I came across a number of Stray NZ bus reviews, so I thought I’d provide my perspective to those thinking of doing the same thing. Sharing is caring, especially when it comes to a big purchase like this!
I’ll drop this early, and then a reminder mid-way through. If you do end up booking a pass online you can shoot me a message to get a stray mates friends and family code that will give you a 5% discount at checkout. Why don’t you use that money to buy a couple beers and a fergburger! It should work for those looking to book a Stray Asia bus pass as well!
For those not familiar with Stray, it’s a hop on/hop off bus service that gives you some flexibility in terms of how you get around New Zealand. While traveling on a Stray bus you’re guaranteed accommodation for that night at a reasonable rate of usually $28 NZD a night. There are also a couple of activities that are slightly discounted in each of the stops (Usually ~10-15% off retail prices). Each trip has a minimum amount of days that you can complete the trip in, but you have up to a year to use the pass. Booking a spot on the bus is relatively simple. Although it can get complicated at times, and in the case that it does get complicated, you can send an email or shoot a phone call over to the Stray team. If you really like a stop and have time, just let the driver know you’re going to be hopping off the bus. You’ll then have to figure out whether or not there is room on the next bus coming through, which is at least 1-3 days during peak season, if there isn’t room you’ll be wait-listed and may have to wait for yet another bus to come through town. If you don’t like the people that are on your bus, or if you don’t like the driver you can just roll the dice on the next bus that comes through town as well.
Luckily for me I really enjoyed the people on our bus from day 1, as well as our driver, Postie. Although he had his interesting driving quirks. Like swerving into oncoming traffic every time he searched for new songs on his ipod, or going up on two wheels on to the median of a bridge overlooking a reservoir trying to make a hairpin turn. For the most part, our core group stuck together for 1-2 weeks from our start in Auckland, all the way down to Queenstown. So even if there’s a stop you really aren’t into, the people you’re with help to bring up mood.
Other hop on/hop off bus options include Kiwi Experience, Contiki and Magic Bus. While doing research it was basically between Kiwi Experience and Stray for me. Most of the things i heard about Kiwi was that it was predominately a younger crowd looking to get wasted every night and hook up, garnering the wonderful nickname known as the clap trap. The average age of Kiwi is around 21, while Stray tends to skew a bit older, with a greater emphasis on culture and experience. But don’t get me wrong we still went out and partied pretty hard. I’d say the average age of our Stray bus was closer to 24, I myself being 29 at the time of the trip. There were a few parent/child groups on the trip as well, helping to bring up the average age. There was also a fair share of people on the bus that were 18-21 years old, so it really is a good mix, with roughly 40 or so people on the bus during peak summer season.
Before booking my ‘Max Pass’ I tried to find as much information as I could on pricing, and tried finding the best deal possible. I also read it would be cheaper in NZ, but I didn’t want to take that big of a chance. The price ended up being the same once I got to Auckland, so ultimately it’s worth some piece of mind to show up with a pass in-hand, especially during the summer peak season so you can secure your spot on a bus well ahead of time. I ended up buying a pass a couple of weeks ahead of my arrival to NZ, whilst traveling in Australia. The passes typically go on sale during different times of year and I happened to come across a pretty good sale of $930 AUS for the Max Pass, while the retail price of the pass is ~$1450 AUS. The Max Pass minimum amount of travel is 23 days, and takes you through most of the North Island and all of the South Island.
Last time you’ll see this from me on this post or anywhere else on my blog, but if you do end up booking a pass online please use my links to help give me a little kick-back and I’ll be happy to share my Stray Mates 5% discount with you as a return favor!
Now, back to the good stuff.