The Interisland ferry offers an excellent service across the Cook Strait (journey time around 3 hrs.) which links New Zealand north and south island.On the day we travelled the weather was sunny,sea calm and the views amazing.The best part of the crossing for me was as we travelled through the Queen Charlotte Sound before arriving in Picton.
As we had booked our hire car through www.apexrentals.co.nz they arranged our ferry tickets for us well in advance.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
car rental in New Zealand is a very reasonable price, the competition are huge in this land so shop around before you decide one... it's very easy to get around with a car as the distance sometimes is so far. and some places or the sightseeing are only can be reach by wheelRelated to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Bungy Jumping
- Family Travel
Rental Car insurance
Please be aware even if you take out your own travel insurance before renting a car, it is more than likely you will still be required to take a insurance option from the rental car company. This may be their lowest form of insurance with no extra cost BUT will require a BOND as security in case of damage. Your insurance policy means nothing to them, it is nothing to do with them so dont stand there telling them you have full insurance as it is you that will be claiming from the travel insurance if theres an accident, not them! You may need to have a couple of thousand dollars on a credit card as a bond otherwise will have to take out insurance with them in order to take the car. Research this before you arrive so you are prepared and dont cause a scene with the poor person who is just doing their job! Where possible just take out the rental car company insurance as it is so much easier than getting all the necessary information when you are back home that your travel insurer requests, and finding out $2000 later that they dont actually cover your claim.
It is best to book directly with the company too, 3rd party agents are sometimes not accurate, take commission, get you to buy their own insurance (see above same procedure as if you had travel insurance- need to front up with a bond) and are often very messy once you go to pick up the car and realise it is not what you thought it would be. Any mistakes are quickly fixed if booked direct with the company.
All insurance policies exclude reckless driving, and some do have restrictions on collisions with cars which are not classed as single vehicle accidents (hitting a pole, scraping a fence).
It is up to you as the hirer to just read the terms and conditions, the fineprint, the insurance policy so you know what you're up against if an accident did occur, can not stress that enough! If you are travelling, get organised - get a credit card even if its just for your trip to avoid arguments and tears at hotels, rental car desks where this is mandatory. Please understand they are not going to take off with it it is just needed for security purposes, you are taking item of value and they dont know you from a bar of soap, there needs to be something on file to charge if you dont return it on time, dont return it full of petrol or leave it stinking of ciggarette smoke. See it from their point of view, travellers can be quite selfish at times!
Hope this helps, enjoy your trip, take only photos leave only footprints...Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
The ferry crossing of the Cook Strait between the North and South Islands takes about 4 hours and once out of Queen Charlotte Sound can be a bit rough.
I recommend spending a bit more on your ticket and travelling with the Premium pass offered by the InterIslander ferries. It entitles you to a comfortable lounge on the top cabin deck, coffee, tea and snacks, a buffet meal including all drinks, friendly wait staff and free internet.
Definitely worth $45NZRelated to:
- Road Trip
- Sailing and Boating
Hiring a car
When choosing a car for your trip around New Zealand you need to consider more than the cheapest offer. If you plan to really drive around NZ - not just in one area or in the towns - you need a bit of power.
There are plenty of overtaking lanes in NZ but they are mostly at the start of a hill so you need a car witha bit of power to get past that truck/caravan and let someone else get past as well. It is tempting to go with the 4 cylinder 1500 engine but beware - there is not enough guts/power.
From experience I suggest still a 4 cylinder (economic with fuel) but choose a larger engine - 1800 or 2 litre. Just for that little bit more power and safety when overtaking and going up hills.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Plenty of small towns in NZ have airports and flights going to them, and often the airplane is quite small.
Air New Zealand link has a lot of services to the provinces, and Jetstar does some routes, generally between the major centres.
Regional services can end up being quite expensive, although fares between Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are often quite reasonable, particularly in the case of advance booking.
Affordable Motorhomes NZ
YES! I have used them twice and had a very good experience both times. I used their smaller campervan (bed in middle) once for 3 weeks in Nov. 2003, and for 1 month in Nov. 2007. They are family run and local to Christchurch (if i remember right). The 2nd time we picked up in Auckland and returned in Christchurch, they arranged the ferry ticket for us. The 1st time we rented RT from Christchurch and were able to return at the airport or they would arrange transport.
We never had any trouble with the van (we had the same van both times) great size, everything worked, it was clean. just make sure you have them show you how everything works!
I highly recommend them, I would definetly rent from them again next time I go to NZ, which I hope will be soon!
Have a great time!!Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Three Very Scenic Train Trips
Update 25 April 2012
There have been changes to the schedule of the Overlander which will run only three times a week from June 2012 and stop only at fivee instead of sixteen stations (Auckland, Hamilton, Ohakune, National Park, Wellington). According to KiwiRail the changes are due to dwindling passenger numbers.
In the meantime the TranzCoastal has been renamed into Coastal Pacific... (One of my pet hates: renaming wel-established brands...) In winter it runs at a reduced timetable.
Auckland and Wellington have some suburban railway services, and we have some "fun" trains (see separate tip), but the NZ way to travel is definitely not by train.
There are only three major railway lines that are still in use, and mostly for domestic and international tourist purposes. The Overlander does not operate daily and the Coastal Pacific not daily in winter.
TranzAlpine: Christchurch - Greymouth
The journey through farmland, gorges, river valleys and the Southern Alps is 223.8km long and takes four and half hours. You pass 16 tunnels and five viaducts. The train carries an open air viewing carriage and a buffet carriage. In Greymouth it connects with coach/bus services to Hokitika, Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, Westport and Nelson, and you can hire a car. There are also return day excursions available, this costs (from) NZ$199.
Coastal Pacific: Christchurch - Picton
You can break this journey for whale watching or swimming with the dolphins in Kaikoura. TThe train travels through 22 tunnels and crosses 175 bridges. Like the TranzAlpine it carries an open air viewing and a buffet carriage. It connects with the 8.25am Interislander ferry sailing Wellington to Picton and the 1.15pm Interislander ferry sailing Picton to Wellington. One way fares are $99 and $112 with break in Kaikoura.
From 2012 there is a reduced winter timetable in place because the trip is by far not as popular as the TranzAlpine (11 May to 11 September).
The Overlander: Auckland - Wellington
This train will operate only three days a week year-round from June 2012. As there will be only three stops left between Auckland and Wellingon (see above) travel time will be cut from 12 to 10 hours.
It travels past Tongariro National Park including Mount Ruapehu, on the famous Raurimu Spiral and through spectacular river gorges. Single one-way fare is NZ$ 129 (flexi fare) or NZ$ 99 (Smart Saver, no changes possible).
With the Scenic Rail Pass you have 7 days unlimited travel on all three trains and one Interislander ferry trip to or from Wellington. It costs NZ$ 418. (14-day pass for the same trips NZ$ 528!!!)
The Flexi Pass (NZ$ 307) is for 7 days unlimited travel on the TranzAlpine and TranzCoastal and includes one Interislander trip.
(All prices as April 2012)Related to:
Not Only Air New Zealand for Domestic Flights
(Complete update November 2009, due to several changes)
(Another update December 2010 after an alliance between Air New Zealand and Pacific Blue has been approved by NZ's Transport Minister Steven Joyce)
We do not only have Air New Zealand for domestic flights.
Also Jetstar (which has replaced mother company Qantas mid 2009) and Pacific Blue (since November 2007) provide domestic flights which can be cheaper on a case to case basis.
Unfortunately New Zealand's Transport Minister Steven Joyce has approved an alliance of Air New Zealand and Pacific Blue on trans-Tasman routes - which has led to the exit of Pacific Blue on the domestic market. Pacific Blue which only serviced the major routes between the big centres Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch had had promotions from as cheap as NZ$ 39.
I often fly to Wellington just for the day because the fares are so low. (Do not remind me of the carbon emissions...) I can take the bus to Christchurch Airport for about NZ$ 3, get a return flight to Wellington for about NZ$ 90 or less, and a bus day pass including the airport transfers for NZ$ 12.
Flights from Christchurch to Auckland can be NZ$ 59 to 79.
Now after the approval of the Air NZ/Pacific Blue alliance I have not found a cheaper flight than NZ$ 59 between Christchurch and Wellington. Let's hope that JetStar stays competitive and this now duopoly market.
You always have promo and fully flexible fares which, of course, cost a lot more.
Always check both airlines if you plan air transportation - and also add hidden costs, like credit card fee with Jetstar, cost for checked luggage, etc.:
You can check Air New Zealand specials (Grab a Seat) on:
(There is also a link on the Air NZ website.)
You can be lucky and get a ticket for NZ$ 1 (yes, really: ONE dollar) but if you want special dates you might miss out. I made a test run for a flight from Christchurch to Wellington one month ahead. Although advertising 120 seats available from $ 37 the cheapest flight would have cost $ 79 and for the way back $ 94. (The word "from" is the trick...)
Christchurch - Auckland would cost $ 119.
The earlier you book the bigger the chance to get a low price.
Another thing that is important to me is to get on a direct flight from Christchurch to Auckland (which lasts 1:20 h) and not waste time via Wellington. Or even not land there when the airport is closed for its infamous fog LOL
News article (NZPA, published on the TV3 website) from 21 December 2010) about the alliance between Air NZ and Pacific Blue:
Transport Minister Steven Joyce has approved an air alliance between Air New Zealand and the Virgin Blue group to operate integrated services on trans-Tasman routes.
The approval from this country, in addition to the recent authorisation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, means Air New Zealand and Virgin Blue will be able to work together on the services and fares they offer on trans-Tasman services.
"More sustainable competition, cost savings and the commitment both airlines have made to maintain trans-Tasman passenger numbers will be major benefits of the alliance," Mr Joyce said today.
"Travellers will benefit from a wider range of travel options and improved range of departure times, and the continuation of competitive fares."
Air New Zealand and Virgin Blue, which operated as Pacific Blue in Australasia, had agreed minimum seat numbers that they would operate across the Tasman, while increasing capacity on some routes.
The alliance authorisation period of three years would place a strong incentive on the two airlines to operate in a competitive manner, Mr Joyce said.
"How Air New Zealand and Virgin Blue implement the alliance, as well as the state of the market, will be taken into account in deciding whether further authorisation is given."
Both airlines would report to the Ministry of Transport on compliance provisions twice a year.
The Minister of Transport retained the ability to revoke authorisation should the airlines fail to comply with terms of the alliance agreement.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Car or Campervan/Motorhome?
This question comes up permanently, and it can only be answered by those who finally travel. In a motorhome you have to be comfortable in a small space in wind and rain, hail and sunshine, and not mind sitting on each other's lap all the time, the small space etc. Driving is a little bit more stressful than a normal car, and it is not really recommended to travel on unsealed roads with them, and in some mountain areas I would certainly not use them. However, you are flexible.
BUT: In October you are also flexible in a car because this is before the start of the season, and booking ahead is not necessary. If you know where you will be the next day you can call the evening in advance, so you would not need to search for accommodation and so get more travelling and sightseeing and relaxing out of each day. There are plenty of free accommodation guides available at the airports already (AA, Jasons), so this is completely straight forward.
What I absolutely would not do is travelling with those hotel vouchers because I would not stay in hotels. I prefer motels because they are (apart from some exceptions like the Bellavista chain) much more spacious, and prepare your breakfast yourself - which saves a lot of money - or even cook sometimes. If you want more contact with locals stay in B&B's - however, they are often hugely overpriced.
Whatever you decide, getting supplies is no issue. There are big supermarkets in the cities where you can stock up if you travel by motorhome, and small supermarkets in smaller places, and dairies, and you also get food and drink etc. at all petrol stations. Restaurants are everywhere.
Another thing is that a motorhome uses a lot more petrol than a car, and petrol is getting more and more expensive. A litre costs NZ$ 1.60 at the moment (Jan. 2009). And the rent is higher. In October you can get a car from $ 29 per day. So the car/motel or hotel option is not more costly than travelling by motorhome.
You will spend the smallest part of your time in towns where it is not so convenient to navigate around in a motorhome, so this should not deter you to travel in one if you really like it. There is good public transport in all major cities, so you will get to the centres easily. A compact campervan would be a good alternative.
I recommend to read the smallprint of any rental company. Once, for example, we intended to rent a Jucy car in Auckland but when we checked the final rate and additional costs we ended up renting with Ace Cars, like always up there ;-) Jucy has extra charges for many things, like off hours drop off, airport drop off, or whatever. You never pay the price that is indicated in the advertisements. (This is not against Jucy as other companies have similar policies, it is just an example. About NZ Car Rental, for example, charges $ 30 if you return the car after 6pm.)
Also consider to upgrade insurance which comes at an extra cost. Or you could end up paying a high excess. A friend of mine had an accident with a rental car and no insurance to cover the excess and ended up paying $ 1500 for the repair. So check out all this when you compare the companies.
The best thing, however, is, particularly if you come from abroad, to get a full travel insurance which usually includes excess cover. You get it in your home country but also with insurance companies in New Zealand, for example with Southern Cross (www.southerncross.co.nz).
- Road Trip
Discover New Zealand with a campervan
For a big family of seven, the best to discover New Zealand during 20 days is to rent a campervan; this was valid in 1996, and is still valid!
The campervan we rented was spacious, comfortable, easy to drive, despite its size and the fact that we were not used to drive on the left side of the road. The rental companies may recommend not to drive on non-sealed roads, but I had no problem crossing the Southern Alps on an earth road.
The campervan has the big advantage that you can stop almost everywhere you want, when you want in New Zealand, provided you behave in a clean manner; there are lots of caravan parks near the main roads, equipped with water, barbecue, toilets, etc., so no problems with small kids.
Sleeping at the feet of Mt Cook, enjoying the morning light on the shore of a lake, waking up in Milford Sound, driving up to the volcanoes of Tongariro Park, parking near Franz Joseph glacier, all this and more is accessible with small kids travelling in a campervan, and what an adventure for them!
There are tens of rental companies in New Zealand, and they offer great service. We rented a vehicle from a Maui subsidiary, but if you google, you will finds tens and there are lots of offers; if you go off season you may find good deals.
It was possible to rent a vehicle in Christchurch on arrival and leave it in Auckland, on departure; many bigger rental companies had this facility without surcharge.
- Road Trip
regarding sleeping in campervans in winter, I used Adventure campervans which were diesel and excellent, after about 4pm I drove with heater n high to warm up van, we slept with thermal long sleeve top under our flannelet PJ's , socks and beanie with 2 doonas on top of each other, (my daughter and I trasvelled together and slept on queen bed together to share bedding. we wer never cold at night , we used the LPG heater to warm up van in morning to get dressed. we did lots of free camping as well as stayingf in van parks, to go to toilet block just throw your parka on.
Ace Car Rentals
We had no complaints with this agency . I booked the car before I left Canada and everything went fine . I picked this company because they allowed you to drop the car off on the North island side of the ferry and pick another up on the other side. Not all companies do and it saves money on the ferry.They are cheaper than the big name agencies.
The only thing though is the cars aren't new. they were in good working order though. I would recommend booking in advance . They sell out and it wasn't even high season.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Air New Zealand
Overall our trip was OK and that's what you want with a plane trip . The service was OK ( not outstanding ) but OK. Some flight attendants seemed friendly but at least half seemed bored and tired .We picked Air NZ because they had a good package which allowed for a stop in the South Pacific , going and coming and were priced quite well .
The only few complaints I have are
The meals - I had ordered low fat and that was a mistake .It was really botched up . For breakfast going , I got two containers of fruit and a juce . No cereal , or roll of any kind. I was starved . I asked for a roll or something and was told they had none. On the way back I was given a very over done fish dinner with carrots and peas for breakfast. I don't recommend asking for a special meal . I don't know why they offer it on their web site.
The air freshener- The second problem is they use a very strong air disinfectant. They but it in the ventalation system . I am very alergic to perfumes and strong air freshener. It took several days to get over the effects . I noticed many passengers having the same reaction that I did.Related to:
- Women's Travel
- Family Travel
This service is available in the South Island and it basically covers the highlights of the South Island. The price is reasonable. The schedule is regular and the bus drivers are very friendly and knowledgeble. The bus usually drops by certain hostels and the booking is very convenient. Personally I like the service.Related to:
- Road Trip
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