After I booked my flight to New Zealand, I had to start figuring out how I was going to get around the country. It appeared my best options were to either rent a van, figure out public transportation, or go with a tour.
Through a simple Google search asking what others have done in the past, the Kiwi Experience came up.
The Kiwi Experience is a hop on/hop off adventure bus that falls somewhere between being both public transport and a tour. They had many appealing factors, but there were three main reasons I chose Kiwi over all other tours: convenience, flexibility, and the ease of making friends.
Kiwi busses pick up at the same time every operating day at each location; they give you an itinerary so that you know where you’re going and when. I made a list of every place I wanted to make sure to go to in NZ (such as Milford Sound, Lake Taupo, Queenstown, Auckland, Hobbiton, Wanaka, etc) and the Kiwi busses went to all of them!
Also on the bus, before each destination the drivers pass back a clipboard for different activities you can sign up for at a discount (in which you’d just pay your driver who will get your ticket(s) for you), then they arrange your transportation to and from those activities as well (like water rafting, skydiving, the Maori village overnight stay, bungy jumping, etc), so you don’t have to worry about anything!
Kiwi also reserves enough spots at each hostel they stop at for the first couple nights that way you’ll always have an initial place to stay even if all hostels are booked (which is common in the summer months). You don’t have to go with the accommodation they provide, but to have the option is nice.
AND the also have an app where you can check out each of their stops along with activities to do at each stop, what to expect, free things to do, which hostel they have booked for you should you choose it, etc.
In the past, I’ve gone on tours that were very structured — there was only one bus, one driver, one tour guide, one HUGE group of the same kids you were going to be with for your entire trip. We barely had any freedom!
Sure, you had a couple days to do what you wanted, but you all went to the same stops, slept in the same hostels pre-booked for you (many being far away from the city center), and you only got to spend 1 or 2 nights per city with no option to extend your stay.
With Kiwi, you can customize your trip based on what you want to do and where you want to stay longer than the other stops. Sometimes you may find yourself in a city that you’d rather leave sooner or later than what you previously scheduled, in which case, you can just call up Kiwi and they will adjust your itinerary as needed. Easy!
(side note: their busses can get very full in the summer months from December to February, so the sooner you wish to reschedule, the better)
You also have the option to book with different hostels than what’s offered, go off on your own or stay with the group from your bus, and you can sign up for as many or as little activities as you want — your experience is literally what you want it to be!
Easy to meet people
One of my biggest concerns when traveling solo is making friends. It’s easy for me to talk to new people in hostels, but it’s rare to meet other backpackers who are also on the same schedule as you (making it easier to grow a friendship).
One night you could meet someone that you really click with, and the next morning they’d be gone. It’s such a bummer!
With Kiwi, you’re surrounded by people who are more or less on the same (if not, VERY similar) schedule as you, trying to see the same major spots and do the same activities as you; plus, if you book with the hostels that Kiwi offers, you’ll more than likely be put in the same dorm rooms together as well.
If you choose to stick with your fellow Kiwi backpackers, you’ll soon be cooking, eating, drinking, sleeping, and doing stuff together that will bring you closer as a group (like skydiving and cave exploring, in my case).
Seriously, for those considering Kiwi but are nervous about going alone, DON’T WORRY.
Kiwi makes it so effortless to make friends, even if you’re the quiet/shy type. Remember, most travelers on Kiwi are solo as well and are also hoping to make connections and just meet some cool people. You’ll fit right in!
This post was sponsored by Kiwi Experience; all opinions are my own!