New Zealand has an efficient transport system that is designed to move visitors around the main tourist routes with a minimum of delay. Advance bookings are essential in the summer high season (December-February) but at other times there is much less pressure on transport services. Discounted travel can be obtained on buses and trains for senior citizens, disabled travellers, students and Youth Hostel Association and VIP cardholders. If you are reserving seats well ahead ask if you can obtain an advance-booking discount.
AIR SERVICES – Regular commuter air services operated by Air New Zealand and other local carriers link all our main cities and towns. Bookings can be made by telephone, fax, internet or at any airline offices and travel agencies throughout the country.
INTER-ISLAND FERRIES – Modern fast ferries link Wellington and Picton carrying passengers and vehicles across Cook Strait in a three hour journey. In Bluff a daily schedule operates to Oban, the main settlement on Stewart Island.
BUS AND COACH SERVICES – Daily passenger services operate throughout New Zealand linking some 1100 cities, towns and small communities. Inter City operates the largest network in both islands. Newmans Coach Lines services the North Island. Mount Cook Line operates a range of services in the South Island. Backpacker buses such as Kiwi Experience and Magic Bus connect most tourist spots, providing flexibility for travellers to get on and off for local excursions.
RAIL SERVICES – Tranz Scenic rail services offer a number of scenic routes around the country providing visitors with the opportunity to view spectacular scenery from a totally different perspective to road travel. Light meals, snacks and bar service are available from the buffet car. The Overlander service departs each morning from both Auckland and Wellington and The Northerner operates the same route as a night service from Sunday through Friday. The Tranz Coastal runs between Christchurch and Picton daily, and the Tranz Alpine between Christchurch and Greymouth, traversing the Southern Alps.
TAXI SERVICES – Most cities and towns have plenty of taxis available for service. The main centres have cruising cabs in busy areas that can be hailed. As a general rule it is better to telephone a taxi booking or go to a taxi stand.
RENTAL CARS – The international car hire companies are represented at all airports and city centres. Numerous local independent operators compete with them in the cities so it is wise to check their rates. Bring your home country automobile club membership card with you to receive Automobile Association member discounts and free maps.
CAMPERVANS – This is one of the best ways to enjoy a New Zealand holiday and see all the eco-tourism highlights in relative comfort. A home on wheels gives you huge flexibility and the freedom to get off the beaten track into New Zealand’s vast conservation estate. Mobile homes come in several sizes beginning with small two person mini-vans. Four to six berth campervans on light truck chassis come fully self-contained with toilets and showers and a double sleeping cabin. Hirers need to have a current New Zealand or Australian Licence, an international driver’s licence or an approved overseas licence. The minimum hiring age is 21 years.
CYCLE TOURING – This is a popular mode of travel in the November to April period. There are numerous camping options along the way, the roads are relatively uncrowded and the locals are friendly and helpful. Cycle helmets are compulsory.
HITCHING – Is safer than many countries but is not without an element of risk. Good sense and careful precautions are necessary when taking a lift.