The Highs & Lows of a New Zealand InterCity Coach Trip
Doing a coach tour of New Zealand without the tour group was perhaps an unconventional way of seeing the two islands, especially on my own. There were definitely pros and cons to taking the InterCity coaches, but mostly pros. This is how I found it, and my advice to anyone wanting to do the same.
Firstly, the coaches were reliable. They all left within 10 minutes of their scheduled time, and there were no missing buses, so I didn’t have to worry about being stranded somewhere without accommodation. Doing the coach package in the way that I did also meant that I had the independence to travel anywhere I wanted and make last minute changes to my route without having to consult anyone! I took advantage of this when leaving Taupo for Wellington, as I left later than I planned to originally.
Taking a coach also meant that I did not need to drive and navigate myself around difficult and unfamiliar terrain (even if I could drive). The buses were already filled with fuel too, meaning we didn’t have to stop once to fill up, but the drivers also gave us breaks for lunch on the long coach journeys.
Amenities & Benefits
The coaches are also mostly very comfortable. As they weren’t busy, I normally got two seats for myself which was ideal when I needed a nap. They had Wi-Fi in some of the coaches, and are apparently installing the last few buses with Wi-Fi soon, so I was never off the grid. They had air-con and heating, depending on which was the most necessary for the season in question.
InterCity coaches are also extremely flexible; you can log into the app and book and cancel travel at your convenience. If you want to cancel a trip, just do it 2 hours before and you’ll get refunded on a Flexi-pass! This is how I changed my travel plans when heading to Wellington.One of the best benefits was the coach drivers’ intimate knowledge about the land we were exploring. They spent a lot of time telling us all about the history of New Zealand and about any semi-famous landmarks we passed. Click To Tweet
One of the best benefits was the drivers’ intimate knowledge about the land we were exploring. They spend a lot of time telling their passengers all about the history of New Zealand and about any semi-famous landmarks we passed. They also stop for picture opportunities sometimes, so tourists can take pictures of things we wouldn’t otherwise get to see.
Lake Tekapo was my favourite of these stops. I travelled past it on the way to Mt Cook, and then back from Queenstown again. I wish I had had the time to stay in Lake Tekapo, but at least I got to walk around the shore and take some stunning photographs!
Downsides of My InterCity Coach Tour of New Zealand
A con of taking the bus was that sometimes they depart really early. I love my lie ins, so that was difficult to get used to. It was also quite lonely, maybe because it was the off-season. There weren’t many people on each coach, and everyone tended to keep to themselves. This was why I was really glad there were interesting people at the hostels to meet and talk to.
There are seasonal problems with New Zealand; in the winter it is too quiet. There aren’t any buses going to tourist hotspots like there would be in the summer. An example of this was trying to get to Hot Water Beach from Whitianga. There was no public transport in the winter, so if not for the kindness of a stranger, I wouldn’t have been able to see it! On the other hand, in the summer, all the tourist hotspots are too busy to be fun.
Is it Worth it?I recommend travelling New Zealand by coach, and if you are short on time and money like I was. Designing your own tour is actually quite fun, as there are still plenty of opportunities to meet people. Click To Tweet
In general, the trip was really fun and interesting, and I got to see so many things and places, as detailed in my other articles. I do recommend travelling New Zealand by coach, and if you are short on time and money like I was. Designing your own tour is actually quite fun, as there are still plenty of opportunities to meet people.
As discussed in my article about planning the trip, the coach pass cost $425 (NZ), whereas doing a 2 week coach tour would have come out as $700+, not including accommodation, food, or souvenirs (the most important bit for me!) In the end, I did end up spending a lot, but it was totally worth every cent!
The only things I would’ve done differently were maybe going with friends, seeing more of Wellington, and stopping at Lake Tekapo and Franz Josef. The trip turned out to be phenomenal anyway, and I am very much looking forward to coming back with hopefully more time to spare!
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