Getting around New Zealand

As a sparsely populated nation, New Zealand’s urban areas are quite small and easy to get around.  The following is a list of transport options available in New Zealand:

Air travel

Domestic flights between New Zealand cities are quite short – a flight from Auckland to Wellington only takes an hour.  Flights are usually cheaper (and sometimes offer discounts) if you book online.  Students under the age of 25 who have a Youth Card can sometimes claim discounts through STA Travel.  You should visit their website before you book your flight.


There are three companies that ferry people between the north and south islands, from Wellington to Picton.  Fares start at $58.00 for a walk on passenger with a student card.

Wellington and Auckland both have commuter ferries that take people across the harbour.  They also offer scenic cruises.

Buses and Trains

The New Zealand public transport system is very good.  In most cities, they run every half hour.  Secondary school students can purchase school travel tickets at a greatly discounted rate, while tertiary students who have a student card can also receive discounts.


If you possess an international drivers license, you may drive in New Zealand for one year.  After that, you will have to pass a theory and in some cases a practical examination.  In any case, it is a good idea to take a look at the New Zealand Road Rules Handbook before driving in New Zealand, as driving rules may differ dramatically from those in your home country.  Your car must be registered and pass an inspection of fitness.  You should probably get insurance as well.
New Zealand drivers drive on the left side of the road.  When driving, you can be fined if you are caught not wearing a seatbelt.  You may lose your license if you are caught speeding or driving drunk.

International students studying in New Zealand may be allowed to drive if they have a valid international driver’s licence for up to a year but after that they may have to satisfy New Zealand’s driving requirements. Vehicles drive on the left hand side of the road and it is mandatory for all vehicles to be fit for driving. All car drivers must insure their vehicle.


Cycling is a great way to explore New Zealands beautiful surroundings. Cyclists must obey the road rules at all times and ride on the left hand side of the road and not on the footpath. They must also have a good quality bike for travel.

You must wear a helmet at all times, and use reflective gear while riding at night.  Some cities have special cycle lanes.


Motorcyclists must possess a license, be over the age of fifteen and wear a helmet at all times (as do passengers).  Your motorcycle must be registered and pass an inspection of fitness. Motorcyclists must at least be 15 years old, have a licence and wear helmets.


As cities in New Zealand tend to be quite small, walking is a popular option.  If you live in univerisity accommodation, you will normally live a short walk from your campus.  Walking is a great way to explore your new city.

Public Transport

Public transport services are not as extensive as some other countries but they are very efficient. Secondary school students are eligible for a discount on bus travel. Some educational institutions have shuttle bus services for their students.

Road Safety

Traffic flows on the left hand side of the road
Car passengers not wearing seatbelts can be fined
Cycle helmets are compulsory for cyclists and motor cyclists
Serious penalties apply for drink driving

Rental cars

Licensed drivers must pay a large bond if they do not have a credit card.

For more information about New Zealand travel transport and safety, please contact us!

New Zealand Transport

Navigating New Zealand is easy.  As the country is a mere 260 000 square kilometres (or 103 000 square miles), bus and train travel is relatively quick, while a domestic flight takes no longer than three hours. While many cities have their own personally owned transport companies, the following companies are national carriers, meaning they are generally safer and less expensive.


Air New Zealand is the national airline carrier of New Zealand (and is currently the only airline to circumnavigate the globe.)  The airline offers domestic and international flights between most cities.  International airports are located in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.


New Zealand’s largest and most extensive coach network is InterCity Coachlines.  InterCity offers a transport service, ferrying passengers from city to city, and also provides transport for scenic excursions.  Discounts are available for students and backpackers.


New Zealand only has one railway network, TranzScenic.  The company provides long distance journeys between cities through their TranzAlpine, TranzCoastal and Overlander train services.


The InterIslander is the main carrier between the North and South Islands.  Terminals are located at Wellington in the North and Picton in the South Island.  The InterIslander takes passengers as well as cars and motorcycles, and the journey takes about three hours.  Discounts are available for students.  

Driving in New Zealand

Visitors to New Zealand may drive for up to twelve months if they possess a current driver’s licence in their home country, or an International Driving Permit.

An International Driving Permit is a UN sanctioned document that permits tourists to drive in another country without further tests or applications, provided their driver’s license is valid.

An IDP is available in nine languages and is recognised in over 150 countries.  Your country’s official automotive association should be able to help you with obtaining an International Driving Permit. Travellers with an IDP or foreign driver’s license may only drive the same class of vehicle that they are permitted to drive in their home country.

After twelve months, you may be required to take a practical and/or written driving exam. New Zealanders drive on the left side of the road, and give way to traffic on their right side.

All speed limit signs are in kilometres per hour.  The open road speed limit is 100 kilometres per hour.  Visitors must follow New Zealand road rules at all times.

Driving while drunk is illegal in New Zealand and offenders risk losing their license, or even jail time.  Drivers must always carry their license with them.