Getting Around New Zealand
New Zealand maybe a relatively small country but many areas are remote so it is important to know and understand how you can get around this country. This will ensure you can maximise your adventure here and make sure you are able to get to all the places you want to see with ease.
Organised Schemes and Tours
Just as with Australia, there are a number of organisations that provide organised schemes and tours around the country. These are ideal if you are a bit wary of arriving in a country so far away from home without anything definite in place. One of the most well-known organisations is BUNAC who operate a Work New Zealand programme. BUNAC is a non-profit organisation which arranges work and travel programmes for students and young people to various countries. The Work New Zealand programme allows participants to take any job, anywhere in New Zealand. The programme goes beyond the existing New Zealand Government Working Holidaymaker scheme by providing BUNAC’s back-up help and support both before departure and throughout your stay through BUNAC’s subsidiary IEP. The group flight departures also provide the ideal opportunity to meet with fellow participants.
Coaches are a popular way to get around and you could use coaches run by general travel companies such as InterCity Coach or Newman’s. Although both of these companies are national public transport companies, they offer travel passes designed for backpackers and travellers who may prefer to travel with the general public rather than with just other backpackers.
There is basically one national railway company in New Zealand. The company is called Tranzrail and the passenger rail side is known as Tranz Scenic. This company goes to a limited number of destinations, mainly taking in the larger cities. However, rail travel can be very cost effective, and while the quantity of routes may be limited, the quality of the routes in terms of scenery and comfort is amazing. The Tranz Alpine trip from Christchurch to Greymouth is rated as one of the world’s most stunning train journeys.
If you are in a hurry to get around, Air New Zealand have flights between the major New Zealand cities and between New Zealand and Australia.
Don’t make a fool of yourself by underestimating the distance between Australia and New Zealand. You’d be surprised by how often tourists ask if there is a bridge linking the two countries! In fact, it takes three hours to fly from Sydney to Auckland.
Driving in New Zealand is an option frequently taken by travellers. If you have a valid driving licence and some cash to hire or buy a vehicle, it does give you real freedom. In New Zealand you drive on the left, and the speed limits are basically 100 km per hour on main roads and 50 km per hour in towns. Be warned that speed limits are strictly imposed and if you are caught going 50 km per hour over the speed limit you will be automatically disqualified from driving. In New Zealand seatbelts must be worn at all times, no matter where you are sitting in the car. New Zealand’s beautiful scenery means that driving conditions can be challenging, and you need to be extra careful on popular tourist routes.
Weather conditions, particularly on the South Island can be harsh in winter. Roads will be affected by snow and ice, so be prepared. Have snow-chains for your wheels at the ready, take plenty of warm clothes and some food and drink with you in case you break down and have to wait to be rescued.
Remember that there is no compulsory third party insurance in New Zealand for drivers. If you bump another car you will have to pay for it unless you have taken cover out yourself.