Hi, I have just booked the magic bus NZ encounter package for my 4 weeks in New Zealand. Just wondered if people booked their hostels a long time in advance or were able to get a room once there? So far, that is as far as i've got and i leave in 9 days!! Also, if anyone is also doing the same tour and would like to join or just anyone who has any general advice. Thanks xx
I think magic guarantees you a bed each night (if you stay with the group and go into the hostels that they recommend/get a kickback on), right? (I assume so at least; that's the way the kiwi experience operates too.)
Otherwise, if you just want to do your own thing rather than slavishly following the group, this is definitely not peak season, so if you're not too picky, you should be able to get a bed almost anywhere on the day itself. Maybe if you want to be absolutely certain, book three days in advance for the more popular smaller places on the south island (the glaciers, lake tekapo, mt cook, ...)
i didn't book anything in advance when I was travelling round NZ - I think magic bus and stray bus have some kind of agreement with the hostels where they block book in advance, as there was never any problem getting in anywhere, even though there were big groups of us. make sure you plan which days you are going to be where, as in the winter and spring the buses are not as regular as in the summer. Like sander says, you are not going in the peak season so you shouldn't have a problem if you do want to stay elsewhere. I travelled around NZ in september - it's a nice time to go as it's not too touristy - take some warm clothes and some waterproofs though.
I used both magic bus and stray in NZ and enjoyed both, so I'm sure you will have a good time. it's a good way of meeting people and they can book activities for you too.