The Many Ways to Get Around New Zealand
by Ruth Atherley
People in New Zealand, like those in the UK and Australia, drive on the “other side of the road” from what we do in Canada. This sometimes makes Canadian visitors to New Zealand a little apprehensive about getting behind the wheel. In fact, it is a pretty easy shift to make. First off, there are only about 4.5 million people in the entire country, so once you are outside of Auckland (population of 1.4 million), there aren’t many vehicles on the roads. Even if you rented a standard, the pedals are in the same place as they are in Canada. An easy way to remember which side to drive on is to keep the line in the middle of the road on the driver’s side – just like you would at home. But for those who choose not to self-drive, there are many ways to get around the country.
For the backpacker crowd, the Kiwi Experience – New Zealand’s leading hop-on, hop-off bus – offers loads of fun and social interaction. With over 25 years of experience, the company’s iconic green buses can be seen all over the North and South Islands, picking up and dropping off travellers at the country’s most popular destinations and hidden gems. The bus drivers are passionate and knowledgeable about New Zealand and their commentary informs and entertains. With a range of packages to choose from, sitting back and letting someone else take the wheel couldn’t be easier, more affordable or as much fun.
Visitors looking to stretch out and relax will love taking the train. KiwiRail Scenic Journeys is the way to travel in comfort and style. It offers wide panoramic side and roof windows, an on-board licensed café with hot meals and local beer and wine, along with many other amenities. Since the country is only 268,021 square kilometres in total (Alberta is 661,848 square kilometres), the distance between breathtaking regions isn’t far at all.
For the sightseer who wants to get around on their own two feet, New Zealand is home to several great walkable cities. The safe and welcoming environments of the downtown cores of Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown offer top attractions, accommodations, restaurants, nightlife and more – all within easy walking distance. The cities also offer convenient and simple-to-navigate public transportation, and there are plenty of taxis if your feet need a rest.
Many New Zealand tour operators are happy to pick guests up at their accommodation. From hiking and cycling to food and wine, from nature walks to Hobbit-related tours, and from city tours to kayaking excursions, operators will often transfer visitors back and forth between the activity and their lodge, hotel, B&B or hostel.
Air New Zealand (www.airnewzealand.ca) has direct non-stop flights from Vancouver to Auckland and offers flights from many other North American cities. For more information about New Zealand, please visit: www.NewZealand.com.
Kiwi Experience – www.kiwiexperience.com
KiwiRail Scenic Journeys -www.kiwirailscenic.co.nz
Auckland – www.aucklandnz.com
Wellington – www.wellingtonnz.com
Queenstown – www.queenstownnz.co.nz