Buses are a relatively cheap and environmentally friendly way to get around New Zealand; however, services even between major towns are usually only once per day. Most roads in New Zealand are quite narrow and winding when compared to the highways of the USA, and travelling a long distance in a bus can be a safe and relaxing way to travel. Booking in advance on some lines can get you great bargains.
Flying Kiwi Adventures
New Zealandâs original adventure bus tour company offering "beyond the tourist trail" experiences. The company was listed in National Geographic's Best Adventure Travel Companies for 2009 and recently received a Qualmark enviro award (http://www.qualmark.co.nz...). Trips range from 3-27 days and cover both islands. The tours focus on enjoying the outdoor beauty and excitement of New Zealand with numerous hiking, cycling and activity options. There are also options to take extended breaks in your favourite places. Discounts are available for holders of YHA, VIP, ISIC and NOMADs cards.
New Zealandâs national coach company, with services connecting over 600 destinations nationwide. InterCity Group has voluntarily adopted European Emission standards across its fleet of modern coaches to operate InterCity Coachlines, Newmans Coach Lines and also operates a modern fleet of vessels and coaches to operate GreatSights New Zealand (http://www.greatsights.co.nz/), Fullers GreatSights Bay of Islands (http://dolphincruises.co.nz) and awesomeNZ (http://www.awesomenz.com/). Tickets can be purchased from the InterCity ticket counters at bus stations or i-SITE information centres and a discount is given to students or youth-hostel membership card holders e.g. BBH, YHA, Nomads, ISIC. Fares start from just $1 plus a booking fee on all InterCityâs national services and theyâve even been known to give away FREE seats at various times of the year. A limited number of heavily discounted âCheap-as-Seatsâ for travel that week are released via the companyâs facebook and twitter feeds every Monday. On-line fares are often sold at a cheaper rate.
Hitchhiking around New Zealand is generally possible on most inter-city and major rural roads. However, it is illegal to hitchhike on the few motorways except on the on-ramps and illegal for motorists to stop there to pick you up. Try to get out of the middle of town, especially where public transport operates. Wear your pack and look like you're touring the country rather than just being a local looking for a lift.
You have as much chance of being picked up by another tourist as a local, particularly in tourist areas. Alternatives for travellers include organizing shared rides through hostels, or using an on-line ridesharing resource like Jayride (http://www.jayride.co.nz) or Cooreea (http://www.cooreea.co.nz) which aims to make the process safer.
To get your car between the North and South Islands you will need to take a ferry across Cook Strait. There are several sailings daily between Wellington and Picton, but be prepared for a delay or a change in sailing times if the weather is stormy.
Harbour ferries, for commuters, operate in Auckland and Wellington. A number of communities are served by boat, rather than road, while charter boats are available for expeditions in several places. There are regular sightseeing cruises in several tourist destinations, particularly in the Southern Lakes and Fiordland area.
Domestic flights in New Zealand are often cheaper than driving or taking the train, especially if a crossing between the North and South Islands is required.
Airlines operate an electronic ticket system. You can book on-line, by telephone, or through a travel agent. Photo ID will be needed for travel.
Check-in times are usually at least 30 minutes prior to flight departure. Cabin baggage and personal scanning are routinely conducted for services from the major airports that have jet landings. Nelson, the fourth busiest airport in New Zealand with an average of 90 aircraft movements every day a plane takes off or lands every 4.5 minutes during scheduled hours, and other regional airports still are without this security theatre.
Air New Zealand(http://www.airnewzealand.co.nz). Has the most extensive domestic network, serving most cities over 20,000 people, with jet services between main centres and smaller aircraft elsewhere. Free economy baggage allowance is 1 piece of baggage weighing 23 kg, with 7 kg carry-on.
Jetstar(http://www.jetstar.co.nz). Budget no-frills carrier, filling most Qantas routes.
Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington airports have timetabled buses to the airport. Regional airports generally have only on-demand shuttle services and taxis.
See also: Train travel in New Zealand
Both Auckland and Wellington have commuter rail services. These services are operated by Veolia (http://www.connexauckland...) in Auckland and Tranz Metro (http://www.tranzmetro.co.nz/) in Greater Wellington.
Inter-city rail passenger services are operated by Tranz Scenic (http://www.tranzscenic.co.nz/), but have become increasingly limited due to the dysfunctional services, and the focus is now on popular tourist trains. However the remaining train services pass through spectacular scenery and have a running commentary, panoramic windows and an open-air viewing carriage.
The Overlanderbetween Auckland and Wellington, departing each city in the morning, daily in summer, Friday-Sunday the rest of the year has been retained in the mean time but could be cancelled in the near future.
The Capital ConnectionCommuter service leaves from Palmerston North to Wellington in the morning, returning in the evening.
The TranzCoastalfrom Christchurch to Picton via Kaikoura and return daily. Travels along the rugged north-east coast of the South Island. Meets the Picton-Wellington ferry.
The TranzAlpinefrom Christchurch to Greymouth and return daily. Classed as one of the world's great train journeys, this trip crosses the South Island, passing through spectacular mountain scenery, some of which is inaccessible by road, as well as the 12 km Otira tunnel. Many visitors disembark at Arthur's Pass National Park and spend four hours exploring the mountains before catching the return train.
Trains run at low speed, sometimes dropping to 50 km/h in the summer due to the lack of track maintenance following privatisation in the 1990s. Most New Zealanders prefer to drive or fly, as train fares are comparatively expensive. Trains are more suited to tourists as they are more scenic and more comfortable than other forms of travel.
New Zealand is a motorbike rider's dream country! New Zealand Motorcycle rentals of many makes are available throughout New Zealand. The South Island is the main attraction for a motorcyclist and New Zealand motorcycle tours base most of their time here.
South Pacific Motorcycles (http://www.motorbiketours...) offer both New Zealand motorbike rental and New Zealand motorbike tours Harley-Davidson, BMW, Honda, Triumph & other late-model motorcyclesas well as self-guided New Zealand motorcycle tours and based in Christchurch "The Garden City" in the South Island of New Zealand, motorcyclists have easy access to some of the best motorcycling in the world.
Just Ride Motorbike Tours & Rentals (http://www.justridemotorb...) out of Auckland, have a range of short duration "mini tours" that can fit in with your other holiday plans, as well as longer guided tours throughout the North and South Island. With a range of Triumph, Aprilia, Motto Guzzi and Ducati motorcycles they focus on the joy of riding the bike as much as the enjoyment of the countryside.