Which is better - Stray or Kiwi Experience? This is a question we often receive, so we'll try to answer that for you here.
Both Stray and Kiwi Experience offer the same time of service - a hop on, hop off bus pass that explores New Zealand. Stray and Kiwi both have rotating sales on throughout the year for different passes, and generally the prices between the two are just about the same. However, while the product seems similar - there are definitely some very big differences between Stray and Kiwi Experience.
Rather than specifically saying one is better than the other, we'll point out some of the key differences here and let you make the decision.
1. The Route
On the surface, the routes that Stray and Kiwi Experience follow look quite similar, however there are some key places that Stray travels to, that Kiwi Experience misses. Stray focuses on "getting off the beaten track" and consequently they travel to areas of New Zealand that Kiwi Experience skips over. For example, with Stray, you'll still get to visit the hot-spots of Rotorua and Taupo, but your overnight stops will be at unique Stray-stops Lake Aniwhenua (a lodge on a beautiful lake, almost in the middle of nowhere) and Mourea (an active Maori marae).
Another place that Stray travels to on the North Island is Whakahoro. This is often voted one of their most popular stops - and if you spent a couple nights here, you'd understand why! Whakahoro / Blue Duck Station is a working sheep and cattle station on the edge of the Wanganui National Park. The owners are huge conservationists, and are working to bring back the native Blue Duck population in the waters surrounding the farm.
On the South Island, the biggest difference between the two is that Stray spends the night in Mt Cook Village, whereas Kiwi Experience spends the night in Lake Tekapo. Mt Cook Village is perhaps the most beautiful place in New Zealand on a clear day, as it's surrounded by the towering peaks of the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. It's a great place to spend the day / night, with loads of walking tracks around village.
2. The Group Size
The actual size of the groups you travel with on the Stray bus or the Kiwi Experience bus will vary greatly depending on the time of the year. Each company will try to use the smallest and most economical bus for the number of bookings that they have.
Kiwi Experience has some much larger coaches for the peak season, so there is a potential that you could have 40+ people on your bus, whereas the average size on the Stray bus is 25.
Smaller groups may or may not be a good thing, just depends on what you're looking for with your hop on hop off bus experience.
3. The Group Dynamic
Kiwi Experience has a reputation for having younger travellers that are more interested in partying. If you're looking for a party bus experience, Kiwi Experience is probably the one for you.
In saying that, you could have a group on Kiwi Experience that doesn't party much, and a group with Stray that parties hard!
A phrase we often say is, "Kiwi Experience parties at the bar, Stray parties around the camp fire."
Book your Stray Pass on Planit NZ and get $25 off the price of your pass. Use the code 'straynotkiwi' when checking out. Follow this link to see all of the Stray passes or Stray tours on Planit NZ.
Overall we prefer the Stray experience, and all of the hop on hop off bus passes in our New Zealand tour booking portal are run by Stray. Here's a list of what we have to offer below:
Everywhere New Zealand Bus Pass (Stray Everywhere Pass)
National New Zealand Bus Pass: 24+ Days (Maximus Pass)
Ultimate New Zealand Bus Pass (Max Pass)
National Express Bus Pass: 20+ Days (Short Max Pass)
Auckland to Christchurch Bus Pass: 21+ Days (Moe Pass)
Auckland to Christchurch Express Bus Pass: 18+ Days (Short Moe Pass)
Everywhere North Island Bus Pass (Jase Pass)
North Island Bus Pass: 8+ Days (Jill Pass)
North Island Bus Pass: 6+ Days (Tom Pass)
Auckland to Wellington Bus Pass: 8+ Days (Peter Pass)
Bay of Islands Bus Pass (Jack Pass)
Ultimate South Island Bus Pass (Ron Pass)
South Island Bus Pass: 12+ Days (Willy Pass)
South of the South Explored Pass (Q Pass)
South Island Bus Pass From Christchurch (Short Q Pass)
Queenstown to Christchurch Bus Pass (Stew Pass)
If you're keen to book Kiwi Experience instead, you can drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you out.