Tag Archives: bus travel

Bussing about New Zealand

The Stray bus stops off in the cool little town of Raglan, New Zealand

If hitchhiking isn’t your thing and you haven’t hired or bought a car for your travels through New Zealand, then bussing it is the next best option. The two most used companies are InterCity and Naked Bus, both which offer cheaper fares the earlier you book. There are also the tourist tour buses, such as the Stray Bus or Kiwi Experience or Magic Bus (see Nomadic Matt’s post for more info), often filled with backpackers looking to meet up with other. In Raglan I met a local who called the Stray Bus the Shag Bus because ‘all these eighteen year olds step off and straight away you see them eyeing each other up’. Make of that what you will.

Despite a really good sales pitch from the guy in NOMADS hostel in Auckland who insisted that I should Stray it because ‘it’s a good way to meet people if you’re travelling alone’ and ‘see places that the normal buses just don’t go to’, I wanted to keep it cheaper and more local. And I wanted to do some hitching.

In case it’s of any help to anyone, here are some of the fares and journeys that I took whilst on the North Island of New Zealand:

Auckland Airport – Auckland City Centre

The Airbus ($16 one way) leaves from outside both International and Domestic terminals every ten minutes (between 7:00pm and 7:00am less regularly). An option to  keep it cheaper that may be worth exploring is taking a bus from Auckland Airport to Manukau City ($4) and then a bus from Manukau City to Britomart (approx. $4) which is pretty much where the Airbus drops you off in any case. It’s a slower journey but will cost half as much.

Auckland – Hamilton

Intercity trip lasting approximately 2  hours and costing $19. Bus leaves from SkyCity in Auckland. Can buy tickets online or at Sky City.

Hamilton – Auckland Airport

This Intercity trip was in two stages: Hamilton-Manukau City, Auckland (1 ½ hours, $16) and Manukau City – Auckland Airport (40 minutes, $4). Bus from Anglesea Street bus stop out the side of the Hamilton Transport Centre.

Whangerei – Rotorua

My first NakedBus trip booked a couple of days in advance costing $44 for the 6 ½ hour journey. Broken into two stages: Whangerei – Auckland (2 ½ hours) and Auckland – Rotorua (4 hours) with a brief stop in Hamilton. Bus from “The Hub” Transport centre at the Town Basin on Dent Street.

Rotorua – New Plymouth

Booked one day in advance, this 5 hour NakedBus journey went back via Hamilton and cost $44. Ipicked up the bus from Fenton Street, near the corner of Arawa Street in Rotorua.

New Plymouth – Auckland

This NakedBus trip took six hours and cost $34 when booked one week in advance. Bus pick up is opposite the New Plymouth Travel Centre on Ariki Street.

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A few additional things: They’re quite strict about seat belt usage in New Zealand with the threat of hefty fines if you’re caught without by plain clothed policemen. With InterCity and especially NakedBus, buy tickets as far in advance as possible. With both it is possible to pick up fares from $1. Some NakedBus buses have free WiFi, although its not always very reliable.

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Bussing about Peru

Imagine a bus with loads of leg room, a comfy reclining seat, hot meals, regular drinks and smartly dressed hosts and hostesses… no, don’t imagine being on an airplane, imagine a double decker sleeper bus, perfect for long distance travel across Peru.

The procedures before you board a bus in Peru are not unlike those at airports. You check in your main luggage, and then show your ticket and passport (and in some cases provide a finger print) before going through a security scan. You also often need to pay a departure tax, although it’s usually only a couple of soles. In case its of any use to anybody out there, the main bus companies that I travelled with are as follows:

Itsa

I travelled with Itsa from Piura to Trujillo which cost S/.35 (£8.37) for a semi-cama (reclining seat) upstairs. Having come from Ecuador, S/.35 felt like a fortune, but the quality of the bus was amazing – plenty of leg room, comfortable, and well-ventilated with good service. It took six hours. Food included a snack and juice after we set off and a hot meal an hour before we arrived.

Movil Tours

An overnight trip from Trujillo to Huaraz cost S/.45 (£10.76) for semi-cama, upstairs. The bus felt considerably more cramped than Itsa. For an 8 hour ride, there could have been more food or drinks available – there was only a snack and drink at the start (although to be fair, it was some very tasty olive bread).

Cial

A good bus with plenty of leg room and comfy seats costing S/.40 (£9.57) for a semi-cama, upstairs for a journey from Huaraz to Lima, an 8 hour overnight trip. The bus was really empty which meant I could spread out. By all accounts, it should have been a relaxing, restful journey… had they not turned the air con off and the heating on. I slowly cooked into an uncomfortable, grumpy mess.

My second trip with Cial was from Nasca to Cuzco, a 15 hour overnight journey costing S/.80 (£19.13) for a semi-cama seat. A bit of an older bus with broken lights and looking a bit tired overall, but the fact that the window opened kept me a bit happy. And it was cheaper than Cruz del Sur who were charging S/.108 for the same route, albeit with full recliners. Food on the Cial bus was minimal and a bit rubbish: a sorry looking sandwich at 9:30am and some wafers, no drink. What’s that about?

Cruz del Sur

Cruz del Sur is often cited as the best bus company in Peru for safety, security, punctuality and comfort, but the journey from Lima to Paracas felt like one expensive trip costing S/.55 (£13.15) for a 3 ½ hour journey. Seats were surprisingly cramped but the food – a full almuerzo delivered shortly after departure (rice, chicken, a slice of spinach and egg quiche, rice pudding and a drink) was tasty and hot. Working Wi-Fi on board was a plus and despite being a short, daytime route, the chairs were still recliners in case you wanted to snooze. If leaving from Lima, check which terminal the bus goes from as there are a few Cruz del Sur terminals in the city (most, including international, leave from Javier Prado). Three buses leave for Paracas per day, although they go on to Nasca. I wanted to be in Pisco so had to travel to Paracas and then get a taxi to Pisco for S/.8 (£1.92).

The second trip I took on Cruz del Sur was from Arequipa to Lima and it cost me S/.43 (£10.28), a half price fare thanks to my onward international ticket to Ecuador. I sat up front in economy upstairs. It was a comfortable journey with tasty food, although the vegetarian option was a little overdone on the amount of tofu based sausage.

My final trip with Cruz del Sur was a biggie: 28 hours of international travel from Lima, Peru to Guayaquil, Ecuador. For an extra S/.30 I travelled VIP consisting of a small cabin downstairs with comfier seats, more leg room, seats that recline to 160° and attentive service. For the distance, it was worth the extra. No problems with air conditioning or comfort. It was great. Even better was that I had a seat by myself, no neighbour. Overall this journey wasn’t cheap at S/.243 (S/.216 for economy) (£58.12 or £51.66) but it stopped at the borders and waited whilst the necessary visa stamps were awarded. The international service between Peru and Ecuador only runs on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

PerúBus

I caught this basic bus with upright seats on the Pan American roadside from Pisco to Ica. It cost S/.4  (£0.96) for an hour and a half journey. To get there you need to take a collectivo from Pisco to the Pan American highway, which should cost in the region of S/.1.50 per person. Buses run really regularly to both Lima and Ica. It was a basic bus with movies but not much else. Fine for the distance travelled. I wanted to go on to Huacachina, but as the bus terminates in Ica it was necessary to get a taxi to Huacachina which cost S/.6 (£1.43).

Soyuz

Another standard, basic bus for shorter routes, I travelled with Soyuz from Ica to Nasca. The trip took 2 ½ hours and cost S/.11 (£2.63). Nearly got ripped off when buying my tickets – check your change! No security or comfy seats like the main, long distance buses.

Flores

I travelled with Flores for a night time journey from Cusco to Arequipa, that should have taken 9 hours but an hour delay at the start to let on people at different town stops increased it to a 10 hour trip. The ticket cost S/.40 (£9.57) and there was no real security – we just had to dump our bags into the bus luggage section. The police did however come on board to carry out the usual videoing. The bonus of this trip was that it was cooler than previous journeys but there was very little leg room and I’m sure that the guy in front of me will have had my knees in his back for the journey duration. The lady snoring, on the other hand, could have happened on any bus, but my goodness, it was annoying! Food was a cold meal of rice and chicken followed by some runny, dodgy jelly for dessert and some hot, very sweet tea. There were no options with the food and drinks; you got what you were given. It wasn’t terrible, just not great either. The Cusco to Arequipa route is covered by a couple of companies including Cruz del Sur, each running a couple of buses per night.

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