WHY NEW ZEALAND?
Do you think Australia is impressive?! Try New Zealand. This Middle-Earth inspired country has everything you can possibly imagine: waterfalls, glaciers, volcanoes, beaches #Narnia, blue rivers, skiing, dolphins, surfing, whales, hobbits, horses and bungy jumps.
If you like long hikes: this is your country! If you like nature: go to this country! If you are an adrenaline junkie: you must visit New Zealand!
Everything you can possibly imagine, you can find here. The people living in New Zealand belong to the world’s kindest people. They are also proud people, proud of their country and culture. Experience the power of the maori villages, stories and traditions while embracing the cold wind and kind sun.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
The minimum time in New Zealand we recommend is 21 days. This is JUST enough to do both islands. Most tours and buses start the trips in Auckland and also finish here. Jetstar and New Zealand Air fly to and from Wellington, Queenstown, Christchurch, Rotorua and Auckland.
The best time to go to New Zealand is jan/ feb (summer) but it’s also the busiest time!! Queenstown has 44.000 inhabitants, but over summer these number raises up to nearly 250.000 people who live and work in the tourism industry. This makes it incredibly hard to find accommodation!
There are two main local bus companies: Intercity and Naked Bus. Both offer km-passes and options to travel to and from the most popular locations in New Zealand, but not as often and good as the bus companies in Australia.
For youth travelers, it’s very common to jump on one of the hop-on-hop-off busses: Stray or Kiwi Experience. These busses have a set route throughout NZ in which you visit the central and most famous spots, but also experience the cultural and nature sides of this beautiful country. They come with a bus driver, who not only drives the bus but also guides you through NZ, books further travel (Discounted!!!) and becomes your best friend! It’s guided, but you are still free to stay in each spot for as long as you want. You just join the next bus the following day! The busses reserve accommodation in a dorm room in their preferred hostel for a maximum of 2 nights in every spot. That way you are always guaranteed a bed! (payable upon arrival).
Stray goes places where you don’t get to by local bus! “Off the beaten track” – their slogan says it all!
You will experience the kiwi culture close at hand!
First stop is Hahei, where you visit the famous Cathedral Cove (Narnia) and hot water beach. You stay here for two nights, after which you continue to Raglan, a famous surf beach in New Zealand. Via the Waitomo Caves #glowworms you’ll go to Rotorua “Maori capital of New Zealand” – the cultural heart of the North Island. Hobbiton, Wai-o-Tapu Blow Holes, Zorbing, 7m drop Rafting, and more activities can be done from here.
From there on the bus continues to 4 very special spots: Lake Aniwhuenhua (pronounced as “anifenua” ) where you stay with a Maori family who is passionate about its culture. Whakahoro (pronounced ‘fakahoro’) where you stay at a farm whilst experiencing hunting, jetboating, horse riding, or gumboot throwing! #crazykiwis.
The last spot on the North Island is the Tongariro National Park, where you will stay in an incredible lodge at the bottom of the park after an 8 hour hike through Middle Earth’s real life version of “Mordor”. The next day you drive to Wellington, from where the ferry (or a little plane $$$) brings you across to the South Island. Abel Tasman National Park; named after the founder of New Zealand, an adventurous DUTCH sailor. The park is incredibly beautiful, and accessible for hiking, kayaking or boating. Through Westport, you’ll end up in Franz Josef where you’ll (if the weather permits you to) climb a glacier and fly a helicopter! This is pretty much the “Fraser Island” of NZ: a must-do activity! Wanaka and Queenstown possibly belong to the world’s most incredible spots. Door to Milford Sound and adrenaline capital of the world: Queenstown still beats every other town in New Zealand. This is the place to go bungeeing, skydiving, horseriding, jetboating, rafting, paragliding, flying, skylining, luging, ziplining, skiing, snowboarding, (seasonal) canyoning, abseiling, hiking: YOU NAME IT!
Leaving behind the most perfect place in the universe, you’ll have to get ready for one of the world’s most famous mountains: Mt Cook. Via Rangitita (rafting!!) you’ll make a short stop at Christchurch airport (planes departing AFTER 11 AM please!!) after which you spend the night in Kaikoura: a cute fishing town that is home to many whales and dolphins. #swimswim It takes about 2 days to get back up to Auckland from Kaikoura. Stray offers many “add on” sections to the pass. You can cover the deep South (Milford Sound), the East Cape and of course the Bay of Islands!
Contact one of our agents to help you select the right pass. The busses do not usually go every day, so the puzzle with the calendar can sometimes be a little hard.
Look for more information on www.straytravel.com.
What’s the difference between Kiwi Experience and Stray?!
Many people ask us that question. To be completely fair: there is not much difference. The concept is the same; however, the crowd is slightly different. Kiwi Experience will have a slightly “younger” crowd, usually a bit more focused on partying and generally a lot more travelers from the UK as it gets sold a lot abroad. Stray is renown for a bit more of a “mix” and also spends a lot of nights inside the national parks instead of Kiwi Experience, who stays in some of the more common places nearby.
Look for more information at: www.kiwiexperience.com.
There are several renting companies in New Zealand. Two of the bigger ones are Jucy and Spaceships. Please note that, although driving this country is incredibly adventurous, don’t underestimate the time. Because there are so many awesome things to see and you generally don’t know where you are going, our advice is to set out a route before you go, and take a good 4 weeks to discover both islands. At least.
It’s illegal to camp ‘just everywhere’ but apps like ‘Wikicamps’ can help you a lot! Be prepared that some of the camping spots, especially in summer, can be full, or charge PER PERSON (not per vehicle). Also be aware that a camper can be COLD in winter, so keep an eye open for powered campsites!