Public Transport Within Cities: How to Catch a City Bus in New Zealand©
Public Transport Within Cities: How to Catch a City Bus in New Zealand

Public Transport Within Cities: How to Catch a City Bus in New Zealand

Article Single Pages©
Article Single Pages©
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What You Need to Know About Public Transport and New Zealand City Buses

For budget-conscious or environment-conscious travellers making their way around New Zealand, making use of New Zealand’s bus routes are a great way to get around. After reading our Travel by Bus in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide and seeing the ways of getting around New Zealand by bus, you’ll want to know how to get around New Zealand’s cities by bus. New Zealand’s cities and largest towns have public transport in the form of bus services to help you get around the city centre and suburbs. Find out how to catch a city bus in New Zealand, as well as how to pay for a city bus, in this New Zealand public transport guide!

Frequently Asked Questions About Public Transport in New Zealand

Before we dive into our guide to the city buses in New Zealand, here are some of the most frequently asked questions about public transport in New Zealand on the internet!

Does New Zealand Have Good Public Transport?

New Zealand has a good public transport system when it comes to buses and ferries. However, the country’s train network is extremely limited, while there is only one national coach company among tens of “tour companies”. To compare New Zealand’s public transport network, check out our video:

Are Buses and Public Transport Free in New Zealand?

No, public transport is not free in New Zealand. Occasionally, the New Zealand Government will implement half-price fare mandates during times when the cost of living is made unusually high.

How Much Does Public Transport and Buses Cost in New Zealand?

Cash fares for public bus services start from NZ$2.50 to travel a short distance if paying in cash or are a little cheaper with local transport cards.

Public Transport Within Cities: How to Catch a City Bus in New Zealand©

How to Get a City Bus in New Zealand

Catching a city bus in New Zealand is easy. Just remember these three things:

  1. Stand at a designated bus stop, easily identifiable from “Bus Stop” signs
  2. Wave at the bus driver as you see the bus approaching
  3. As you get on the bus, pay by cash or by using the appropriate prepay bus card.

New Zealand City Bus Stops

Bus stops in New Zealand almost always have an up-to-date timetable on display showing the bus numbers that stop at the bus stop, their route and arrival time. Some bus stops may have just a “Bus Stop” sign with no timetable, which is best used if you know which bus you are meant to be taking and at what time it arrives. Bus timetables are available on the city councils’ websites.

Simon_sees on Wikipedia©

Public Buses in Auckland

Auckland has a vast public bus network operating from within the city centre all the way to the far reaches of the outer suburbs. Cash fares start from NZ$4 and you pay per section (zone) you travel through.

Buses can also be paid with an ATHop Card, which makes the fare a percentage of the price, starting from NZ$2.20.

Other public transport in Auckland includes trains, ferries and flights. Find out more in our guide, Public Transport in Auckland, or on the Auckland Transport website.

How to Catch a City Bus in New Zealand©

Public Buses in Wellington

Wellington has a vast bus network operated by various companies connecting the city centre to the outer suburbs. Cash fares start from around NZ$2.50 and increase per zone you travel through.

Prepay cards are also available, with different options depending on which company you use, for instance, Snapper Cards, Mana Coach Services Smartcards, Newlands Coach Services Smartcards and more.

Other transport in Wellington includes trains, ferries and the Wellington Cable Car. Find out more in our guide to Public Transport in Wellington or on the Wellington City Council website.

purdryns on Flickr© purdryns on Flickr

Public Buses in Christchurch

Buses operate in Christchurch to connect the city centre with the outer suburbs, even as far as Rangiora, Burnham and Waikuku Beach. Cash fares start from around NZ$2.40 and increase per zone travelled.

Bus fares can also be paid with a Metrocard which makes fares a fraction of the cash fare price, starting from NZ$1.50 instead.

Other transport includes ferries and airport shuttles. Find out more in our guide, Public Transport in Christchurch, or on the Christchurch Council website.

Nankai on Wikipedia© Nankai on Wikipedia

Public Buses in Dunedin

Public buses are readily available in Dunedin city and its surrounding suburbs. Cash bus fares start from around NZ$3 and increase per distance travelled.

Bus fares can also be paid with a Bee Card, making fares cheaper than cash fares, starting from NZ$2.

Other transport in Dunedin includes airport shuttles. Find out more in our guide to Public Transport in Dunedin or on the Otago Regional Council website.

Pxhere© Pxhere

Other New Zealand Cities with a Bus Service

As you can see, the public bus system in New Zealand cities all work in a very similar way. As an overseas visitor moving from city to city, you may find it makes more financial sense to pay cash fares, rather than preloading a local bus card with credit that you’re not likely to spend the entirety of. So when looking to travel using public buses in New Zealand, these are some of the cities that have a bus service:

More About Public Transport and City Buses in New Zealand

That’s it for our guide to city buses and public transportation in New Zealand. For more about cheap ways to travel around New Zealand, check out the following guides:

Finally, compare all of the ways to travel around New Zealand in What is the Best Way to Get Around New Zealand?


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Robin C.

This article has been reviewed and approved by Robin, who is the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. With more than 15 years of experience in the New Zealand tourism industry, Robin has co-founded three influential tourism businesses and five additional travel guides for South Pacific nations. He is an expert in New Zealand travel and has tested over 600 activities and 300+ accommodations across the country.

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