backpacker bus nz

Backpacker Bus New Zealand Comparison – Stray Travel, Kiwi Experience, Magic Bus

When it comes to choosing a backpacker bus tour across New Zealand you may be faced with a choice between the big 3 tour companies currently operating a hop on, hop off bus pass service. Here we take a look at each of the big names and offer our opinion for you to make the best choice for you!

Backpacker Bus Tour review by Deborah Barnes. Deborah travelled on each of the bus tours during her 12 month working holiday to New Zealand and gives a summary of what each company has to offer…

Kiwi Experience

Who is it for?

From my view the kiwi experience bus is a younger crowd filled by mostly 18-25 year olds. It seems to be more of a party bus and if you have enjoyed the Oz experience bus in Australia previously it’s much the same deal here. For older travellers there’s still plenty of fun to be had but this is probably not the bus for you if you are in NZ to see the country instead of the nightlife.

Where does it go?

The Kiwi Experience bus stops in many of the same spots as the other two buses with a few exceptions. You can view a map of the route here

How Much does it cost?

Click here for pricing

Other comments

The buses are large and can seat around 50 passengers. Although they are comfortable they can get very busy and are often full. You may struggle in peak season to change your stops if you do actually want to hop off the bus for a few days as the next ones may already be full. Definately the choice for party go-ers and the younger crowd.

Stray Travel

 

Who is it for?

Aimed at a slightly older audience then the kiwi bus Stray seems to somehow strike a great balance of people who still want to have fun but also won’t be partying every night. I encountered people of all ages on the Stray bus but found the majority to be in their 20’s. More relaxed and intimate with smaller bus sizes and more stops with accomodation facilities that encourage the group to get together it felt a lot more like travelling with the whole group and friendships very quick to form. Definatly the one for people who want to have a good time without going overboard!

Where does it go?

The Stray Bus covers most areas in NZ pretty well from top to bottom. For a map of the route click here

How Much does it cost?

Click here for pricing

Other comments

Definate tops to spend a few more nights if you have time are Raglan (fantastic, quiet accomodation set in woodland with excellent surfing), and Queenstown (skydive, bungy, party town and the world famous Ferburger!

Magic Bus

 

Who is it for?

Like the Stray Bus the Magic bus was filled with a slightly older crowd of mid twenty somethings. People will want to see the sights of New Zealand whilst having fun at the same time. The buses are usually quite large and reasonably modern.

Where does it go?

The magic bus route covers the same basic routes as the Kiwi and Stray bus and maps can be found here

How Much does it cost?

Click here for pricing

Other comments

Comfortable coaches and an atmosphere of fun make magic a good choice. The number of locations the bus travels to could be a disadvantage to some but overall the magic bus delivers a good service and is usually not as busy and quieter than the other two options.

Overview? Which should I choose?

Overall you won’t go far wrong picking any of these bus services as they all deliver a good standard and enjoyable travel. Make sure you pick the right backpacker bus tour for you….

Kiwi Experience – 18 – 25 looking to party

Stray Travel – 20 somethings looking for fun and a tight group

Magic Bus – For people wanting to explore NZ more quietly

We recommended Stray Travel as the best backpacker bus tour in New Zealand. It’s mix of fun and more intimate group sizes make it a big hit with backpackers plus it’s network extends further than the other companies with the route visiting both the Bay of Islands and a Southern Island loop including Stewart Island.

For more information on Stray Travel click here!

Backpacking New Zealand

7 thoughts on “Backpacker Bus New Zealand Comparison – Stray Travel, Kiwi Experience, Magic Bus

  1. Johnno

    I did Stray in 2008! Our driver Morrie was awesome and I did part of the south island with Gollum. Wish I could go back and do it all again! I think the free apple pie at the hostel in Picton was one of the best parts too! Yummy! 🙂

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  5. Pat

    I was traveling with the magic bus and had a great time in the beginning. I had Russ as my driver and he was trying to make sure the whole bus was having a good time and was very attentive if anyone needed anything.

    Then I stayed over in National Park for a few days and was picked up by Dan. Everything changed with Dan as my driver. As we left National Park Dan told us that he was going to listen to sports on the radio on the way down to Wellington, not worrying about the fact that no one on the bus was interested in litening to golf on the radio. Also, as we drove down he was swearing at other drivers on the road the whole way down.

    Then when we arrived in Wellington, Dan said he was going to take us on a pub crawl. We went to one bar where Dan drank for free all night and was not worried about going to any other bars. In addition to not worrying about the fact that most people on the tour wanted to move on to the next bar, he was blatantly hitting on some of the younger girls on the tour and being very rude to the rest of us as we asked him to move on to the next bar. He was just not interested in being a tour guide.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think magic is great and did have fun on most of my tour. But, Dan is someone that should not be in the tourist industry. He has no interest in pleasing the guests on his bus.

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  6. Belinda

    I ended up with Haka Tours, it’s a guided bus tour, so not a hop on hop off pass. Can’t recommend them enough, the guide Mikey was great ,and so were the other people on the bus.

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