The most popular travelling options between cities in New Zealand are by bus, train (rail) or car. These are all great, low-cost options to explore and experience the beauty and diversity of this land and get to really know our people.
There are other action-packed ways to travel but these are much more dependent on things like budget, interests, and fitness levels. Options such as cycling, helicopter, motorcycle and boat are also up for consideration when travelling between cities.
In NZ anyone over 21 can rent a car or campervan. People with a NZ driver’s licence can own a car in NZ too. Things to consider with these options are the requirements of the driver’s licence and the financial cost of these options.
Driving yourself or with others is a flexible and authentic way to travel to almost every location in NZ. Taking the opportunity to drive can give you important learning experiences that will support your pathway to employment. Most NZ businesses require you to be able to drive competently and hold a full NZ driver’s license. So starting your progress in obtaining your licence and driving a vehicle in NZ is a good step.
Exploring the countryside in a campervan is fun. The benefit of travelling in a campervan is that you do not have to worry about your accommodation and NZ is very well equipped to cater for freedom camping. We are a very outdoorsy nation that loves to camp and explore. See more about freedom camping here.
While New Zealand is a nation with a deep maritime history, for city to city travel it is not common for people to travel via boat. Our most prominent commercial ferry service is The Interislander which offers ‘between island’ (that is North and South Island) trips and is used extensively by international visitors and New Zealanders alike. It carries foot passengers, cars, and commercial vehicles. The well-known three-hour trip between Picton and Wellington features the beautiful Marlborough Sounds and sightings of dolphins, whales and fur seals can happen while on this trip.
Flying is another option but can be more expensive unless you get one-way budget fares. It pays to keep an eye on Grabaseat to take advantage of low cost offers when they come up. Most of the country is accessible and Air New Zealand is the main carrier with domestic airports located across most of the country.
Air travel shortens time needed to travel but is not as helpful for sightseeing. It is useful to become acquainted with domestic travelling via plane and navigating regional airports with your future job in mind. Many roles require some form of domestic travel between cities and employers usually opt for air as it is the most time-efficient option.
There are several train trips in New Zealand which give scenic tours and go from specific destinations both in the South Island and the North Island, however rail is not used extensively for regular city to city travel.
Bus is a popular mode of travel as it is convenient and inexpensive. The most well-known bus company in NZ is Intercity. Their buses are either normal passenger buses for the population as a whole or tourist buses which are set up for a combined purpose. Intercity coachlines offer point to point service around the country while ‘Kiwi Experience’ focuses mainly on backpackers and a hop-on hop-off pass is also available offering unlimited travel for a fixed cost. You often meet a cross-section of Kiwis on a bus journey. It can be a great way to learn more about our people, local customs and way of life.
Cycling is becoming more and more common with the development and promotion of some fantastic cycle ways throughout Aotearoa. Check out the NZ Cycleways website to look at your options.
There are bike rentals available from operators in major cities and cycle shops.
If you have a licence from another country, it’s possible to go around New Zealand on a rental motorcycle. There is a range of popular rides to be found from the motorcycle rental companies including the well known Harley Davidsons. Check out this option here.
There are many ways to get around this beautiful land. We hope this guide has given you some insight into what options are out there and where the benefits are in each option.
Travel safe, learn lots and have fun!