While on vacation in New Zealand and/or Australia we often get asked if it’s better to self drive or to include transfers to get from A to B. There are certainly advantages for both options. A concern for some people is driving on the opposite side of the road. Visitors from the US, Europe, a lot of South America, China and other right side driving countries may find the left hand side a little daunting at first, but driving in New Zealand and most of Australia you’ll find the roads are relatively quiet and easy to navigate.
Having a driver or guide can take the worry out of this if it’s a major concern for you along with the general ease of not having to drive. However if you enjoy driving you’ll find some excellent drives particularly in the South Island of New Zealand and the South Coast of Australia – think Great Ocean Rd. With a driver/guide there are a few points to keep in mind, did you want just a driver, or a driver guide who will be able to give you commentary along the way about the surrounding area?
For those traveling with limited English – both New Zealand and Australia have a broad range of foreign speaking driver guides, from Russian speaking guides to Spanish, French and Italian. We have a database of professional guides covering almost all languages, or at least we’ve been able fulfill all requests to date!
One big positive of self-drive is the freedom you have to explore at your own pace and on your own timetable. This allows for all those stops you may want to make at different sights and locations. A deciding factor on whether you self drive or use the services of a driver/guide can often be cost. The cost between self-drive and driver guide options vary greatly. Self drive usually varies between hire car types and pick up locations. Hire cars can be a simple vehicle starting at approx NZ$60 per day to a luxury BMW SUV or simliar at approx NZ$450 per day. Smart Cars is one company offering luxurious car hire in New Zealand – a fantastic and comfortable way to see the country at your own pace for those wanting a little indulgence with their independence.
Transfers, drivers and guides also come in a range of luxury. As an example Black, Queenstown offers high-end transfers and guiding in luxury vehicles including Bentley’s and Range Rovers. A full day with a driver/guide can cost upwards of NZ$1,000 – NZ$1,750+ depending on what was included and how far you want to travel. We use quite a few different operators throughout both countries so dependent on your requirements we’ll have a solution for you. Luxury Adventures now also offers transfers and private tours in a 2011 Land Rover Defender 110. This vehicle is ideally suited to those people who know a little about the vehicle and its iconic history and is not everyones cup of tea, but we feel its quite suited to New Zealands rugged lanscape and of course the Luxury Adventures ethos.
Another money no object option to consider is helicopter transfers. This is probably the ultimate way to travel in New Zealand and parts of Australia (distances in Australia are far greater and helicopters are often not practical), but does come with some caveats. Weather is the most obvious ‘spanner in the works’ with helicopter transfers, think no see no fly as a rule of thumb so ideally you should have a driver/guide as a back up if you are considering transferring to multiple destinations via helicopter. Luggage and weight restrictions also come into play depending on how many people are traveling and the type of machine utilised. Also where to land is important and fortunately a large number of properties we utilise either have a heli pad on site or near by. We’ve taken all of these aspects and many more into consideration when planning our New Zealand helicopter vacation to give you an idea. Beyond helicopter transfers there are private jets. They are usually suitable for longer distances and again there are a lot of factors to consider here and I will detail these in another article.
There are certainly plenty of options when it comes to getting around New Zealand and Australia; it all depends on what suits your personal needs and taste and budget.