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Transports in
New Zealand

 Public transport in New Zealand can be divided into 2 types; the ones from the major cities such as Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington…. And the rest. In both large and small towns you will find public transport, but it all relates to the size of the town, as this will affect the number and frequency. If you don’t have a bus timetable at hand you might wait for a bus until you start to gather dust and spider webs. The good thing is that in most towns (except the big cities) you can normally just walk to where you need to go.   

Auckland is where you will find the best and the worst transport system in New Zealand. The best because you have the greatest options, but the worst because the city is pretty big, and buses do not cover it all. This means that depending where you live you might have to walk quite a few blocks just to get home. After 8pm the buses start to disappear from the roads, meaning that catching a taxi or walking home could become your only option. Auckland also has a ferry service (photo top of the page), which operates, from one side of the bay to the other. One thing you can be sure for both land and water public transport is that they are normally very punctual. In every 10 Kiwis, 9 have their own car, and cars in New Zealand (for the New Zealander) is as important as the air in which they breathe.

  Intercity buses also operate between the major cities on the North and South Island. There are many different passes that will see you saving some precious dough. Students get 20% off the normal fare price, and Backpackers have 15%. Flexible passes allow the traveller to get off in one city one day, and continue the next day on the rest of the journey. But be aware as in some cases you will need to book ahead. The buses work just like as in an airplane, seat are limited and marked. Intercity Coachlines is the main bus operator for travelling between cities in New Zealand. Read more here...

Taxis are expensive, but efficient. Taxis are frequently used to go to parties when people are going to be drinking, because it is illegal to drink and drive in New Zealand. They are also commonly used after-hours when buses are not operating. The cost of a Taxi is roughly NZ$ 2.50 base, and then NZ$2.40 for every Kilometre. A Taxi from Auckland Airport into the city centre will cost around NZ$ 50. Taxis are generally called by telephone, or from a Taxi stop. So it is a good idea if you are thinking of catching a taxi to have some access to a telephone and also to the number of the Taxi company.  In Auckland you will rarely find a born and breed behind the wheel of a taxi, with most taxi drivers being immigrants. Taxis must always carry a photo and name of the taxi driver for identification purposes. An Alternative to using taxis for transfers to the airport is to use a  Shuttle Service, which you can find by going through the yellow pages, or tourist information centres.

Bicycles are commonly used by the kiwi from an early age, as it is the most popular way to get to school. Adults from all ages also use bike frequently to get to work when the distances are not too great. Bicycles are considered vehicles and can travel on the roads, so road rules also apply. Another rule is that it is compulsory to wear a helmet while riding a bike. If you are caught without one you may get a fine. In most big cities there is normally a bike lane, and most parks and shopping centres have a places where you can park your bike. You can take your bike on the Ferry, train, and in some cases the bus (intercity). With around NZD200 you can buy a brand new bicycle. You do not need any licenses to ride a bicycle, but you will need one for riding a motorbike. Motorbikes are not very popular due to the weather.

The Trains in New Zealand always run on the tracks and on time. In the North Island there is only one line which runs from Auckland to Wellington called Overlander, but does not pass through tourist towns except Hamilton. In the South Island on the other hand there are many fantastic options, offering some of the best scenery in the world. The train from Picton to Christchurch travels along the coastline, and offer great ocean scenery. There is also the train that leaves Christchurch crosses the Alps arriving at Greymouth, close to the glaciers. This train journey is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. These train offer comfort and full in house service. Advance bookings are essential, and don’t forget to ask for the window seat. Read more here...

Travelling by plane inside New Zealand should be a crime, because the tourist would miss the best thing that New Zealand has to offer, one of the most spectacular sceneries in the world. If you have watched Lord of the Rings you will see just what I mean. But for those who are short on time, and want to see both islands reasonably well then you have no other choice. A possible itinerary could be arriving in Auckland, then catching a plane to Queenstown, and then return to Auckland by land (train, boat, bus). The major airlines that do domestic flights are Air New Zealand and Origin Pacific. Others like Freedom Air also have a few domestic flights. But most of their flights are to the pacific islands and Australia. If you don’t want to cross the Cook Straight (between the north and south island), you can flight for NZ$79 with Sounds Air. Flights take 25 minutes. You can also flight to one of the less known islands in New Zealand, Stewart Island, for NZ$80 by Stewart Flights. Links to these companies are listed in the “Relative” topic on the left bar of this page. Read more here...

Renting a Car or Motor homes are excellent options for travelling in New Zealand. The roads in New Zealand are mostly safe and well maintained. These options are better when in groups as you can divide the cost between the number of people. Although the prices of renting a motor home for example can seem high (NZD 150 per day), they offer a fully equipped accommodation as well as transport, and if dividing between 3 or 4 people for example, can be well worth it. You can rent a simple car from NZ$20 per day, but make sure to ask if the insurance is included. The cost of Gas is around NZ$1.30 per litter. Driving on NZ roads is easy, and your driver’s license (from your country) is valid for one year from the time that you arrive in NZ. 

The Ferry Boat which crosses the Cook Straight from Wellington (north Island) to Picton (south island) carry both passengers and cars. More information about the crossing is described in the Wellington e Picton pages respectively. One of the companies that do the crossing is the Interislander. Tip: Discounts are offered for those who book it well in advance.

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