Transport in New Zealand
A visit to New Zealand is an opportunity to discover a spectacular range of landscapes, so deciding how you will travel around our country can be as important as choosing where you want to go.
A little research will help you to match your mode of transport to the style of holiday you have in mind. There’s plenty of choice available, from luxury custom transportation to economical backpacker options.
When you’re considering transport options, remember that New Zealand is 1600 kilometres long and has a larger land mass than the United Kingdom. Whether you choose car, train, boat or plane depends on how quickly you need to get where you’re going.
Road – self drive
Cycling, biking and driving are popular ways to explore New Zealand. Having the flexibility to spontaneously follow your desires, or the advice of someone you met along the way, sits well with our relaxed pace of life.
The scenery changes at almost every turn, as our well-formed roads follow the contours of the landscapes. Outside of the cities, most highways have just one lane in each direction, occasionally expanding to two lanes to enable safe overtaking. Driving times are often longer than you’d expect. Allow plenty of time so you can relax and enjoy the journey.
For the highest level of freedom, try a motorhome holiday. For longer stays and backpackers, purchasing a second-hand car is often an affordable and practical option.
.Road – be driven
If you’d rather leave the driving to an experienced local, there are plenty of options available to move you around the country comfortably and efficiently.
From scheduled intercity bus services and luxury coaches to custom tours and taxis, our friendly professional drivers understand there’s more to a journey than simply getting from A to B. From the comfort of a passenger seat, you can give your full attention to the scenery and the driver’s informative commentary.
Rather than an all-encompassing network of passenger services, New Zealand offers a collection of scenic rail journeys. They’re a great way to experience magnificent remote areas that are not accessible by road.
The Overlander runs through the centre of the North Island, connecting Auckland and Wellington. In the South Island, the TranzCoastal follows the coastline between the inter-island ferry terminal at Picton and the city of Christchurch. From Christchurch, the TranzAlpine crosses the Southern Alps to Greymouth. Further south, the popular Taieri Gorge Railway and the Kingston Flyer promise memorable journeys. Commuter train services to outlying suburbs operate in the cities of Auckland and Wellington.
It’s easy to connect rail journeys with other forms of transport, so your modes of travel can deliver as much variety as our stunning landscapes.
Touring New Zealand usually includes the option of a ferry trip at some point and some places, like Marlborough Sounds or smaller islands, are only accessible by water.
The North and South Islands are connected by modern ocean-going ferries that carry passengers and vehicles. In Northland, vehicular ferries operate on the Hokianga Harbour and to historic Russell in the Bay of Islands. The ferries to Stewart Island carry passengers and light freight only; however secure vehicle storage is available at the departure port of Bluff.
Passenger services and scenic tours are offered throughout New Zealand, in boats that range from historic steamers to fast water taxis. Wherever there’s an offshore island, a harbour, lake or river, there’s a good chance you’ll find a safe and convenient form of water transport nearby.
If you’re short on time, or being there is more important than getting there, then air travel is a good option. Jet aircraft operate between the main centres; modern light aircraft service the smaller cities and larger towns. Around 40 destinations are linked by scheduled internal air services.
Scenic flights offer unique views of our most spectacular geography. By air, large areas of wilderness scenery can be enjoyed in a relatively short time. Remote islands, volcanic cones and snow-covered mountains have a magic of their own when viewed from the air.