New Zealand Transport

Get in


For most visitors, the only practical way to enter New Zealand is by plane. New Zealand is a long way from anywhere else in the world, even the shortest flights between Australia and New Zealand take over 3 hours.

The international airports are at Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin. They services a dozen airlines, and there are direct connections from Christchurch to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile and Tokyo. The others are largely restricted to flights from Australia.

Due to its large Polynesian and Melanesian expatriate communities, New Zealand has extensive direct flight options to and from South Pacific nations such as Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and the Cook Islands.

Get aroundairport

Domestic flights in New Zealand are often cheaper than driving or taking the train, especially if a crossing between the North and South Islands is required.

Air New Zealand has the most extensive domestic network, serving most cities. Virgin Australia flies between Australia and many major cities in New Zealand. Jetstar is a budget no-frills carrier, filling most Qantas routes.

Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington airports have timetabled buses to the airport. Regional airports generally have only on-demand shuttle services and taxis.


Trains are more suited to tourists as they are more scenic and more comfortable than other forms of travel. Book online at Cheapest fares only shown online when using a New Zealand IP address. Wait till you arrive, use a proxy service or book by phone.

Inter-city rail passenger services is now on popular tourist trains. the train services pass through spectacular scenery and have a running commentary, panoramic windows and an open-air viewing carriage.

The Overlander - between Auckland and Wellington is one of the world's most scenic rail journeys. This train runs 3 days a week all year, Southbound on Monday, Thursday and Saturday and Northbound on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

The TranzAlpine - from Christchurch to Greymouth and return daily. Classed as one of the world's great train journeys, this trip crosses the South Island, passing through spectacular mountain scenery, some of which is inaccessible by road, as well as the 12 km Otira tunnel. Many visitors disembark at Arthur's Pass National Park and spend four hours exploring the mountains before catching the return train.


New Zealand is a motorbike rider's dream country. The South Island is the main attraction for a motorcyclist and New Zealand motorcycle tours base most of their time here. You can check the South Pacific Motorcycles or Just Ride Motorbike Tours & Rentals to learn more.


Buses are a relatively cheap and environmentally friendly way to get around New Zealand; however, services even between major towns are usually only once per day. Booking in advance on some lines can get you great bargains.

InterCity services connecting over 600 destinations nationwide. Tickets can be purchased from the InterCity ticket counters at bus stations or i-SITE information centres and a discount is given to students or youth-hostel membership card holders (eg: BBH, YHA, Nomads, ISIC). Fares start from $1 on all InterCity’s national services.

KiwiExperience Backpacker Bus, Stray Travel Bus and MagicBus offer bus trips around New Zealand where you can get on and off as you please.

Flying Kiwi Adventures, trips range from 3-27 days and cover both islands. The tours focus on enjoying the outdoor beauty and excitement of New Zealand with numerous hiking, cycling and activity options. Discounts are available for holders of YHA, VIP, ISIC and NOMADs cards.

ManaBus use New Zealand built Volvo coaches with free Wi-Fi and only offer services in the North Island. Their luggage policy is also unusually restrictive in allowing only one piece of luggage weighing up to 15kg and no bigger than a standard sized suitcase to be transported in the luggage compartment free of charge.

West Coast Shuttle provide daily transport from Greymouth to Christchurch return. They provide comfortable travel at affordable prices.

Travelpass - A transport pass offered by InterCity. Brings together an extensive range of “hop on and off” fixed itinerary passes, based on the most popular touring routes throughout New Zealand. National passes include the Interislander ferry as well as a scenic boat cruise in Milford Sound. Passes are valid for 12 months.

flexipass - Utilising the combined national networks of InterCity, Newmans and GreatSights, flexipass is sold in blocks of time, and enables the holder to travel anywhere on the company’s network. Passes start at 15 hrs, which is enough to travel from Auckland to Wellington in the North Island. flexipass hours can also be used to travel on the Interislander ferry and on Fullers GreatSights Bay of Islands dolphin watching cruises and tours to Cape Brett and the famous "Hole in the Rock". Passes can also be on sold and are valid for 12 months.

flexitrips - A simple trips based transport pass offered by InterCity which enables the holder to travel anywhere on the company’s network and includes selected tour options with awesomeNZ. com. Passes start at 5 trips with greater savings the more trips you pre purchase. Passes can also be sold on and are valid for 12 months.


Riding bikes in New Zealand can be fun. There is now a network of cycleways being built around New Zealand, with some safe and beautiful routes. You can bring your own bike, as well as hire a bike in some of the larger cities. However, you must wear a helmet while riding, otherwise you will be fined on the spot. Remember to ride on the left. You cannot ride on motorways in New Zealand, so be aware that the only bridge over the Auckland Harbour is a motorway, so you'll have to take a ferry or cycle around the harbour.


To get your car between the North and South Islands you will need to take a ferry across Cook Strait. There are several sailings daily between Wellington and Picton, and two companies run ferries here; Bluebridge and the Interislander.

Harbour ferries, operate in Auckland and Wellington. There are regular sightseeing cruises in several tourist destinations, particularly in the Southern Lakes and Fiordland area.


Self drive holidays are a great way to travel around New Zealand as they offer independence, flexibility and opportunities to interact with the locals. Traffic drives on the left in New Zealand and that most car hire firms require you to be over 20, hold a full licence and you need an International licence or certified translation if not in English. Outside of cities roads are usually only one lane in each direction and undivided.

Car rental firms range from the familiar multi-national big brands through to small local car rental firms. The advantage of the big name rental firms is they can be found throughout New Zealand and offer the biggest and newest range of rental vehicles. The disadvantage is that generally they are the most expensive. At the other end of the scale are the small local operators who typically have older rental cars. Whilst you may not end up driving this year's latest model the advantage is that the smaller car rental firms can be substantially cheaper, so leaving you more money to spend on the many exciting attractions New Zealand offers.

If you want to have a extended holiday in New Zealand, and you would prefer to have your own transport it may be cheaper to buy a car or van and resell it just before leaving. In addition to the usual ways to look for a car (newspapers, accommodation noticeboards, car markets etc) New Zealand's biggest on-line auction website Trademe and biggest free classifieds Trade and Exchange have many listings. You can also try the backpackers car market where there are usually people selling their cars off cheaply. When you sell a vehicle it is very important to go to a Postshop outlet to record the transfer.