When I was looking to travel New Zealand for the first time, it was during my year travelling the world and I made sure I reserved at least one-month for the highly praised Polynesian country. Everyone spoke so highly of it, so I had to see it for myself. I googled frantically trying to fill an itinerary, looking at places to see, things to do, things to eat and places to sleep. There were a lot of options available, all of which gave me a bit of a headache, but I went for the easy solution of having a route planned for me, having an experienced driver and travelling with other solo travellers… enter the Kiwi Experience!
First thing I had to do was pick my route… I wanted to cover both the North and South islands, and I wanted to do it in 4-6 weeks so my review will be based on the “The Whole Kit & Caboodle” tour. For each stop on the map they reserve you a nights stay at a hostel and provide a list of activities that you chose to part take in… easy peasy! My first item on the checklist was the shire!
After meeting up with the group in Aukland and spending a few days in the north, we headed to Hobbiton, and it was magical! I find it easy to geek out over movie sets (most recently Harry Potter studios in London, UK) and a trip to the shire was just as satisfying. LOTR film maker, Sir Peter Jackson, made sure every detail of the set was perfect, and that it was preserved once filming of the Hobbit trilogy was complete. You can walk around the village, enter some of the homes (sets) and even grab a pasty and pint at The Green Dragon pub! A must do for a LOTR/Hobbit fan!
Anyway, let’s get to the review part of the blog. The most important aspects of the tour for me were Locations, People and Organisation. Let’s go with an easy scoring system out of 10.
For somebody visiting the country for the first time, Kiwi Experience did a great job of covering major cities, some lesser known gems and some locations I would never have included in my itinerary but glad we went! You do lose the freedom to go anywhere you want, to randomly discover a place, but what you do have is flexibility to spend more days in certain locations and then to set aside time to explore on your own. My points of interest happened to be covered well by KE!
Major cities we covered were Aukland, Taupo, Wellington (the capital), Christchurch and my absolute favourites that are found in the South Island… Franz Josef, Wanaka and Queenstown. These three are surrounded by snow capped mountains, lovely little cafes and a bundle of activities to take part in. You have a choice of the highest skydive in NZ, hiking in glaciers, and/or doing a bungee jump from highest bungee in NZ! I chose the skydive and it was incredible. I’d always said I wouldn’t do it, but if there was ever a place to do it, this was it! We jumped from 16,500ft, having views of mountains, glaciers and the sea… relive it here on my vlog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LK-kBa3pG4g
Travel is always better when you have good people around you… and when you’re doing a big solo trip, you’re likely to meet like-minded people in a tour like this. You travel together, you eat together, you jump out of planes together, and there is a fair level of bonding. The age range average was probably 21-31 (with the odd outlier) and for the most part we all got on really well. I was particularly fond of my close group that was formed of myself, two Germans and an American. We chose to room together in the hostels and would share experiences together, drink beer and enjoy the wonderful trip we were on. To Saskia, Erick and Autum, you guys made the trip what it was!
The bus times were always on time, we had free wifi on the bus, the hostels selected were nice and in ideal locations, the activities made available to us were varied, the drivers were excellent and even helped us organise flight times and logistics… I just can’t knock any of the organisation from Kiwi Experience. If you’re thinking about a trip to NZ and want to delegate the planning part of your trip, pick Kiwi Experience!
People do New Zealand in different ways, I met a lot of people who were taking camper vans, sleeping in cars, and the opposite end of the spectrum where people were staying in nice hotels… Depending on what you want, Kiwi Experience did a great job of organising me and my new friends, took us to awesome places around wonderful New Zealand and definitely made me plan to come back! Have you been to New Zealand or thinking of going?
Have you been on the Kiwi Experience bus or thinking about it? Let me know your thoughts 🙂