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Transportation in New Zealand

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New Zealand has a well connected and timely public transportation network with bus services, passenger trains and a ferry service connecting the North Island to the South Island. Using these services as a means of transportation is relatively expensive when you’re traveling in a country as safe as New Zealand, and hitchhiking seems to be the best – and free – option for travel within the country. If you’re in a rush, however, or just don’t feel comfortable hitchhiking, this is a basic overview of your options:

Buses

Bus in New Zealand

Taking a bus directly from your current location to your destination will probably be your cheapest option. Tourist bus lines offer bus travel passes for the tourist who “wants the real Kiwi experience”, but these passes are cost-prohibitively expensive.

Intercity Coaches is NZs largest operating bus service, covering many locations on both islands. Bus route map here. Connections are available to the ferry terminals in Wellington on the north island and to Picton, on the south island. Intercity Coachlines claims to offer $1 fares, but there is only one seat per bus offered at this fare, with prices rising from there.

Trains

Long-distance Passenger trains are operated by Tranz Scenic, a subsidiary of KiwiRail; the largest rail transport operator in New Zealand. These trips are very expensive and are only recommended to someone who desires to see the country specifically by rail. (The world-famous Raurimu Spiral can be seen on the Overland journey just north of Wellington).

New Zealand Train Service

Both Auckland and Wellington have suburban train passenger services. KiwiRail operates Tranz Metro in Wellington. There are five lines with electrically-driven engines. In Auckland, the regionally train service is owned by Veolia, which operates its’ MAXX trains using diesel and diesel-electric engines. Both these services are easy to use and metro trains make frequent trips.

Ferry

The two islands are connected by a ferry called The InterIslander Line, which crosses the Cook Straight. The ferry is quite expensive, with one-way tickets upwards of US$65 for the three hour ride. Passengers riding inside vehicles are also required to pay. Discounts are available occasionally online at the InterIslander website. There are alternatives to paying for the Interislander ferry, and it is possible to ask around once you’re in Wellington to find a cheaper or free ride to the South Island.

If you plan on making more than one round-trip between the North and South Islands aboard the InterIslander, your cheapest option will be to buy a “Flexipass” bus pass. Generally, this pass is used for bus travel between tourist destinations, but can also be used on the ferry. By purchasing hours of travel time in bulk – such as 15 hours for NZ$115 – or one hour of travel at NZ$7.6- you can save a lot of money riding the ferry, where a 3 hour, one-way ride costs about NZ$65 (or NZ$21.6 an hour).

Carpooling

A nation-wide carpooling website with a user-friendly interface. Many folks offering rides expect you to contribute for gas, but the amount is certainly less than the cost of a bus ticket.

Taxis

Taxis are common throughout the country, but due to the existence of public transportation in most of NZ’s cities, taxis are an unnecessary expense.

More information on transportation around the world

Read more about New-Zealand on the travelogue and Wiki Vagabond

New-Zealand Travel Guide

New-Zealand Travel Guide

More Vagabond Journey.com Travel Guides

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Filed under: New Zealand, Transportation

About the Author:

Ani St. Amand is truly a modern day hobo, hopping freight trains, stealing rides on passenger trains, and hitchhiking all over this earth. Originally from the state of Maine in the USA, Ani continues to travel “with one eye on the platform.” has written 15 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.