I can go on for ages about this:
I went with kiwiexperience last november around the whole of the south island and then in december around a little bit of the north island.
I can't describe in words how much I hated it. Keep in mind I was 26 and I love getting pissed and meeting people and having a good time.
They always take you to the more expensive hostels, always. you can find cheaper places but they won't take you there. you'll have to walk from the hostel they want you to go to. Why stay at base for $27 a night when there is a hostel a few blocks away that cost 21 a night and has free breakfast and internet?
they stop at every mom & pop meat pie shop in the country. "Ok team! Before we go to milford sound we are going to stop at millie's meat pies. 'the soundest meat pies in all of milford.'" be prepared for this in every town and in between everytown. 2 or 3 times a day. seriously this is not an exaggeration.
This kind of ties in with what I just mentioned. They lie about departure times so that you spend more time in front of cafés. Seriously, they'll tell you to be at a certain point at a certain time but then they don't show up or leave for another 45 minutes. How long can you sit in front of a café eyeing up that delicious pastry with out caving in and spending the money.
The Drivers talk non-stop. and they constantly pass clipboards around for activites. "doesn't sound bad", you say. See how you like the talking after a week of drinking and little sleep. Plus see how much you like listening to the driver talk over everyone when you are trying to chat up the cute girl from holland.
They don't leave everyday so you end up getting stuck in a town that you don't like for a few days. I was stuck in greymouth for three nights. because the over booked one bus and thext didn't leave for two days. Greymouth is boring. I also got stuck in franz joesef for a a week because they over booked the bus TWICE. luckily Franz Josef had tons of hikes to go on.
99% of the people travelling on these buses are british tourists. nothing against the brits, but yeah You're not gonna meet any south americans or the oddball from christchurch or the girl from italy...it's gonna be mostly british with the occasional american and german thrown in.
and the number one complaint...They don't have a free telephone number yet they require you to book buses by phone. Keep in mind it cost 90 cents a minute to call anyone in NZ. Now imagine being put on hold for 6 minutes to book or cancel a bus trip. You just spent upwards of $7 dollars for that phone call! I've spent at least $60 buying phone credit because I get put on hold numerous times.
plus Buzz one of the drivers is a hot head that curses at traffic constantly.
If I were you I'd go with nakedbus.com or intercity or hitch hike. you'll meet jsut as many people on those buses as well. you'll meet even more people hitch hiking plus get free food, travel and a room sometimes.
[ Edit: Edited on 04-Feb-2009, at 10:24 by Cool Paul ]