Im arriving in New Zealand mid October and departing mid Feb. I have a working visa incase i need extra cash but was wondering if anyone has used the Kiwi Experience buses hop on off or the Magic Bus? Ive been looking at a national pass hop on hop off. Im flying in and out of auckland so need to get a pass that allows a loop of both islands.
I wanted to know if anyone has used them - good or bad and is it worth the money?
I used Magic Bus and thought they were really good and definitely worth the money. Intercity buses may be cheaper but they just get you from a to b whereas Magic stop for photo opportunities and other activities along the way. They take you direct to the hostels too, which you wouldn't get with the normal buses. Kiwi experience is more of a party bus geared towards a younger crowd, so it depends on what kind of thing you are looking for.
Stray Bus offer a similar service to Magic and market themselves on getting off the beaten track more.
All companies should offer passes which include a loop of both islands.
Intercity busses do actually stop for photo opportunities every so often. I've seen them do this at the church of the good shepherd in lake tekapo, on the desert road in tongariro national park (on a blue-skied winter day), at peter's lookout en route to mt. cook village, and at the punakaiki blowholes. They won't stop at every little waterfall on the way, of course - but if a sight is spectacular enough, you have a decent chance that they'll stop.
I used kiwi experience for three days to see what they were like, and decided they were absolutely not worth the premium you pay for them; yes, they give you some background information - but nothing you couldn't learn yourself by reading your lonely planet - and then they quite heavily push various activities (for which they get a kickback) at all the destinations. So after those three days I got a travel pass (cheapest for long distances) and flexi pass (cheapest for short distances) and made up my own itineraries across both islands with intercity/newmans for the rest of the year.
i used stray to do both islands.
its similar to kiwi experience but not as crazy.