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Kiwi Experience or Stray

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific Kiwi Experience or Stray

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11. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5596 posts) 7y

I did a tour with Kiwi back in 2001 when I was 24, about the average age back then.
I did enjoy it very much but would't do it that way again now, even if I was alone. The only reason being my age now and because I travel differently now. It was my first big trip back in 2001, so totally different.
And based on that experience I have no complaints at all about them. I liked the parties (which are over so I read in the previous posts), meeting people and we basically saw a lot of New Zealand as well. So also based on that, I would recommend them for sure.

12. Posted by wanderitch (Budding Member 81 posts) 7y

In Australia I have decided on Greyhound rather than OZ experience due to the fact that there is more flexibility with Greyhound. I won't have to stop off at places I don't want to see and get stuck there for a day if there isnt a bus running, as some run every other day. I imagine the experience bus tours to be perfect for 18-19 year olds who don't want to go to the effort of planning and haven't been away from their parents before. As a 25 year old though who likes a bit of control it's probaby not for me.

Greyhound is also cheaper, I suppose the fact that its picking up locals along the way is a disadvantage though.

Its a tough one but I'm sure hostels are a better way to meet others rather than a bus anyway.

13. Posted by Chix (Full Member 114 posts) 7y

I'm 25 and did the Oz Experience when I was 23, and the Kiwi Ex when I was 19 (and was the youngest on the bus). I think a lot of the negative comments about the Oz/Kiwi Ex come from people who have never been on it and believe the rumours that its just a shagathon.

I completely disagree, there were even retired people on some of the buses I've been on so the 18-23 age bracket mentioned is a bit of a misrepresentation.

On the Oz Ex, I went with my boyfriend and met other couples, plus plenty of singles (many of which we still keep in touch with). Yes, you'll probably meet a lively crowd, but you won't be forced to get drunk and sleep around every night which is what some people seem to think (also - if you're going solely for this purpose, you might be disappointed!).

I think a more important thing to consider is how much freedom you want in choosing your own itinerary; the 'Experience' buses tend to have quite structured schedules, visiting certain sights along the way, which is great if you're not much of a planner or want to be shown the key sights to ensure you don't miss anything. If you'll find that frustrating, however, this probably isn't for you. Having said that, one the Sydney-Melbourne run, we saw some places we couldn't have found on our own - we spent a night at a working monastry, spent another at a farm in the middle of nowhere making our own pizzas and having a home-made hot tub under the stars...

14. Posted by Chix (Full Member 114 posts) 7y

Quoting bex76

Hi Sam

I travelled with Stray in 2005 round the south island for a month; I have never traveled with Kiwi Experience and never would do to be honest! As sander says, they are geared towards a younger, party crowd, so anyone for whom partying is not a priority would probably not find it suitable. I’ve heard bad things about them, and I think there is a lot of pressure to join in with the partying.

This is exactly what I'm talking about; no offense to Bex as you've been clear that this is just what you've heard from others but if I was the original poster, I'd pay more attention to the opinions of people who've actually been on the bus!

15. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4835 posts) 7y

Quoting Chix

This is exactly what I'm talking about; no offense to Bex as you've been clear that this is just what you've heard from others but if I was the original poster, I'd pay more attention to the opinions of people who've actually been on the bus!

Actually, Sam was asking specifically for "which is considered 'best/coolest/most hip' etc." (emphasis mine). He's not asking with the intention of travelling with one of these companies himself, but rather on behalf of a travel company which would become an affiliate of one of these bus companies and recommend it to travellers heading to New Zealand. Reputation matters here. (It's certainly not the only factor, but the way a company is perceived is not insignificant for his purposes either.)

I won't deny that a lot of people who travel with the kiwi experience have an absolutely fabulous time, but you can't solely rely on people who have travelled with the kiwi experience, as there's a lot of observer's bias there. (A lot of people who wouldn't like travelling with them do their research beforehand and thus wouldn't end up on the bus to qualify for having their feedback heard.)
I myself sampled the kiwi experience shortly and didn't like them, and during my time in New Zealand I've met up with and heard tales from a significant number of people who travelled with the kiwi experience longterm without having done this research, and who grew complete disenchanted.

Consider the group of all independent travellers aged 20 to 30. Would the majority of those travellers enjoy the Kiwi Experience? My best guess answer is: "no". (I think about 25% of them would like to love the kiwi experience, with maybe a further 15-20% being indifferent, and the rest being slightly to very negative. For Stray I think the like to love percentage would be 35% (although being almost exclusively "likes", where the kiwi experience would have a lot of "loves"). For Magic I think it might hover around the 50%. Those are completely wild-guess percentages, but from what I've seen and who I've talked to (including trying to compensate for my own observer's bias which I got for example by the types of hostels I stayed at), I think they'd turn out to be not entirely inaccurate.)
If you look at all travellers you met up with who didn't travel with the kiwi experience, would you really answer differently?

(Of course, the travellers who'd end up with the company on whose behalf Sam is asking might have their own slant in turn, so it's still possible that the Kiwi Experience would end up being most suitable for them, but lacking any knowledge about that, we'll just have to trust that Sam compensates for that on his own.)

[ Edit: Edited on 28-Jan-2009, at 11:29 by Sander ]

16. Posted by Sam I Am (Admin 5588 posts) 7y

As Sander explained in words much more eloquent than my own, it's not for personal use. I'm trying to decide for a company I work with which of these options would be most interesting to their clients. I think it's really really interesting to read the different feedback, and am happy to see some company representatives pitching in as well. It's also interesting in general for others asking about these options in future posts as there's some really good feedback here both from users, on a perception basis and of course from the companies themselves. I now know Kiwi Experience is definitely very switched on to monitoring the web for mentions of their name

17. Posted by RickiDee (Budding Member 5 posts) 7y

Kia ora Sander,

We always appreciate feedback on our product, it’s the only way that we are able to continually improve the service that we offer.

I noticed that in your initial post that you mentioned that you travelled with us and that your experience wasn’t enjoyable. We’d be grateful to know what pass you travelled on so that we can have a look at those sectors. In particular, the experience you had while travelling with us and roughly when, so we can determine if any part of those sectors need review.

We’d also like to extend an offer for you to come travel with us again so that we can redeem ourselves. We believe that we offer a top quality service, and would love the opportunity to have you onboard again. Sometimes a day or two isn’t enough time to determine the feel of our product at its fullest potential.

To all,

At the end of the day, Stray, Magic and ourselves offer a hop-on, hop-off New Zealand transport service geared towards backpackers. In many respects we are all very similar, in particular, our passion for New Zealand. We always appreciate the feedback of those that have travelled with us both positive and negative. Myths often surround the product that we offer, in particular by those who haven’t travelled with us. We always listen to this feedback, so that we can monitor and review any truths that may be of relevance.

Be well, be safe, haere ra,

Ricki Hudson – Kiwi Experience

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