Save Money Bus Tour New Zealand©
Save Money Bus Tour New Zealand

5 Tips to Save Money on a Bus Tour in New Zealand šŸ˜‰


How to Get a Discount or a Good Deal on Your New Zealand Bus Tour

So you have done your research, read all our bus-related articles, and have chosen to travel New Zealand using one of the bus tours or hop-on hop-off bus networks? Good on you! You will have a blast!

Now it’s a matter of finding you a good deal so you have more money to spend on jumping from a plane, bungy jumping from a bridge, or whatever crazy things you intend to do in New Zealand. Bus passes, from the hop-on hop-off bus companies like Kiwi Experience and Stray to bus tours with Haka Tours, Flying Kiwi and Contiki, are very frequently on discount. But here, we have a few tips to guarantee a better deal and save money on a bus pass or bus tour in New Zealand.

Once you find the perfect deal on a bus pass or tour, take a look at How to Budget for a Hop-on Hop-off Bus Trip Around New Zealand so you can keep those costs down and make your dollars stretch further! Plus, don’t forget to bookmark Travel by Bus in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide for even more tips.

1. Book a “Bus Pass” Once You’ve Arrived in New Zealand; Book Your “Bus Tour” Before

Generally, you will get a much better deal when booking your Kiwi Experience and Stray bus pass in New Zealand as opposed to booking prior to your arrival. Most overseas resellers get different prices than New Zealand-based ones. What’s more, the exchange rate that they’re charged is not ideal and is bumping the price up too. You are better off waiting to land in New Zealand and booking your pass then. (Do not fear, there will still be a spot for you on the bus).

Due to bus tours like Haka Tours, Wild Kiwi and other small-group tours booking up quickly and are directed at travellers with limited time in New Zealand, we recommend booking your bus tour before arriving in New Zealand so that you reserve your seat on the bus.

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2. Book in the Low Seasons

Bus passes and tours are always on discount. When a promotion ends, it is replaced by another! However, prices tend to follow the same pattern every year: from September to March prices are at their highest, and from April to August prices are much lower with the lowest point usually being in July. Obviously, this is not an exact science, but bus tours and passes are usually either at their cheapest price during the low season or when booking a trip for the low season. And by the way, here are 11 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Off-Season in New Zealand.

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3. Choose a National Pass or Tour

When comparing the different bus passes offered by the bus companies in New Zealand, it is easy to get lost. Let us help. If you have the time to travel both the North Island and South Island (about 15 to 20+ days), start by eliminating every “non-national” tour; that’s all the tours that only cover a small section of the country. These shorter tours tend to be a much lower value for money than the national tours or bus passes. Compare national bus tours and passes in The Best 20+ Days (3-4 Weeks) Tours of New Zealand and The 15 Best Bus Tours in New Zealand.

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4. Look into Combining Passes

While it is Ok to choose a slightly shorter bus tour if it is much cheaper than another, you may want to take a minute and look at those shorter passes to add them to your existing one. For instance, if you chose a tour that does not include a trip to Milford Sound (you fool!) you may want to look at the bus company’s options to get there. Combining the “Milford Sound Day Tour” and the “Ultimate New Zealand National Pass” on discount may be much cheaper than jumping up to a bigger pass at a regular price for the exact same trip.

5 Tips to Get a Better Deal on a Backpacker Bus Pass in New Zealand© Pixabay

5. The Best Way to Compare the Price of Different Bus Tours

To choose your bus tour and the deal that you want to go with, you will need to find a common denominator to compare prices, so grab your calculator and read on! There are two main ways to fairly compare the prices of multiple bus tours or passes:

A) Work out the price per day of travel. To do that, find out the “minimum days of travel” of a bus tour that is stated on the brochure or website. Then divide the price of a pass by its minimum days of travel. You will get a price per day of travel.

For that price, remember that on the hop-on hop-off tours like Kiwi Experience and Stray, you are getting these things included: transportation + many stops along the way + some kind of free activities + commentary + fun times with like-minded people + the guarantee of one night’s of accommodation when you arrive at each destination.

For more inclusive bus tours, like Haka Tours, G Adventures and Topdeck, you’re are getting these things included: transportation + many stops along the way + some kind of free and paid activities + commentary + fun times with like-minded people + all accommodations + at least breakfast every day and some other meals.

B) Get a price per month. For those that are always thinking in terms of “monthly plans”, just divide the price of your bus pass by the number of months that you will be staying in New Zealand so you know if that price fits your monthly transportation budget.
We prefer using Method A, as it can often unveil surprises in what is actually cheap and what is not.

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More About Saving Money on Bus Tours in New Zealand

That’s it for our guide on how to save money on your bus tour in New Zealand. Check these out to help you plan an epic bus trip and budget for New Zealand.

For more advice on planning a cheap trip to New Zealand, head to The Travel Guide to New Zealand on a Budget.


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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