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Our Guide to Flying Kiwi

Generally recognised throughout the New Zealand tourist industry as a top contender, Flying Kiwi offer a whopping range of camping, cycling, hiking and adventure tours. Aimed at the budget-conscious market, this New Zealand owned company is the Kiwi original which means they have had more than two decades of getting things honed to perfection making it something of a slick operation.

Unlike many of the other tour companies who separate their tours according to interest – e.g. hiking, biking, camping etc – each of the Flying Kiwi tours are multi-activity which means you have the choice of doing a bit of everything; an ideal option perhaps for those who can't make up their mind whether strapping on their walking boots or climbing into the cycle saddle are more appealing ways to see this stunning country. And you can change your mind everyday if you want - you only have to decide what you are in the mood for once you stumble out of bed. There are also snow options for those who want some winter sport activity too.

Because some of the tours lean more heavily towards one theme or another, each tour has a 5 star ranking with regard to hiking, biking and activities. At a glance potential customers can see exactly what they are signing up for and choose their own personal best-suited.

Flying Kiwi also pride themselves on their going-beyond-the-tourist-trail emphasis for some real nature and cultural immersion with tours aimed at those who want to hang with the locals According to them they not only go where other tour companies don't but also check out some of the country's best secret spots that others don't even know exist. This might be a night time walk along secret trails lit by glow worms, a deserted road bike ride, a dip in a rainforest-surrounded natural swimming hole or the chance to sample the best muffins found anywhere in the country.

Flying Kiwi also have a number of other major selling points going for them which include being a highly-awarded eco-tourism company, offering a good range of free included activities, a vast selection of optional add-on activities and a heap of lake/mountain/beach-side accommodation bases to get you fully nature-immersed.

Group sizes

Tour buses range from 20 to 30 seaters. On average tour groups have 18 persons with a maximum of 24.

Tour trip lengths

There are 16 tour options to choose from which include four winter snow choices. Tours range in length from 4 to 28 days.

What is included

Each of the Flying Kiwi tours includes: 

  • accommodation;
  • meals (while the majority do not all tours include all meals);
  • transport;
  • a host of freebie activities and experiences;
  • use of sports equipment on board – Frisbees, body-boards, cricket sets and certain extras depending on the tour. Cycle hire is usually extra but is also included on some tours.
  • The snow tour options also include ski field transfers, ski passes and equipment rental.

The freebies offered vary from tour to tour. For example, on the 'Ultimate 3 Explorer Tour' you get a seafood feast, entry to the geothermal wonderland known as Wai-o-tapu, a Queenstown gondola ride and a North/South Island ferry crossing. Otherwise your fun-for-free offerings might be such things as a museum entry, hot pools or wine tasting.

Optional activities available

As is the norm, Flying Kiwi offer a choice of optional extras during your trips which attract additional charges. Less the norm is the huge selection of such which this company have on offer – just about anything is possible. In fact, they claim to offer more activities than any other tour company. The list is too long to itemise here but includes such things as sailing, fishing, trekking, cave diving, quad biking, rock-climbing, glacier hiking and of course hiking and cycling.

The vast majority of tours carry bikes on their tour buses and you can decide whether you go for a quick pedal or spend the entire day in the cycle saddle. For the keen hiker there is the chance for everything from relaxing strolls to longer hikes which include overnight options and even 3-day treks.

Pros and Cons

  • Flying Kiwi have an admirable commitment to responsible tourism and a host of eco-friendly initiatives in place for which they have won a host of awards and industry recognised certification including Qualmark Enviro Awards.
  • The company have been named by National Geographic as 'the top New Zealand budget operator for client satisfaction for Multi-sport / Biking and hiking / Nature and Wildlife / Cultural Encounters'.
  • There is a huge choice of tour options.
  • Both islands – North and South – are covered.
  • 100% kiwi owned and operated.
  • Plenty of off-the-beaten-path options and some real wilderness immersion experiences possible.
  • Accommodation tends to be of the lakeside/mountainside/ocean-side variety with camping and cabin options. Upgrades are possible for those who don't want to go down the standard shared accommodation route.
  • Flying Kiwi are the original NZ tour company which means they have heaps of experience.
  • For the majority of tours breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the price. Although the initial package price might appear more expensive it is worth noting that eating out in New Zealand can get super-pricey so do your sums to decide whether you are actually saving money here. On a cost-per-day basis Flying Kiwi typically end up being a true budget option.
  • Lots of included freebies, activities and experiences.
  • Flying Kiwi claim they offer more add-on additional activities than any other tour company in the country.
  • Each tour is multi-activity combining hiking, biking, camping and adventure – you choose what you do on any given day and how much of it you do.
  • A unique pick up and drop off system for cyclists which means you don't have to carry heaps of gear and can decide where and when you want to rejoin with the bus again after your cycle ride.
  • Lots of flexibility which aims to combine the freedom of independent travel with the convenience of being part of a tour. You can even take breaks along the way.
  • A choice of start and end points for all of the tours.
  • There are always a range of deals and discounts up for grabs. This includes their refer-a-friend programme which offers huge rewards for both referrer and referee.
  • As a significant part of the company's ethos there are a ton of cultural-themed inclusions.
  • Lots of camping choices for those who like to be closer to nature.
  • Typically the cycling and hikes are unguided although you will be given plenty of support and all the information you might need.
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