Traveling to New Zealand: Where to Start?

Q&A with a Reader

Hi Billy and Akaisha!

We hope you are well and we know you are having a great time!

My husband Carl and I are taking off for New Zealand for 3 months.  This is our first big  slow traveling trip.  I know that you have been to NZ and I was wondering if you made reservations at hostels ahead of time or did you just wing it as you went.  We don’t know where to get started with the planning and if you could offer some suggestions, we would really appreciate it!  We are taking the hop on hop off buses and going from there.

Thanks so much!  You are an inspiration to us!

Carl and Cheryl

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Hi Carl and Cheryl,

Thanks for taking the time to write and congratulations on your trip to New Zealand! It’s a gorgeous country.


When we went there, this is what we did.

At the time, Magic Bus was running, but now I believe the Kiwi Experience has taken their routes and bought their business. I imagine that there are some things that are the same.

When we were on the Magic Bus, the driver would call ahead to the hostels and he would make reservations. He would give us a list first and we all would “x” the hostel we wanted, and then put how many people we were, and how many days we wanted to stay. In this way, the hostel knew who was getting off and how many days they were staying and Magic Bus knew how many people they were going to pick up later. It was a very efficient system.

At the time we were there, Lord of the Rings had just come out, and there were lots of tourists, so the hostels always seemed to be jamming. We did feel pressure to make reservations and to keep moving because the rooms (at that time) were not guaranteed farther down the road.


I don’t know that you will have this same problem. Because of this “pressure” we saw both islands in 5 weeks which was waaaay too fast for us. We would have loved to have taken at least 2 months to do this trip.

Also…  we used our student ID and joined  YHA hostel system, getting a discount on all our stays in the hostels in their system. You could do the same thing for the BBH system too.

One last thing I would mention that really worked for us. When we got off the bus to go to the hostels and set up, for us at that time it was a bit of a “mad house.” Lots of people running to the hostel desk to get the best rooms, the cheapest rooms, the bottom bunks, the private bathroom or what have you. It didn’t take us long to figure out that I should “run” ahead to the check in desk to pay, check in, and get the best deal at the time. Meanwhile, Billy stayed with the bus and got our luggage off. I would either meet him back at the bus to help with the backpacks or he would meet me at the check in desk with the luggage.


In this way, we were not always on the top bunks, or in the crampiest of rooms, and we could have a choice of shared bathrooms or private ones.

I hope this information helps you. I’m sure you will have a super time in New Zealand!

Keep in touch.

Best Regards,


About Retire Early Lifestyle

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired three decades ago at the age of 38 and began traveling the world. As recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel, they have been interviewed about retirement issues by The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, The Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter, nationally syndicated radio talk shows and countless newspapers and TV shows nationally and worldwide. They wrote the popular books The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement (Your Simple Path to FIRE) and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.
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