Hi all - I have had a look through the forum and found a couple of relevant posts, but I was wondering if there were many who had been on a Flying Kiwi tour?
I am looking to go in January on the Ultimate Explorer tour which covers both islands. I like the idea of being more active and outdoors based and am not interested in any of the more 'party bus' tours.
Whilst it does seem a fair amount of money the fact that includes a lot of the food and most accommodation costs four the tour is a bonus, and there are a lot of activities it covers.
I am interested to know anyone's experiences who have been with Flying Kiwi. I am looking at the additional activities, several of which I would like to do, however I would be interested to know whether most travellers do a large number of them or whether there will be plenty of people about who don't (I don't want to be the only one left behind if I can;t afford something!)
So basically if anyone has any information or experiences they would like to share I would be very interested to read them
I did the whole two islands with them this Jan/Feb and had a fantastic time. I spent quite a while looking at all the options - Kiwi Experience, Stray, Magic, Intercity etc. and this seemed to be the best option for me - I love camping and we did get to some really nice spots away from where everyone else would be, though some nights you find yourself camping at the same sites that Stray use cabins at. It is pretty expensive but most food is included and is actually pretty good.
If you're not keen on camping then Stray and Magic do similar routes and cover most of the same activities. I've heard good things about Kiwi Experience from friends, but it's still a party bus and I hate big hostels. All activities are optional and there's no pressure to do any of them, but obviously the bus stops for a while wherever the activity is so you might get bored if there's nothing else to do nearby. I got carried away (it's very easy when given such a tempting list of things to do each day!) and did pretty much all of the activities but you won't be the only one left behind, not everybody was there to do every activity, in fact one guy on ours only came to do the bike rides.
It will depend on the group but considering it's a non-party bus trip we did end up having a few drinks around the fire most nights or going out when in a town, but again there was no pressure to drink or do anything you don't want to, and you can pitch your tent away from the noise if you want a quiet night.
I would say unless you're really keen on cycling that the cost for hiring a bike is ridiculous - we might have done about 10 rides over 30 days and admittedly they were all very good, but people who hadn't paid for it were normally allowed to come along (on a swap with someone who has paid basis, if everyone who had paid wanted to go then then they couldn't), or I think you could pay then if you really wanted to do it.
Overall I'm really glad I chose to do it, I met a great group of people (this is the key to any trip, and a few people who stopped and joined the next bus said their next group wasn't nearly as good so it's luck of the draw!) and had a really fantastic time. Neal our guide was really good and I'd definitely recommend it, despite the extra cost over some other options. The fact that the buses only go every 9 days means most people end up staying for the whole time (either the month or one island, though a few people on ours only did a 3 days or so) and you get to know them well, unlike the ones which go daily where people stop and change far more often. You might find it slightly cliquey on the first day but after you get to know a few people it's fine and you're part of the group - same with anything like that.
Hope that answers a few questions, if you want to know anything else just let me know.
Hi Rich - that is fantastic, thank s so much for the information! I think you have covered pretty much everything I wanted to know in one post, it really is very helpful.
Out of interest I am looking at sorting out my budget for the trip (or trying to...) - did you look into activity prices before you went, and did you find the prices on the Flying Kiwi website were fairly accurate? Just thought I would ask as I am going to try and work out an approximate cost for everything I want to do.
Thanks again for the information, it really has been very useful
I didn't look at prices before I went, at the time I wasn't sure if I would be going home straight after that trip so I just said yes to everything and put it on the credit card - it's a trip of a lifetime so it's all got to be done! As it turned out I stayed for another 4 months and worked for a while.
I've just had a look at the prices on the website and they're pretty accurate, a couple of things have gone up by a few dollars. It's the ones that say "from $..." you want to watch out for eg. Skydiving. Whilst it's possible to do it for $219, that's from 12,000ft with no video or photos. I think that everyone who did it in my group paid $500 to go from 15,000ft and get the photos, video (and a free t-shirt - woo!). Trust me, you will want to get the photos just to make everyone at home jealous! Another example is the bungys - there is one for $99 (might have gone up to $110 now?) at Taupo but the big Nevis one in Queenstown is $240 + $80 for the DVD/Photos.
As a rough guide it's fine but go with a bit in reserve for the extra bits, as a guide I think I spent about $7000 on the whole month trip (not 100% sure) inc. the trip cost, and did all the activities I wanted. It's possible to do it for a lot less but I like the silly expensive stuff!
Just noticed they offer 15% off if you say a friend recommended you, and they get $40 amazon vouchers. If you want to stick me down as your friend then you save money and I get free vouchers! Let me know,
Thanks again for the info - it is really helpful. I did wonder about the 'from' prices! I think I will probably do a bit of independent research online for prices and stuff to help with the budgeting. Thaks for putting down some guide prices here though, really helps get a feel for how it is going to be. I am hoping to do what you did and find some work to stay on for a while afterwards, although i have no idea what the job market is like these days, so I am not relying on it. I have got a return flight booked then if I can get a job and stay on I will just change the ticket.
I'll ask them about the recommended thing when I book and put you down, you have certainly recommended and helped me with it!
What time of year are you going? I think Flying Kiwi only run during the summer (Oct-April?). In which case there should be fruit work in various places depending on the month. I worked for 3 months at a packhouse in Napier which is a big wine/apple region.
The good thing about our guide is that he wasn't on any commission so you could ask him where the best place to do any of the activities was. I think at one place there was the option of rafting but he advised us to wait and do it somewhere later on as it was a much better river and I think cheaper too!
Hope that helps!
I am going in mid-December, hopefully booking the Flying Kiwi tour for early January to early February. I am aiming to be Wellington based after that because I have a friend there but it depends on what my options are and if I can find work somewhere really.
Thanks for all your help