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The soc.culture.new-zealand FAQ (part 4 of 6)
Section - B5.3 Transport

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Top Document: The soc.culture.new-zealand FAQ (part 4 of 6)
Previous Document: B5.2 Accommodation
See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Trains are good but have limited distribution.  Buses tend to be more
flexible and there are a variety of regional bus passes available.
Information should be available from the relevant booking offices.  Bus
tickets for around the South Island are around $250 per person.  The
'Travelpass' offers unlimited travel on Tranz Rail (formerly New Zealand
Rail) trains and InterCity buses for, for example, five days travel over
fifteen days, or fifteen days travel over five weeks.  A further option (to
be taken at time of purchase) is to add one trip by air with Ansett New
Zealand at extra cost.

Unofficial details on 'Travelpass' are at:
   http://www.waikato.ac.nz/rail/travelpass.html

There's are also 'through fares' (you have to ask for them) but there are
limited seats.  Typically:
 Auckland to Picton       $108
 Auckland to Christchurch $159
and these include a seat on the train then the Interislander.  Unofficial
details at:      http://www.waikato.ac.nz/rail/money.html.


Buses and trains have seats discounted at around 20-50% but there are
limited seats each day allocated on a first come first serve basis.  So the
earlier you book the more chance you have of getting them, eg. try to make
bookings for Christmas/New Year break in mid-October and you may find many
of the cheap fares are gone.

There are a variety of other discounts available for students, senior
citizens, YHA members and so on.

'The Kiwi Experience' and similar budget travel systems are worth
investigating if you want less structured transport arrangements.  Due to
an increase in theft and vandalism, leaving vehicles on the main roads has
become unwise.  Always remove valuables and lock it when leaving the
vehicle.

Backpackers card holders (includes YHA cards) also gives you a 30% discount
on any bus or train fare on the main bus lines or TranzRail.

--------------------

B5.3.1  Cycling/Sea Kayaking

Excellent cycling in NZ but it pays to like hills...  Bringing a bike in
from overseas is often a good idea and resale here is possible although it
may take several weeks at some times of the year.  ALWAYS lock your bike
solidly to something immobile when you aren't actually on it.  For cycle
tourists, there are two books available - Cycle Touring in the South Island
and Cycle Touring in the North Island.  There is also one that covers both
islands, but apparently there are many mistakes in it.


Lin Nah kindly generated this contribution:

"For the Auckland area, go to the Auckland visitor's centre and ask for
advice.  For further afield, look into one of the packages like Wild Cycles
offered by Kiwi experience [phone (64 9) 366 1665; fax (64 9) 357 0524]
there are probably other companies that offer similar packages.

Here's a list of places to rent bicycles from (typed late 1993).

Auckland

Name                   Phone     Fax       Address

Bicycle Tour Services  276 5218  276 5218  PO Box 11296
Cycle Xpress           379 0779            11 Beach Road
Kiwi Experience        366 1665  357 0524  PO Box 1553
Mountain Bike Hire     358 9893  575 5105  5/28, Armadale Rd, Remuera
NZ Pedaltours          302 0968  302 0967  PO Box 37575, Parnell
Pedal Packers          302 0880            25 St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell
Pedal Pushers          360 0512  Ring when arrive in Auckland
Penny Farthings        379 2524  309 1559  PO Box 8829, Symond St
Ross Adventures        357 0550  357 0502  PO Box 33686, Takapuna

If you are interested in the Kiwi Experience, they have something called
Wild Cycles.  This combines their bus trips and cycling.  KE runs a cheap
bus network in both the North and South Island.  So the deal in Wild Cycles
(as I understand it) is that you can send you luggage ahead by the bus.  So
you carry the minimal necessities with you while you are cycling.  If you
are tired of cycling (tired, fed up, too hot, too cold and whatever excuses
you want to discontinue) just stop on the road side along one of their
routes and flag the next KE bus that comes along.  It is also good for
those who only have time to cycle one way and have to take the bus back.

Unfortunately no one seems to have email 8-(

The ones below I have not called.  They are either not within the Auckland
calling area or are within the Auckland area but no one replied whan I
called.

Name                     Phone        Address

Adventure South          03 332 1222  Box 33153 Christchurch
Classic Cycle Tours      06 358 9893  Box 4499, Palmerston North
Desert Coast Bikes       09 411 8612  47 Waitea Rd, Muriwai
Rock Hard Mountain Bike  07 892 2938  National Park
Sounds Cycling           03 578 0442  2 Selwyn St, Blenheim"


David Morris offers:
"Another option:  Active Leisure Cycle Express, cnr Beach Rd/Anzac Ave,
Auckland.  Ph 379-7790.  The guy who runs it is a real cycle nut... his
knowledge of touring is encyclopaedic.

"If I want any work done on my machine I go to him. Can't give a better
recommendation that that!"

John McHarry sent me this e-mail:
"NZ Pedaltours operates fully supported cycle tours in both the North and
South Islands.  These include a sag wagon, all meals, and overnight
accomodations in motels with one or two farmstays.  I have been on two of
their tours and found them excellent and good value for money."

For ideas on where to go, try:
 http://www.wcc.govt.nz/extern/kennett/homepage.htm
It's the NZ Mountain Bike Web Page.  If it's run by [one of] the legendary
Kennett Brothers, it's likely to be well worth a look!

-----

Sea kayaking is a great way (the best way?) to see parts of NZ, and guided
tours are becoming more popular and available.  For information on cycle
touring or sea kayaking, email A.Ferguson@chem.canterbury.ac.nz

The coastlines around Abel Tasman National Park and the Marlborough Sounds
are renowned as sea kayaking areas with trips possible all year round.

Lin wrote:
"For the Abel Tasman National Park (cruise, coach - from Nelson to the
park, and everything related to activities in the Abel Tasman National
Park) talk to:

Abel Tasman National Park Enterprises
ph (+64 3) 528 7801
fax (+64 3) 528 6087
"They are open all year except for Christmas Day.  The 1994/95 prices:

"Full Day Cruise.  I took this on NY day '95, it was excellent.  Bring your
own lunch.  9am - 3:30/4pm, adult $42, child $14

"Coach, Cruise, Kayak and Hydrofoil.  Start 9am at Kaiteriteri.  Take the
launch to Torrent Bay - arriving at around 10.25am.  Your guide and kayak
are there.  You start on a 5 hour guided kayak from Torrent Bay to Bark
Bay.  then you catch the hydrofoil back to Kaiteriteri, ETA 6pm.  Start &
finish Kaiteriteri; adult $90

"There are quite a few more variations.  Once you see their brochure you
will know what I mean.  I was very impressed at how flexible it is.  For
example with the kayak example above, you could have paid $80 to start and
finish in Torrent Bay.  You could have left Kaiteriteri a few days before
by the boat, been dropped off at Totaranui (or any beach the cruise passes)
and walked your way back to Torrent Bay.

"The park has one of the most beautiful set of beaches and scenery I have
seen.  I hope no one spoils it.

"Kaiteriteri to Torrent Bay; if you don't want the guided kayak trip you
can hire kayaks from them.  Single kayaks $18; double kayaks $25 (this is
from the 93-94 brochure).

"No, I have no connection to the family who owns the Abel Tasman enterprise
(this is a family business).  I was very impresssed with the choice and
service.

"In the Nelson/Marlborough region; don't forget the swim in the river at
the Pelorus Bridge.  Also visit the vineyards in that area."

-----

If anyone can suggest a better place to put this, I'd like to hear it!

NZ Tides

Tidal predictions are now available for Auckland, Wellington, Lyttelton and
Dunedin, a week at a time from:
 http://www.e-media.co.nz/wp1/
New Zealand Tidal predictions, Notices to Mariners and links to marine
weather are available on Waypoint 1.  There is also information on the
Royal New Zealand Coastguard Federation, Yacht and boat clubs etc.  Other
major boating areas will be added.  Thanks to the Hydrographer RNZN.

--------------------

B5.3.2  Hitchhiking

Hitching is *relatively* safe in NZ, but generally speaking, busing is
advised in the more obscure corners on NZ; it's likely to be quicker and
safer.  Lots of people hitch, but every now and then one of them is
assaulted and/or has all their gear stolen.

--------------------

B5.3.3  Renting A Car/Campervan

Several main companies; Hertz, Avis, Budget, Maui, etc.  Some agencies have
mini-buses as well as cars.  There are usually cheaper local alternatives
to the big chains.  Taking a vehicle from one island to the other is
expensive and it is normal(?) to drop a rental vehicle off on one side of
Cook Strait and pick up another on the other side, but may not be possible.
If you leave a car at the end of a road and fly out (eg. Milford Sound) you
may be charged the cost of retrieving it.

The general impression is that renting a car in NZ is are not cheap
compared with US and European rates.

>From an advert in a New Zealand Tourist Board info packet, Ed Guy 
(guy@degallo.unx.dec.com) contacted Pegasus Rentals in Christchurch.  The
result was a car at about $35/day.

In Auckland, it is possible to hire a car for around $40 a day if it is for
a 'long' period, but the problem with using these cheaper companies as
opposed to the well known ones is the quality of the car.  The bigger (more
expensive) rental agencies have newer cars (1-2 years old).  The cheaper
companies have older cars.  Most of them provide you with a special AA
(Automobile Association) membership for the duration of the car rental
which covers towing anywhere in NZ.

Most companies have branches or associates around the country and although
there are (were?) only 3 international airports in NZ (Auckland, Wellington
and Christchurch) there is usually no problem in being be able to drop off
cars elsewhere.

Christmas/New Year is a peak period so it is difficult getting a car at the
last minute.  Most cars in NZ are not automatic so if you want one you had
better specify.

Check the Yellow Pages of the phone directory for an extensive list of
rental companies.

M. Steven offers:
"Maui have a web site at:
 http://www.discover.co.nz

They are one of the biggest companies in the campervan/motorhome market.
There are several sizes.  They are not cheap."

-----

Lin Nah provides the following list(!) dated 20 Nov 1996:

[non-affiliation disclaimer removed :-)]

Pointers to car rental companies (some of them have campervan hire):

Quick reference to car rental places in Auckland (campervans on pg 3)
 http://www.evernet.co.nz/E_VerNet/nz/transport/auckland/rental_cars/
This points to quite a few pages.  All they have are names of car hire
places in Auckland with phone and fax numbers.

Rental cars in Christchurch
 http://www.canterburypages.co.nz/rc/index.html

Adventure New Zealand:
 http://www.holiday.co.nz/rentals.html
This site has pointers to car rental, campervans(motorhomes), and
motorcycle hire.

Maui campervan hire:
 http://www.discover.co.nz/econocar.html
See also:
 http://www.discover.co.nz/getabout.html

Nationwide car rentals and "Wheels rent a car"
 http://www.nzcentre.com/nzcars.htm

Pegasus car rentals
 http://nz.com/webnz/pegasus/

Seabrooks (car sales with a buy back scheme)
 http://www.tdtech.co.nz/Seabrooks/ 

Link lowcost rentals
 http://www.gisnz.com/linkrent.html

Apex Car Rentals - chch
 http://www.southern.co.nz/rental/ 

Rhodes Rent a car - canterbury
 http://www.canterburypages.co.nz/rc/rhodes/index.html 

-----

Campervans

Regarding campervans, Greg Lauer offers:
Last May (1995) we hired a '2 berth luxury' campervan from Adventure
Rentals in Christchurch.  Because it was off season it cost us NZ$60 a day.
>From what I can remember we just phoned them and picked it up the same
afternoon.  We had four people in it.

If you want some more info email me at <glauer@expert.cc.purdue.edu>

-----

A while back, Dale Gold wrote:
"Here's what I posted on the subject in Oct '94.  No doubt the prices are
all different now, but I hope it is helpful.  Perhaps you can repay the
favour by posting any changes to this newsgroup :-)  [hear hear!]

"This is *only* a list of the companies that had brochures at Christchurch
Airport on 10-Oct-94, and I can make no recommendations.  I included some
points which looked interesting, but made no attempt at any detailed
comparisons.  Hopefully, this will provide a rough guide and a means of
getting more detailed information.

"GENERAL INFORMATION:
Most places require that vehicles be returned to their starting point, but
you'll have to ask about this.  $200-500 deposits are typical, and some
companies have age restrictions, minimum hire periods, etc.  Most vans will
come with cooking gear, heater, etc.  Bedding, ski racks, bikes, etc. are
often available at extra cost.

"All prices are in NZ dollars.  GST = a 12.5% tax.  The two prices are for
High and Low seasons.

High Season = 1 November - 30 April
Low Season  = the colder months
Area codes: Auck=09, Chch=03, Picton=03, Wgtn=04
---

Avon Campervans
2 berth    $124  $74
Includes: GST
Excludes: $15 insurance
7 day minimum, age 21, appears to allow auck-chch rental!

Auck 275-3040, fax: 275-3496
Chch 379-3822, fax: 365-5651
NZ Freephone: 0508-258-258
UK enquiries: (0993) 823-363, fax: (0993) 823-648
---

Gypsy Hire Ltd.
2-3 hi-top $129  $83
2-4        $135  $90
4-6        $189  $95    shower, loo
big 6      $210 $130    shower, loo
Includes: Unlimited km, GST, insurance. 5 day minimum

Auck 480-5098, fax: 443-0485, cell: 025-328-126
Chch 327-6230 (ph/fax), cell: 025-328-126
---

Maui
2 berth    $144  $89
4 berth    $203 $123
6 berth    $228 $137
Includes: GST
Excludes: $13.50 daily insurance

Auck 275-3529
Chch 358-4159
---

Newmans
One of the 2 biggest companies, but no brochure. Auck & Chch branches
---

New Zealand Adventure
All sizes, no prices listed.

Auck 256-0255, fax: 275-3027
Chch 359-7917, fax: 221-7305
---

NZ Travel Bureau Ltd
2 berth    $139  $59
4 berth    $199  $89    shower, loo, diesel
6 berth    $229 $109    shower, loo, diesel

Includes: insurance, GST, unlimited km

Chch 358-9888
PO Box 14189, Chch Airport
---

Pegasus/Thomlinson
Thrifty 2  $69   $49    Townace
Economy 2  $79   $59    Hiace S.W.B.
Tourist 2  $99   $79    Hiace L.W.B., 2 adults, 2 kids
Executive $119   $99    Hiace Pop-top, Diahatsu Delta
All include: GST, insurance, unlimited kms 4days+

Auck   358-5757, fax: 373-5727
Chch   365-1100, fax: 365-1104
Picton 573-7733, fax: 573-7759
Wgtn   384-4883, fax: 384-3225
---

Pleasure Motor Homes
2 berth    $90   $60
All inclusive. Minimum age 25.  minimum 7days (sum), 5 days (win).
Also offer 4 & 6 berth vans.

Chch 359-9657, fax: 359-9628
516 Wairakei Road, Chch
---

Breakaway in Hastings offers 4 berth campers, no prices in
brochure, minimum age 30  ph: 06-874-8833, fax: 06-874-8850"

-----

Lin Nah adds the following list dated 20 Nov 1996:

Campervans
Campervan rental from AA
 http://www.aa.org.nz:80/motorhomes.html

Maui campervan hire
 http://www.discover.co.nz/maui_nz.html

Pegasus car rentals
 http://nz.com/webnz/pegasus/

--------------------

B5.3.4  Train Services

Good, if they go where you are going.

In the North Island, there are the main line from Auckland to Wellington
which runs west of the central volcanoes, a main line to the east coast at
Tauranga and a number of branch lines.

In the South Island, there is the main trunk line north-south down the east
coast between Picton and Invercargill, and the midland line east-west
between Christchurch and Greymouth via Arthurs Pass.

The middle and long-distance trains operated by Tranz Rail under the name
"Tranz Scenic" are listed below.  All fares quoted are full adult fare in
NZ$ as at July 1997.  Various discounts are available, even during the
peak travel season.  Range of discounts are 20% - 50%; Supersaver(50%),
saver(30%), economy(20%) and full fare.

If you have a youth hostel membership card or a recognised backpackers
card, you will automatically be eligible for a 30% discount on all train
and bus fares - use that if supersaver fares are not available.  Students
(with recognised student IDs) are eligible for a 20% discount.

Overlander; (Daylight) Auckland to Wellington, 685km/10 hours 40 mins, both
ways, Daily $55-135 (route includes cities, rural towns, lakes, volcanic
plateau, gorges, bush, rolling farmland).

Northerner; (Overnight) Auckland - Wellington, 685km/11 hours, both
ways, departs Sun-Fri $120. Half-price 'no-frills' fares are available
during holiday periods on both the Overlander and the Northerner. The
frills omitted are the more comfortable carriages and the complimentary
refreshments, including lunch.

Kaimai Express; Auckland - Tauranga, evening, 3 hours 25 mins daily $54
                Tauranga - Auckland, morning, 3 hours 30 mins daily $54

Geyserland Express; Auckland - Rotorua - Auckland, approx 4 hours 10mins
each way, daily $63 (route includes rolling farmland, towns, city, bush,
volcanic plateau, thermal areas)

Bay Express; (Daylight) Wellington - Napier 334km/5 hours 20 mins, both
ways daily - $70 (route includes city, farmland, bush, river gorge, hill
ranges, wine making country)

Southerner Express; (Daylight) Christchurch - Invercargill, 594km/8hours
40 mins, both ways daily, $117 (Christchurch - Dunedin $74) (route is east
coast of South Island to the southern-most town, farmland, hill ranges, 
coastal). This train has in the past run only Monday to Friday during
winter.  There is only one train per day north and one south between
Invercargill and Christchurch.

Coastal Pacific; (connects with Interisland ferry) Christchurch - Picton,
350km/5 hours 20 mins, both ways, daily $72 (route is northern half of
east coast of the South island, hills, seaward mountain ranges, fishing
towns, whale watching area, Marlborough Sounds)

Tranz-Alpine Express; (Daylight) Christchurch - Greymouth, 5 hours 20
minutes each way, daily, $99 return or $76 one way (route is spectacular
crossing of Southern Alps from east to west coasts; Pacific Ocean to the
Tasman sea)

The Taieri Gorge Railway run excursion trains through the spectacular
Taieri Gorge to the west of Dunedin.  It's possible to take the Taieri
Gorge Limited from Dunedin and connecting bus service to Queenstown or vice
versa.  The timetable for the Taieri Gorge Limited varies through the year,
running only on some days of the week outside the peak season.

All Tranz Rail services (except suburban) and Taieri Gorge Railway
services, together with a reasonable sample of current fares and the
details of the various discounts on offer, can be found at:
 http://www.waikato.ac.nz/rail/

Everything that's there is accurate as at July 1997.  Be warned that
Tranz Rail's fares are not as systematic as those in some countries.

Also try:
 http://www.waikato.ac.nz/rail/new.html

-----

Three suggestions regarding scenic train runs.  The Railway Enthusiasts'
Society do excursions from time to time as well as operate the Glenbrook
Vintage Railway, SW of Auckland.

Write to: PO Box 13-684, Onehunga, Auckland
Phone: 64-9-636-9361
Fax: 64-9-636-9558

The Mainline Steam Trust,PO Box 2722, Wellington
Phone: 64-4-476-2733
Fax: 64-4-476-3164

Otago Excursion Train Trust, PO Box 140, Dunedin
Phone: 64-3-477-4449
Fax: 64-3-477-4953

-----

Charles Eggen offers:
"There is one night and one day train daily [Auckland - Wellington].
Forget the night train.  You might consider getting off at Otorohanga and
spending time visiting the many wonders of the cave system around Waitomo.
Actually there is a nice native bird aviary in Otorohanga, the largest in
New Zealand.  The Kiwi House, as it is called is open 9:30am-5pm daily,
unless there have been changes recently.  There are frequent shuttle buses
from Otorohanga to Waitomo(30 min.trip) daily and lodging is usually easier
to locate and cheaper in Otorohanga, but there has been a growing number of
Bed & Breakfast and Farmstay facilities in the Waitomo area, so an improved
selection of accommodations seems to be occurring.

You should check out the Waitomo website at:
 http://hindin.co.nz/waitomo/

"Another possible consideration for a stopover would be National Park.
There are accommodations in that small rail community as well as within the
Tongariro National Park at Whakapapa Village where the Grand Chateau Hotel
tops the list with economy rooms at about $110 and the prices go up from
there.  Ruapehu volcano is the dominate feature htere, but not the only one
and if you enjoy walking/tramping, there are many possibilities."

--------------------

B5.3.5  Cook Strait Ferry

(See also under B5.3.4  Train Services)

There are 2 types of boats; the Interislander which takes 3 hours and the
Lynx which takes 1hr 45mins for the crossing.

The Interislander - ferry service connecting North and South Islands
between Wellington and Picton. As at July 1997, the full adult fare was
$46 one way.The fare for a car up to 6m was $165, with an extra $21 per
half metre.

For timetables, see http://www.waikato.ac.nz/rail/interislander.html 


It is possible (and cheaper?) to drop a rental car at one terminal, travel
as foot passenger and pick up another rental car on the other side.  The
trip takes 3 hours 15 min, with spectacular scenery of mountains and the
sounds.  The ferry usually departs Wellington and Picton five times a day
depending on weather.

Another 'high-speed' ferry service is in operation seasonally.  The Lynx
(the catamaran) is back for the summer; timetable at:
 http://www.waikato.ac.nz/rail/lynx.html
The Lynx costs NZ$190 for a car and NZ$60 per adult.

Michael Steven adds:
"The ferries sail roughly four times a day - around 10am, 1pm, 6pm and 10pm
(from memory) Make sure you are up on deck for the last hour of the trip
through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds.  [....]  The 10am ferry coincides
with the daily train from Picton to Chch which leaves about 1.50pm Full
fare passengers get very comfortable - airline-type seats with a fixed
coffee table between each set of four.  Afternoon tea is served free.
Budget tickets do not get the afternoon tea and have less comfortable seats
for the trip."

Bruce Hoult offered:
"Booking is not required, but it can be a very good idea if you don't want
to end up on the 2am sailing at peak times.  You should be OK in November
or the first week or two of December though.  Foot passengers and
motorcyclists (that's me :-) will virtually always get on any sailing they
want, without booking in advance.

"If you will have a rental car, the best option is usually to use a company
that lets you drop your car in Picton and get a new one in Wellington and
take the ferry as a passenger."

To which Lin Nah adds:
"They have changed the booking rules recently.  Both ferries have cheaper
rates for those who book early but there are possibly no cheap fares during
peak periods.  I believe they are using the similar rules of allocating
"seats" as airlines, buses and trains are.

"I agree with bruce's advice regarding rental car.  IMHO the cost of taking
the car across far outweighs the inconvenience of having to unload and
reload the car at each end."

-----

There is a new venture for the yacht 'Lion New Zealand', renamed 'Phantom
of the Straits' which runs between Wellington and Picton.

Any information about making reservations, etc., would be appreciated.

-----

The ferry to Stewart Island, the Foveaux Express, sails twice daily from
Bluff, phone; +64 03 212 7660

The only alternative is to fly.  Southern Air have several flights daily
from Invercargill and one from Dunedin.  YHA/Student standby rates are
available.  Phone; +64 03 218 9129.

--------------------

B5.3.6  Coach Travel

Buses go pretty much everywhere there are main roads.  There are many
different options with several companies including the Backpacker buses for
which you buy a ticket to travel the whole country and get on and off when
you wish (prices for Backpacker buses fluctuate wildly due to a price war).

Here is some miscellaneous information (prices quoted are in $NZ).

Auckland to Wellington overnight; around $45 - $50 per person (full fare -
$96).

Intercity bus currently (March 96) has only one bus per day north and south
along the West coast.

There is a daily bus between Queenstown and Dunedin, via Cromwell, each
way, but you will not be able to make connection in Cromwell without an
overnight stay.

There is a small van bus that travels between Invercargill and Dunedin via
the Catlin region that is a beautiful trip.  For details, contact Charles
Eggen.

Most(?) coach lines run strictly point to point.  If you want to stop in
the intermediate sections, you will need to pay more.

eg.
Intercity coachlines:
Greymouth - Queenstown $125
 or
Greymouth - Franz Josef $42
Franz Josef - Fox Glacier $10
Fox Glacier - Queenstown  $87
 totalling $139

Mount Cook Land Line:
Nelson to Queenstown $144
Wanaka to Queenstown $25


More from Lin Nah:
"There's a coach pass for the North Island.  It is for bus travel only with
Intercity.  I am going to type excerpts from the brochure.

 "North Island Coach Passes
 Convenient passes for travel throughout the north island on any intercity
 coachlines scheduled services linking the major cities, towns and tourist
 destinations in the North Island.  Coaches operate daily between main
 centres..."

 "All passes are designed to offer you the freedom to get off and on the
 coach where and when you want.  Valid for up to 3 months with travel being
 on a standby basis.  However for a reservation fee of $3 per sector, you
 may reserve seats in advance." (A sector is from where you get on to where
 you get off the bus.)

 "North Island Value Pass
 Offers flexibility for travel between Auckland and Wellington.  Adult -
 $95."

"There are 2 routes.  You either go from Auckland - Waitomo - Rotorua -
Taupo - Wellington, or Auckland - Thames - Rotorua - Taupo - Wellington.
You won't be eligible for any discounts (i.e. no student or YHA discount).
There are other combinations, for example you can go Auckland - Thames then
go round the Coromandel Peninsula, Tauranga, Rotorua and Wellington for
$130 per adult.  The second combination is Auckland - Waitomo Caves -
Rotorua - Whakatane, Opotiki, Gisbourne, Napier, Taupo, Wellington for $180
per adult.

"Which option you take depends on how much time you have.  The $3 booking
fees do add up.  However April (unless it is Easter Break) is not peak
travel and you may get away with not paying the booking fee.

"There's a travelpass which offers travel with Intercity (bus), Tranzscenic
(train) and Interislander (Cook Strait ferry; Wellington - Picton).  You
can buy the pass for travel within an island or one for both island.  (I
presume that within one island means no Interisland ferry).  There's also
an option where you can include Ansett airline as well.

"This pass is valid for a set number of days.  You can buy a 10 day pass or
a 3 week pass (the price varies of course).  You are only allowed to travel
a certain number of days within the duration of your pass, e.g. you can
travel for 5 days over a 10 day pass, 8 days over a 3 week pass.

"There are tour services that do Auckland - Wellington with overnight stops
along the way (probably Auckland - Waitomo - Rotorua, night stop in
Rotorua, Rotorua - Taupo - Wellington, etc.).  They will have stuff like
accommodation booked for you and stop for the sights along the way.

-----

"Other options if you are willing to divert from the mainstream is to use
one of the [main] backpacker bus services; Kiwi Experience or Magic Bus.
Magic has a better reputation than Kiwi Experience, however I have not used
Magic and can't say much more than that.  Kiwi Experience is known as the
party bus where there's a lot of drinking, etc.  I have only heard good
things about Magic (from other backpackers and people running backpackers).
The price should be comparable as they are both in competition.  In terms
of where one goes, they are almost identical.

"The good thing about these backpacker buses is they do allow for stops
along the way.

"The overnight stops mean you can do activities along the way like
whitewater rafting, blackwater rafting, bungy jumping, grass skiing, jet
boating, maori cultural shows, adventure caving or abseiling, walks, etc.
The bus driver will book you on the trips you want and you pay for them as
you go.  They will also book accommodation for you at a backpackers or you
book yourself.  Again you pay as you go.  Backpackers prices are $10 - $16
per night.  YHA is more expensive but the quality is more consistent.  You
can also choose to stay more upmarket - there are double rooms avail at the
backpackers and most YHAs.  The buses pick up and drop people off at most
YHAs and backpackers."


Kiwi Experience (KE) have a package called the 'Back Paddock' which runs
from Christchurch through Arthur's Pass to Greymouth then down the West
Coast and back to Chch via Wanaka, Queenstown, and Mount Cook.  For $204,
you need a minimum of 6 days and can take up to 3 months to finish this
route.  They take you to a few places on the way.  You pay for your own
accommodation and any entrance fee to any sights.  KE run daily so there is
no problem with stopping as long as you like.

Magic Travellers' 'Tranzalpine' is very similar to the 'Back Paddock' but
swaps Mount Cook for Dunedin.  For $229, your route needs a minimum of 7
days and should be valid for 3-6 months.  The network only runs every other
day so if you want to stay longer than one night, you may end up staying 3
nights.

Kiwi Experience has a trip called Geyserland.  Minimum of 3 days of travel
and valid up to 3 months.  The route is: Auckland -> Thames -> Waitomo ->
Rotorua -> Auckland.  Your night stops are at Waitomo and Rotorua.  Cost is
$75 but this doesn't include accommodation or the $12 entry to the
glow-worm caves.  They can arrange blackwater rafting, hangi, stay at a
marae in Rotorua, abseiling, etc.

"This is from my Kiwi Experience brochure in 1995 - so things may have
changed a little other than price.
 "Auckland - Waitomo; Waitomo - Rotorua; Rotorua - Taupo; Taupo - Ohakune;
 Ohakune - Thames; $121"

"This year's map has the Auckland - Wellington - Auckland return for $219.
Since Wellington - Auckland is done in one day, I know the minimum length
for Auckland - Wellington is 5 days.  I doubt the price will be more than
$150."

Magic Travellers network had a route called 'Top of the Town' for $120:
Auckland -> Hamilton -> Waitomo -> Rotorua -> Taupo -> Turangi -> Rotorua
-> Thames -> Auckland.

As a comparison, Intercity coach lines has a route from Auckland to Rotorua
via Waitomo Caves for $100.50 including admission to the caves.


Discounts are available on some lines if you have a backpackers card and/or
book [well] in advance.  YHA and backpackpers card (VIP) get a 5% discount.
Numerous other tour operators and routes exist.  Shop around!


Contact numbers:

Tourist Information Centres may handle all the bookings for you (see
A1.2.2) or, for Auckland:

Intercity:
Phone  357 8400 or 0800 731 711

Mt Cook:
Phone  309 5395

Kiwi Experience:
Phone  366 1665
Fax    357 0524

Magic Network:
Phone  358 5600
Fax    358 3471

--------------------

B5.3.7  Driving

Visitors should get, and READ, a copy of the Road Code.  The most important
thing to remember is that driving is on the LEFT HAND SIDE.

The Automobile Association has a site at:
 http://www.aa.org.nz:80/
There is info there for travellers, like suggested itineraries for touring
NZ by car, and AA accommodation guide (a quick guide that has an estimated
price range).  Another useful thing is there's a NZ map with a table of
distances between towns in NZ.

Bruce Hoult:
"I've hired cars the three times I've been in the US, and I don't think it
took any longer than 30 seconds or a minute to get comfortable driving on
the "wrong" side of the road each time.  Your US license [presumably this
also applies to licenses from other countries] and passport are all you'll
need.  The international license is an unnecessary ripoff."

Lyndon Watson:
"Most people seem to have little trouble adapting.  Remember, right-hand
turns cut across the traffic, and that you give way to the right.  Watch
the speed limits and remember that they are in km/hr, not mph."

If you want to go between (or even to) main centres, and can drive, check
the car hire companies.  Some of them may want to relocate cars and will
let you drive their car, for free hire as long as you pay petrol AND pay
the insurance excess if you meet an accident.  There are likely to be other
conditions, such as delivering the car within 24 hours of picking it up.

--------------------

B5.3.8  Commercial Tours

Are available in most main and holiday centres.  Prices will vary and it
may be worth shopping around.  See B5.3.6.

--------------------

B5.3.9  Flying

Three main options (Air New Zealand, Ansett and Mount Cook) and numerous
smaller airlines including companies offering helicopter transport/tours.
If you have a backpackers card, you can also opt for standby seats at 50%
discount.

Here are some air fares for Christchurch to Auckland one way:

Mt Cook Air/Air NZ cheapest fare is $124
Unlikely to be any left for this summer due to a recent special where you
could book a seat for $149 to anywhere in another island, or $99 to
anywhere within the same island.  These turn up from time to time so keep
an eye open.

Air National: $119
Relatively unknown (check the Auckland phone book).  Not so much an airline
as a cargo plane with seats.  The service cost $99 back in January 1995
(Lin posted something then).

Night flights
Air NZ: $164
Ansett: $168


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