New Zealand Travel Guide

Getting Here and Around

By Air. Air New Zealand and the Australian-based Qantas are the two main carriers to New Zealand, with most international flights arriving in Auckland. Air New Zealand and Qantas are the primary domestic operators, joined by Jetstar and Pacific Blue as budget options, with regular flights crisscrossing both islands to main urban areas. Flights are also available to smaller outlying towns, but expect fewer regular flights, higher prices, and smaller planes. Check the airlines' websites well in advance for special deals.

By Boat. You can ferry between islands. Interislander and Bluebridge offer services across the Cook Strait between Wellington and Picton, including car transport.

By Car. The best way to explore New Zealand is by car, which gives you the freedom to take in the ever-changing landscape at your own pace. New Zealanders drive on the left-hand side, and seat-belt and speeding laws are enforced. Speed cameras are often hidden in vans parked on the side of the road. New Zealand has a wide variety of multinational and independent car and camper van–rental operators to choose from, but book early if you're planning on traveling in December and January. You can use your country's driver's license, if valid; purchase insurance, as a large number of New Zealander drivers are uninsured. Gasoline is known as petrol, and can be costly—at this writing, NZ$2.20 per liter on average, with remote areas charging considerably more. If you know you're driving to a remote area, fill up in advance to avoid painful price gouging—or running out of fuel. Driving distances are the biggest road hazard in New Zealand, especially in the South Island: a straight-line distance of 18 miles may take 310 miles of driving, since the Southern Alps can only be crossed in three places.

By Bus. New Zealand has well-organized bus transport throughout both islands. The main companies are InterCity and Newlands, but there are a host of smaller companies to suit any budget.

By Rail. Tranz Scenic offers three rail journeys with stunning scenery between Auckland and Wellington, Christchurch and Picton, and Christchurch and Greymouth, as well as shorter city-to-city journeys.

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