A great hop on and off option for those who want to see the best of the North and South island aswell as getting right to the bottom of the South Island to discover it's amazing untouched beauty.
Auckland to Hot Water Beach
After visiting the Kiwi Experience office you’ll head towards the Coromandel Peninsula and spend the afternoon at Cathedral Cove; accessible only on foot or kayak. This beautiful coastal spot is great for swimming, sea kayaking, and spotting dolphins. You then carry on to Hot Water Beach (rated one of the top ten beaches in the world by Lonely Planet) where you can take a surfing lesson and head out with your shovel at low tide to dig your own hot pool in the sand.
Hot Water Beach to Waitomo
After an early start your first stop is the Karangahake Scenic Reserve to explore a native bush-clad gorge, swing bridges and a bit of New Zealand’s gold mining history. Next it’s onto Waitomo (wai meaning water, tomo meaning cave) where you will get the chance to visit the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves. If you’re feeling adventurous, here is your chance to go underground and experience one of the top rated New Zealand activities with the Legendary Black Water Rafting Co.
Waitomo to Rotorua
Start the day with a walk through the Ruakuri Reserve and a breakfast stop at the Long Black Café before heading off toward Rotorua, the Maori culture capital of New Zealand. Along the way you’ll stop at The Shires Rest where you can jump off and take a tour through the enchanting Hobbiton Movie Set. You then have the unique opportunity to stay overnight at Tamaki Marae, where you can experience a traditional Maori hangi (feast) and concert with Tamaki Tours.
Rotorua to Taupo
The first activity of the day is exploring the geothermal reserve of Te Puia, with New Zealand’s largest geyser and a chance to see a real live Kiwi bird. The afternoon journey to Taupo includes stop offs to explore the area’s lakes and Taupo’s famous Huka Falls. Taupo is rightly known as the adventure capital of the North Island with optional activities on offer such as skydiving, bungy jumping, jet boating, the Volcanic Centre and the spectacular Tongariro Crossing!
Taupo (Extra Day)
An extra day in Taupo is recommended because there’s so much to do there. If you’re short on time, you can always skip this extra day, timetable allowing, and get to the next stop sooner.
Hike the Tongariro Crossing or take a walk down to Spa Park to relax in the natural hot springs by the river; a great way to spend the day (or night).
Taupo to River Valley
You’ll then head south around the “great lake” towards the Tongariro National Park for a picnic lunch and a two hour walk through native bush and waterfalls. In the afternoon you travel through to River Valley, the ultimate adventure lodge situated amongst towering cliffs and bush-clad hills. The lodge offers grade five rafting on the Rangitikei River, scenic horse riding, and a small golf course. Spend the evening enjoying the delicious roast dinner and relaxing by the open fire.
River Valley to Wellington
After a morning white water rafting or horse riding you’ll head through the rolling hills full of deer, cattle and sheep on your way to Wellington. The undisputed capital of culture, the arts, restaurants, fashion and nightlife. Wellington is also home to the largest cultural attraction in New Zealand, Te Papa Museum, which is well worth a look (and free).
Wellington to Picton to Kaiteriteri
Travel across the stunning Cook Strait to the seaside town of Picton, then on to Kaiteriteri where the beautiful golden sand beach is practically on your doorstep.
You can choose to take the Interislander ferry across to the South Island, through the magnificent Marlborough Sounds; or arrange a flight. Travel via the Pelorus Bridge to Nelson, New Zealand’s sunniest city, then on to Kaiteriteri at the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park. You can simply wile away the evening on the golden sand beach just metres from your accommodation. Kaiteriteri is a great spot to begin an adventure (on foot, by kayak or by water taxi) into Abel Tasman National Park.
Kaiteriteri to Westport
Spend the morning kayaking out to Split Apple Rock and along the golden bays nearby Kaiteriteri, looking out for the local marine wildlife; or catch a water taxi to one of the bays in the Abel Tasman National Park to go for a morning stroll in the native New Zealand forest. You’ll stop in the iconic Nelson Lakes on the way so you can get the legendary wharf jumping shot. In Westport you’ll meet the team from Buller Adventure Tours where you can experience the best value for money jet boating, horse trekking and quad biking in New Zealand.
Westport to Lake Mahinapua
Journey down the spectacular State Highway 6 that stretches 435 kilometres along the rugged Tasman shoreline, from Westport in the North, to the Haast Junction in the South. The road winds through a diverse series of landscapes which never cease to amaze both locals and visitors alike. This includes fertile farmland, sparsely populated towns, deserted goldfields, lush green rainforests, and the snow-capped Southern Alps. Highlights include the Cape Foulwind seal colony, rugged beach walks, and the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks.
Lake Mahinapua to Franz Josef
Continue along the rugged West Coast of New Zealand towards Franz Josef.
This morning you’ll have breakfast at Lake Mahinapua before heading to Franz Josef; the northern gateway to Te Wahipounamu, the Southwest New Zealand World Heritage area. The region includes Aoraki/Mount Cook, Westland Tai Poutini, Mount Aspiring, the Fiordland National Parks, and surrounding conservation lands. Franz Josef is a magnificent spot and whatever you get out and do, you will be blown away by the views of the glacier and Alps.
Franz Josef (Extra Day)
An extra day in Franz Josef is recommended because there’s so much to do there. If you’re short on time, you can always skip this extra day, timetable allowing, and get to the next stop sooner.
Today is your chance to hike on the Franz Josef Glacier, rated as one of the top three activities to do in New Zealand, by Kiwi Experience passengers. You could also take the option of a heli-hike, and be flown up the glacier, or take a more sedate approach and explore the various walks in the area.
Franz Josef – Wanaka
An early start in order to catch the perfect mirror reflection of Mt Cook and the Southern Alps on Lake Matheson. You’ll then cruise down the last stretch of Highway 6, stopping at popular scenic spots along the way. Then it’s into Mount Aspiring National Park, arriving in the awe-inspiring destination of Wanaka in the afternoon.
Wanaka – Queenstown
It’s only a short drive today through to New Zealand’s adventure capital, Queenstown. Highlights include Puzzling World and stopping at the world’s first commercial bungy site – the Kawarau Bridge. On arrival in Queenstown you can book all activities and confirm onward bus travel at Base, as well as get a group photo with all your new West Coast mates. Then it’s out on the town exploring Queenstown’s infamous nightlife with all the crew!
Queenstown (Extra Day)
An extra day is recommended in Queenstown because there’s so much to do there. If you’re short on time, you can always skip this extra day, timetable allowing, and get to the next stop sooner.
Queenstown is rated as one of our passenger’s favourite spots to hang out in New Zealand. Take the time to spend a few days here as it is one of the most picturesque places in the world. Make the most of the beautiful lake and surrounding walks, or get into a whole range of adrenalin pumping activities. If there was one activity that you couldn’t miss it would be the day trip to Milford Sound, commonly referred to as New Zealand’s most beautiful spot!
Queenstown to Dunedin (Bottom Bus Day 1)
Head towards the east coast via the massive Clyde Hydro Dam and the Central Otago fruit growing basin. Dunedin is famous for it’s Scottish heritage and student activities, being home to 20,000 plus students at Otago University. On arrival you’ll do a city tour including a visit to Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest street and in the evening there is an option to visit another icon of Dunedin, the Speights Brewery with one of their tours and tastings.
Dunedin to Invercargill (Bottom Bus Day 2)
The Catlins is probably as far south as you may ever go. Travel through awesome native forest, sandy beaches and see rare wildlife. The might of the New Zealand sea-lion (New Zealand’s largest native mammal) is a real highlight as are the many short walks to the Catlins natural attractions, which includes a 180 million year-old fossilised forest (where you are also likely to see Yellow-eyed penguins returning from a hard days fishing). The night is spent in Invercargill, home of the world’s fastest Indian and Henry the tuatara.
Here you have the choice to hop over to Stewart Island; an island paradise with a kiwi (bird) population 100 times that of the kiwi (human) one.
Invercargill to Milford Sound to Queenstown (Bottom Bus Day 3)
Check out the most amazing scenery in New Zealand on the way to Milford Sound. The day includes a 1 hour 45 minute boat cruise through Milford Sound exploring soaring peaks, towering waterfalls and New Zealand nature at its best. See the Homer Tunnel, mirrored lakes and amazing fjords. If you have the time jump off in Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland National Park and home to a stunning lake, and/or in Milford Sound to spend a night or two. Provided the weather and bank balance permits you have the option of flying back to Queenstown, otherwise the Kiwi Experience bus will take you back to the adventure capital.
Queenstown to Lake Tekapo
Travel through the Lindis Pass; have your cameras ready because this is ‘Lord of the Rings’ territory. After stopping to admire Mt Cook at Lake Pukaki, you’ll travel to Lake Tekapo with its amazing location by snow-capped alps and clear starry skies. Lake Tekapo has something for everyone – relaxing at the lakeside and taking in the untouched beauty, soaking in the hot springs, discovering one of the many scenic walkways or checking out the mind-boggling stars in the world’s largest dark sky reserve.
Lake Tekapo to Christchurch
A straight run into Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island and the 3rd largest in New Zealand.
Christchurch to Kaikoura
Departing Christchurch bright and early, you’ll arrive at Kaikoura in time to check out what Kaikoura is most famous for – whale watching and swimming with the dolphins and seals. Spend the evening chilling on the beach or sampling some of the best seafood New Zealand has to offer for your dinner.
Kaikoura to Wellington (via Picton)
Head North and take in the last of the dramatic Kaikoura coastline. It’s a spectacular drive – voted New Zealand’s best – and you’ll stop for a close look at the seals that lay about on the rocks all day long. You’ll then make your way to the Picton ferry terminal in time to catch the afternoon sailing to the North Island. The ferry ride takes a few hours so chill out and enjoy the view of the amazing Marlborough Sounds.
Wellington to Taupo
There’s quite a distance to cover today so you’ll have an early start from Wellington to beat the rush hour traffic. Take in the beautiful rivers and lakes as well as Lord of the Rings landscapes the Rangitikei region has to offer. You’ll pass through Taihape, where there’ll be drop offs and pick ups for River Valley Adventure lodge. You then head to the Central Plateau, home of the Tongariro National Park, where you can be dropped off in the township of Turangi if you wish to access it. Then it’s through to Taupo and if the weather suits, it’s time to skydive!
Taupo to Auckland (via Rotorua)
Head north to Rotorua, renowned for its Maori heritage and thermal activity in the area. After dropping off passengers in Rotorua who are choosing to spend a night or two here, you stop at Kiwi Encounter, where you can get up close and personal with the national icon – the Kiwi bird. Next, you’ll make your way to Matamata, better known as Hobbiton. You can jump off here if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan. Then it’s onwards through the rolling countryside to Auckland, otherwise known as the ‘City of Sails’.