i 'm off to nz for abt a month and thought probably the best way to see as much as possible would be to jump on one of the tour buses such as kiwi experience and magic bus.
Does anyone have any experience of these, are they any good? are there any others i should be looking at? or should i attempt it on my own?
hey i did the kiwi experience on the north island and loved it! made everything so much easier and met some amazing people. Not the cheapest way i don't think but you can sometimes buy a cheaper ticket of people in the hostels (check out the noticeboards). I'm sure the others a just as good. NZ is great you'll love it - met some people that hired a camper with people they met in the hostels and that sounded like a lot of fun too - a bit more flexible if you have the time.
How funny I should read your post tongiht of all nights, I have just got back into Auckland after doing a 18 day North and South island tour of NZ on the Magic Bus. It was very good, I recommend it, depending on what your after, it's not the drunken tour that Kiwi bus offers, a little bit more mature and cultured but still with a few watering holes on the way!
I can recommend Kaikoura and Napier in the South Island they are beautiful , the YHA hostel in Kaikoura looks out over the ocean and there's mountains as the backdrop....bliss
Also Mt Manguanui in the North is great for surfing.
Anyway have a great time which ever one you choose, hope i've helped?
It depends what you're after. I did the Kiwi bus and had an excellent time but that was more due to the people I met and New Zealand itself. As a company I'd have to say that Kiwi Experience is pretty poor. Most of the drivers are cool but the people at the top making the decisions have a very short-sighted outlook to their company.
If you just want to do the tour in the minimum time then the Kiwi bus is ideal and you won't have a problem, but if you want to hop off along the way (as they advertise) then you're probably better off going with Magic (or Stray). I met people who had hopped off on the East Coast and been stuck for seven days waiting for a space on the bus (they only wanted to stay there for two days), and in the end Kiwi just stuck them on an InterCity bus, which is a bit of a cheek after they had paid the extra expense for the benefits of a Kiwi pass. Nelson and Queenstown also have a reputation as places where you have to wait a few days for an available seat, but it could happen anywhere. Kiwi advertise under the slogan, "hop on, hop off," but this is a bit of a lie and should really be, "hop off, get stuck for a few days."
I've heard from people on the Magic Bus that Magic have a promise that if you give them 24 hours notice they will guarantee you a seat, even if it means they have to put on an extra bus just for you. So if I did it again I'd go on the Magic bus (or Stray which always have plenty of empty seats).
The one advantage Kiwi has is that it attracts a slightly more party minded crowd, but having said that if you're from England then you'll probably find things quite tame by English standards. However, I also met a few people from the Magic Bus who were a good laugh and up for a good time so I wouldn't let that influence your decision too much.
Overall though, New Zealand is a class place to visit and there's loads to do so bring plenty cash. My favourites were probably white water rafting on the Kaituna river near Rotorua, sky-diving at Taupo (cheapest in the country), driving a speedboat at Waitomo, hiking Franz Josef Glacier, sea-kayaking at Abel Tasman and if you visit Kaikoura then I'd definitely recommend flying a plane. It only costs $85 dollars and it's a totally class buzz.
I would definately recommend Magic bus!!!
I travelled with them for a month in June/July 03.
I met a few people who were travelling with Kiwi at the time and they were a little dissapointed.
I had an amazing time in NZ and I can definately say that Magic bus played a big part in that.
Any more q's don't hesitate to ask
would it be cheaper to get public transport around the 2 islands instead of the magic bus? and does the magic bus go to places on the islands that may be more difficult to access with public transport?
Inter-City is quite a bit cheaper than Magic Bus and Kiwi Experience (something like $450 versus $650), but with Kiwi and Magic you get little extras along the way like stops at waterfalls, etc.