Buses are the main form of public transport in New Zealand, with some areas also offering trains, ferries and trams.
Buses are the cheapest and most common form of public transport available for travelling between towns and cities. InterCity(opens in new window) and Skip(opens in new window) are the two main providers of this service, and fares start from around NZ$10.
Although not public transport, hop-on-hop-off buses are also a popular way to get around New Zealand, especially among backpackers. Choose your pass and make up your itinerary as you go along.
Trains are not a common form of public transport in New Zealand; however, there are three main train lines operated by KiwiRail: Auckland to Wellington (Northern Explorer(opens in new window)), Picton to Christchurch (Coastal Pacific(opens in new window)), and Christchurch to the West Coast (the TranzAlpine(opens in new window) - considered one fo the most scenic rail journeys in the world). Train tickets start from around NZ$49 per person.
Read more about public transport within Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown.
Ferries are popular for travel between the North and South Islands. The two major providers are InterIslander and Bluebridge, and fares start at NZ$55 for foot passengers. Taking the ferry means you’ll experience the beautiful Marlborough Sounds on your way into or out of Picton.
Ferry travel is also available between the mainland and New Zealand’s offshore islands, including Waiheke, Rangitoto and Great Barrier(opens in new window) near Auckland city, and Stewart Island just below the South Island. In some coastal areas, ferries connect towns which are closer via water than via road – including Russell and Paihia in the Bay of Islands.
Water taxis are smaller vessels which offer a scheduled service visiting the small ports which ferries can’t reach – handy for reaching out of the way hiking and mountain biking spots in places like Queen Charlotte Sounds and Abel Tasman National Park.