Traveling New Zealand - Ways to Get Around
by Fernachie on December 16, 2010
I have been traveling around New Zealand for a few weeks and thought it would be a good idea to post some pictures and some how-to’s. While I did not stay in hostels and normally had a pretty nice budget to travel with, I still looked out for opportunities and ways that I would do the trip again should I be traveling solo or looking for the most cultural experience.
First off, the Kiwi history is pretty short, and they have not really capitalized on their ancestry. Their idea of service is: take your money and here is the product. I don’t think they know what service is. But I guess that is why you do not tip down there.
If you are going to travel for longer than a few days, the most common ways to travel are are:
1. Jucy and Spaceship Rentals. These are were all over the place. They rent small camper vans that make it up and down all the passes and have a small kitchen, bed, and fridge. There are camping spots everywhere and the backpacker community using these is huge.
2. Family-owned Car Rentals. Yes…. These are the best bang for the buck if you are only using a car for two to four days in a city (as opposed to renting a car for weeks at a time). Why the best bang? It only costs USD$20-40/day as opposed to $75 and the deductible is only USD$400 as opposed to Avis/Budget etc. @ $3000!!! $3000….really? I can buy a new car for the price of the deductible. You almost do not need to pay for parking in most small cities. It is at Auckland and major ports where you pay. One hotel makes you valet your car for USD$30/day unlimited in/out, but still. You can park your car a few blocks away for $6 every in/out.
3. Bikes. It is pretty hard to rent a motorcycle, but there are bike rentals. While I found that there is no haggling in general, the privately-owned bike rentals did give a discount and will work with your budget. I rented two bikes: USD$30/day each for three days for $85 total. Not too shabby of a discount. Sure, I still had to pay $85 you say, but that sure beats $180 and the walking.
4. Taxis. Are you kidding??? I made the mistake of taking a taxi from the airport to our hotel to figure stuff out. Twenty bucks later for a hotel I could see from the airport, I realized I should have just paid USD$28/day for the car and paid for the $9/gal gas!!! We got a car in Nelson since there are a lot of little towns, sites and wineries to visit all about a $30 cab ride from each other. So the car paid for itself the first day.
5. Bus. There is a service that allows you to buy a two-week pass and get on and off the bus as you wish. You can talk to the driver and, normally, they will drop you off at the hostel/hotel/venue of your destination. (No one tipped the driver even when he changed his route just for them!)
Also, talk to your hostel and keep your key handy. When you ride the bus, you can ask for a round-trip ticket and a discount for your hostel. Normally USD$6 each way, you can get a round trip for $7-$9. If you are there for a long time, get the month pass for $60, and you can ride as much as you want. Taking the bus is only cost-effective if you are one to two people. Above that, rent a car.
6. Tour Bus. Yes, I said it. But you know, if you are going to a remote area, you can actually let someone do the driving. You take amazing pictures, and they take care of everything else. Sure, not your typical backpacker, but New Zealand is not easy to get around at times. Why not take a tour bus (boat cruise included) from Queenstown to Milford Sound, a four-hour trip? You will be so blown away by the sights, you will not mind the few bucks you put down. Besides, they do not allow camping at Milford Sound, so you get there and have to either get a hotel or drive back to Queenstown, another four hours.