New Zealand by bus

Travelling around New Zealand is easy and the cheap long distance bus networks make it one of the most cost effective backpacking options available.

If you’re looking for a great way to meet real New Zealanders as you explore this great country of ours, then travelling by bus is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to travel.

Services are regular throughout the country and many operators provide drop off points at the main backpacker accommodation hubs or close enough to be within walking distance.

The lack of a well established rail network and expensive domestic airfares means bus transport is a very popular choice for many kiwi travellers. Fares are very competitive and provide flexibility, with fully refundable and non refundable options available. Fares tend to be cheaper the further out you book and payment can be made online via credit card or at hundreds of retail agents nationwide, including most backpackers, hostels and the i-SITE Visitor Information Network

The main national bus company is InterCity Coachlines who operate New Zealand’s most comprehensive national network with over 130 daily services through the country to more than 600 towns, cities and communities.

InterCity is the only domestic national bus network to hold the officially recognized “Endorsed Visitor Transport” Qualmark accreditation and ensures they have passed industry-developed standards based on quality, professionalism, trustworthiness, service and safety.

Fares start from just $1 (plus a booking fee) on all InterCity’s national services and they’ve even been known to giveaway FREE seats at various times of the year. A limited number of heavily discounted “Cheap-as-Seats” for travel that week are released via the company’s facebook and twitter feeds every Monday.

InterCity also offers a number of transport passes combining their domestic network and bonus sightseeing inclusions with Passes can also be used to on the ferry crossing between the North and South islands. There are three different passes to choose from; TRAVELPASS (fixed itinerary options), flexitrips (discounted multiple trips) and flexipass (discounted hours travel). All are valid for 12months and offer great flexibility as amendments can be made to coach travel up to 2 hours prior to departure without penalty. Each pass has its own pros and cons depending on your travel style, where you plan to go and how much you plan to travel.

Unlike most backpacker bus passes, all InterCity’s transport passes can be sold and transferred to someone else. You’ll often find people selling passes with a few remaining hours on facebook.

Travelling by domestic transport is a safe and economical way to experience New Zealand. Sure it’s not the party bus atmosphere offered by the backpacker buses but you’ll get to meet regular kiwis going about their daily lives, as well as other travellers just like you.

You can view a full range of transport options on