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Travel news and NZ backpacker awards

25 Years of Legendary NZ Bus Adventure

03 March 2014, 4pm

2014 sees Kiwi Experience celebrate 25 years of legendary adventures!

Founded by three Kiwi guys returning from their worldwide travels who wanted to share New Zealand with the world. They came up with the hop-on, hop-off backpacker bus concept, linking amazing places, activities and accommodation in a truly flexible way.

On the 28th October 1989 the first Kiwi Experience bus departed and has been loved by travellers from all around the world ever since.

Vote for Kiwi Experience in the 2013 Golden Backpacks Awards

15 August 2013, 4pm

Vote "Kiwi Experience" for best tour/transport operator - New Zealand in the TNT Golden Backpacks.

To vote, go to:
You'll also be in the draw to win free flights around Australia courtesy of TNT and Tiger Airways!

Sweet As!

THL makes Magic transition to Kiwi Experience

24 July 2013, 3pm

This morning, leading tourism industry operator Tourism Holdings Ltd (thl ), signed a new coach contract with Tranzit Group Limited and SBL Group Limited to supply coaches to Kiwi Experience, replacing the existing contract that expires at the end of July 2013.

The coach contract will see the progressive introduction over the next two to three years of new fuel -efficient Scania coaches with Euro 5 emission controls into the fleet, further enhancing the customer service offering for Kiwi Experience travellers.

In conjunction with this new coach contract Kiwi Experience will commence the provision of coach transportation services for the Magic Travellers Network NZ Limited (Magic Bus) passengers from 10 July which is also owned by the same entities providing the coach contract.

The Magic Bus brand will be phased out after a short period of transition to Kiwi Experience.

thl Chief Executive, Grant Webster says: "Through the transition process, thl aims to continue delivering the customer experiences that Magic has provided over the last 22 years.

"Between Kiwi Experience and Magic, thl is confident that our customers will continue to have unforgettable hop-on hop-off adventure holidays when they tour New Zealand with us."

For more information about Kiwi Experience, visit

Les from the Poo Pub, 1925 - 2013

17 April 2013, 5pm

Sunday 13 April was a sad day for the Kiwi Experience family as one of our most loved legends passed on.

Les from the Mahinapua Hotel or the Poo Pub as we know it, had been hosting our passengers for 23 years! The Poo Pub party was always the highlight of many trips and Les's hospitality was unforgettable. Les, we'll miss your epic stakes and hilarious bus spiels, thank you for looking after all our drivers and passengers for all those years. RIP.

Kiwi Experience Crew.

Read the article about Les passing on Greymouth Star.


08 January 2013, 9am

South Island Road Closures Update – 9am, Tuesday 8th January 2013

We are pleased to announce that as the bridge wash-out north of Franz Josef has been repaired, all Kiwi Experience services departing Mahinapua from today will be operating as normal.

03 January 2013, 4pm

South Island Road Closures Update – 4pm, Thursday 3rd January 2013

Please note that we have temporarily amended our service down the West Coast of the South Island due to a bridge wash-out that is expected to take several days to repair. Until further notice, the Kiwi Experience route from Kaiteriteri to Queenstown will be as follows: Kaiteritieri to Westport, Westport to Mahinapua, Mahinapua to Wanaka, Wanaka to Franz Josef, free day in Franz Josef, Franz Josef to Queenstown. This will allow our passengers to experience the main highlights of the West Coast while still getting to Queenstown on scheduled arrival days. If you are currently travelling on a Kiwi Experience coach or due to begin your travel in the next few days and think this will affect you, please speak to your Driver Guide for more information, or call our reservations team on 09 3364286.

Kiwi Experience Number One for Independent Travel

November 2012

Legendary New Zealand hop-on hop-off bus adventure tour, Kiwi Experience, was awarded Best Tour Operator and Best Transport Operator at the Golden Backpack Awards in Sydney on Thursday night.

While it is the first time the big green buses have won the Best Transport Operator Award, 2012 marks the fifth time Kiwi Experience has won the award for Best Tour Operator.

The awards, which are Australasia's only dedicated awards program for the independent travel sector, recognise companies which make travelling around Australia and New Zealand extra memorable.

Run by TNT magazine, the international campaign for the Golden Backpack Awards saw almost 80,000 votes cast by travel lovers from around the world.

Tourism Holdings Limited (thl) GM Marketing and Customer Experience, Kate Meldrum, says the Kiwi Experience team are thrilled to have won the two awards - a first for the tour operator.

"While we are always excited to come home with one Golden Backpack, to win two is just the icing on the cake of what has been another awesome year.

"Kiwi Experience would not be what it is today without our incredible team of driver guides, operations masterminds and trade partners and these awards are a credit to their efforts. It is the involvement of all of these parties that has enabled us to show travellers the best of what New Zealand has to offer and make sure they have a great time along the way."

In addition to Kiwi Experience, one of the newest additions to thl's brand portfolio, Mighty Campervans, was also nominated for the Best Car/Campervan Rental Company in New Zealand – a promising start for the brand which only launched to market in May.

Kiwi Experience has been successfully operating hop-on, hop-off tours aboard their legendary buses for over 22 years and with consistent demand from travellers the world over, there are no signs of slowing down as peak season approaches.

For more information about Kiwi Experience and the range of tours available, visit

Taupo Bungy winners!

20 September 2012, 5pm

We have our WINNERS!!

These 10 Lucky people are about to embark on an adventure of a life time and to make the deal sweeter they now get a free jump at Taupo Bungy!! Congraulations guys.....Are you ready!!!

** To our winners get in touch here or we'll be emailing you with the good news**


  • Emelie Rosenquist
  • Madeleine Reilly
  • Jeanette Troelsen
  • Jochem Datstra
  • Avril Comerford
  • Jessica Hart
  • Ruth Lamont
  • Madeleine Marshall
  • Colin Jacks
  • Hayley Prime

The competition was open to all travellers who purchased a National Pass between the 14th-18th September 2012.

Top Tourism Site Award

15 August 2012, 3pm

Each week New Zealand tourism guide search for online New Zealand tourism sites that stand out from the pack. NZTG chose Kiwi Experience because they feel that we truly enhance New Zealand as a travel destination.

Win your pass back competition winners

29 May 2012, 9am

Congratulations to our winners so far who all won their passes back and will travel New Zealand with Kiwi Experience for free!


  • Ruby Embley (booked online)
  • Candice Robertshaw (booked through STA)
  • Conor Carnall (booked online)

The competition isopen to all travellers who purchase a pass on Kiwi Experience passes between the 25th-29th May 2012.

Win a Black Labyrinth Adventure

23 March 2012, 4pm

Congratulations to our winners who all won a Black Labyrinth tour with the Legendary Black Water Rafting Co.


  • Day 9: George Lang
  • Day 8: Toni Ritarossi
  • Day 7: Ibon Olleagordia
  • Day 6: Evie White
  • Day 5: Chris O'Reily
  • Day 4: A. Hully
  • Day 3: Kaylee Smith
  • Day 2: Laura Haywood
  • Day 1: N Legg

The competition was open to all travellers booking any kiwi experience pass between the 19th-29th of March 2012

Win your pass back competition winners

19 March 2012, 5pm

Congratulations to our six winners who all won their passes back and travelled New Zealand with Kiwi Experience for free!


  • Emma Marsden
  • Mike Taylor
  • Antje Wunsch
  • Lauren Saunders
  • Ruet Behar
  • Claire Willans

The competition was open to all travellers spending over $500 total on Kiwi Experience passes between the 24th-29th February 2012.

Kiwi Ex wins Golden Backpacker Awards for the 4th time!

7 November 2011, 9am

Kiwi Experience, New Zealand's legendary hop-on, hop-off bus adventure network has won its fourth Golden Backpacker Award in the Best Tour Operator New Zealand category during a gala dinner in Sydney recently.

The Golden Backpacker Awards are Australasia's only dedicated awards program for the independent travel sector.

Run by TNT Magazine, the international campaign gathered online votes by travellers over a number of backpacker tourism categories. The award recognises outstanding companies that work the hardest in order to give customers a truly special and unique travel experience.

"We were thrilled to win this award the first time, but to win it four times - we're absolutely ecstatic," says Kiwi Experience Brand Manager Liz Lindsay.

"Our success is down to the dedicated team at Kiwi Experience who are all totally focused on sharing the best of this stunning country with travellers. They're committed to making their time in New Zealand memorable.

"We love our job, but it's made even better to have the industry recognition that this award represents. It's a big pat on the back for the Kiwi Experience team and confirmation, once again, that we're doing the right thing by our customers."

Kiwi Experience was one of two Tourism Holdings Limited (thl) brands to be nominated across three categories at the awards, with Backpacker Campervans being nominated for Best Car/Campervan Rental categories in both Australia and New Zealand.

The awards were held on November 5, and hosted by ARIA award-winning broadcasting and comedian Tim 'Rosso' Ross.

About Kiwi Experience:
Kiwi Experience is New Zealand's legendary hop-on, hop-off bus tour operator for backpackers and independent travellers. Operating for over 22 years, Kiwi Experience is part of the Tourism Holdings Limited (listed NZX: thl on the New Zealand Stock Exchange) portfolio. Founded in 1986 as a The Helicopter Line, specialising in scenic South Island routes, thl operations include car and motorhome rentals in Australia and New Zealand, a specialist caravan and motorhome manufacturing company in Hamilton, backpacker bus transport operations in New Zealand, along with activities in Waitomo which include The Legendary Blackwater Rafting Co., Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Ruakuri Cave and Aranui Cave. Whether it's an adrenalin-fuelled rush or a mellow meander – thl provides the entire New Zealand experience at whatever price or pace you prefer.

New beach locations for travellers on their Kiwi Experience

4 October 2011, 9am

Life is a beach with Kiwi Experience tours, and the new stops with New Zealand's legendary hop-on, hop-off bus adventure company means travellers can visit two of the world's best.

Kiwi Experience is excited to announce its brand new beach stops from October 1 at the South Island's gorgeous Kaiteriteri, and the North Island's Hot Water Beach, located in the Coromandel.

Hot Water Beach is rated as one of the world's top 10 beaches by Lonely Planet, and you'll find it lives up to its name when you grab a shovel at low tide and dig your own hot water pool in the sand. Or if you like your water a little cooler, test your surfing prowess during a half day surf lesson.

Afterwards, spend a couple of hours checking out the wildlife of the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve on a kayaking trip to Cathedral Cove, or exploring the caves and islands along the coastline on-board a long boat. Alternatively make your own way down the walking track to Cathedral Cove to relax, and enjoy the amazing surrounds and seclusion.

Finish your day chilling out on the sprawling deck of the brand new, purpose built, self-contained backpacker lodges at Hot Water Beach Holiday Park that's within metres of the beach. And why not treat yourself to real kiwi fish and chips for dinner from the caravan at the Holiday Park, or throw something on the BBQ, and watch the sun set over the hills.

During the Southern sojourn, you'll visit Kaiteriteri, which is perfectly situated on the doorstep of the Abel Tasman National Park. Surrounded by golden beach and blue water it boasts some of the best year-round weather New Zealand has to offer.

Enjoy your stay in the newly renovated Kaiteri Lodge, only a minute's walk from the beach, with its own bar for cold drinks on hot afternoons, and great meals at backpacker prices.

With a late departure the next day, you can take your time and launch a kayak straight off the beach and take a guided tour past the unmistakeable Split Apple Rock, and along stunning coastline with the chance to get up close to seals and dolphins.

Alternatively, head out to explore the Abel Tasman National Park by catching a water taxi to one of the many isolated bays, and take a stroll through beautiful native forest. If you want to spend a couple of days walking through the National Park, this is the place to begin your adventure. If you'd rather spend the entire morning in Kaiteriteri there's a great mountain bike and walking track, or simply grab your towel and flip flops and head to the beach.

Kiwi Experience Brand Manager Liz Lindsay says, to find out more about the different experiences available, the legendary Kiwi Experience Driver Guides are happy to share their gems of knowledge to make the most out of the time and tides, and can book activities and accommodation for you, so it's a trip you'll remember forever.

"Our New Zealand bus passes go to the very best parts of country, and with 22 years experience, you know you'll be in safe hands when you travel with Kiwi Experience."

Travelling in September or October 2011?

5 May 2011, 1pm

This is what you'll need to know if you plan to travel with Kiwi Experience during September and October 2011:

  • Guaranteed 1st night's accommodation on Kiwi Experience - just book through our awesome Driver Guides (first in, first sorted)
  • At all Kiwi Experience stops we'll be playing the games - watch it with the locals and get amongst it!
  • We'll get you to all NZ's best bits and our legendary Driver Guides will show you so much more than you'll find in your guidebook
  • If there's a place you want to be at a certain time, make sure you book your sector dates early - spaces are limited
  • Become experts with the crew that love rugby, learn the difference between a ruck and a maul, who's tackling who, and why they should "Bring Back Buck"...

Terms and conditions for the period 1 Sept – 31 Oct 2011

  • If you don't show up to a bus you have booked on, your bookings for future sectors will be cancelled until you confirm your onward plans (this includes any forward booked accommodation).
  • Our accommodation guarantee applies to your first 2 nights in Taupo (southbound) and Franz Josef, your first 4 nights in Queenstown and your first night at every other overnight stop.
  • All other Kiwi Experience standard terms and conditions apply

5th Apr, 8am. Christchurch Earthquake Update

5 April 2011, 8am

Operations in and out of Christchurch:

Bus departure details from the 5th of April 2011, onwards until further notice:

  • Christchurch to Kaikoura: The Kiwi Experience bus will pick up from two locations in Christchurch:
    a) The Antarctic Centre (200m from airport at 38 Orchard Road) at approximately 4.00pm. Passengers to be ready and waiting by 3.30pm.

    b) The corner of Bealey Ave and Papanui Road at 2.00pm. From here you will be shuttled to the Antarctic Centre to await pick up at 4.00pm by the main circuit coach.
    All passengers wanting to be picked up from these locations must advise Kiwi Experience Reservations.
  • Christchurch to Murchison: The Kiwi Experience bus will pick up from two locations in Christchurch:
    a) The corner of Bealey Ave and Papanui Road at 8.15am.

    b) The Antarctic Centre (200m from airport at 38 Orchard Road) at 8.30am.
    All passengers wanting to be picked up from these locations must advise Kiwi Experience Reservations.
  • Queenstown to Christchurch: Queenstown hostel pick ups remain as scheduled. The drop off point in Christchurch is at the Antarctic Centre by Christchurch Airport at approximately 4.00pm. The service will then continue through to Kaikoura the same day with any passengers continuing north from Christchurch. All pick-ups and drop offs between Queenstown and Christchurch will be as normal. Please contact Kiwi Experience Reservations to confirm times for these.
    Please note: Kiwi Experience will not arrange accommodation for passengers in Christchurch as there is limited availability, and in many cases buildings that remained intact following the earthquake are being used to accommodate locals in emergency situations. We advise passengers to only use the service from Queenstown to Christchurch if they have organised their own accommodation or have a confirmed flight departing Christchurch shortly after the drop off time.
  • All other departures: All other nationwide departures remain un-changed and running to schedule.

Kiwi Experience is happy to exchange any pass starting in Christchurch for a pass that starts elsewhere – you simply need to pay the difference if it is of greater value.

Kiwi Experience has found its legend!

28 February 2010

A budding filmmaker from the USA has been announced as the winner of Kiwi Experience's 20th birthday competition, winning a 'legendary Kiwi Experience' thanks to the experts of hop-on, hop-off bus adventures.

Self-professed 'legend' Rachael Gammon of Virginia won the worldwide competition after uploading a video to the Kiwi Experience website explaining why she should be chosen to be a legendary passenger.

Rachael claimed the title of 'legend' due to her ability to skateboard in heels, chase jalapeno peppers with hot sauce harvested from the sun and drive on the wrong side of the road blindfolded!

Kiwi Experience Brand Manager Liz Lindsay says, "We're really excited to be celebrating our 20th anniversary with Rachael and we hope that New Zealand gives her some inspiration for future films!

"In the past two decades, the Kiwi Experience team has grown significantly but has retained the original vision of giving each and every traveller a mind-blowing experience while in New Zealand.

"We hope Rachael will enjoy travelling with Kiwi Experience team, we will certainly do all we can to make her trip as legendary as she is," says Lindsay.

This will not be Rachael's first visit to New Zealand but she says she is excited to be returning to what she believes is the most incredible place on Earth.

"Everywhere, breathtaking scenery surrounds you to provide a dramatic backdrop for unique experiences that will inspire the adventurous spirit in the most unlikely of people.

"There's no place like it on Earth and I'm ridiculously excited to get back!" she says.

The Kiwi Experience team began their worldwide search for a legendary passenger to join them on the road in October 2009, in celebration of 20 years spent showcasing our backyard to hundreds of thousands of travelers."Would–be" legends were encouraged to upload their videos to the interactive Kiwi Experience website.

Rachel has won for herself and a mate a grand prize worth over $13k including flights to New Zealand, a Kiwi Experience Funky Chicken trip and 20 of Kiwi Experience's favourite experiences including tramping the Tongariro Crossing, hiking on Franz Josef Glacier, canyon swinging in Queenstown and whale watching in Kaikoura.

Kiwi Experience takes out Golden Backpack award

09 November 2009

Kiwi Experience, New Zealand's renowned hop-on, hop-off adventure network has won its third consecutive Golden Backpack Award in the Best Tour Operator New Zealand category. Thanks to everyone who voted for us!!!

The Golden Backpack Awards is the only Australasian awards programme for the independent travel sector and winners were determined by more than 40,000 travellers who lodged their votes across a number of backpacker tourism categories on The category winners were announced last night at a gala dinner in Sydney.

Kiwi Experience Marketing Manager Tara Baskerville says the Kiwi Experience team is immensely proud to take out this award in the company's 20th anniversary year.

She says, "This award is particularly meaningful to Kiwi Experience as it's voted for entirely by our customers – it's a reflection of our team's commitment to making each and every passenger's trip the trip of a lifetime."

The adventure travel network estimates more than 400,000 people have experienced New Zealand the Kiwi Experience way since the first bus set off in 1989.

"We know the independent traveller sector is dynamic, so we're continually looking at ways to evolve the Kiwi Experience product, routes and activities to ensure we provide travellers with the most authentic and exciting New Zealand experience. This is what gives us the winning edge with our customers in the Golden Backpack Awards," says Ms Baskerville.