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Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific KIWI EXPERIENCE?

1. Posted by jax_07 (Full Member 76 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hey Everyone

My friend and I are in New Zealand for four weeks in February 2006 and have been given a brochure on the Kiwi Experience. I just wanted to ask a couple of questions about it:

1. Is it as good as they make it sound?

2. Which route is best? (starting in Christchurch and ending in Auckland)

3. Is there anything we should absolutely not miss!?!

4. Is there anything we should totally stay clear of!?!

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Many Thanks

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5232 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Quoting jax_07

1. Is it as good as they make it sound?

No. Unless that's the kind of tour that suits you, then it's even better.

But you'd have to be a 16-21 year old person with more love for beer and partying than for taking the time to see beautiful nature, wanting to do just the package, having plenty of money and nothing stopping you from spending it all on doing the activities put before you by these people.
I tried travelling with the Kiwi Experience for just the short bit north of Auckland, avoided the partying, just doing my own thing - and found that that way, they didn't add anything that was worth the much higher cost of such a packaged tour. Read the Lonely Planet and do your own thing, and you're better off.

There are quite a few people who enjoy the Kiwi Experience, but a lot of the people who take such a tour are disappointed by it. Personally, I always recommend getting around by either:
1) Getting a Travelpass/Flexipass and thus using Intercity/Newmans coaches (they take you everywhere you'd ever want to go, daily).
2) Renting a car.

I've done both, an been very happy with either option.

Things absolutely not to miss:

  • Lake Tekapo. Most gorgeous bit of Southern Alps overlooking South Island, which is missed by most people who only come through around noon for a quick 15-minute photo-opportunity on the way from Christchurch to Queenstown.
    I'd recommend taking out two or three days, doing the walk up Mt. John, seeing the observatory, eating pizza at Peppe's (go for the Carbonara pizza: it's the best), watching sunset light over the Church of the Good Shepherd and sitting behind the huge windows of the YHA with a cup of tea in your hand, marvelling at the view.
  • Peter's Pool at Franz Josef glacier, and the entire following walk to Robert's Point. Most people only do the east side track up to the glacier, but the rainforest on the west side there is truly stunningly green, and the reflection in Peter's pool is just otherworldly.
  • The Hobbiton Tour at Matamata. $50 seems expensive, but those green hills are really that green, and I found it surprisingly totally worth it.
3. Posted by FionaNZ (Respected Member 903 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Sander, I think we need to make you an 'Honorary Kiwi' you always have such great things to say about NZ

4. Posted by moolieness (Full Member 48 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Having just finished the kiwi experience, I have to whole heartedly say it has been one of the best things I have done so far!! I heard all the bad reports before I went but by then it was too late as I had bought my ticket in the UK. I was expecting a young crowd pissing it up, but found it to have a wide age range (from 18 to 35) and people from all sort of different walks of life, there to discover a different side to NZ.

I found on the Kiwi experience that we got discounts just about everyplace we went, accommodation, activities and beer!! Went on some amazing walks, stayed in places not even in any guide books and best of all met a fantastic bunch of people.

I did the sheepdog which took in both islands, but I hear if you buy that pass now you get the extra of a "east as" pass for free which is a smaller bus taking in more maori culture in the east if the south island. I found the guides to be really knowledgeable about their country and willing to have a laugh, they also ask the bus what it wants to do, so there is no strict routine!!All the drivers have nicknames and it becomes a game of trying to find out why they are called what they are called

I say go for it do both islands as it takes about a month and enjoy yourself!