Getting Around New Zealand: The Best Ways to Explore

New Zealand, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and outdoor wonders, offers many ways to explore its natural beauty, from the tip of the North Island to the bottom of the South. With well-maintained infrastructure and efficient transport systems, travelling around New Zealand is a breeze (and a picturesque one at that!) Whether you're seeking urban escapades, wilderness adventures, or cultural discoveries, New Zealand has your travel needs covered.


Arriving in New Zealand

Most travellers will touch down in New Zealand by plane (although a cruise could be likely!). The country's major international airports, like Auckland and Christchurch, are equipped to make your entry seamless and convenient. You can expect excellent service and essential facilities, with information desks available to assist you. It's advisable to plan your transportation from the airport to your next destination in advance to ensure a smooth transition, especially if you rely on Wi-Fi once you arrive.


Domestic Flights

For traversing long distances efficiently, or if you need to get from the North Island to the South Island and aren’t keen on the Interislander, domestic flights are your best bet. New Zealand boasts a well-established air travel network, connecting major cities and regional hubs. Airlines like Air New Zealand and Jetstar offer regular flights, and it's worth keeping an eye out for special deals and discounts on their websites.



Travellers on a budget can opt for long-haul buses to move between towns and cities. Operators like InterCity offer affordable options for traveling across both islands. Train lines aren’t very common in New Zealand, so if you don’t have your own transport (like a campervan or rental car), busses are a good way to get from destination to destination. If you don't mind extended travel times, bus journeys are a picturesque and economical way to explore New Zealand.



While not as common as other modes of transport, New Zealand features iconic train journeys like the TranzAlpine and the Northern Explorer. These scenic train rides offer unique perspectives of the country's diverse landscapes. Train travel can be leisurely and lengthy, making it an excellent option if you have the time to savour the journey.


Rental Cars

Renting a car provides the freedom to explore at your own pace and venture off the beaten path. It's an excellent choice for road trips, exploring rural areas, and embarking on scenic drives. However, ensure you’re aware of local driving laws and road rules, which may differ slightly from what you're accustomed to in your home country. If you hold a full New Zealand driver's license, you won't need an international one, but it's wise to verify the exact requirements for your current license.


Public Transport

Major cities in New Zealand, such as Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, boast well-developed public transport systems, including trains, busses and even ferries. Using transport cards like the AT Hop card in Auckland or the Snapper card in Wellington can make it easier to jump on and off public transport while you’re exploring the cities. Download the journey planner apps to efficiently organise your trips and monitor real-time departures.



New Zealand's stunning coastline and numerous islands make ferries a common means of transport. Cities like Auckland and Wellington offer ferry services that not only provide efficient transportation but also scenic journeys with access to various attractions. A ferry ride is an enjoyable blend of transport and sightseeing, so be sure to check if taking a ferry is an option for your travel route.



Rideshare apps like Uber and Ola operate in major New Zealand cities, offering convenient transportation options. At this stage, rideshare apps aren’t available in smaller towns, so be sure to check before assuming you’ll be able to use the apps. Local taxi companies are a good alternative if Uber and Ola aren’t available. Download the relevant apps before your trip, become familiar with pickup locations, and compare prices. Keep in mind that rideshare prices can vary due to demand, so it's wise to explore your options before booking.


RV and Campervan Travel

Exploring New Zealand by RV or campervan is a favoured method for experiencing the country's vastness and natural beauty. Many regions provide designated RV parks and campsites, simplifying your road trip planning. If you’re in a certified self-contained campervan, there are also designated freedom camping spots to explore – use the app CamperMate to easily locate where is best to set up camp for the evening. Renowned rental companies like Britz and Apollo offer a variety of vehicle sizes. Camping amidst nature allows you to wake up to stunning views in national parks and remote locations, making campervan travel ideal for the adventurous traveller.


Quick Tips for Getting Around New Zealand

  • Always wear your seatbelt, as it's mandatory in New Zealand.
  • Abide by local driving laws and speed limits to ensure a safe journey, and drive to the conditions of the weather and road type.
  • Inspect the rental vehicle for any damage and document pre-existing issues, regardless of how minor they may seem, to avoid potential disputes.
  • Plan your fuel stops strategically, as New Zealand's terrain can be vast, ensuring you're prepared for the distances between towns.
  • Exercise caution for wildlife on the roads, particularly when driving in rural areas, and watch out for birds and other protected wildlife on roads.
  • Download maps and transportation apps before your journey to navigate cities and plan your trips efficiently without relying on in-destination downloads.

Your New Zealand adventure promises to be a delightful journey filled with diverse landscapes and unique experiences. Follow these travel tips on your next trip, and you'll be rewarded with an unforgettable Kiwi holiday!

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