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HOW TO GET NEW ZEALAND ON YOUR BUDGET

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Backpacker Tours

The backpacker bus is one of the most common routes for travelers around New Zealand. Such busses have a hop-on / hop-off service, which provides both flexibility and the ease of arranging events and lodging for the traveler. The Kiwi Experience and Stray in New Zealand are two big buses for hop / hop-off.

Experience with Kiwi– Kiwi Experience is New Zealand’s largest and most famous backpacker bus. This primarily draws young travelers from year to year. I would say that this is around 50% of Children between 18 and 22 years, 40% between 23 and 27, and 10% more than 28. I like your efforts to ensure everyone gets social and acquainted. Drivers play several games and icebreakers, and group dinners most evenings. The downside is that: (a) the busses are around 55 people and when they are packed they get a little clicky (and the bus is still pretty full during the busy season), and (b) the passengers always focus on getting intoxicated (a nickname of the buss is the Green Fuck Bus) and many young people ride it. I should suggest that this bus is for you if you are twenty-five (or just looking for a party).

Stray Travel – Stray has smaller busses that offer a more intimate and convenient atmosphere to meet people. Although there are many year-long travelers on the bus, Stray takes more elderly self-employed travelers. If your first move onto the bus alone and are not an extrovert, the bus drivers do not play as many games or have as many icebreakers. Stray is for you if you don’t want to party too much or share time with travelers with experience.

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Trains

North Explorer, Coastal Pacific, and TranzAlpine are three train lines in New Zealand, which are closed by earthquakes. They are no express trains, but picturesque train journeys: they have platforms for viewing, audio recordings, information packets, and wide screens.

Across the south island, I took the TranzAlpine. Since my first visit in 2010, it was a vision of me to do and I loved each minute. It’s been hype-free. You travel through rivers and mountains and gorges in a lush green landscape. The way to get across the South Island was very peaceful, insightful, and scenic, and meant that there were additional trains across the world (coming on, NZ, you can do that!).

It is not the easiest or most effective way to get around (check that 11 hours’ Northern Explorer is from Auckland to Wellington). Every penny is worth it.

Tip: InterCity sells a Christchurch-to-Greymouth bus/train hybrid fare, but booking it individually is usually cheaper.

Bus

Busses are the easiest and cheapest way to travel around New Zealand if you’re not chartering a vehicle. In every city, buses stop, and even the smallest towns depart regularly.

InterCity, New Zealand’s largest public bus network, is your only choice with the closure of the budget bus service NakedBus (RIP friend).

When you book at least 2 months in advance you can find tickets as cheap as $1 NZD.So I never get those great discount prices but, if you do, this is a lot! I would prefer to buy transportation last minute.

InterCity has two passes for buses, valid for up to 12 months: FlexiPass, an hourly bus passenger pass (15-80 hours), and a TravelPass, a fixed pass that is only suitable for places on that particular route. The Pass costs between $135 – $545 NZD and TravelPass costs between $125 – $1045 NZD (you can add hours if you are not working).

You can stop anywhere along the route with the InterCity TravelPass. For example, you can take Picton to Blenheim, Blenheim to Kaikoura, and Kaikoura to Christchurch on one ride, if your pass includes travel from Picton to Christchurch.

For 15 hours I paid the $135 FlexiPass InterCity. In comparison to my regular travel to the South Island, my fare costs $172, so the pass saves money. There’s a warning: only InterCity busses can use the FlexiPass and they contract a large number of routes on South Island, so I couldn’t use my pass from most Milford Sound, Mt. Cook, or Bluff routes (to Stewart Island). HOWEVER, you might use your pass for you as of August 2018 to make your pass even better.

And what will a traveler do?

Should not buy a pass until you book well in advance for cheap discount prices. I will also miss the broad fixed road pass because when compared to other giant passes or travel operators, they give little value. The InterCity TravelPass, for instance, is $1045, but Stray has more full passes for less – the Max Pass is actually just $929 for more locations and events. Sheep Dog from Kiwi Experience makes $799 the same. Backpacker buses make more sense than a bus pass at higher rates.

Because it’s hours for up to twelve months, I’d consider a FlexiPass. Combine this, or something else, with cheap tickets purchased in advance. Combine and mix the best you can save. Using the pass for expensive routes and easier for shorter routes!

Air travel

It is not easy to fly to New Zealand, as the market is dominated by only two airlines: Air New Zealand and Jetstar – and Air New Zealand on most routes. Whilst on shorter routes or by a couple of months in advance you will find some cheap fares, unless you are always in a situation while moving from island to island, I would skip flying.

Prices for some common routes are here:

Auto hire and campervans

New Zealand is littered by campers, particularly in the wild South Island where people walk and camp, all of which serve as houses and transit and budgetary travelers as winners. Five big charter companies are available: Jucy, Tourists, Spaceships, Britz, and Wicked Campers. The charter companies are also available. Jucy’s solid. Jucy’s strong. I saw her cars and vans more than any other business.

There are a number of differences in rates. Your regular rate will vary depending on where you pick up the car, whether you drop it off at some other location, how long you rent it, how much you book it in advance, and when you book (go in high season? You need an accounting degree to find out how these companies value their cars! Here are normal sample levels when you collect and drop at the same location:

When you’re driving, having a camper would be one of the cheapest ways. As for lodging, you can use your car/car, collect passengers to share gas costs, and even find partners to split the cost of the ride. When you spend $70 NZD a day on Jucy’s 3-person Campervan, this would save you a maximum of 50% compared to a hostel and a regular bus ride.

You can download the cool CamperMate App if you use a campervan, which allows you to locate campsites and gas stations nearby.

Heatwalk

Hitchhiking in New Zealand is easy, and is one of the most important ways to do this. Most drivers are going to pick you up. Therefore, you can ask for a ride around every hostel – everybody does the same thing. That way I went to Fiordland from Wanaka to Queenstown. Additionally, hostels are fitted with boards for people to travel. See also the ridesharing applications Thumbs Up NZ or Carpool NZ…