Kiwi Experience is New Zealand's original hop-on, hop-off backpacker bus tour operator.
We have an extensive network, with lots of great inclusions and some of the greatest Driver Guides in the industry. We don't call ourselves "legends of the road" for nothing!!!
We're 25 this year, and we're quite chuffed about. As part of the celebrations, we've re launched our website: http://www.kiwiexperience.com/ check out our gnarley prizes up for grabs!!!
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If you've been here before, or coming here soon - we hope that your New Zealand experience is a Sweet As one!
77 reviews with the most recent first, showing page 1 of 6.
Ive personally given Kiwi a 4/10 because:
- Some drivers are professional and friendly, some drivers are sleazy and creepy towards girls.
- Suggested hostels are generally overpriced, and often you just feel like part of a big cash cow herd for Kiwi and its affiliated hostel.
- DO NOT BOOK 'Unique stays' vouchers - absolute waste of time. For my first 'Unique stay' in Kaiteriteri I was put in rented office space because there was no room in an actual building. 'Unique stays' are in fact just a way of prepaying for a bog standard dormitory room. Which is not clearly explained at all.
- Don't bother pre-booking through Kiwi for activities, as most of my pre-booked activities were cancelled whilst on the trip anyway.
But however, in general, whether you'll enjoy the kiwi experience bus is really dependent on what you're looking to achieve in New Zealand.
If you're looking for complete independence, and the ability to explore the areas of natural beauty of New Zealand on your own schedule, you should hire a campervan and do not do Kiwi Experience.
If you're looking for the opportunity to make friends, visit lots of bars, and with minimal effort travel your way around New Zealand (minimal effort because Kiwi Experience do all the planning/thinking) than the Kiwi bus is probably the best option for you.
In terms of cost, the Kiwi Bus - and corresponding hostel stops - may work out slightly more expensive than travelling by yourself, but you may be able to justify that due to the total lack of personal planning required for the bus option.
A bus ticket for ride around NZ .
With pleasant drivers who try hard to make up the difference between a very stingy (and silly) corporate philosophy of including absolutely no frills, no travel facilities, - no wifi - nothing much else, and recommending very average to poor (cramped rooms/noise), but expensive hostels, and also relatively "best deal" but VERY expensive, but under/poorly resourced activities - in which the business clearly has some sort of share/stake - and from which it must makes up income for its 'competitive price' for the bus pass.
Clearly management is squeezing this business, and the drivers have to pick up the strain. Poor buggers!
Bad business guys.
Spend a little more on your clients, and your clients will be inclined to enjoy themselves - and spend more as well!
Good for you - good for your clients.
If you want my bank details to pay for the free business advice, and the full refund from Heli-Hikes in Franz Joseph (for which I am still waiting a month later as a result of a cancelled activity) - please let me know in your response!
Kiwi experience has been, without doubt, the highlight of my 8 month trip around australia and New Zealand.
Besides undergoing trip in the New Zealand winter; the trip was highly organised, well planned and gave us access to the best hostels and tours in New Zealand!
The bus offers a great range of discounts and group deals. I managed to save $25 on my Nevis Bungee jump. (which made the jump itself more rewarding!...).
The drivers are all fun and enthusiastic- happy to help with any request. We loved Simon and Jacob.
Kiwi experience is a great option for single or small-group travellers- with the bus being the perfect way to meet people and spend more than a moment getting to know each other. I have made long-term friends on the bus and plan to see them soon!
Would recommend it to anybody and everybody.
Dear fellow travellers,
I, a female student of 20 years old, just finished travelling around New Zealand. I travelled with Kiwi Experience on the Super Funky pass, but I also took some public buses to different cities and even hitchhiked a bit. And out of all of these, Kiwi Experience was the best way of travelling the country for me. They have great deals so you can get your pass for cheap, they are easy and reliable, take you to the best places in the country and there are always lots of fun people on the buses to meet and share your experiences with!
I had a relatively long time to travel around the country, about 2 months, where the minimum time for my pass was 28 days. This gave me a lot of freedom and flexibility to stay longer in the places than the minimum time, which I also did in most of the places. Kiwi Experience is also very flexible with dropping you off or picking you up in cities along the way that they do not spend the night in!
Kiwi Experience is a very easy option to travel. They organize activities for you that you can sign up for on the bus and advise you on the best options for your preferences. They help you organize the hostels and guarantee that you have at least one night in the hostel that they book everyone in. That being said, it is always a good idea to research those hostels yourself as well, because they are not always the cheapest (but in general very nice and comfortable!).
Because I had so much time to complete my pass, I hopped off quite often and hopped onto new buses with new drivers. I had a lot of different drivers – Josh, Kea, Mangee, Toddy, Q, Kyle and Nancy. All of them have such great personalities and it is never boring with them around to guide you!
All in all I met some amazing people that made the experience so much better and did the most amazing things throughout the country! I could not have imagined travelling through New Zealand in any other way than I did and loved every single minute of it!
Thank You - to the thousands of travellers that have contributed to our Top Voted NZ Activities Map - it's free from Rankers.
Myself and my friend (both female, 22 & 23 years old) have just finished our Kiwi Experience tour on the Sheepdog pass travelling from Auckland to Christchurch and would highly recommend it to anyone exploring ways of seeing the incredible country of New Zealand. We are really glad that we chose to do this as it meant we had no restrictions in terms of our time frame and the cost of the add-ons such as the Milford Explorer did not increase once on the bus. The recommended minimum time for the Sheepdog pass is 17 days and we had 28 days to complete it which meant that we could hop off the bus at several stops along the way.
In total, we had four drivers - Josh, Kea, Kyle and Mangee, all of whom were extremely informative and helpful in advising us on how to manage our time best and book onto different buses and ferries.
We had been considering hiring a campervan to travel the country when initially planning our trip as we thought this would allow us the most freedom. In hindsight, we are really glad we decided to book through Kiwi Experience as, not only would we have been ridiculously cold in the winter season, it actually meant we got to see a lot more of the country than we would have doing it ourselves as all of the drivers are natives of New Zealand and their knowledge of the country is unparalleled. This meant there were a lot of stops en-route for various photo opportunities, walks and visits to local communities that we would never have known about otherwise.
The Kiwi Experience was also a really great way of meeting other travellers and like-minded people who were all enjoying the experience with you and we continually bumped into people along the way who we had met previously.
Overall we are both really glad we chose to book through Kiwi Experience and could not imagine having travelled New Zealand any other way!
I had such an awesome time with Kiwi Experience! Their tours are really good, allowing you to move at your own pace with friendly drivers who always offer helpful advice on where to go and what to see. I really felt I got to see the best of NZ when I was with them and could reccommend anyone to book with them... You won't be disappointed! You'll have a fantastic time, see some amazing sights and make some great friends along the way!
I had a completely amazing experience on the Kiwi Bus, with lovely new friends, amazing scenery and so many fun activities/things to do! I would completely recommend the trip for likeminded fun loving, adventure seeking individuals and the company really give you everything you need to make it into an amazing trip for yourself.
Hassle-free, Stress Free:
I found that the kiwi experience was extremely hassle & stress free. Albeit it isn’t what I’d deem as real travelling (having travelled through Asia, South America etc) as it is very well organized. However, it alleviates a lot of the harder work/boring bits of travelling e.g. sorting accommodation/things to do and therefore lets you get on with the fun stuff and leaves you enough time to do what you want!! E.g. outdoor activities, drinking and spending time with your new friends!
Every stop brought a new perspective:
I felt that every overnight stop on the trip was worthwhile. To give some examples…Wanaka was just totally scenic and beautiful, like nothing I’d seem before, Christchurch allowed me to learn loads about earthquake destruction and really get a feel for a city hit by such a catastrophic tragedy and River Valley offered a homely/farm stay feel with amazing white water rafting straight outdoors from the accommodation.
There were a ridiculous amount of new things on offer to do/see. The advantage of being on a long kiwi journey is that the bus drivers can give you good advice about each activity on offer, e.g. they helped me to compare white water rafting for you across the various places it would be available to help me make my decision about where to do it.
If you come on the Kiwi bus alone (like myself and the majority of the others on my bus) you won’t be friendless for very long. I’d estimate 2-3 minutes ☺
All in all, what an amazing month!! I just want to go back now xxx
Nice drivers, a little bit expensive, make sure you book.
Very funny driver, nice place to stay, good information and organisation. A little bit expensive.
Moacir Batista de Campos Neto
I spent all February and March of 2014 planning my trip to New Zealand in my winter holidays. I read that renting a camper van or a normal car this time of the year was not a good idea, due to cold and icy roads, so I decided to give Kiwi Experience a go, after finding the Sheepdog Pass (which covers basically all the country in less than 3 weeks). And I'm really happy for this decision. I found some friends who chose to drive during the trip and they were miserable and tired because of the exhausting driving and lack of time. Comfortable way to get to know this amazing country, with some discounts in activities and amazing little spots and walks along the way. I'm 22yo, don't drink alcohol and although some of the travellers did, they were civilised the whole time, and punctual with the time. It turns out that I didn't need to plan anything, the driver guide does everything to you, and my job was to remember to breath while enjoying that breathtaking scenery. There is absolutely nothing to complain. Best holiday ever!
Miron & Hendrik
Do the little tours - big ones too expensive. Some booking problems.
Enjoyed the Kiwi Experience a lot but there are a few things which mean I would think twice about doing it again.
1) Nelson and Queenstown are the bottle necks and it is very easy to get stuck there, kiwi don't care if you have a flight to catch or how long in advance you requested it. Some way to allocate you a seat on a $1000 bus pass! In the end despite trying to reserve a bus out of Queenstown a week in advance they put us on Standby and we had to pay extra to go with a different firm. Not good enough Kiwi.
2) I was absolutely shocked at the drivers behaviour He allowed people both to sit on the floor because the bus was full and also the courier seat was used nearly everyday, both of these are illegal and the driver even commented "no sitting on the floor tomorrow guys, you'll have to get a different bus, there is a good chance I'll get pulled going into Queenstown"
3) Don't pay the price on the website. You will probably get at least 30 percent off in NZ, both islands for $420 which is less than just a one island pass for example. Majorly pissed when I realised I was the only one who paid full price.
4) The activities they take you to and do are very very very expensive
Other than that, i think they take you to more places and show you more stuff and give a lot more commentary than people make out. Yes at night it is a party bus but this wasn't forced and many people opted out of the drinking and pub crawls and had a good time. Had a really good time and I'm giving them a 7, just wanted to highlight some of the problems you can have with them and I was genuinely suprised how such a big operator didn't seem to know what was going on re bus spaces and allocating you a day to travel and the whole having people on the floor/courier seats is absolutely ridiculous considering they charge top dollar.
Party bus. Really young crowd.