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Kiwi Experience Review- 2014

Superior, Wisconsin
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116 posts
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Kiwi Experience Review- 2014

Hi there!

My husband and I just completed 5 weeks of touring New Zealand with the Kiwi Experience and I wanted to share our experience with other travelers.

I think the Kiwi Experience gets a little bit of a bad rap. I am not going to lie, we were a little hesitant about booking with them because we had heard the stories about it being a party bus and that really wasn't our scene. However, we took a leap of faith and ended up having the TIME OF OUR LIVES.

It is not just a transportation company, they do their best to get you right into the real New Zealand. Each travel day is full of stops and walks, we didn't miss anything with them. They were flexible in the hop off hop on system, so we were able to plan out our own stuff and stay longer in each destination. This was really nice for us because it allowed us to dig a little deeper in some areas and discover more of the country.

As far as the drinking scene, well, we didn't have any problems or unpleasant experience like most would imagine. We only went out three times in our 5 weeks with the Kiwi bus and we never felt any pressure from other bus riders or the drivers to do more than that. If we showed up at the bars, great, if not, no big deal. Did we have a lot of the 18-25 crowd on the bus, yes we did, but everyone was very civil. If you wanted to go out in the towns and have a good time you would find them there, but if you wanted to do your own thing and then go to bed early, that was easy to do as well. We made some really great friends with other travelers and drivers alike, so the social scene is great whether you party or not.

Departure times each day were reasonable and most days we rolled in at the hostels by early afternoon. One thing we really enjoyed was all the stops they did between destinations. There were many times we were glad we didn't do the campervan (our original plan) because we knew we would have missed some of the fantastic walks we did during the day.

They do a nice job of making sure you know about all the activities in each town and each day they pass around sign up sheets and then take care of all the bookings for you. They do get you some discounts on activities and accommodation. They are small discounts, but better than nothing.

I seriously wouldn't hesitate to book with them again, and even though we are a little older and married, we weren't the oldest people we met on the bus! So others are definitely catching on to the bus that isn't just for the kids! Plus they seem to be running some pretty sweet deals these days and you really can't go wrong with some of the prices that get you all around both the North and South Island. We visited both the North and South Island on their Chilly Bin pass that included the Deep South to Dunedin, the Caitlins and Milford Sound. Only place we missed was the Bay of Islands so I'm happy to answer any questions you have about traveling through NZ or traveling with Kiwi Experience.

I hope that those of you that are unsure on whether the Kiwi Bus is right for you will find this helpful.

:) Cheers!

31 replies to this topic
Rarotonga, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central
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1. Re: Kiwi Experience Review- 2014

Hi,

Fantastic information! So often the NZ forums are asked what the Kiwi Experience tours are like. Great to read that you both enjoyed your experiences and gained much from your travels with them.

I'm sure you'll be back to NZ for another visit, including the Bay of Islands and Northland next time.

Cheers.

York, United Kingdom
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2 reviews
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2. Re: Kiwi Experience Review- 2014

Hi. I am doing the Chilly Bin Experience in June/July this year for a month. Just wondering if you could advise me on what you prepped before you went as in, what you were doing in each place? Where you were staying or did you just do it as you went? Also, with 30 days, where would you suggest I spend my time and what activities are best and worth the money? I am budgeting £600 each for food, accommodation and activities while I am there...is this too much, not enough? Any advice and tips you could give me would be great. Want to do as you did and go to the little stops etc. Did you plan them before you went? So you knew exactly what day you were doing what? Thanks so much.

New Zealand
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for South Island
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3. Re: Kiwi Experience Review- 2014

I great review.

I'm sure it will be of help to many future travellers :)

Wellington, New...
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for Wellington, Bay of Islands
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4. Re: Kiwi Experience Review- 2014

Too often the under 25's are given a bum rap for being over indulgent in everything they do. In some cases they do over indulge but then those of us who sought of remember being 25 (I think) also over indulge on occasions. These youngsters believe it or not are our future and I think I can remember being criticised at a similar age.

The Kiwi Experience, Contiki tours has proved to be a very successful travel model and long may it continue. Glad you had a great trip superiorcold and that your punt paid off

London, United...
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5. Re: Kiwi Experience Review- 2014

This review has been helpful as my partner and I are thinking of doing a kiwi ex but are unsure now after reading mixed reviews. I would also like to know how much you planned for before you went? It sounds like you can literally just buy a pass and they take you to the places of interest and add on extras like walks etc without you having to do too much planning. Did you stay at the hostels they recommended? We will be in NZ for a total of 5 weeks travelling north to south. How much would you suggest budgeting for the whole trip?

Perth, Australia
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6. Re: Kiwi Experience Review- 2014

That's exactly the information I was looking for. I'm going during the winter, so I believe I'm gonna have some hard times with the schedule (which would happen anyway, even with the driving option), but it was great to know about how good the stops between destinations are. Thanks, SuperiorCold.

Superior, Wisconsin
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116 posts
142 reviews
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7. Re: Kiwi Experience Review- 2014

Andrew F & secretlover23- We didn't prep much at all. Only the activities we wanted to do outside the tour. All accomodation was booked on the bus and we mostly stayed with the places that Kiwi Ex uses. A couple times we stayed elsewhere for better deals on private rooms, but that's it. Rooms run on average $30NZD/bed/night. Some places are a little cheaper and some a little bit more, the range is $26-$34NZD. We literally planned as we went. We took a look at the route before we left and just did a little bit of research but didn't plan out our days till we got to NZ and got on the bus. We spent A LOT of money in NZ, it is expensive, but the GBP does go farther. Activities are expensive, even with the bus discounts, so plan accordingly. You can find more information about what we did on our blog www.divergenttravelers.com it's too much to write here. There's loads to do in NZ.

Andover, United...
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8. Re: Kiwi Experience Review- 2014

Hi there. I have just read your very informative review on the Kiwi Experience. My friend and I are going to NZ next Feb and are wondering whether to use one of the hop on, hop off buses. You say you were older than most of the travellers on the bus, my friend and I are both in our early sixties, fit and love the countryside (not so much the towns) would you say that it would be a suitable way for us to travel or would we be too old to fit in? Your comment would be appreciated. Thank you.

Wellington, New...
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for Wellington, Bay of Islands
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9. Re: Kiwi Experience Review- 2014

Linda your attitude and tolerance levels should determine if you are too old to fit in. If you are flexible, young at heart, tolerant of youth then you will fit in perfectly. You may end up as pseudo parents/grand parents of the youngsters on board. Live a little and go for it.

Los Angeles...
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10. Re: Kiwi Experience Review- 2014

I was debating whether or not Kiwi Experience would be right for me as I am in my mid-30s. I thought your review was really helpful and checked out your blog. I noticed that Kiwi Experience was one of your partners on your NZ trip. Were you able to travel with them for free?

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