Travel and Transport in New Zealand

Getting around in New Zealand is quite easy and efficient but residents may come across a few transport problems in the urban areas. Expats who want to explore the country should familiarise themselves with the transport that is available.

The two islands North and South are both connected by ferries which transport people between both islands, but in general it is simple to get around the country with the narrow roads.

Majority of the residents use public transport due to the reliability and convenience of the good options available and most people take advantage of the maps and timetables provided.

Bus and Coach Travel

There are quite a few bus operators in the country which manage both trips for tour sightseers and also providing a daily bus service in towns and cities. Many people in Christchurch, Dunedin and Hamilton use the bus as it is the only mode of transport that is available.

Travelling on the bus or coach can be less expensive than other transport methods but the only drawback and inconvenience of using the coach is that depending on your destination the ride can take a few days.

They both have modern facilities with air conditioning and recliner seats as well as toilet facilities for long distance travel.

One of the popular and largest bus companies is NZ bus, which also have services in cities such as Auckland and Wellington but with a different name.

Other private bus companies which have intercity travel include: Intercity coach lines, Newman’s coach lines and Kiwi experience.  Some of these companies are mainly used by tourists but it is still possible to get a deal on tickets.

There are other passes you can buy for coach journeys which include a hop on/off option and a flexipass allowing passengers to travel on different coach networks.

Train Travel

Expats who prefer travelling on the train will be happy to find out that it is possible to travel almost the whole country using just the rail services, with local journeys and long distance journeys to the major cities being accessible. However if travelling in the South region of the South of Island, another method of transport will need to be taken to complete your journey

Kiwi Rail is state owned and operates passenger trains plus freight trains. It provides long distance services across the North Island and the upper part of South Island.

The Over lander train operates between Auckland and Wellington which is one of the picturesque journeys in the country. Passengers get to see volcanoes, river gorges and farmlands.

Other train operators include: Tranz Coastal train, Tranz Alpine and the Tranz Scenie rail network along with local train services.

To get a ticket to travel on the train, passengers are able to book online, over the phone and even get buy it from the ticket office. It is recommended that reservations are made for long distance travel trains. Single tickets can be bought when boarding the train, but in some area it will need to be purchased in advance.

Residents in Auckland will have the opportunity to get a prepaid smart card (at hop card) where they are able travel using different transport methods.


Another convenient transport method is by using a taxi, there are many services and operators available in the country which can be used for single travel and group travel.

It is recommended to book a taxi but expats will find that empty taxis can be hailed at or found at taxi ranks in the larger cities of New Zealand. In rural areas there is usually at least one taxi service available for passengers and it is best to book in advance.

Taxi companies set their own fares but it is standard around the country, majority of the taxis are fitted with meters.


New Zealand has a ferry service available ‘The Inter islander’ which is owned by Kiwi Rail and travels between Wellington (North Island) and Picton (South Island).

Another service provided is a privately owned company run by Strait shipping limited.

Journeys on a ferry can take around three hours and they offer on board services to make the journey comfortable.

Domestic Flights

Domestic flight travel is easy and cheap when travelling between the cities and islands. Regular flights are available between the larger airports in Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland and Queenstown as well as smaller regional airports.

Expats using a domestic flight will it find it much cheaper and convenient for longer trips and with shuttle buses provided there will be no problem in getting to the destination.

Prices for flights do vary depending on the airline and there are three main airlines. There are Air New Zealand, Jet Star and Pacific Blue. You may find special deals and discounts when purchasing tickets online or via a travel agent.