Transport NZ: Travelling Around New Zealand   

Travelling around New Zealand is easy, with many options available for travellers. There are transport options to suit your needs and budget, whether you want to explore at your own pace, join a guided tour, hop on a train or bus, or fly between destinations. Keep reading to find out the different ways of travelling around New Zealand and for our best tips and tricks to make the most of your trip.

Bus Tour group pushing bus for fun.

Domestic Regional Flights in New Zealand – Save Time!

If you’re short on time or want to cover long distances in New Zealand, flying is a good option. Many domestic flights in New Zealand connect the major cities and regions. You can also fly to outlying islands, like Stewart Island, Great Barrier Island, and Chatham Islands. Flying is fast and convenient. Additionally, if you book in advance or find a deal, travelling around New Zealand by flying is inexpensive.

Benefits of flying

  • The best benefit of flying is you save time and energy by travelling long distances in a short time.
  • Flying offers the opportunity to enjoy aerial views of New Zealand’s stunning landscapes from the plane window.
  • Also, you avoid the hassle of driving, parking or taking other long-distance public transport.

Drawbacks of flying

  • You have to pay extra for baggage fees and seat selection.
  • You need to check in online or at the airport, go through security checks, and spend at least an hour at the airport.
  • You have to deal with potential delays or cancellations due to weather conditions or technical issues.
  • You have to arrange your own transport to and from the airport.
  • Most importantly, you miss seeing the sights along the way. We personally love overland transport, even if it takes longer, as it allows us to see more scenery and travel through small towns and less-visited destinations.

Self-drive with a car

A popular way of travelling around New Zealand is by using your own car or renting a car. Self-driving allows you to explore the country at your own pace and convenience. You can choose from a variety of car types and sizes, depending on your needs and budget. You can also drive to places that are not easily accessible by public transport or tours. Self-drive with a car is our No. 1 transport choice and the best way to travel around New Zealand and any country anywhere. However, we especially love driving on New Zealand roads as, excepting the major cities, there is minimal traffic, and you often have the roads to yourself.

Benefits of self-driving with a car

  • You have control over your schedule and pace.
  • You can access remote and off-the-beaten-track places that public transport may not reach.
  • You can enjoy the scenic views and landscapes along the way.
  • You can find car rental companies in most towns and cities, especially near airports, train stations, bus terminals, hotels, and attractions. Also, some companies sell cars to travellers and offer to buy them back at the end of your trip.

Drawbacks of self-driving with a car

  • You need to have a valid driver’s licence.
  • You have to factor in fuel costs, tolls, parking fees, and maintenance expenses.
  • You must meet the age and insurance requirements of rental companies.
  • You need to plan and book your vehicle in advance, especially during peak seasons.
  • Importantly, you need to be comfortable driving on the left side of the road and follow the road rules and signs in New Zealand.

Read More about self-drive in Self Drive New Zealand South Island: Driving Essentials.

Self-drive with a Motorhome

Another option for travelling around New Zealand is by renting a motorhome. A motorhome gives you the freedom and flexibility to see the sights you want, when you want. You can also sleep in your motorhome, which saves you money on accommodation. New Zealand has many campgrounds and designated sites or freedom camping is in possible in some areas.

Benefits of a Motorhome

  • Not only do you have full control over your schedule, but you can go at any pace you want. When you are tired of driving, you can look for a freedom camp spot for the night.
  • You can access places that public transport does not reach.
  • You can save money on accommodation by camping in your motorhome or at designated sites.
  • You can enjoy the comfort and convenience of having your own kitchen, bathroom, and living space.

Drawbacks of a Motorhome

  • While the best way to travel in New Zealand may be with a motorhome, it is more expensive than most transport options.
  • You have to deal with the same challenges and costs as self-driving with a car, such as driving licence, insurance, road rules, fuel, tolls, parking, and maintenance.
  • Additionally, you have to be comfortable driving a larger vehicle than a car, which requires more skill and caution.

Camping your way around New Zealand? Check out the Best South Island Campgrounds.

Travelling around New Zealand by Bus

A cheap and easy way of travelling around New Zealand is with the bus network. New Zealand’s largest national bus network InterCity covers most of the country with frequent and reliable services. You can also use the local bus services in most towns and cities, especially near airports, train stations, bus terminals, hotels, and attractions.  

New Zealand also has guided bus tours. For more information, check out the section about “Joining a tour in New Zealand.” 

Benefits of bus travel

  • You can save on transport costs by paying low fares or using passes or discounts.
  • Bus travel allows you to enjoy the views and relax while someone else does the driving. We feel it’s a meditative experience where you can stare out the window and watch the scenery unfold before you. Thus, we love it for this reason.
  • You can meet new people and make friends with fellow travellers.
  • You can choose from a variety of routes and schedules that suit your needs and preferences.

Drawbacks of bus travel

  • You have less flexibility and independence than self-drive or other modes of transport.
  • You need to follow a fixed itinerary and schedule that may not suit your preferences or pace.
  • You may have limited time at each destination or miss out on some places you want to see.
  • You may have to deal with traffic jams, roadworks, or delays.

Travelling around New Zealand by train or ferry

If you want to experience some of the most scenic routes in New Zealand, you may want to consider travelling around New Zealand by train or ferry. Three main scenic rail journeys in New Zealand traverse the North and South Islands: The Northern Explorer, The Coastal Pacific, and The Tranz Alpine. These trains offer comfortable seats, panoramic windows, commentary, and food and beverage services. 

Additionally, rail services connect some regions, and suburban trains are available within Wellington and Auckland.

For travel between the North and South Islands, you can take a passenger and vehicle ferry across Cook Strait. The ferry journey takes about three hours and offers stunning views of the Marlborough Sounds and Wellington Harbour. The ferry trip from South Island to North Island is one of the best trips we love in New Zealand. We recommend you do not miss this scenic experience.

One of the unique features of travelling between the North and South Islands of New Zealand is that you can combine a ferry and a train journey in one seamless trip. The ferry and train services align with each other’s schedules. We feel the ferry is an excellent way to travel between the North and South Island of New Zealand, and you can book your ferry and train tickets online or through a travel agent. 

Also, there are ferries travelling between outlying islands such as Waiheke Island, Rangitoto Island, Stewart Island, and Great Barrier Island.

Benefits of trains and ferries

  • You can enjoy some of the most spectacular scenery in New Zealand from a different perspective.
  • You can relax and unwind while travelling without having to drive or fly.
  • You can save time and money by combining transport and accommodation with overnight trains or ferries.
  • You can reduce your carbon footprint by travelling more sustainably.

Drawbacks of trains and ferries

  • You have limited options for departure times and frequencies compared to other modes of transport.
  • You have to book your tickets in advance to secure your seat or cabin, especially during peak seasons.
  • Travelling around New Zealand by train is easy, but you need to arrange transport to and from the train or ferry stations or terminals.
  • You may experience delays or cancellations due to weather conditions or technical issues.

Hiring a Driver Guide for Travelling around New Zealand

If you want to have the best of both worlds – flexibility and convenience – you may want to hire a driver-guide for travelling around New Zealand. This personalised service allows you to travel in a private vehicle with a professional driver who also acts as your guide. You can customise your itinerary and pace according to your interests and get insider tips and recommendations from your driver guide.

Benefits of driver-guides

  • You have the ultimate flexibility and convenience of travelling in a private vehicle with a personal guide.
  • You can access places that are not accessible by public transport or coach tours.
  • You can enjoy a more intimate and authentic experience of New Zealand with a local expert.
  • You can tailor your trip to suit your budget, style, and preferences.

Drawbacks of driver guides

  • You have to pay a premium price for this service, which may not be affordable for everyone.
  • You have to trust and get along with your driver-guide, who may have a different personality or style than you. Additionally, you need to be able to communicate your expectations and needs with your driver guide to avoid misunderstandings or disappointments.
  • You need to follow the rules of your driver-guide, such as driving hours, breaks, and safety. 

Get Local Taxi and Shuttle Transport

Local taxis and shuttle services are available in most towns and cities and are a quick and easy way to get around New Zealand. They are predominantly near airports, train stations, bus terminals, hotels, and attractions. You can hail a taxi on the street, call a cab company, or use an app like Uber. You can also book a shuttle service online or through your accommodation provider.

Benefits of taxi and shuttle services

  • Travelling around New Zealand by taxi or shuttle gets you to your destination fast without waiting for public transport.
  • You can travel in comfort and privacy with a reliable and professional driver.
  • You can pay by cash, card or use an app that automatically charges your account.
  • You can split the cost with other passengers if you share a ride.

Drawbacks of taxi and shuttle services

  • You have to pay a relatively high fare compared to other modes of transport, especially for long distances or during peak hours.
  • You may encounter traffic jams or roadworks that delay your journey or increase your fare.
  • You may have difficulty finding a taxi or shuttle during busy periods or in the smaller New Zealand town areas.
  • You may have to deal with rude or dishonest drivers who may overcharge you or take you on a longer route.

Joining a Tour in New Zealand

If you want a hassle-free and fun-filled way of travelling around New Zealand, you may want to join a tour. There are many tours available in New Zealand that cater to different interests, budgets, and durations. You can choose from multi-day group tours, guided adventure tours, guided cycling tours, scenic flights, boat cruises, bus tours such as Kiwi Experience: the backpacker-oriented hop-on hop-off bus tours around New Zealand run by Kiwi Experience and more.

Benefits of joining a tour

  • The convenience and comfort of having everything arranged for you, such as transport, accommodation, activities, and meals.
  • You can benefit from the knowledge and expertise of a local guide who can show you the best spots and tell you stories about the places you visit.
  • You can meet new people and make friends with fellow travellers who share your interests and passions.
  • You can experience the diversity and beauty of New Zealand safely and responsibly.

Drawbacks of joining a tour

  • You have less flexibility and independence than self-drive or other modes of transport.
  • You need to follow a fixed itinerary and schedule that may not suit your preferences or pace.
  • You may have limited time at each destination or miss out on some places you want to see.

Hitchhiking in New Zealand

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to save money on travelling around New Zealand, you may want to try hitchhiking. Hitchhiking is legal in New Zealand as long as you don’t obstruct traffic or endanger anyone.

Benefits of hitchhiking

  • You can save money on transport costs by getting free rides from generous drivers.
  • You can have a unique and spontaneous experience of travelling around New Zealand.
  • You can meet interesting people and have conversations with locals or other travellers.
  • You can discover new places and hidden gems that you may not find otherwise.

Drawbacks of hitchhiking

  • You have no guarantee of getting a ride or reaching your destination on time or at all.
  • There may be long waits, bad weather, or unfriendly drivers.
  • You have to be careful of your safety and security when travelling with strangers.
  • You have to respect the rules and wishes of your driver, such as smoking, music, or conversation.

Motorbike and Bicycle trips in New Zealand

If you’re looking for an exhilarating and eco-friendly way of travelling around New Zealand, you may want to consider motorbike or bicycle trips. New Zealand has many scenic roads and trails that are perfect for riding on two wheels. You can rent a motorbike or a bicycle from various providers across the country or bring your own if you’re travelling by ferry or plane.

Benefits of motorbike and bicycle trips

  • You can enjoy the thrill and freedom of riding on two wheels through stunning landscapes and scenery.
  • You can access remote and off-the-beaten-track places that other modes of transport may not reach.
  • You can reduce your carbon footprint by travelling more sustainably.
  • You can improve your fitness and health by cycling.

Drawbacks of motorbike and bicycle trips

  • You need to have a valid driver’s licence and meet the age and insurance requirements of the rental company if you’re renting a motorbike.
  • You need to be comfortable riding on the left side of the road and follow the road rules and signs in New Zealand.
  • You need to factor in fuel costs, tolls, parking, and maintenance fees for your motorbike or bicycle.
  • You need to plan ahead and book your motorbike or bicycle in advance, especially during peak seasons.

Where are you headed? Read Next – Things to Do in Westport New Zealand: Nature’s Gateway, and discover the wonders of the wild West Coast.

What is the best way to travel around New Zealand?

The best way to travel around New Zealand depends on your personal preferences, time frame, interests, and expectations. 

Plus, you don’t need to stick to one transport option for travelling around New Zealand; you can use a combination of flights, buses, trains and even rent a car for your travels. 

Getting around New Zealand is easy. Whether you want to self-drive, join a tour, take a train or ferry, hire a driver-guide, use a taxi or shuttle, or fly between destinations, you’ll find something that suits your needs and budget. 

And really, the best way to get around New Zealand is with a curious mind and a happy heart, and you’ll be sure to have a wonderful time exploring our stunning country.

We wish you Happy Travels!

From the Team at New Zealand South Island

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *