My first and only night bus in New Zealand was a sleepless and exhausting night but it was also a grand adventure. I didn’t know what to expect of my first night bus so I thought I would shed some light on the mystery of this. I chose to take a night bus from Wellington to Auckland as it was my second last night in New Zealand and I thought it was a good way to save money. It was a really long trip from 7.30pm to around 7am the next day. I naively thought that it was a one-stop bus all the way to Auckland. How I wish I knew earlier.
The most important way to survive this night bus would be to bring an eye mask. I wish I had known about this as it affected my sleep a LOT. The driver kept turning on the lights in the bus whenever it stopped to pick up or drop off passengers. As a result, I couldn’t sleep because of the frequent stops. I only managed to get some sleep around 2am because I was too exhausted to keep awake. I ended up using my jacket to cover my face instead since I didn’t have any eye mask.
I would also suggest to bring along a jacket and dress in long pants as the bus can be quite cold throughout the night. As I mentioned, the jacket was used to cover my face so I had to make do without one. It wasn’t the most comfortable way of sleeping but I couldn’t really care by the time I fell asleep because I was too tired to stay awake.
You should also expect a lot of stops. The whole drive took …hours. The estimated driving time to Auckland from Wellington is around 8hrs but as mentioned, I didn’t realise that the bus would be stopping so many times when I got on the bus. This is because the night buses that I used to take from Singapore to Malaysia are pretty much straightforward trips. The one I was on in New Zealand stopped at a lot of towns in between Wellington and Auckland so there’s usually passengers who would come and go through the whole journey.
I would also suggest to ensure you inform the driver of your drop-off point accurately when checking in your luggage, especially when there are different drop-off points for the same city. Due to the limited compartments, the driver usually arranges your luggage in the order of departure stops. So be smart and ensure your information is correct rather than risk your luggage being left behind. Unfortunately, this scenario happened on my bus and the poor lady only realised it when she got off at the next drop-off point. I just hope her luggage didn’t end up stolen since it was left behind on the sidewalk.
So the final lesson that I would like to highlight is to always, ALWAYS tell the driver if you need to go to the toilet during the bus ride. I would suggest to never walk away in search of a toilet yourself during a drop-off/pick-up stop or even assuming that the bus would always wait for you. My bus driver certainly didn’t because he wasn’t aware of a missing passenger until the wife practically had a meltdown when she realised her husband got left behind. Long story short – the driver turned around, the husband was found, we eventually got on with the drive. I’m quite sure that guy learnt his lesson after this incident though.
As you can imagine, travelling by night bus has its merits. You get to save money on accommodation and save travel time with sleeping enroute. The problems, though, are very well documented here. It was my only night bus travel when I was in New Zealand and yet I still managed to experience a wealth of experiences, from the sleepless night to the delays and of course, the drama with the guy who got left behind. Perhaps I should be thankful that I had such a memorable and impressionable time on this fateful night. After all, I can now think of it fondly, no?
Have you ever travelled by night bus or done any night driving before? Did you ever have any grand adventures or challenges with this night travel? Please do share!