Since you’ve chosen to explore New Zealand via Work & Travel we want to make sure you know how to get around hassle-free when you travel New Zealand. Most recommended for backpackers who don’t want to trouble themselves with hiring or buying a car is New Zealand’s network of long distance buses. Whether you prefer “hop on hop off”, guided adventure tours or an all-inclusive option: there is something to suit everybody’s needs and pockets.
All-Inclusive Bus Tours
Travel and accommodation is included in these all-round packages. You will either stay in hostels or hotels and you can chose between taking care of your own food or sharing meals with the rest of the group. There is also a wide range of activities and an experienced tour guide. Most of these tours are being offered to certain age groups, e.g. anyone between 18 and 39. In doing so you are guaranteed to meet like-minded people when you travel New Zealand. You will, however, most likely have to share a room with others. Duration of these trips can be anything from a few days up to two or three weeks.
Where to book:
If you already know which part of the country you’d like to explore more in-depth and you enjoy experienced guides coupled with small groups and the thirst for adventure these tours might be just the thing for you. The following providers offer trip including kayaking, cycling and hiking:
Hop-On Hop-Off Tours
Recommended for the independent and more spontaneous traveler are bus passes valid along various routes allover the country. You can pick your own itinerary to travel New Zealand without having to follow tight schedules. You chose where and how long you want to stay. Yet the bus drivers operating these tours are often an excellent source of information when it comes to accommodation or local knowledge about sights and more. Most passes are valid for a year so if you decide to stay somewhere for a wee while longer simply show your bus pass whenever you’re ready to journey on.
Where to book:
Long Distance Buses
When it comes to long distance travel most New Zealanders rely on their own vehicle – or have the choice between 2 major bus companies linking the country’s cities and towns together. Depending on your route and when you book you might be able to score a really good deal. All of the buses have air-con and free WiFi. You’re best to book online where you can also view their extensive network:
New Zealand’s railway network is by no means comparable with what Europeans would be used to. There is three routes passengers can chose from: Northern Explorer (Auckland to Wellington), TranzAlpine (Christchurch to Greymouth) and Coastal Pacific (Christchurch to Picton). Trains depart once a day in each direction.
If you do chose to travel New Zealand via train it will definitely be an experience. It is rather slow, sometimes shaky and there is small snacks and beverages available. You will, however, be able to enjoy the scenery. Luggage and bikes are normally stored in a separate wagon and if you book in advance you might get a real bargain. Ask for Saver Fare or Super Saver Fare to save as much as 50% on your ticket.
Where to book:
Cycling New Zealand
If you want to travel New Zealand on bike there is a few things to keep in mind. Your bike should have at least 21 gears or more – of high quality, as roads can be extremely steep. You need good quality tyres as the tar roads might not be in best condition especially after heavy rain falls. You will also need all-weather gear including waterproof gloves, beanie (hat), raincoat and sturdy shoes. The weather in New Zealand can change from one extreme to the other withing minutes so be prepared!
If you’re thinking about importing your own bike from overseas you might want to reconsider. It’s very costly and inconvenient depending on your airline. Buying a bike in New Zealand is worth considering. Though they might be more expensive than in your own country you will be able to find good deals by shopping around. At the end of your journey you can quite often sell the bike to local shops for half price or offer it to other travelers on social media or TradeMe.
Campervans and Rental Cars
You have to be at least 21 years old to be able to hire a car in New Zealand. For insurance reasons most companies would even prefer drivers 25 years and over otherwise expect to pay a higher premium. You need your national AND your international driver licence. Check if you pay extra for additional drivers, which roads you are not allowed to take and whether you can take the car onto the ferry when crossing over to another island.
You will also need a valid credit card. Most rental companies take a bond of up to $2500 that will be returned to you when you drop off your vehicle at the end of your trip.
Another issue is Third Party Insurance. This is not compulsory in New Zealand meaning that if someone causes an accident or damage to your vehicle and they are not covered then it will be up to you to repair the damage. Check your rental vehicle BEFORE your journey, write down dents and everything else you notice that is already there and get the rental agent to sign it for you. Otherwise you might have a rude awakening when returning the car.
Similar to European models New Zealand does have a social platform for carpooling. It’s a cheap alternative, however, not many Kiwis tend to use it so always have a plan B in mind.
Where to look:
Though it is quite popular even among Kiwis to just put your thumb in the air we advice caution when you travel New Zealand as a hitchhiker! Especially female travelers should be aware of the dangers included. Every once in a while news make headlines about foreigners who went hitchhiking and were never to be seen again (alive).