This is the ultimate backpacking experience of fun, great places to visit and independence.
It seems the more New Zealand stories we show on Getaway, the more people want. Kiwi Experience is a story with a difference, for those of you who don't want to be tied to an itinerary.
Kiwi Experience is a pioneer of backpacker transport which allows travellers to get on and off buses wherever they want. The brainchild of three former-backpackers, it's been running since 1989 and has proved such a success, it's expanded into Australia as Oz Experience.
Drivers and guides come from an amazing variety of backgrounds but all have a love of being with people and showing off their beautiful country.
They offer a combination of itineraries with guaranteed frequent departures and flexible passes which are valid for 6-12 months. That gives you plenty of time to explore and discover the country.
Kiwi Experience's green buses are built for backpackers and feature air conditioning, stereos, DVD/MP3 players and plenty of room for surfboards, bikes and any other equipment you may have. There is no extra charge.
Accommodation is not included you pay and stay wherever you decide to hop off the bus. They will, however, make bookings for you, drop you off and collect you when you are ready to head off again. That way you can decide whether you want to stay with a group or travel solo.
The Chalet Surf Lodge at Wainui Beach is a local landmark. It was New Zealand's first licensed restaurant, set by the sea and backed by hills.
The 1950s decor of the original building has been replaced by funky, relaxed beach decor accommodation. Up to 20-25 people can stay in single and double cupboard beds, bunk rooms and double rooms. Bathrooms and kitchens are shared.
There are large living rooms where guests can enjoy projection television, pool tables or just watch the surf and passing dolphins. Body boards are available and surf lessons and board hire can be arranged.
The tour we did was in Eastland, sometimes known as New Zealand's hinterland. It is famous for excellent surfing breaks, swimming beaches and seemingly endless stretches of untouched coastline.
Travellers go to Eastland because it's not on the way to anywhere and much of it is thickly forested with beaches around the edges. It is untamed and wild and a great place to walk and look and soak in its beauty. There also no shortage of seafood for you to enjoy.
New Zealand's north island's east coast
Kiwi Experience three night tours cost $250 per person.
Chalet Surf Lodge & Te Kaha Lodge costs around $20 per person a night.
Qantas flies daily to Auckland with connections to Taupo operated by Air New Zealand link. Return economy fares to Taupo start at $601 from Melbourne and Brisbane, $612 from Sydney, $998 from Adelaide, $991 from Perth and $1290 from Darwin, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of writing, but may vary at time of booking. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.
195-197 Parnell Road Parnell NZ
Ph: 64 9 366 9830
Fax: 64 9 366 email@example.com
Qantas: 13 13 13