It’s not difficult to see why New Zealand is a dream destination for many. Famous for its
awe-inspiring landscapes, the country allows visitors to see mountains, rugged coastlines,
volcanic craters and more. It’s also one of the safest places in the world, and the locals are
known for being friendly and welcoming.
But what’s the best way to explore?
Take your pick! Travelling from the north island to the south island, or vice versa? Choose
between taking a flight or crossing the water by ferry.
There are also several ways to explore by road, for drivers and non-drivers alike, and you
can hop on one of the trains for a scenic journey you’ll never forget. Here are the five best
ways to travel through the depths of New Zealand, so you can start planning your trip to the
adventure capital of the world.
1. By car
The most popular way to travel through New Zealand is undoubtedly the road trip. It’s easy
to hire a car out there and you can tailor your itinerary to suit you, without relying on a tour
operator. Book your car in advance and you’ll be able to set off almost as soon as you arrive.
Remember to take care on the roads — they’re likely to be more narrow and more winding
than the roads you’re used to.
What to watch out for on New Zealand’s roads:
Make sure you’re on the correct side of the road! New Zealanders drive on the left.
Keep an eye out for the speed limits, and adjust your speed according to the weather.
Be careful of sharp bends and twists and turns.
Watch out for the surface of the road — some lanes are uneven gravel tracks.
Don’t be surprised if you see animals on the road. It’s not unusual to see a herd of sheep crossing.
2. By campervan
A campervan gives you all the freedom of having a car, plus extra flexibility, because you
don’t need to worry about booking accommodation. Just scout out the nearest campervan
parks, look up places where freedom camping is allowed, and you’re all set.
Although you’ll spend more on gas (called "petrol" in NZ) if you have a campervan, you won’t have to spend so much money on accommodation, so the costs normally even out. Look for a company that lets you return your campervan in a different location, to save you from making a round trip.
3. By bus
Buses are clean, comfortable and an excellent budget option, especially if you’ve got plenty
of time to travel round, and there are several different services to choose from on both
islands. It can take a while to get from place to place, but who cares when there are sleeper
buses available and the scenery is so stunning?
Fares can cost mere dollars if you book in advance, and they won’t cost you the earth if you
jump on spontaneously. Buy a bus pass and you even get some tickets for the ferry thrown
4. By backpacker bus
Want to meet fellow travellers while you’re off exploring? The backpacker bus could be the
right choice for you.
You can hop on and off as you please, making it a flexible way to travel, and you’ll also have
the option to book package deals or get discounts on accommodation and activities.
If it’s a long journey, there may even be a stopover and the chance to go on an excursion. In
fact, going on a tour by bus can be a good, stress-free way to travel, since it takes the stress
of planning off your shoulders.
5. By TranzAlpine train
Trains in New Zealand are generally designed to be scenic rather than practical — which
makes them ideal if you want to get right to the heart of the country.
The TranzAlpine train is one such route, departing from Christchurch to Greymouth then
back again in a day. A one-way trip takes just under five hours and there’s a lot to see in that
You’ll travel past Native beech forests and the Waimakariri River, over the Canterbury
Plains, and through the stunning snow-capped Southern Alps. Optional audio commentary
and enormous glass windows only enhance the views.
However you choose to travel through the beautiful country that is New Zealand, you'll find unique experiences and warm people in the land down under. Happy solo travels!
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