New Zealand offers independent travellers a perfect combination of dramatic landscapes, lush wilderness, accessible adventure, a safe and clean environment, engaging locals, beautifully designed accommodations and great local food and wine. It is the sort of country where you can pull off the highway and explore down a forested trail to safely enjoy a gloriously deserted beach. Make sure you take the time to explore and enjoy, allowing 2-4 nights at your accommodations so you really get to know the region and do some of the amazing activities on offer. Don't underestimate the driving time between towns and destinations. The route many look short but you will be travelling along wild coastlines and through high mountain passes, and you will want time to stop on the way. The links below provide advice for getting around New Zealand. For an overview of North and South Island destinations see New Zealand Regions.
International Flights to New Zealand
You are likely to arrive into New Zealand at one of the two main international hubs, Auckland Airport in the North Island or Christchurch Airport in the South Island. There are also useful direct flights from Australia to Queenstown and a few regional airports. On arrival most people either fly on to their chosen destination or collect their hire car transport. See the airport links listed above for rental car services. Flights between regional airports can save a lot of time, especially between the two islands.
Air New Zealand is New Zealand's award winning flagship airline and offers the most connections between international and local flights. The following airlines also fly into New Zealand:
- Air New Zealand
- Qantas and Jetstar
- Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic
- Cathay Pacific
- Singapore Airlines
- China Southern
- Fiji Airways
- Air Canada
- Air Tahiti Nui
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Austrian Airways
- Thai Airways
Domestic Flights within New Zealand
Air New Zealand internal flights are a great way to keep driving distances down and to have more time to explore. Bear in mind luggage restrictions for domestic travel. There are good connections to most domestic airports through the 3 main hubs:
Bay of Islands
Stewart Island Air operate flights to Stewart Island from Invercargil and scenic flights within Stewart Island.
See also Mainland Air for small charter flights throughout NZ.
We recommend Budget Rental Cars. Ask about free one-way rentals for 3+ day hires and a continuous rental period incorporating internal flights and ferries. Rental cars can be collected and returned to most New Zealand airports (but check). In winter, request that your vehicle is "winterised" and carries chains if you plan to drive to the ski resorts. Driving Times: Our interactive map allows you to map your itinerary around New Zealand. Look up our regional pages for driving times or check directions between your destinations on Google Maps or Bing. Tourism New Zealand also has a useful driving time calculator
Harley Davidson Rental
Harley Davidson Rental & Tours starting in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and the Coromandel bike rental or complete itineraries with all your accommodations booked ahead.
New Zealand Road Code
Study the New Zealand road rules and test your knowledge before you set off. New Zealand Road Code Test
Transfers, Chauffeured Touring and Private Tours
Chauffeurs & Guides
We work with a number of drivers / guides who can accompany you for all or part of your itinerary. They can arrange all your accommodation and activities to meet your specific budget and interests. Kiwi Dundee offer a Companion Guiding service for all of the Green Journeys Itineraries
Transfers and Private & Small Group Tours
After the long international flight, you may want to start your New Zealand vacation with a driver and guide for a few days or a one-way transfer before hiring a car. Coromandel-based Kiwi Dundee offer private special interest nature tours throughout New Zealand. Christchurch-based Canterbury Trails offer private and small group tours and one-way transfers throughout South Island. Auckland-based TIME Unlimited offer private and small group tours and one-way transfers throughout North Island.
Inter-Island ferries operate between Wellington and Picton. The journey time is about 3.5 hours. Note that many hire car companies will require you to change vehicle and check your luggage during the voyage.
There are commuter train services running south of Auckland and north of Wellington plus 3 main tourist scenic train routes operated by Kiwi Rail:
- Trans Alpine - Christchurch to Greymouty via Arthurs Pass
- Coastal Pacific - Picton to Christchurch
- Northern Explorer - Auckland to Wellington