Start here if you have any questions around our passes or travelling in New Zealand.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 aweosme 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.
How do I become a Kiwi Experience Driver Guide?
Check out whether we are currently recruiting by following the link above and submit your application. We will assess your suitability for the job based on an initial interview, and reference and security checks. If we think you’ve got the basics (personality, confidence, organisational skills etc), you will be invited to participate in our Driver Guide Training Trip which usually commences in October each year and runs for three and a half weeks. The training trip is considered your second interview (albeit a long one) so you will be offered a permanent position after the training trip if you show us that you have what it takes to be part of our road crew.
What does the training trip involve?
On the training trip there will be two senior Kiwi Experience Driver Guide trainers, the Operations Manager, a driving instructor, and other trainees. The training trip will run to the same schedule as our regular national circuit from Auckland down to Queenstown and back up to Auckland and you will be required (with coaching) to perform all the tasks along the way that the job involves. You will also get to do a lot of the activities along the way that we promote.
Am I paid to do the training trip?
Because your employment won’t commence until after the training trip, you will not be paid for attending the trip. However, your expenses on the training trip will be minimal as your accommodation, most meals and drinks will be provided for you.
What if I don’t pass the training?
You will be given lots of feedback during the training trip so that you can improve in areas where you may be struggling, but if the trainers decide that you haven’t shown any improvement after this, you will be asked to leave the training trip and make your own way home.
What do I need to do before the training trip?
It is strongly recommended that you familiarise yourself with Kiwi Experience (the brand, the destinations, the routes) by looking at our website and coach Travel Guide that will be sent to you. You will need to prepare notes to use for your commentary practice on the trip. A list of places and things that you will be expected to have commentary notes for will be sent to you with your invitation to attend the training trip. The more preparation you do beforehand, the easier the training will be for you.
What licenses do I need to have prior to the training trip?
Before the start of the training trip, you will need to have obtained your class 2 and 4 New Zealand Drivers License and at least submitted your application for a P endorsement and small P endorsement. For information on obtaining the required licenses and endorsements, visit the New Zealand Transport Authority website.
Will I be drug tested?
Yes, you will be required to undergo a urine test on day 1 of your training. If you do not pass the test, you will not be able to participate in the training trip.
What does the job involve?
You will be both a driver and a guide to our passengers so this means that as well as driving them safely from place to place, you will be providing interesting and entertaining commentary about the places you are visiting, and booking them into hostels each night and onto activities along the way.
What licences and endorsements do I need?
You need to have a class 2 and 4 license, a P endorsement and small P endorsement.
What type of vehicles will I be driving?
Mainly Volvo B12 and Scania coaches (12.5m in length) with 3 star ratings. Automatic and manual.
What shifts do I work?
The set route the majority of our Driver Guides drive is a 23 day circuit of New Zealand, including 6 days off en route, starting in Auckland and travelling down to Queenstown and Christchurch before returning to Auckland. This circuit can vary in length and the number of days off between circuits can vary in length from 1 day in summer, to 2-3 weeks in winter. While we endeavour to give you as much notice as possible for when your next circuit is to begin or if there are any changes to your circuit, you may only be told a day or two out. This is because as a hop-on, hop-off transport service, we need to be flexible with our departures in order to meet our passengers’ needs.
How many hours per day?
The hours of work per day depends on the schedule for that particular day of the circuit. For instance, when travelling from Christchurch to Kaikoura you will work around 6 ½ hours, or when travelling from Queenstown to Christchurch you will work around 10 hours. You are also encouraged to spend a bit of time socialising with your passengers in the evenings.
Is there work for me all year round?
As the tourism industry is seasonal, there is a lot more work available over our peak season which runs from January through to Easter. While you will be employed year round, your time off between circuits will be a lot longer in winter time. We offer up to 3 months unpaid leave during our quiet season if you would like to take up other opportunities such as travel or alternative winter employment. Drivers generally don’t take leave over our busy summer period unless it’s for an important occasion.
What should I bring to New Zealand?
All of your worldly possessions… just kidding! Check out what to bring to get an idea of how full your bags should be.
How do I get from the airport to the city?
New Zealand currently has three International Airports: Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown. Buses or shuttles are always the cheapest transport, and there are plenty of taxis available too. In Auckland we suggest you catch the Airbus Express for a quick ride into town and back again.
How much money do I need?
It depends on what kind of holiday you want! For more info on how much things cost, check out our money tips.
What’s the climate like?
It’s sunny and wonderful all year round, except for when it snows on the mountains making it awesome for skiing. Well, that’s what we tell people. Read more about our climate here.
What’s New Zealand food like?
Yum! As a multicultural country you’ll be able to find all kinds of food including vegetarian and other unique dietary requirements. Every New Zealand town has a range of grocery stores and fresh produce direct from the farms, orchards and sea. Each sector of our route also includes regular food and supermarket stops to stock up on supplies. In the end it’s up to you how you eat whether it be cheap feeds or splashing out on one of New Zealand’s many fantastic restaurants (don’t forget to try our world famous wine while you’re here). This is of course also the huge number NZ treats that revolve around sugar and sweets: Pineapple Lumps, Pavlova, Hokey Pokey icecream, and Jaffas.
What is New Zealand’s terrain like?
New Zealand is a long skinny country of great contrasts. There are gorgeous beaches rising all the way to spectacular mountains like Mt Cook at 3754m above sea level.
We have 2 main islands: the North Island and the South Island with many hundreds more like Stewart Island, the Chatham Islands, White Island, and Rangitoto Island. The Cook Straight, separates the two major islands. When you travel on Kiwi Experience you’ll get the choice of jumping on one of the big Cook Straight ferries which takes you through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds, or taking a scenic flight overtop. For more terrain information check out our Pass Map page.
Is New Zealand a safe place?
New Zealand is one of the safest travel destinations in the world, with a low crime rate, low war threat, few endemic diseases and an excellent healthcare system. However we still recommend you observe the same precautions with your personal safety and possessions as you would in any other country, or at home (travel insurance is a good start). If something goes wrong when travelling with Kiwi Experience please notify your driver and stay in the safety in numbers. For more information please visit the New Zealand police website www.police.govt.nz .
Does New Zealand have any dangerous animals?
New Zealand is very lucky that we don’t have any deadly animals like our neighbours in Australia. There is the odd curious shark, but our spiders are lame and we don’t even have snakes!
Is it safe to hitch-hike?
Despite the friendly Kiwi nature we strongly advise against hitch-hiking. It just makes sense to eliminate any possible risk.
What about accommodation?
There are so many options for accommodation, and lots of discounts through Kiwi Experience! We’ve dedicated a whole section to it here.
How do I work in New Zealand?
Working in New Zealand is an option for those who want a gap year or a working holiday. Check out more information about a
working holiday in NZ here
How do Kiwi Experience passes work?
For all the info you need, check out our specific FAQ’s relating to our passes.
What can I do to keep New Zealand clean and green?
Us Kiwis love our country so we’ve written a few tips to help you care for New Zealand while you’re cruising around on the big green bus. Make sure the only footprint you leave here is on the beach! Aroha Aotearoa (love New Zealand).
Rubbish n’ stuff
Water and electricity
Shopping, scoffing and guzzling
Nature is awesome – help keep it that way
Do your bit and help keep New Zealand green.
If you’ve got any great ideas around how Kiwi Experience or your fellow travellers can be more green share it with us on our Facebook Page or tweet to us on Twitter.