a message on facebook, I’d love to help you out!

I have so much good stuff to say about New Zealand and remember; Louis is a kiwi himself, so together we have a great amount of knowledge to pass on to you guys!

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Author {Lauren Alger} Copyright {Travel Your Dreams 2017} This blog post is not an ad and is not sponsored.

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