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Frequently asked questions about our NZ bus passes

What is “hop-on, hop-off” and where can I get off the bus?

Our hop-on, hop-off system allows you to get off our route wherever you like for as long as you like. We encourage you to jump off the bus and explore New Zealand in more detail. Each overnight top on the map means you need to spend at least one night there, and in some places we recommend two because they’re  that good! Each route can be used once. Follow the arrows and the itinerary to see where you are headed. If you’ve found somewhere you like the look of, or landed a job for a few weeks, make the most of it. If you’re not sure where to get off talk to your Driver Guide, other passengers, and take a look through our helpful Kiwi Exposed guide book. If you’re getting off at a stop that is not a scheduled overnight stop, it’s always a good idea to give us a contact number so we can let you know of any changes.

How long can I travel for?

Once you’ve purchased your New Zealand bus pass you have 12 months to begin your travel, and then once you start you have 12 months to complete it. If you’ve got the time you should definitely take it.

Each section of a pass can only be travelled once although there are 2 exceptions to the rules: 1) the Kea and Top Dog passes travel Christchurch to Kaikoura twice and, 2) our six New Zealand – start anywhere passes now offer Unlimited Travel which means you can travel sectors more than once! See our terms and conditions for more information on Unlimited Travel.

What does minimum travel time mean?

We’ve come up with these travel times to help you plan your trip around New Zealand. If you are a little short on time, or who just want to be sure they can make their flight out at the other end, this is a good guideline to work to.

Our recommended travel times include spending an extra night (so 2 nights total) in Taupo, Franz Josef and Queenstown because they’re such amazing places with lots to do. If you’re on a deadline then you can easily skip these extra nights as timetables allow. Whether you are travelling in summer or winter can make a difference too so check out our bus timetable for more information, and get in touch with our Reservations team if you have any questions – we are here to help and make your trip amazing no matter how much time you have!

How do I start my pass?

​Grab your booking number or agent ​reference and give our reservation crew a call on (+64) 9 336 4286 or email and they'll get you sorted. All they'll need is your start date and your first pick-up point.

What if I’m travelling on my own?

Most people who start Kiwi Experience are doing it on their own, but you wouldn’t know it by the end of the trip. You’ll meet all sorts of people from all over the world and quite a few locals too. We’ve had people start off as strangers and become life long friends forever. The great people you meet is one of the best things about Kiwi Experience.

​How much money do I need?

Hostel accommodation is usually between NZ$22-31 a night and as for activities - how much you spend depends on what you choose to do. Check out the activity deals page to see what activities will cost you and all the awesome discounts available!

How do I plan my stops?​

If you have limited time in New Zealand make sure you book in advance with our reservations crew. Our Driver Guides will also be able to help once you're on the road, plus you'll get our handy Kiwi Experience travel guide that will tell you everything you need to know about your trip of a lifetime. ​

Where can I get off?

​​You can hop-off the bus anywhere on the route, and contact us when you're ready to hop back on. Each overnight stop on the map means you need to spend at least one night there, and in some places we recommend two because they're that good!

Are there any age limits?

Kiwi Experience recommends a minimum age of 18 years. If you are younger than this and travelling with a guardian, please contact us and we will do our best to get you on board. As for maximum age there is absolutely no limit – we’ve had a 72 year old man and a 92 year old woman do Kiwi Experience and they both absolutely loved it!

Can I change my departure date?

​​Yes, as often as you like! Give us a bit of notice (especially during summer) and it should be sweet as! Contact us by phone (64) 9 336 4248 or email and let us know your new date.

​What’s included in my New Zealand bus pass?

​Comfy, modern coach transport and informative, entertaining commentary, plus heaps of exclusive activities, walks and discounts! Accommodation can be booked through your Driver Guide, simply pay when you check in. Not included is your ferry crossing between North and South Islands, meals and optional activities, but awesome discounts often apply!

What accommodation do you recommend?

We usually stay in backpacker hostels in the main overnight stops, but we also stay on an outback farm or at an adventure lodge in the middle of nowhere! Most rooms are quad share and most places have the option of a twin or double room for a bit of extra privacy. Your driver guide can book this for you as you drive into each destination.

As a Kiwi Experience passenger, if you choose to stay in our recommended overnight accommodation then you’ll be guaranteed a bed on your first nights stay. Your New Zealand bus pass doesn’t include accommodation but in many places there will be accommodation discounts or a cheap meal deal. Most passengers want to stay together but if you wish to stay somewhere else our driver can help you with this too.

How do overnight stops work?

We stop at all the overnight stops shown by a green circle on the maps, and it’s for the night. You pick a bed and you fight for it tooth and nail… Seriously though, each green circle shows you where the bus – with you and all your mates – will stop for the night. You can’t skip ahead, so if you are short on time, contact us about how to get the most out of your time here. At every overnight stop, we have guaranteed accommodation for you, so there’s no fighting about who has to sleep on the floor, and you don’t need to worry about booking ahead, we can do that for you.

Some of our stops are so awesome we suggest two nights here – that’s Taupo, Franz Josef, and Queenstown.

How do I book optional activities?

As part of your bus pass price we’ll take you directly to New Zealand’s top tourism and adventure activities i.e. Skydiving, bungy jumping, kayaking, great walks.

Like accommodation this can all be booked through your driver guide and your bus pass entitles you to some fantastic activity discounts along the way. Due to our size we’re also looked after by heaps of great activity providers, who make sure there are always spots for Kiwi Experience passengers, even when it’s busy.

For these reasons it’s better to book with your Driver Guide on the bus, rather than in advance. It also helps to talk to those on the bus to work out the top activities and where your hard earned money is best spent.

How do I get between the North and South Islands?

If you haven’t yet noticed, New Zealand’s two main islands are split by a mass of water known as the Cook Strait. To get between each island you can either take the Interisland Ferry or a short flight. Again, like accommodation and activities, your Driver Guide can book all this for you and even hook you up with a discount.

How do I begin my travel?

When you buy your New Zealand bus pass you’re given the option of selecting a start date, or leaving the pass open dated. If you have an open date pass then you’ll need to contact us once you know what day you want to start your Kiwi Experience. The more notice you can give us the better so that we can confirm there’s a seat for you when you want it.

Some passes have fixed starting points whereas others allow you to start from anywhere along the route. See the passes page for these full details and to compare pass options.

Can I change my departure dates?

Absolutely! If you could give us as much notice as possible that would be great. Just contact us and let us know your plans. Give us 24 hours notice and it should be sweet. In summer, everyone wants to travel with Kiwi Experience, so chat to your Driver Guide about booking your departure dates along the way to make sure you have the trip of a lifetime!

How do I get back on the bus again?

When you’re ready to get back on, whether it’s the next day or next month, just give us a call and we’ll arrange a seat for you. Try to give us at least 24 hours notice, although again the more notice you can give us the better as everyone wants to travel with Kiwi Experience, especially in summer! Check out our bus timetable to see what dates and times we depart each location.

Does Kiwi Experience have anything to do with Oz Experience?

Many years ago Oz Experience was founded off the back of Kiwi Experiences success. However, due to the travelling distances in Australia it didn’t work in quite the same way so was sold in 2005. Kiwi Experience is uniquely New Zealand. We don’t have any affiliations with any similar operators in Australia.

Does Kiwi Experience have affiliations with any other companies?

As New Zealand’s leading adventure travel network Kiwi Experience has relationships with accommodation and activity providers right across the country. Kiwi Experience is owned by THL, one of New Zealand’s leading tourism companies.