The Perfect New Zealand Bus Tour for Active Travellers

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Combine hiking, cycling & adventure with more time outdoors on this backpacker tour

Imagine a tour that combines the best of both worlds: the flexibility of a hop-on hop-off pass with the convenience of a tour. Well, we just found it with Flying Kiwi Tours. One of the many unique features of these trips is the option to take “extended breaks” at any point. You can simply hop off and get any of the next buses that go past – simple!

What Makes These Bus Tours Different?

Traditionally, a bus tour means sticking with the same group for a fixed itinerary and set options. Flying Kiwi, however, chooses a different approach. Every day, there is a range of activity options. You create your own combination of bike rides, hikes and adventure activities. You will enjoy your chosen adventures with other passengers before getting back with the whole group on an evening to share stories of the day with freshly cooked meals and campfires in spectacular camping locations.

Flying Kiwi’s ethos is about spending more time outdoors and disconnecting. Although you will still get plenty of chance to update your Insta-feed, more of your time will be spent exploring national parks, trying new activities and camping under the stars.

Groups sizes on these trips are typically 16-28 and you will have two guides on every tour which puts Flying Kiwi on top of the pack for their guide-to-passenger ratio. The buses have been custom-built to include bike racks and a kitchen that gives them the freedom to stay in remote locations. They are the only backpacker bus to have a Department of Conversation license which gives them (and you) the opportunity to stay in New Zealand’s campsites.

Trip options vary from 3 to 28 days in the summer and shorter tours during the winter when their focus switches to snowboarding and skiing. Pricewise, they provide decent value-for-money with most food and all accommodation included.

Flying Kiwi© Flying Kiwi

9 things you need to know about the Flying Kiwi bus tours

Flying Kiwi is New Zealand’s only all-inclusive hop-on hop-off bus tour (i.e. food and accommodation is included). As well as these inclusions and flexibility, there are a few aspects that make travelling with Flying Kiwi different from other New Zealand hop-on hop-off buses. For full details on inclusions, check out Flying Kiwi tours website.

  1. Stay in remote and scenic locations – Flying Kiwi has a permit with the Department of Conservation which allows them to stay in New Zealand’s national parks in camping accommodation. This means more mountains, more lakes, more beaches and being in the great outdoors.
  2. Accommodation is included + there are cabin upgrade options – While you get to visit the towns where most hostels are based, they spend their time in campsite accommodation among New Zealand’s famous landscapes. Cabin upgrade options are available too. If the weather is bad they will find other accommodation.
  3. 24-month bus pass – The Flying Kiwi bus pass is available for 24 months so if you are on a working holiday or taking an extended backpacking trip in New Zealand, you can take as much time as you need to travel the country.
  4. Meals are included – Up to three meals are included each day with the Flying Kiwi bus. Some meals will be at your own cost on a few occasions when there isn’t access to a kitchen. You’ll take it in turns to help your guides cook meals in the evenings.
  5. Two driver-guides – Double the support!
  6. The Interislander Ferry is included – If you pick a pass that takes you between the North and South Island, then the ferry between the islands is included.
  7. Some activities are included – Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Park, Queenstown Gondola and Marlborough wine tasting are some of the activities included with your bus pass. Hiking, biking (if you hire a bike), museums, etc. are free, while there are options to do other activities at an extra cost.
  8. Bike hire is available – Once you hire a bike, you can cycle as little or as much as you want every day with a mixture of on and off-road trails.
  9. Use of sports equipment

Flying Kiwi© Flying Kiwi

How To Hop On And Hop Off Along The Route With Flying KIwi?

The Flying Kiwi ultimate explorer tour is the longest trip the bus tour offers at a whopping 28 days – longer than most other national bus tours. This gives you multiple days in popular locations including Queenstown, Abel Tasman and the Bay of Islands. For many people, this fits well with their timing (just under a month) but if you want more time there are options to hop off. Passengers have the option to hop off the bus anywhere along the route and hop back on one of the following buses at a later date.

The frequency of the buses is every nine days, and more often in Auckland. To organise hopping on and off the bus, contact the Flying Kiwi office team who will not only give you advice on transport during your extended stay but will also organise your pick-up for when you hop back on the bus. Hopping back on the next bus is subject to the available seating on the next bus, so be sure to book your spot on the bus well in advance, especially for New Zealand summer trips.

Flying Kiwi© Flying Kiwi

Top things to do if you take an extended break from your tour

We know what you’re thinking: nine days is a long time. It might seem that way but with so much to do in many of New Zealand’s destinations, it will feel like you’re back on the bus in no time. Here are some of the top things to do when hopping off the Flying Kiwi bus.

Hike Around A Volcano Or Canoe On The Whanganui River

Hop-Off: Taupo or Turangi – Taupo and Turangi are towns on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake and right on the edge of the Tongariro National Park and Whanganui National Park. Take on one of the multi-day hikes like the Round the Mountain Track (4-6 Days) going around the perimeter of New Zealand’s largest volcano, Mt Ruapehu. Or how about a stunning canoe journey down the Whanganui River on the New Zealand Great Walk, the Whanganui Journey (3 or 5 days)? Or if you are looking for small doses of activities, do white water rafting, jet boating, mountain biking, hiking, skydiving, bungy jumping and more.

Explore Stewart Island

Hop-Off: Gore – Take a holiday on your holiday in New Zealand to Stewart Island! It will probably be the furthest south you will ever get. 80% of the island is a national park, connected with hiking trails between five to 10 days long! To get there, hop-off at Gore and take a national coach to either Bluff, where you can take the ferry to the island, or Invercargill for a flight. The island is also thriving with wildlife, with sanctuaries like Ulva Island to discover. It’s also your best chance of seeing a kiwi bird in the wild.

Do A Winter Season In Queenstown

Hop-Off: Queenstown – Flying Kiwi already spends a couple of days in Queenstown, but most backpackers would be stoked to spend nine days there doing some of the 10 Queenstown Must-Dos. When winter rocks around, the nearby ski fields come alive! Spend the season ripping the slopes and hop back on the bus later. Remember, the bus pass is valid for two years!

Kayak Or Do The Abel Tasman Great Walk

Hop-Off: Nelson – Nelson is a great base for adventures in the Abel Tasman National Park! Activity providers offer transport directly to the national park from Nelson where you can explore pristine golden beaches backed by native forest. Take the Abel Tasman Coastal Track (3-5 Days), a New Zealand Great Walk, or kayak the bays.

Flying Kiwi© Flying Kiwi

Spending extra time at your start and end destinations

It sounds simple but so many travellers often forget to make the most of the destinations at the start and end of their trips. With Flying Kiwi, trips begin and end in Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown, Picton and Nelson. Every one of these destinations has affordable accommodation, transport and activities, so you can extend your time here! Here are a few ideas of what to do.

Auckland

Auckland might be New Zealand’s largest city, but there are some nature experiences to be had that are even accessed from the city centre! Take the ferry from the Downtown ferry terminal to Rangitoto Island, a volcanic island with lava caves, bush walks and wildlife. Or head over to Tiritiri Matangi, a pest-free wildlife sanctuary island. For more inspiration, head on over to Auckland City Centre Guide for Backpackers.

Christchurch

Christchurch is known as the “Garden City”, so it’s Botanic Gardens are great for a stroll. There are also lots of opportunities to learn about the 2010/11 earthquakes, or go surfing at Sumner or New Brighton Beach! Museums and street art will fulfil your culture needs. Get more ideas from our Christchurch City Guide for Backpackers.

Queenstown

As the “Adrenaline Capital” you know you are spoiled for choice in Queenstown. From bungy jumping to mountain biking, jet boating to white water rafting, you’ll find your bag in Queenstown. In winter, head to the nearby ski fields to experience that Southern Hemisphere ski! The list goes on, so take a look at our Queenstown guide to make your bucket list.

Picton

Picton is not just the gateway to the South Island. It is also a mecca for mountain bikers, hikers, ocean-lovers and wine-drinkers. Hit the Queen Charlotte Track by bike or foot for a journey through the forests and mountains of the Marlborough Sounds. Take a wine-tasting tour or head out on the water by kayak or cruise! There’s more to explore, so start planning with our Picton – Guide for Backpackers.

Nelson

Catch some rays in New Zealand’s sunniest city! Nelson is close to not one, not two but three national parks! Trips to the Abel Tasman National Park depart daily from Nelson or take a shuttle to Kahurangi or Nelson Lakes National Parks for their multi-day hiking adventures. What’s more, there are plenty of bike trails accessible from the city itself. Get more ideas from our Nelson guide.

More New Zealand Destinations…

With new destinations often added to the Flying Kiwi itinerary, be sure to check out the bus tours itinerary on the Flying Kiwi website for more inspiration on what to do in New Zealand!

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