New Zealand is a travel destination that offers breathtaking landscapes and unique experiences. However, planning your transport in a foreign country can be a daunting task. In this blog, we will provide you with insider tips on transport options in New Zealand, including rental cars, motorhomes, train journeys, domestic flights, and even biking and hiking. We will help you make the most out of your valuable time and travel budget while exploring this beautiful country.

Car Rentals in New Zealand

New Zealand is a self-drive paradise, making a rental car the most popular choice for travelers. Renting a car provides you with the flexibility to explore at your own pace and stop along the way to admire the stunning scenery. While driving on the left side of the road may take some adjustment for northern hemisphere drivers, most rental cars in New Zealand come with automatic transmissions, making it easier for you to focus on the road. It is advisable to avoid collecting a rental car immediately after a long-haul flight due to potential jet lag. Additionally, picking up a rental car from airports can be costly due to additional charges. Choosing a local New Zealand rental car company, such as Go Rentals or RAD, can offer better value for money, saving you thousands of dollars on additional fees like one-way charges or airport pickup.

Motorhome Travel in New Zealand

If you prefer a more immersive travel experience, traveling with a motorhome is an alternative worth considering. However, there are a few factors to keep in mind. Motorhome pickup and drop-off depots are limited, mainly located in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown. Overnight stays at campsites, which typically cost between 30 to 40 New Zealand dollars per person per night, are recommended. During the peak summer season, motorhomes with shower and toilet facilities can cost around $500 to $600 per day. Additional expenses, such as road user charges and extra gear, should also be taken into account. For families with young children, motorhome travel can be a cost-effective option. However, for couples, renting a car and staying in quality accommodation may prove to be a more economical choice. Ultimately, the decision between traveling with a motorhome or a rental car depends on your preferences and budget.

Train and Ferry Services

New Zealand offers limited train and ferry services. The Northern Explorer is the key train journey in the North Island, operating between Auckland and Wellington. In the South Island, the Coastal Pacific between Picton and Christchurch and the Tranz Alpine between Christchurch and Greymouth provide scenic train trips. Trains in New Zealand generally run once per day, which may be less frequent than what travelers from the Northern Hemisphere are accustomed to. Train journeys are designed to cater to international holidaymakers, providing a unique way to experience the South Island’s stunning landscapes. Combining a train journey with a rental car allows you to drive between Christchurch and Greymouth and experience the Tranz Alpine train for a complete loop. Ferries are essential for traveling between the North and South Islands, with Wellington and Picton being the main ports. Pre-booking vehicle spaces on ferries is required during peak summer travel seasons. While ferries offer convenient transportation, it’s important to note that rough sea conditions and occasional breakdowns may cause disruptions to your travel plans.

Private Driver Guides

If you prefer not to self-drive around New Zealand, hiring a transfer driver or driver guide can be a smart solution. This option does not involve having a driver accompany you every day. Instead, a driver can be arranged to take you from one location to another, where you will stay for two or three nights. This approach helps keep costs down while providing value to your overall travel experience. Private driver guide trips include a certified vehicle, fuel charges, insurance, meals for the driver, and any road user charges. When considering the cost of rental cars and insurance, hiring a private driver guide can prove to be a cost-effective option. The added benefit is the valuable local knowledge and insights you will gain from your guide.

Domestic Flights

Domestic flights are a common mode of transportation for New Zealanders and can save you both time and money, especially if booked in advance. New Zealand has excellent flight connections, even to smaller regions. By combining a rental car or private driver with a domestic flight, you can maximize your travel experiences within the country. Booking your itinerary 6 to 8 months in advance allows you to secure superb airfares. It is recommended to purchase fully refundable tickets, which are a fraction of the cost, and typically include two pieces of check-in luggage. New Zealand’s small airports make navigation easy, and rental car depots are conveniently located at or near the airports. With minimal security checks required, the process is efficient and fast. Air New Zealand is the main airline in New Zealand, offering an extensive regional network. Alternative regional airlines include Jet Star, Sounds Air, Great Barrier Air, and Stewart Island Air.

Biking and Hiking

If you are physically fit and enjoy outdoor activities, biking and hiking offer an immersive way to explore New Zealand. However, it is important to note that these activities require more time to cover both islands thoroughly. A recommended timeframe for biking and hiking in New Zealand is at least one to two months. Detailed guidebooks are available, providing descriptions of routes, elevation, distances, and supply options along the way. One famous long-haul hike in New Zealand is the Te Araroa Trail, which covers the entire length of the country. Completing the trail in one go requires a minimum of four to six months. Biking and hiking allow you to experience the diverse landscapes and natural beauty of New Zealand at your own pace.


When planning your trip to New Zealand, it is advisable to choose a combination of transport options that best suit your preferences and budget. Renting a car offers flexibility and convenience, while traveling with a motorhome provides a unique and immersive experience. Train journeys and ferry services allow you to enjoy stunning scenery, while hiring a private driver guide offers comfort and local expertise. Domestic flights are a time-saving option, and biking and hiking allow you to explore New Zealand’s natural beauty up close. By considering these smart ways to plan your transport, you can make the most out of your time and travel budget while holidaying in New Zealand.

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