Having just returned back from 4 glorious weeks in New Zealand, it is finally time to get back into the swing of real life and let you all know what I got up to!
Let me get straight to the basics: I travelled from mid-February to mid-March on the Kiwi Experience bus, using the Sheepdog pass with the Milford Sound add-on. I booked this when it was on sale through the Kiwi Experience website (47% off, can’t grumble at that!) and it came to 674 NZD in total – so roughly £380. I didn’t meet anyone who bought a pass at full price so you should check the site regularly to get your ticket at a hugely discounted rate!
Without further ado, here goes my Kiwi Experience pros and cons list – let me know if it’s helpful in the comments or tweet me @evierosetravels!
- It’s extremely easy – hopping aboard the Kiwi bus is undoubtedly the least stressful way of travelling. All you need to worry about is that your bag is on the bus and you didn’t leave anything at the hostel! There were some girls on my bus who overslept and missed the bus a few times but in cases like that you just need to ring the office and try to arrange an alternative day to travel.
- For some activities, you get an exclusive Kiwi Experience discount which is always useful!
- It’s a great way to meet people – all you have to do to make a friend is find an empty seat and start a conversation with the next person. I found that the majority of people on the bus were very friendly and it’s just good to know that on the Kiwi bus, you’re with like-minded travellers who will happily share stories about where they’ve been or where they are going next.
- The accommodation is generally good quality. I was pleasantly surprised by many of the hostels; on the whole, they were very clean and in good central locations. Plus the fact that you are guaranteed one nights accommodation in each place (or three nights in Queenstown) is great for peace of mind – especially if you are travelling in the peak seasons! I’ll do a more comprehensive accommodation guide at a later date but you can rest assured that Kiwi Experience will put you up in decent hostels.
- The first driver I had (Kyle) was pretty funny and told interesting stories along the way. This really makes a difference to the journey, especially on long travel days when you can be on the bus for a few hours at a time.
- The walks that you stop off at between destinations are stunning. This may be something that you could miss out on if you are doing a self-drive tour of NZ, as they are easily missed but well worth it for the amazing views. A selection of my favourites are shown below!
- If you want a more free and unscheduled trip, the Kiwi bus might not be for you. For example, whilst it is great being able to go on the walks between destinations, it is quite strict in terms of ‘We can stop off here for 20 minutes then back on the bus’. It’s understandable as the drivers have to arrive in certain places at certain times but it is something to bear in mind if you might not enjoy that type of travel.
- Personally, I found the Milford Sound add-on a slight disappointment. It is of course a stunning place to visit however, it’s a 5 hour drive to get there and the boat trip is only an hour and a half. The scenery on the drive was amazing however I’m not convinced that it was worth the 10 hour total drive. Perhaps if you are travelling independently you could book more conveniently located accommodation but when it’s a day trip from Queenstown I don’t think I would recommend it.
- Although the hostels which Kiwi offer are generally good quality, they are definitely not the cheapest option. Having read lots of blog posts on budgeting prior to my trip, I was expecting the accommodation to be between 25-28NZD per night. They are in fact almost always 30-35NZD per night. Occasionally, dinner might be included but you might want to rethink your budget if you are planning on staying in the Kiwi Experience hostels.
- It is completely personal opinion however if you aren’t a fan of the driver it can put a slight downer on the journey. It’s not a huge issue but I definitely enjoyed the bus trips more with Kyle than some of the other drivers who I didn’t like as much.
Overall, I would definitely recommend travelling New Zealand on the the Kiwi Experience bus – it’s worth mentioning that it isn’t only for 18 year olds who only want to party! There is such a vast range of people on the bus that the experience can be exactly what you want it to be – you can drink every night or not at all, without fear of being judged or left out.
I had the time of my life and met some great people on the bus so if you’re considering how to travel New Zealand, go for Kiwi Experience – you won’t regret it!
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