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'Backpacker's Pass' to New Zealand : Packaged transportation services and trips allow budget travelers to venture independently.

August 09, 1992|LUCY IZON

Budget travelers touring New Zealand independently can now take advantage of a special do-it-yourself package called the Backpacker's Pass.

The pass consists of a group of vouchers that can be exchanged for InterCity or Kiwi Experience services over a three-month period.

InterCity is New Zealand's most comprehensive network of ground transportation services, including buses, trains and ferries.

The Kiwi Experience is a service created for backpackers. Driver/guides take you to out-of-the-way places where you can enjoy scenic attractions and experience such activities as bungee jumping, river rafting and hiking. What's more, schedules are flexible: Buses run twice a week, so if you want to stop off and hike in a national park for a few days, you can then pick up the next bus through.

Each Backpacker's Pass voucher is valid for a single InterCity or InterIslander transportation service. Two vouchers are required for a train trip, and a varying number are required for Kiwi Experience trips.

A 10-voucher pass costs about $167 U.S.; a 15-voucher pass is $223, and a 20-voucher pass is $280. Passes can be purchased in New Zealand from travel agents and InterCity Services.

For more information on travel to New Zealand, contact the New Zealand Tourist Office, 501 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 300, Santa Monica 90401, (800) 388-5494 or (310) 395-7480.

Several free publications helpful to budget travelers are available from this office:

* "The Good Bed Guide" is a listing of more than 50 youth hostels affiliated with the International Youth Hostel Federation.

In the last five years, more than $5.4 million has been spent to upgrade youth hostel facilities in prime resort areas such as Mt. Cook and Queenstown, and converting former hotels into hostels in Auckland, Rotorua and Wellington.

There are no age restrictions; however, to use the facilities, you must either be a member of your own national hostel association or purchase a membership for about $13 in New Zealand. The hostels offer dormitory accommodations for $4.50 to $10 per night. The brochure also includes a reservation form.

* "New Zealand Budget Backpackers Accommodation" is a listing of 104 independent, mostly owner-operated hostels that offer accommodations for $5.50-$8.50 per night. Listings for the Cook Islands are also included.

The brochure rates the hostels based on information obtained by surveying 1,500 travelers last year. It also includes short descriptions of the facilities, directions and telephone numbers.

* "Pub Beds" is a list of 25 city, country and village pubs offering single, twin and double accommodations to travelers.

Rates for singles range from $8 to $32.50, doubles $15-$36, including New Zealand's hefty 12.5% goods-and-services tax.

You will have to make your own reservation at the first pub. Each host will then make a forward reservation for your next night at no additional cost.

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