Hop On, Hop Off bus passes are an excellent way to travel around New Zealand if you're not keen on driving yourself. These passes get you to New Zealand's most EPIC destinations and to out-of-the-way spots you'd otherwise miss.
Think of a hop-on, hop-off bus pass as the perfect balance between a fully-guided, small group tour and a self-guided trip that sees you creating your own itinerary and driving yourself around New Zealand. The buses run on set routes around the country, allowing you to pick a pass that goes to the places YOU want to see most. As the name implies, you get to hop on, or hop off whenever you wish to spend more time in Queenstown, Taupo, Wellington or whatever corner of New Zealand you'd like to explore a bit more in depth.
Whether you have 5 days, 15 days or 25 days, you'll be able to find a pass that suits your schedule and travel plans.
Some independent travellers choose to get around the country by public bus. Whilst this might at times be cheaper, a huge downside to this is you're on a public bus that is only going from Point A to B. Much of the joy in travelling New Zealand comes from stopping to take in the huge variety of landscapes and photo opportunities that make NZ famous. When you're traveling on a backpacker bus, you get opportunities to get out and take photos and see off the beaten track destinations. You'll stop for walks, you'll stop to sample local food or wine or you'll stop to check out New Zealand's awesome views.
A huge perk is your trusty driver-guide that will be in charge of getting you around the country. New Zealand's roads are stunning, but they're pretty darn tiring to drive (on the left side of the road no less). Let your driver guide get you around NZ whilst you relax and take in the views. They'll give you top tips for each town you stop at, and also share their local knowledge of New Zealand with you on the way. The driver guide will answer any questions you have, and if you want - they'll help you book your accommodation or activities throughout your trip.
If you're coming to New Zealand solo, or with a small group of mates, then these passes are an epic way to meet other travellers. A potential downside to an all inclusive tour is that you don't like the group. With a hop on hop off pass, the group is constantly changing as you travel around New Zealand - so you'll get to meet heaps of different people. The size depends on the time of the year, but 20 - 30 is about average.
We recommend Stray. They have the best guides and the best customers. You'll get a diverse group of travellers of all ages. Many other companies focus heavily on drinking ... heavily. If you travel with Stray, you'll have a couple of nights out (if you wish) but you won't leave New Zealand in a hung over blur.