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The soc.culture.new-zealand FAQ
Section - B5.3 Transport

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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.  

There's are also 'through fares' (you have to ask for them) but there are
limited seats.  Typically:
 Auckland to Picton for $99
 Auckland to Christchurch $138
and these include a seat on the train then the Interislander.  Unofficial
details at:
 http://www.waikato.ac.nz/nz/rail/travelpass.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.

'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!"


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/
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.

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

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 asnd 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.

-----

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! ps-j]

"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

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

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 November 1995.  Various discounts are available, even during the
peak travel season.

Overlander; (Daylight) Auckland to Wellington, 685km/10 hours 40 mins, both
ways, Daily $55-129 (route includes cities, rural towns, lakes, volcanic
plateau, gorges, bush, rolling farmland).

Northerner; (Overnight) Auckland - Wellington, 685km/11 hours, both ways,
departs Sun-Fri $109

Kaimai Express; Auckland - Tauranga, evening, 3 hours 25 mins daily $49
                Tauranga - Auckland, morning, 3 hours 30 mins daily $49

Geyserland Express; Auckland - Rotorua - Auckland, approx 4 hours 10 mins
each way, daily with extra service on Friday and Sunday $59 (route includes
rolling farmland, towns, city, bush, volcanic plateau, thermal areas)

Bay Express; (Daylight) Wellington - Napier 334km/5 hours 20 mins, both
ways daily - $63 (route includes city, farmland, bush, river gorge, hill
ranges, wine making country)

Southerner Express; (Daylight) Christchurch - Invercargill, 594km/8 hours
40 mins, both ways, Daily with extra service on Friday $97 (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 $59 (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 $74 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/nz/rail/timetable.html

Everything that's there is accurate as at November 1995.  Be warned that
Tranz Rail's fares are not as systematic as those in some countries.

Also try:
 http://www.waikato.ac.nz/nz/rail/stoppress.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

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

B5.3.5  Cook Strait Ferry

(See also under B5.3.4  Train Services)

The Interislander - ferry service connecting North and South Islands
between Wellington and Picton.  As at 1st October 1995, the full adult fare
was $44 one way.  The fare for a car up to 6m was $160, with an extra $35
per half memter.  A range of discounts are available for advance bookings.
For timetables, see
 http://www.waikato.ac.nz/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/nz/rail/lynx.html

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.  Those who book early may
get a discount.  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 yatch '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

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

Then there are the backpackers bus routes.  These stop at interesting
places as you go.  You can hop off at any stop and rejoin them at the same
time the next day or any day they pass through.

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.


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

KE 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.

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

Discounts are available on some lines if you have a backpackers card and/or
book [well] in advance.  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

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.

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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