NZ Car Rental /Ferry Question

May 20th, 2004, 08:34 AM
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NZ Car Rental /Ferry Question

Planning a trip to NZ this July-Aug on return to the USA from Australia. I'm pondering the possibility of driving one-way Auckland to Christchurch and flying back to Auckland. Is it feasible to take a rental car one way between islands without incurring too much extra (drop-off) charge? Is the Wellington-Picton Ferry typically booked up in advance or can you show up (with a car) the day of your intended crossing and expect to get a berth? Any advice welcome. Thanks! Ralph, CT, USA
RalphR is offline  
May 20th, 2004, 10:13 AM
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It is generally smarter to make a vehicle reservation for the ferry, but at that time of year, there are fewer tourists - so you ought to be able to make a day-before reservation, or even just show up.

Most rental agencies do not permit their cars to cross between islands; they will arrange for you to drop off your vehicle in Wellington, then pick up another in Picton. You will also not have to pay the not-insubstantial cost of transporting a vehicle on the ferry.

You may want to explore hiring a car on the N Island, dropping it off, then flying to the S Island and hiring a new car. You will not have to pay drop-off charges, and the round-trip flight may save you some money as well. The only way this doesn't make sense is if you intend to spend a lot of time in Wellington and Picton/Marlborough/Abel Tasman.
ALF is offline  
May 20th, 2004, 02:11 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Definately get a booking for the ferry even if just a foot passenger. If you just turn up there is very good chance you will not get on. If it is school holiday time I will guarantee you will not get on if you are a casual passenger.

Your rental car company should be able to help you with bookings.

Failing that this link will take you to the Interislander web site This site also recommends a car hire firm, Apex. I can't comment on it as I do not use it, it does not tie in with my frequent flyer plan.

There are other options for crossing the strait. Soundsair a small local airline will fly you from Wellington to Koromiko (Picton) or vice versa. Air New Zealand flys frequently from Wellington to Blenheim and Nelson. The fares are reasonable if you book early and online.

Beware, as has been said if you are renting a car a lot of firms do not let you take them from one island to another. You usually have to drop it off in Wellington or Picton and pick up a new one on the other side.

For example if you have an Avis car and take it on the ferry you are not insured. Therefore any damage incurred on the ferry would be your responsibility.

It is not difficult to pick up rentals on either side as the car hire places are at the terminals. Again the car hire places can help with this.

What ever you choose to do enjoy New Zealand.

Kiwi_acct is offline  
May 20th, 2004, 05:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,283

There's really no benefit in taking your car on the ferry from Wellington. It's really easy to drop it off in Wellington, board the ferry, arrive in Picton and pick up another car right there at the pier.

I would suggest pre-booking this if you know your dates of travel and are firm on them. That way, no long wait, and it's there waiting for you.


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wlzmatilida is offline  
May 21st, 2004, 03:36 AM
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ALF, kiwi_acct and Melodie: Thanks for the great advice. Clear things up a lot!
RalphR is offline  
May 25th, 2004, 08:34 PM
Join Date: May 2003
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ALF has got it right. Car rental co's will require that you drop car at ferry and pick up another (same co) when disembarking. I wouldn't normally say you need to pre-book ferry as a foot passenger, but since rental car people will be waiting for you (at both ends) it might be wise to prebook.
twoflower is offline  

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