Transportation in New Zealand

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WorldNew ZealandTransportation in New Zealand

If you are staying in one port for any length of time in New Zealand then you will most likely need some form of transport to get to areas beyond walking distance. New Zealand has a fairly poor network of public transport systems and only recently have multi-modal cards been introduced that allow you to travel on train, ferry and bus using the one method of purchase.


The main ferry services are available in Auckland from Downtown and from Wellington to Picton in the South Island. Most vessels allow you to carry bikes but some, for example the West Harbour ferries in Auckland, don't. At peak times some ferries have limited room.


Taxis are regulated in New Zealand. There is no service similar to Uber or Lyft. It's difficult to hail a taxi on the street. If you want one, call their number or find a taxi rank where they are parked. If a taxi is moving it's probably on its way somewhere as drivers don't ply the streets like they do in places such as New York.


There are many different bus companies in New Zealand. If you are travelling long distances then Naked Bus and Intercity are the two main players. Local bus services vary by region. The roads between cities are mostly single carriageway and full of hills and bends. Expect a journey from Auckland to Wellington to take at least 12 hours by bus or 7 hours by car.

Rental Vehicles

Rental vehicles (cars, minivans, campervans, mopeds and motorbikes) are readily available in New Zealand. You will need a current full driver's licence in English. If your licence is not in English you must have an authorised English translation available.

New Zealand police are particularly vigilant with rental car drivers and if you are seen driving poorly they will force the rental company to cancel the contract and will suspend your licence. You may be required to sit a free Road Code test before you take the car (it's often available in the office or will be emailed to you when you make the booking), or you might be taken on a 10-minute familiarisation drive, particularly if you are from a country that drives on the right (New Zealanders drive on the left).

There are some restrictions with rental cars: almost all companies forbid vehicles to be taken on Skippers Canyon Road, the unsealed road north of Colville in the Coromandel, and on any roads which are beaches (for example, Ninety Mile Beach or the Muriwai Beach).

You can sometimes get free one way rental cars (also known as rental car relocations) from Transfercar who organise relocations for other rental companies. The cars usually get a free tank of petrol and you will be given a certain number of days to relocate it. This works best if you have flown one-way and then can get the transfer back.

Air travel

Regional flights are available from the main airports using Air New Zealand, Qantas and Jetstar. There are private services available to some of the islands via companies such as Great Barrier Airlines. Scenic flights by helicopter or aeroplane are available either from main airports or smaller airports (for example Ardmore in South Auckland or North Shore Aerodrome in the north of Auckland.) Check availability in the region you are staying in, including any other public transport availability to and from the airport.

Airport shuttle buses are a cost effective way of reaching the main regional airports but don't travel to the smaller airports.


Auckland has two main harbours: Manukau Harbour and Hauraki Gulf. The main city area is located in the Hauraki Gulf and this is also where you will find the islands of Waiheke, Rangitoto, Great Barrier, Rakino and others. It is the main shipping destination with direct access to Downtown Auckland.

The Manukau Harbour entrance is between the Awhitu Peninsula and Whatipu/Cornwallis. There is a treacherous bar that has claimed many boats. Be sure to get assistance before attempting to cross it. Only 4-6 container vessels use the Manukau Harbour each week, heading to Onehunga.

There are far fewer amenities for cruising vessels in the Manukau Harbour, therefore the information below is specific mostly to the Hauraki Gulf. However, there are plenty of places for exploring. The Manukau Harbour suffers heavy silting so pay particular attention to your maps at low tide.


While you are probably likely to use your own boat to go exploring, ferries are a convenient way of getting to places hassle-free. The Auckland Transport HOP Card can be used on buses, ferries and trains in the Auckland region. You can travel on ferries from Fullers Group, 360 Discovery, Pine Harbour Ferry, West Harbour Ferry and Sealink (car ferry service to Waiheke Island and Great Barrier Island).

Note that some scenic voyages are excluded. If you wish to travel to Tiritiri Matangi Island, which is a nature reserve, and you would like a guided walk on the island, it is best to travel there on a 360 Discovery ferry. There are no berthing facilities at the island.


Most taxi companies operate white cabs (usually Toyota Camry, Ford Falcon/Fairmont, Skoda Octavia or Toyota Prius), except Green Cabs (green Toyota Prius). Taxi stands are dotted all around the city, but exist infrequently in the suburbs (mostly only at main shopping centres).

Hire cars

A number of hire car companies are located on Beach Road and The Strand, approximately 20 minutes walk from Downtown. Companies include Alternative Rental Cars (115 Beach Road), Budget Rent A Car (163 Beach Road), Jucy (2-16 The Strand), USAVE (60-64 The Strand), Omega Rental Cars (75 Beach Road), Auckland Car Rental (167 Beach Road) and RoadTrip Rentals (154 Beach Road).

A small number of city cars are available on an hourly basis via CityHop.


Central city link buses are colour coded and run on a circular route for a fixed price

  • Red - central city route, free with a HOP card
  • Green - Inner Link
  • Orange - Outer Link

Other regular bus services run out as far as the West Coast and Helensville, the Hibiscus Coast (north), Franklin (south) and Maraetai (East).

There are also tourist bus services that pass by the major sites such as the Auckland War Memorial Museum and the Sky Tower.


A rail service is available south and west. You cannot reach the North Shore via rail. The main transport hub in Auckland is the Britomart Station which is opposite the ferry terminal.




Hire Cars



See also Christchurch


There is a ferry across Lyttelton Harbour to Diamond Harbour. It's considered part of the bus network and the bus network's metcard can be used on the ferry.


Hire Cars


Christchurch has an extensive bus network. See the web site for more information including routes and timetables. The network in fact goes across via ferry to Diamond Harbour which is a good anchorage with shelter from a southerly -- see Christchurch Anchorages. There's an electronic card thing called a Metcard which you charge up with credit and use on any of the buses, it gives you a bit of a discount on fares in exchange for pre-pay.


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