The Best Backpacker Bus Tours in New Zealand
The Best Backpacker Bus Tours in New Zealand

The 10 Best Backpacker Bus Tours in New Zealand šŸŽ’ [2022]

© THL

Which New Zealand Backpacker Bus Tour to Choose?

Want to see New Zealand on an adventure-packed tour with a bunch of like-minded travellers? Then you need to jump on a backpacker bus tour. Don’t worry, New Zealand has heaps and probably a lot more than you realised! From super flexible hop-on hop-off bus tours around the country to hassle-free all-inclusive tours, there’s an amazing selection to give you the trip of a lifetime. We go through them all in this comparison of the best backpacker bus tours in New Zealand!

Most of the backpacker bus tours in this list offer multiple tours just exploring the North Island or the South Island or just a bit off both if you are on super limited time. We suggest taking a look at all the offerings of each backpacker bus company. However, to make this comparison as easy to follow as possible, we have compared each backpacker bus company’s biggest tours around New Zealand.

For more information on the types of buses available in New Zealand, take a look at Travel by Bus in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide.

5 Things to Compare Between the New Zealand Backpacker Buses

We believe that there is no “best” backpacker bus company, as we are all looking for different travel experiences. However, it’s almost impossible to not have a blast on every single one of these bus tours. But to help you make the best decision for yourself, here are a few tips!

  1. Compare the type of tour. Are you a fully independent traveller that wants a cheap way to travel? Choose a coach network. Do you want some flexibility to leave the tour to make the most of an extended trip to New Zealand or working holiday? Choose a hop-on hop-off bus. Or do you want an experience with the least organising to do as possible and just want to make the most of your limited time in New Zealand? Choose an all-inclusive bus tour!
  2. Compare the activities and accommodations. You’ll get the best value for money if the tour includes activities that you want to do or at least gives you the option to. If accommodation is important to you, then compare accommodations, as some will be in tents, hostels, hotels, cabins and more. Is there a chance to upgrade to a private room if you want to?
  3. Compare what the passengers are like. Taking a backpacker bus tour is a social experience and you’re bound to meet some amazing people! People often make (or break) the experience. We’ll do our best to tell you what type of passengers to expect on each tour in the comparison below.
  4. Compare the destinations visited. Does the bus company visit the New Zealand locations on your bucket list? Remember, even if they don’t stay the night in every destination around New Zealand, it’s likely that they will pass through giving you enough time to at least quickly visit. All the destinations in the comparison below are where the buses stay overnight.
  5. Compare prices. Prices are important, right?! We’re not made of money! With all the inclusions taken into consideration, is the price worth it? A trick we like to do is to divide the price by the number of minimum travel days on a bus pass – the result will give you a better idea of how much you are paying for the bus pass and its inclusions per day. For more advice on budgeting for a bus trip, see our 5 Tips to Get a Better Deal on a Backpacker Bus Pass in New Zealand.

The Best Way to Compare Backpacker Buses

To compare most bus tours offered in New Zealand you can use TourRadar which combines most operators under one roof. It will help you set the length of your trip as well as other criteria and give you a list of tours that best match you. Using Tour Radar along with our reviews below you should be able to pick the best match for you in no time. Plus, prices are often discounted!

Haka Tours© Haka Tours

Haka Tours

Type of Tour: All-Inclusive Bus Tour

Haka Tours bus tours follow set routes around the country with specialised tours in snowsports, mountain biking and adventure. They also offer private tours and premium tours with extra comforts. They have a set of tours for 18 to 49-year-olds and tours for 30 to 70-year-olds. Accommodation and breakfasts are included. Some activities are included in the passes with options to add on paid activities.

Activities with Haka Tours

Paid activities are optional for either pre-booking before the tour or on a pay-as-you-go scheme during the tour. There are a few paid activities included in the tours (depending on which tour you choose), such as mountain bike rentals, ski field lift passes, Maori hangi experience, Maori cultural night, pounamu/greenstone carving and more. There are always free activities such as hikes and stopping at free attractions along the way.

Accommodation and Food with Haka Tours

Accommodation and breakfasts are already arranged, with the accommodation being twin-share rooms in 3-4-star hotels on their Haka Plus Tours and in 4-6-bed dorms on all other tours. Accommodation upgrades are available. Breakfasts are included but all other meals are at your own expense.

Typical Passengers on Haka Tours

Haka Tours does a good job and making sure passengers are either with a younger or older crowd, depending on what you prefer. Their “Adventure Tours” are set for 18-49 years old, while their “Haka Plus Tours” are for 30-70 years old. Passengers are usually from the UK, the US and Australia. Group sizes are an average of 12 people with a maximum of 16. Around 70% of passengers on Haka Tours are travelling solo.

Destinations Visited with Haka Tours

There are multiple passes to suit travellers’ different travel times and interests, particularly snowsports and mountain biking. Haka Tours’ full national bus pass has a minimum travel time of 23 days hitting the following locations:

Typical Price of Haka Tours

The price for a full national pass with Haka Tours is approximately NZ$5,000 for Adventure Tours and NZ$7,500 for Haka Plus Tours.

Flying Kiwi© Flying Kiwi

Flying Kiwi

Note that tours with Flying Kiwi resume in 2023. 

Type of Tour: All-Inclusive Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

Flying Kiwi is mainly travelled as a set bus tour taking one set route around the country. Food (mainly breakfast and dinner) is included as well as camping accommodation. However, there is the option to “hop off” the bus anywhere along the route and then “hop on” another bus at an arranged time and date. For more information on how Flying Kiwi works, see this guide to Flying Kiwi.

Activities with Flying Kiwi

Paid activities are on an optional pay-as-you-go scheme where the bus driver will book activities and transport you to those activities as you book. There are a few paid activities included in the tour, such as Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Park, Queenstown Gondola and Marlborough wine tasting. There are always free options such as hikes and stopping at free attractions along the way. Hiring a bike is a popular option with Flying Kiwi, where the team will have your hired bike on board and stop at plenty of bike trails along the way.

Accommodation and Food on Flying Kiwi

Accommodation and food are already arranged, with the accommodation being in two-man tents, with upgrades available in some campsites.

Typical Passengers on Flying Kiwi

Although Flying Kiwi claims to have passengers of 16-60 years old, they mostly have passengers aged between 20 years old to 40 years old with an average being the mid-20s. The trips are popular with the UK and European travellers, however, you will still find the odd mix of travellers from the Americas. Group sizes are around 10-20 people per bus.

Destinations Visited with Flying Kiwi

There are multiple passes to suit travellers’ different travel times. Flying Kiwi’s full national bus pass has a minimum travel time of 23 days hitting the following locations:

Typical Price of Flying Kiwi

The price for a full national pass with Flying Kiwi is approximately NZ$5,500.

InterCity© InterCity

InterCity

Type of Tour: National Coach Network

InterCity is a coach service used by locals and travellers alike in New Zealand. It’s used mostly as an affordable way to get between towns and cities across the country. InterCity offers a couple of different bus passes to travellers: the FlexiPass and the TravelPass. FlexiPass gives travellers a set amount of “hours” to travel anywhere in the country, while the TravelPass is a set route around the country typical of other backpacker bus tours in New Zealand. Find out more about how they work in What’s the Difference Between InterCity Backpacker Bus Passes?

Activities with InterCity

Travelling with InterCity is a much more independent travel option in comparison to other bus tours, so accommodation and activities are not typically included in your bus ticket. However, some TravelPass bus passes have activities included, such as a Milford Sound day trip and cruise, Hobbiton Movie Set and a Bay of Islands cruise. The ferry between the North Island and the South Island, as well as the TranzAlpine train journey, is also included in the national TravelPass. You will need to book other activities and accommodations, as well as buy food independently.

Typical Passengers on InterCity

InterCity has the broadest range of passengers out of all the backpacker bus tours on this list due to the fact that it is the largest (and only) national coach network in New Zealand. There will be a mix of travellers from all over the world and New Zealanders.

Destinations Visited with InterCity

With InterCity, you can travel almost anywhere in New Zealand with more than 140 daily departures. With the FlexiPass, you decide the destinations. With the TravelPass, you choose one of the set routes on offer. It’s best to browse the InterCity website to see the vastness of their network.

Typical Prices with InterCity

A full national TravelPass with activities included is NZ$1,100, while a 60-hour FlexiPass costs around NZ$475 (which will get you to around 13 destinations from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island and back again).

Contiki© Contiki

Contiki

Type of Tour: All-Inclusive Bus Tour

Contiki is a bus tour following a set route around the country. At least one meal a day is included (usually breakfast), as well as accommodation and some activities. For more information on how Contiki works, see Contiki Vs. G Adventures: Comparison for New Zealand.

Activities with Contiki

Some activities are included in your bus pass, such as a Hobbiton Movie Set Tour, Maori hangi meal and more. For other paid activities you can either add them to your tour when booking your pass or book with the driver as you travel.

Accommodation and Food with Contiki

Accommodation is included in Contiki bus tours in the form of hotels and lodges. You may share a room with 1-4 other passengers or upgrade to get a private room. Food is also included in Contiki tours, usually breakfast and dinner and occasionally lunch or dinner.

Typical Passengers on Contiki

Contiki tours are aimed at 18-35-year-olds with the majority of passengers being 18-25. There is usually a ratio of more females to males. There can be a mix of nationalities, however, most passengers are from the Americas and Australia. Group sizes are usually a full large coach in the peak season and about half a large coach in the shoulder seasons.

Destinations Visited with Contiki

There are multiple passes to suit travellers’ different travel times. Contiki’s full national bus pass has a minimum travel time of 21 days hitting the following locations:

Typical Prices of Contiki

A full national pass with Contiki is around NZ$4,800 but the pass is very often on sale. You can usually pick up a national pass for around NZ$4,300.

Wild Kiwi© Wild Kiwi

Wild Kiwi

Type of Tour: All-Inclusive Bus Tour

Wild Kiwi runs bus tours following a set route around the country. Accommodation and some meals are included (mostly breakfast). Some activities are included in the pass with options to add on paid activities. Flights between islands on the national pass are also included. For more information, see our guide to Wild Kiwi here.

Activities with Wild Kiwi

Paid activities are on an optional pay-as-you-go scheme which you book with your driver. There are some paid activities included in the pass, such as surf lessons and the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Park. There’s also the opportunity to do free activities like hikes and stop by free attractions along the way.

Accommodation and Food with Wild Kiwi

Accommodation is also included in the form of hostel and cabin accommodation where you will share a room with fellow passengers. Breakfast is included each day, as well as an occasional dinner.

Typical Passengers on Wild Kiwi

Wild Kiwi passengers are 18-35-year-olds with an even mix of males and females. There is a range of nationalities, usually Europe and the Americas. Group sizes are kept small with up to 18 passengers.

Destinations Visited with Wild Kiwi

There are multiple passes to suit travellers’ different travel times. Wild Kiwi’s full national bus pass has a minimum travel time of 21 days hitting the following locations:

Typical Prices

The full price for a national pass with Wild Kiwi is approximately NZ$4,800 but can sometimes be found on sale (like on Tourradar) for around NZ$4,130.

Kiwi Experience© Kiwi Experience

Kiwi Experience

Note that Kiwi Experience’s hop-on hop-off bus passes are set to resume from November 2022. Their all-inclusive bus tours are currently operating. 

Type of Tour: Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour and All-Inclusive Bus Tours

The hop-on hop-off bus with Kiwi Experience follows a set route following one direction around the country. Passengers have the opportunity to “hop off” the bus anywhere along the route and “hop on” another bus at a prearranged time and date. Certain passes allow “unlimited travel” meaning you can do the route multiple times while your pass is valid (usually 12 months from your start date) as long as you travel in order and when there is availability. For a complete review of Kiwi Experience, head to What is it Really Like to Travel with Kiwi Experience?

Kiwi Experience also operates a number of all-inclusive bus tours called “Small Group Tours“. They follow a set route around the country in a predetermined number of days. Accommodation and some meals are included (mostly breakfast). Some activities are included in the pass with options to add on paid activities.

Activities and Accommodations on Kiwi Experience’s Hop-On Hop-Off Buses

Paid activities are on an optional pay-as-you-go scheme where the bus driver will book activities and accommodation (mainly hostels) for you as you travel. However, you can choose to arrange your own activities and accommodation as you wish. There are opportunities to do free activities as you go, as your driver will stop at free walks and attractions along the route. Learn more about what it’s like to travel with Kiwi Experience in A Day in the Life of a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Passenger.

Activities, Accommodation and Food on Kiwi Experience’s Small Group Tours

On Kiwi Experience’s Small Group Tours, accommodation is included in hostels, usually on a shared basis but there are opportunities to upgrade to a private room at an extra cost. Activities included are a guided tour of Te Puia geothermal park, a stargazing tour with Dark Sky Project, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, wine tasting in Marlborough, a return shuttle to Roy’s Peak, greenstone carving and more. The tour also stops for plenty of free walks and hikes. Most breakfasts are also included, as well as a couple of dinners.

Typical Passengers on Kiwi Experience

Kiwi Experience’s hop-on hop-off tours boast a bus tour experience for 20-something adventurous backpackers. 18-25-year-old passengers from the UK and Europe are often the majority with a larger ratio of females to males. Nevertheless, you will still find a diverse range of people outside of the “typical” age range and nationality. Expect group sizes to fill two large coach buses in the peak season and almost fill one large coach bus in the low season.

On the Small Group tours, the maximum group size is 16. While the age limit is between 18 and 49 years old, the tours attract those in their early 20s to early 30s.

Destinations Visited with Kiwi Experience

There are multiple passes to suit travellers’ different travel times. Kiwi Experience’s full national bus pass has a minimum travel time of 27 days hitting the following locations:

Typical Prices for Kiwi Experience

The full price for a national pass is around NZ$1,600 but you will never pay the full retail price for a Kiwi Experience bus pass. Sales on bus passes happen year-round, usually bringing you around NZ$1,000 for a full national bus pass. Small Group Tours cost approximately NZ$3,600 for their most complete tour.

For budget tips for hop-on hop-off bus travel, check out How to Budget for a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Trip Around New Zealand.

Stray Travel© Stray Travel

Stray Travel

Note that Stray’s hop-on hop-off bus passes are suspended until further notice. Their all-inclusive bus tours (Journey Tours) are currently operating. 

Type of Tour: Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour and All-Inclusive Bus Tour

Stray Travel follows a set route following one direction around New Zealand. Passengers have the opportunity to “hop off” the bus almost anywhere along the route and then “hop on” another bus at an arranged time and date. Certain passes allow “unlimited travel” meaning you can do the route multiple times while your pass is valid (usually 12 months from your start date) as long as you travel in order and when there is availability.

Their “Journey Tours” follow a set route around the country in a predetermined number of days. Accommodation and some meals are included (mostly breakfast). Some activities are included in the pass with options to add on paid activities.

Activities and Accommodation on Stray’s Hop-On Hop-Off Buses

Paid activities are on an optional pay-as-you-go scheme where the bus driver will book activities and accommodation (mainly hostels) for you as you travel. However, you can choose to arrange your own activities and accommodation as you wish. There are opportunities to do free activities as you go, as your driver will stop at free walks and attractions along the route. There is no food included on Stray’s hop-on hop-off tours but accommodation stayed has self-catering facilities. You can learn more about what it’s like to travel with Stray in A Day in the Life of a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Passenger.

Activities, Accommodation and Food on Stray Journey Tours

On Stray Journey Tours, accommodation is included in a mix of hotels, boutique accommodations and lodges, usually on a shared basis but there are opportunities to upgrade to a private room at an extra cost. Activities included are a cultural and Maori hangi experience, 4WD farm station tour, an e-bike cycle tour and a Milford Sound cruise. Most breakfasts are also included.

Typical Passengers on Stray

Stray’s hop-on hop-off buses boast tours for 20-something-year-old backpackers wanting to get more “off the beaten track”. While you will find a diverse range of ages and nationalities, Stray passengers are more likely to be anywhere between 18-30 years old. There is usually a ratio of more females to males, mainly coming from the UK, Europe and the US. Expect group sizes to fill a large coach bus in the peak season and smaller groups to fill minibuses in the low season. Stray Journey Tours typically have a smaller group size to a maximum of 24 people.

Destinations Visited with Stray

There are multiple passes to suit travellers’ different travel times. Stray’s full national bus pass has a minimum travel time of 31-35 days hitting a range of locations around New Zealand. Stray Journey Tours, on the other hand, stay in the following destinations on their 18-day tour:

Typical Prices

The full price for a national pass is around NZ$1,800, but you will never pay the full retail price for a Stray bus pass. Sales on bus passes happen year-round, usually bringing you around NZ$1,200 for a full national bus pass. Stray Journey Tours‘ longest all-inclusive tour is approximately NZ$5,000.

For budget tips for hop-on hop-off bus travel, check out How to Budget for a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Trip Around New Zealand.

G Adventures© G Adventures

G Adventures

Type of Tour: All-Inclusive Bus Tour

G Adventures offers bus tours following set routes around the country. At least two meals a day are included, as well as accommodation with some activities. For more information on how G Adventures works, see Contiki Vs. G Adventures: Comparison for New Zealand.

Activities with G Adventures

Some activities are included in your bus pass, such as boat tours, kayaking tours, surf lessons, Maori cultural experiences and more. For other paid activities you can book with the driver as you travel.

Accommodation and Food with G Adventures

Accommodation is included in G Adventures bus tours in the form of hostels, lodges and budget hotels. You may share a room with other passengers or upgrade to get a private room. Food is also included on tours with G Adventures, usually, breakfast every day and some dinners.

Typical Passengers on G Adventures

Most of G Adventures’ classic New Zealand tours are aimed at “18-30 something” year olds. The majority of passengers are usually in their mid-20s. A mix of nationalities can be found on the G Adventures buses from Europe, the Americas, Australia and more.

Different tour styles that G Adventures offers are slightly catered to different groups, such as the “National Geographic” tours and “Multisport” tours have a more welcoming age range of anyone over 12 years old (under 18s must be accompanied by an adult). Therefore, expect these classes of tours to not quite be “backpacker”.

Destinations Visited with G Adventures

There are multiple passes to suit travellers’ different travel times and styles of travel. G Adventures’ full national bus pass has a minimum travel time of 21 days hitting the following locations:

Typical Prices

A full national pass with G Adventures is around NZ$4,300 but the pass is very often on sale.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

Topdeck

Type of Tour: All-Inclusive Bus Tour

Topdeck offers a bus tour following a set route around the country. Breakfasts and a couple of dinners are included, as well as accommodation and some activities. The ferry between the North Island and South Island is also included.

Activities and Accommodations with Topdeck

Accommodation is included in Topdeck bus tours in the form of hotels, lodges, cabins, hostels and a Maori marae. You may share a room with 1-4 other passengers or upgrade to get a private room. Some activities are included in your bus pass, such as a wine tasting, Maori cultural performance and more. Other optional paid activities are booked with the driver as you travel. Food is also included in Topdeck tours, all breakfasts and a couple of dinners if you are taking the full national pass.

Typical Passengers on Topdeck

Topdeck tours are aimed at 18-30-year-olds with the majority of passengers usually 18-25 years old. There is usually an even ratio of males and females. There can be a mix of nationalities, however, most passengers are from the Americas and Australia. Group sizes are usually a full large coach (36 people) in the peak season and about half a large coach in the shoulder seasons.

Destinations Visited with Topdeck

There are a limited number of passes with Topdeck: a North Island tour, a South Island tour and a national tour. Topdeck’s full national bus pass has a minimum travel time of 17 days hitting the following locations:

Typical Prices

A full national pass with Topdeck is around NZ$4,000, but the pass is very often on sale. You can usually pick up a national pass for around NZ$3,350.

Cheeky Kea Tours© Cheeky Kea Tours

Cheeky Kea Tours

Cheeky Kea Tours have yet to announce its reopening dates post the COVID pandemic. We will update this page once their tours become available again. 

Type of Tour: All-Inclusive Bus Tour

Cheeky Kea offers bus tours following set routes around the South Island. Breakfast and some other meals are included, as well as accommodation with some activities. 2018/19 will be the first summer they are running.

Activities and Accommodations

Accommodation is included with Cheeky Kea bus tours. Some activities are included in your bus pass, such as a Milford Sound cruise, kayak rental, bike rental and more. For other paid activities you can book with the driver as you travel. Breakfast is also included every day with some days having dinner included.

Typical Passengers

Cheeky Kea aims tours at 18 to 30-something year-olds.

Destinations Visited

Cheeky Kea’s South Island bus pass has a minimum travel time of 15 days hitting the following locations:

  • Christchurch
  • Akaroa
  • Mt Cook
  • Queenstown
  • Te Anau
  • Wanaka
  • Franz Josef
  • Punakaiki
  • Abel Tasman National Park
  • Blenheim
  • Kaikoura

Typical Prices

A South Island bus pass is around NZ$2,300 but is on sale for its first summer season at NZ$1,750.

Kiwi Vibes© Kiwi Vibes

[SUSPENDED] Kiwi Vibes

Kiwi Vibes have yet to announce its reopening dates post the COVID pandemic. We will update this page once their tours become available again. 

Type of Tour: All-Inclusive Bus Tour

Kiwi Vibes offers bus tours following set routes around the country throughout the summer. Breakfast and some other meals are included, as well as accommodation and some activities. The ferry between the North Island and South Island is also included.

Activities and Accommodation

Accommodation is included in Kiwi Vibes bus tours in the form of hostel dorm rooms shared with your fellow passengers. Some activities are included in your bus pass, such as wine tasting, party boat cruise and more. For other optional paid activities you can book with the driver as you travel. There are plenty of free attractions and walks included along the way. Food is also included on tours with Kiwi Vibes, including breakfast every day and lunch and dinner most of the time.

Typical Passengers

Kiwi Vibes tours are aimed at 18-30-year-olds. A mix of nationalities can be found on the Kiwi Vibes buses from the UK, Europe, Australia and more. Groups can be up to 30 people with an even ratio of males and females.

Destinations Visited

There are multiple passes to suit travellers’ different travel times and styles of travel. Kiwi Vibes’s full national bus pass has a minimum travel time of 22 days hitting the following locations:

  • Bay of Islands
  • Coromandel
  • Tauranga / Mt Maunganui
  • Rotorua
  • Wellington
  • Kaikoura
  • Hokitika
  • Franz Josef
  • Queenstown
  • Lake Ohau
  • Christchurch
  • New Plymouth
  • Raglan
  • Auckland

Typical Prices

A full national pass with Kiwi Vibes is around NZ$3,680, but the pass is usually advertised as being on sale at around NZ$3,500.

Sweet As Travel© Sweet As Travel

[SUSPENDED] Sweet As Travel

Sweet As Travel have yet to announce its reopening dates post the COVID pandemic. We will update this page once their tours become available again. 

Type of Tour: All-Inclusive Bus Tour

Sweet As Travel offers bus tours that follow a set route around the North Island that include all travel, accommodation, three meals a day and a variety of paid and free activities for 18-35-year-olds.

Activities and Accommodation

Accommodation is included in Sweet As bus tours in the form of hostels & lodges where you will share a room with 4-8 passengers. Tours offer optional extras such as private room upgrades and excursions that include boats or campsites. Some paid activities are included or can be booked in your bus pass, such as a Hobbiton Movie Set Tour, Tamaki Maori Experience & Hangi, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Park, Rainbow Springs Kiwi Encounter, Hawkes Bay Wine Tour, Waitomo Caves Tour, Raglan Boat Party and more. You can add further paid activities onto your tour when booking your pass or book with the driver as you travel. Otherwise, there are plenty of free activities, sights and attractions visited on the tour almost every day. Additionally, tours cater for all breakfasts, lunches and dinners that can also be optionally included if not in your package.

Typical Passengers

Sweet As Travel bus tours attract a diverse bunch of passengers due to their varied locations and activities. Aimed at 18-35-year-olds, you’ll find passengers across that entire age range and a mix of nationalities on board, coming from the UK, Europe, the US and Canada. Expect group sizes to between 6-22 people per bus.

Destinations Visited

There are multiple passes to suit travellers’ different travel times. Sweet As Travel’s full North Island bus pass has a minimum travel time of 1 day hitting the following locations:

  • Auckland
  • Paihia
  • Cape Reinga
  • Coromandel
  • Tauranga
  • Rotorua
  • Taupo
  • Tongariro National Park
  • Napier
  • Wellington
  • New Plymouth
  • Raglan

Typical Prices

A full national pass with Sweet As Travel starts at NZ$1,250, but you’ll never pay the full retail price. Sales on bus passes happen year-round with discounts made to returning passengers, group bookings, last-minute bookings and paying early for your trip. Contact them directly for discounts.

Skip Bus New Zealand© Skip Bus New Zealand

[SUSPENDED] Skip Bus

Skip Bus have yet to announce its reopening dates post the COVID pandemic. We will update this page once their trips become available again. 

Type of Tour: National Coach Network

For savvy backpackers that are on a tight budget, Skip Bus covers the most popular cities on the North Island. It’s a low-cost service that brands itself as Cheaper, Faster, Funner. The services are usually quick and cheap and get you where you want to go in no time, making it a great option for backpackers on a tight schedule.

Inclusions

Skip bus is a low-cost experience, meaning that to keep prices as low as possible they only offer the basics:

WiFi: They have decent free WiFi onboard which, let’s be honest, can be a lifesaver on a long journey.

Luggage: The Skip Bus luggage policy allows you to bring a 20kg (44lbs) bag with you as well as your regular daypack/handbag up to 5kg (11lbs).

Typical Passengers

Skip Bus has quite a wide range of passengers on board. You will find savvy backpackers that found out about this new company on our site, but also locals that are used to doing the same route and are keen to save along the way. Overall it is quite a nice atmosphere onboard without being too social or an all-out party bus.

Destinations Visited

Skip Bus covers most of the North Islands’ popular destinations. The main stops are:

  • Auckland
  • Whangarei
  • Hamilton
  • Rotorua
  • Tauranga
  • Wellington

But that’s not all, the bus stops at an extra 10 stops along the way from several pick-up points in Auckland to Te Puke the kiwi fruit capital of New Zealand and pit stops in Taupo, Turangi, Taihape, etc.

Typical Prices

Prices are per ticket with Skip. Expect its longest route (Auckland to Wellington) to be under NZ$30 and most prices to be around NZ$20 for other destinations which makes it the cheapest option to go from A to B on this list.

Pixabay© Pixabay

[CLOSED] Naked Bus / Manabus

Naked Bus and Manabus are no longer operating in New Zealand.

We thought it would be worth mentioning them at the end of this backpacker bus tour comparison, as they have a long-standing reputation that will have a few of you wondering: “What about Naked Bus?” But it’s true, they are no longer around.

The closest comparison to Naked Bus and Manabus is InterCity.

More About Backpacker Bus Tours in New Zealand

That’s it for our list of the best backpacker bus tours in New Zealand. For more handy tips, take a look at the following guides:

Finally, get the complete guide to all things “bus travel” in New Zealand with How to Travel by Bus in New Zealand.

Author

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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