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11 Crucial New Zealand Coach Touring Questions Answered

Learn what touring New Zealand by coach is really like. If you’re considering a coach (or bus) tour of New Zealand you’ve likely got questions about what to expect. We’ve drawn on our extensive experience to collect together answers to some key questions about your New Zealand coach touring experience and what to expect.

1.What will your coach be like?

Escorted tour vehicles are usually categorised as 5 star coaches. This means they have superior suspension for comfort, air conditioning, reclining seats, on board bathrooms, intercom systems and are generally newer vehicles.

These vehicles are designed with your comfort very much front of mind. And you can be sure that the quality and standard of the New Zealand coaches and tour vehicles is excellent.

2. Are coach tours appropriate for children?

Some tours, such as those operated by Grand Pacific, are not really suitable for children. Other coach tour operators offer child rates, such as AAT Kings and Kirra Tours. Check with one of our consultants on the cost and appropriateness of taking a child on a specific tour.

Our advice: independent coach touring offers the best value and flexibility, if you wish to travel with children.

3. How many other travellers will be on board?

The number of people you will travel with will vary according to the style of touring experience you choose:

4. Do the coaches have toilets on board?

There are toilets on board all the coaches for escorted tours operated by AAT Kings, Grand Pacific and Kirra Tours.

The coaches used on independent tours may not offer toilet facilities on some of your travel legs. But coaches on all tours will usually stop every 2 hours on average for comfort stops.

5. Do I keep the same seat throughout my tour?

No. You will not be in the same seat for the full duration of the tour. Escorted tours use a seat rotation policy which ensures everyone gets to sit in different parts of the coach throughout the tour. Independent coach tours do not allocate specific seats or operate a rotation policy.

6. What is the difference between an ‘escorted’ and ‘independent’ touring experience?

An escorted touring experience will generally mean you travel in a group with a guide or driver/guide on one coach with a set itinerary for your tour and scheduled departures.
With an independent coach tour you travel on your own and work with one of our experienced consultants to make use of scheduled bus services and create a touring experience that’s perfect for your interests and schedule.

7. What time in the morning do coaches leave?

Escorted coach tours — such as those operated by AAT Kings, Kirra and Grand Pacific — generally start the travel legs at around 8am. Independent coach touring travel legs can start at various times depending on the location.

Ask one of consultants for a daily breakdown for any tour that interests you.

8. What should I bring to wear on a coach tour?

Comfort and practicality is the key with coach touring attire. New Zealand is an informal country, so you won’t be out of place in a t-shirt and jeans. That said: many guests prefer to have comfortable travel clothes and then change into smart casual for dinner.

9. What is included in an escorted tour package?

As a general rule escorted tours include the must see attractions on your itinerary, such as Waitomo Caves, Milford Sound, etc. They will also include all your accommodation, transport, breakfast each day and nearly all dinners. Sometimes a few evenings are left for you to do your own thing.

Airport arrival and departure transfers are also usually included when arriving and staying at accommodation arranged by the tour company.

10. What is included in an independent touring experience package?

The advantage of independent touring is that you get to decide exactly what you want to include, where you want to stay, what you want to do and for how long. It is simply a case of asking your tour planner what you can include.

11.[Bonus] Is it hard to incorporate the TranzAlpine scenic train into a coach tour?

Nearly all tours that visit the South Island will include the TranzAlpine Train Journey. But not all tours complete the full trip from Greymouth to Christchurch or Arthurs Pass to Christchurch – the train can be boarded at Arthur’s Pass, which means you experience half of the world-renowned journey.

We think the TranzAlpine is a South Island must do. So all our independent tours include the complete Tranz Alpine train journey.

Got more questions about touring New Zealand by coach or your escorted and independent touring options? Our consultants have a wealth of experience and offer unbiased advice. Don’t hesitate to contact them for the answers you need.