Like so many other things in life the way you travel in New Zealand is personal choice. However you need to realise it is bigger in land size than the UK and perhaps the most sensible way is to arrive by air to Auckland and make your exit flight through Christchurch both International Airports. Excellent Domestic Airports exist and they should not be forgotten about if you are doing long distances.
We looked closely at the motor home versus car hire and linking up with homestays, B&B, motels and hotels and opted for the car hire option as we saw this as a faster way to get from A to B and it would give us the opportunity to discover real New Zealand families across the North and South Islands. We did hire with Nationwide and we received excellent service.
Trains are another option and as we all know this is a very relaxing way to travel. The Overlander departs from Auckland and Wellington and you can stop in Tongariro National Park. This is a twelve hour journey and along the way you can also stop in Palmerston North, Marton, Ohakune, Hamilton, Pukekohe and other smaller stations. There is also the Tranzcoastal linking Picton with Christchurch. A number of stations are stopped at along the route. There is a link up with the Interislander ferry between Wellington and Picton. The TranzAlpine, one of the world’s great train journeys (ranked 8th in world in Wanderlust Travel Awards 2009) links Christchurch to Greymouth and again stops at a number of stations including Arthur’s Pass along the way. You can book online at www.tranzsenic.co.nz
A good ferry service connects the North and South Islands and while there are I think three different ferry companies operating (3/4 crossings each day with the 92kms crossing taking 3 hours) we utilised Interislander and details can be gained at www.interislander.co.nz To me this must be one of the most spectacular cruises in the world. Rather than take our car from the North Island to South Island we organised another car to pick up at Picton, thus not having to pay the vehicle charge on the ferry.
InterCity bus services are available – see www.intercity.co.nz
For backpackers there is the Magic Bus – see wwwmagicbus.co.nz , the New Zealand Adventure Bus – see www.straytravel.com or Kiwi Experience – see www.KiwiExperience.com We found taxi hire very reliable and reasonably priced.
www.newzealand.com is a good website to begin your adventure investigations – good luck.
Fraser Mackay 27-4-09