New Zealand Travel Guide: Welcome to the Magic Bus!

February 28, 2009

Day Three

“New Zealand begins where Auckland finishes.”
– Kiwis who don’t live in Auckland

The problem with most big cities is that they’re all about the same. They have different art in their museums and different skylines, but mostly they all offer shopping, dining, cafes, more shopping, some statues, a park or two, several Starbucks and more shopping.

Some cities still stand out. I would never tell anyone to skip Paris, or New York City. But most of the time, I think one full day in a city is enough. After that, head out of town and start to see the rest of the country, which is exactly what I was ready to do.

There’s nothing like starting the day with a bus ride and stroll through town with 50 pounds of luggage strapped to your body. Well, maybe 20 pounds, but at 6:30 in the morning, everything is heavier.

Hop aboard the Magic Bus

Hop aboard the Magic Bus

I was on my way to the Magic Bus office on Albert Street, ready to get out of Auckland and see more of the North Island. My Magic driver, Greg (pronounced “Grig”, just like Bret is pronounced “Brit” – I freaking love those Conchords), picked people up at several hostels, then drove us up to the top of Mt. Eden, an old volcano, for a full panorama of the city.

Once you’re on the Magic Bus, the driver passes around lists of activities for the day and accommodation for that night. Prices for everything are listed, and the Magic price for most activities is $5-10 cheaper, sometimes more. You sign up for whatever interests you and your driver makes the booking. Want to catch a cultural Maori show? Do some whitewater rafting or bungee jumping? The driver can help you decide what you can fit into your schedule and budget.

Just sit back and relax.

Just sit back and relax.

In the busy summer season it’s not a bad idea to book your own accommodation ahead of time, especially if you and a friend really want a room to yourselves, but if you just need a dorm bed, you should be ok waiting to book until that day. Your driver will let you know if you should book in advance for a town a couple of days down the road.

After a quick snack stop in Hamilton (birthplace of the Rocky Horror Picture Show – I’ll bet you didn’t know that) it was on to Waitomo for black water rafting and glow worms.

Next: Tell me about the glow worms!

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