Getting to New Zealand might take a little while (not that long, thanks to Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines’ speedy flight partnership to Auckland and Christchurch). The good news is, once you’re here, travelling around is ridiculously easy. You can hop between islands on short, affordable domestic flights (there are 22 domestic destinations to choose from), but there are plenty of other ways to travel, too. Hire a car, jump on a train, bus or coach, nab a campervan for you and your gang, glide around by water taxi or private boat, or wheel around on bicycles. If you want to work out how long it will take you to get from A to B, just use Tourism New Zealand’s nifty travel calculator.
New Zealand is a lot closer than you think; it’s also incredibly easy to get around
Introducing New Zealand’s transport options…
Drivers, you’re in for a treat – New Zealand’s roads are a pleasure to drive, with main routes clearly signposted; once you’re outside the cities, you’re likely to get them to yourselves. Remember that the country’s terrains are geographically diverse, so some roads are narrow and hilly, with sharp bends and occasional strong winds. Take your time, don’t rush routes, check the weather before you set off, be extra careful in winter and take regular breaks, especially if you’re feeling jet lagged.
Find out more: www.newzealand.com/uk/driving-in-new-zealand/
Pick up a campervan from New Zealand’s main hubs and take your temporary home on the road. The early bird catches the campervan: if you’re visiting during summer and autumn, it’s best to book your van before you arrive. There are plenty of powered sites to park up in overnight in the camping grounds or holiday parks (some of which are free; check the local information centre). Okay2Stay has a collection of campervan-friendly vineyards, farms, and olive growers – many of which offer cost-free overnight stays.
With Singapore Airlines’ and Air New Zealand’s partnership, hop between domestic airports on speedy internal flights with Air New Zealand, which serves 22 destinations with New Zealand. If you opt for a Koru Hour flight (every weekday before 8am or 4.35pm–7.05pm) between Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown, you’ll be treated to a free breakfast or evening snacks and drinks. Singapore Airlines offers flights to Auckland and Christchurch.
Bus and coach
If you like the idea of making friends en route, gad around by bus or coach: it’s cost-effective, there are lots of services to choose from and it’s a sociable, easy way of travelling. Pick from group travel with a charter coach company or a packaged tour, many of which include food and accommodation.
Rail: Kiwirail Scenic Rail Journeys
Take a great train trip through some of the country’s most spectacular scenery, ticking off national parks, valleys, volcanoes, alpine passes and rugged coastlines. Carriages come with extra-large windows, so passengers can drink in the scenery (warning: your commute to work will never feel the same). The North Island’s Northern Explorer links Wellington and Auckland: highlights of this 12-hour adventure include Tongariro National Park and the famous Raurimu Spiral. Over on the South Island, Kiwirail offers the Coastal Pacific route between Picton and Christchurch (expect dazzling sea vistas), and the chance to go on a whale-watching safari at Kaikoura. There’s also the TranzAlpine route, which crosses the Southern Alps and connects Christchurch to Greymouth. Treat each route as a day trip, or get a multi-day Scenic Pass and hop on and off as you like. You can also board a steam train in Auckland, try Southland’s Kingston Flyer or Dunedin’s Taieri Gorge Railway.
The headline water route is the trip from Wellington on the North Island to Picton on the South Island – you’ll get to admire the majestic Marlborough Sounds and are likely to spot the holy trinity: dolphins, whales and fur sales. Don’t miss a paddlesteamer cruise in Auckland, Wanganui or Queenstown; on the Bay of Islands, the Hole in the Rock dolphin cruise to the tip of Cape Brett is a surefire crowd-pleaser.