If you're anything like me, a good deal of travel has been solo. Sure, I've gone places with my family or taken some trips with friends, but the real journeys have been on my own. Having plenty of solo budget travel under my belt, going to New Zealand by myself felt normal, but once I arrived, I felt completely lost.
After quitting my job and entering on a working holiday visa, I was ready for a new adventure in life. Unsure where to begin, I had the typical questions: Do I buy a car? What should I see? and How will I figure it all out? With so much to consider, Kiwi Experience's tour bus with activities, guides, and a hop on-hop off system turned out to be the answer to all of my questions. I also happened to have the time of my life!
Day 1 on the bus took me back to every first day at school. Unsure of what to expect, most everyone kept to themselves, but were generally friendly. Starting in Auckland meant that the majority of us were beginning together, which turned out to be an ideal bonding experience.
Our first stop was Paihia where 6 of us happened to be placed in the same hostel room. By the end of the night, we couldn't stop laughing and found unexpected connections and spent the rest of the North Island together.
This group turned out to be the core family of friends who I tubed through the caves with, skydived with, and who kept me company long after we parted ways.
Spreading out my travels over several months, working along the way, and extending stays in certain cities in the South Island meant that I met about 8 different bus loads of people. Joining a new group eventually felt reassuring, and I'd often run into familiar faces from previous buses. Some were natural connections, others not as much, but I always knew I would find a friendly face, have a great conversation, or at the very least, share a laugh.
Ages spanned from 18 to 72 year olds, but there never seemed to be a barrier to kindness and connection. Everyone was touring for a different reason, but we were all there to have an amazing time exploring this beautiful country.
I found that the fastest way to form a connection was through an all-day activity. The start of the South Island was Kaiteriteri, where I got to know a great group of solo travelers as we kayaked and walked our way through Abel Tasman.
The Whole Kit and Caboodle pass was the best way for me to meet people from all over the world, share some incredibly memorable experiences, challenge a few misconceptions from judging people on the surface, and have a blast along the way. I could make the bus journey exactly what I wanted, from plenty of solo time, to enjoying a fun group of people around me for the day. I'd never done a tour before, but after Kiwi Experience, I'd do it all over again.
If you find yourself in New Zealand on a working holiday, a gap year or simply for a holiday, Kiwi Experience may be the easiest way for you to have a budget-friendly adventure and make some new friends, too.
Check out their website for more information on the legendary New Zealand adventure bus!