If you’re considering making the move from England to New Zealand and are used to using public transport to commute, you might be surprised at just how spread out this little country is. From vibrant cities to breathtaking natural landmarks, New Zealand may pack a lot into a small area, but it’s also vastly spread out, often with hundreds of kilometres separating cities.
So, before you make any decisions about where you’ll commute to work or explore everything the country has to offer, let’s take a look at the public transport options.
Driving Is Par For The Course
Unlike the UK, where large towns and cities are interspersed with small villages, all of which usually fall on a public transport route, New Zealanders tend to rely heavily on private transport. In fact, getting a driver’s license is an early right of passage, with learner permits issued at the tender age of 15.
The country has 4.5 million vehicles but a population of just 5.1 million, giving it one of the world’s highest rates of vehicle ownership. Unsurprisingly then, there’s little demand for public transport outside of the largest cities. That being said, while you won’t find a comprehensive train network running the length and breadth of the country, there are plenty of options for getting around.
Buses: Connecting Cities, Towns, and Beyond
They may not be a speedy method of travel, but if you don’t mind taking a little longer to get from A to B, buses are a great option for moving around New Zealand. By far the most common method of public transport, buses connect most areas of the country. Intercity is the main provider and links major cities such as Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch with many smaller townships. The buses are comfortable, equipped with modern amenities, and often offer Wi-Fi for added convenience.
Regional Buses: Get Off the Beaten Path
For explore everything an area has to offer, it’s well worth giving the regional buses a try. Many towns will have their own local buses that service the area, allowing you to discover the hidden gems favoured by locals. Whether you’re venturing into the stunning rural landscapes of Taranaki or exploring the captivating towns in the Bay of Plenty, regional buses offer a cost-effective and convenient mode of transportation.
Trains: Scenic Rail Journeys to Remember
If you’re seeking a truly unforgettable travel experience, New Zealand’s scenic rail journeys are not to be missed. The country boasts several iconic train routes, including the Tranz Alpine, Coastal Pacific, and Northern Explorer. Designed for leisurely scenic travel as opposed to commuting, these routes take you through awe-inspiring landscapes, from countryside to coast.
Ferries: Island-Hopping Adventures
With its unique geography, New Zealand offers plenty of opportunities for island-hopping adventures. Interislander and Bluebridge are the two major ferry operators connecting the North and South Islands. Crossing the Cook Strait is an experience in itself as you navigate through the stunning waters surrounded by picturesque views. Ferries provide passenger and vehicle transport, allowing you to explore each island’s treasures.
Local Transportation: City Buses and Trams
Within New Zealand’s vibrant cities, plenty of local transportation options get you from A to B. Buses and trams provide convenient ways to navigate urban areas, offering frequent services and comprehensive networks. Whether you’re exploring the bustling streets of Auckland, the cultural hub of Wellington, or the garden city of Christchurch, hopping on a city bus or tram is an efficient way to soak up the local atmosphere and reach your desired destinations.
From intercity buses connecting major destinations to scenic rail journeys, island-hopping ferries, and local transportation within cities, New Zealand offers a diverse and accessible network. So, whether you opt to drive yourself or embrace Kiwi public transport, there are great options for discovering the wonders of this breathtaking country.
Sarah Todhunter is a writer, mother-of-two and a dual citizen of New Zealand and the UK. As the sole proprietor of Fyxen Copywriters, she has navigated the ups and downs of moving a business and family across hemispheres, sharing the lessons she’s learned along the way. Find her on LinkedIn or anywhere good coffee is served.