Travel New Zealand Without a Car + Where are the Places You Can Only Get to by Bus?
Travelling New Zealand by bus is an amazing way to see the country. Not only is it a great way to meet fellow travellers or locals, but you can concentrate more on the terrific scenery instead of driving. What’s more, there are some places in New Zealand only accessible by bus. We’ll go through them right here in this guide to travelling to New Zealand without a car!
Video: How Much Can You Travel New Zealand Without a Car?
Just to see how much you can travel New Zealand without a car, check out this video where we compare the bus and train networks in New Zealand:
Can You Travel New Zealand Without a Car?
Absolutely! New Zealand is very well connected by roads, and in turn, by buses. What’s more, you have a wide range of buses to choose from, from all-inclusive bus tours to hop-on-hop-off bus tours to cheap city-to-city coach buses. Find more information about travelling New Zealand by bus in the links below:
- 5 Different Bus Networks in New Zealand (Inc. Bus Companies)
- The 15 Best Bus Tours in New Zealand
- Hop-On Hop-Off Buses in New Zealand: Complete Guide + How Do They Work
- InterCity Bus Passes: Which is the Best Bus Pass for New Zealand?
And for all things “bus” in New Zealand, don’t forget to bookmark Travel by Bus in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide!
5 Places in New Zealand Only Accessible by Bus
1. Farewell Spit
Location: Golden Bay, South Island
New Zealand’s longest sand spit, Farewell Spit, is an ecologically diverse area and a spectacular place to visit on your travels in New Zealand. However, by being on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, Farewell Spit has a higher protection status than a national park, so even walking onto the spit is prohibited up to a certain point. However, there is one way to access the length of Farewell Spit’s sandy shores: by bus.
Only one company operates bus tours onto the spit, which began tours as part of delivering mail to the lighthouse there since 1946. Farewell Spit Eco Tours offers bus tours along the spit seeing a wealth of wildlife, the isolated Farewell Spit Lighthouse and the ever-changing sand dunes. It’s a unique tour in that it’s a location in New Zealand that is only accessible by bus.
Plus, watch the video of the NZ Pocket Guide team visiting this natural attraction:
2. Ninety Mile Beach
Location: Northland, North Island
Another sandy destination in New Zealand, Ninety Mile Beach is renowned for its magnificent stretch of sand that can actually count as a highway in New Zealand. While Ninety Mile Beach can be driven on in your own car, almost all the car rental companies in New Zealand forbid renters to drive along this stretch of beach. Plus, even in your own car, we wouldn’t recommend it.
One way you can access Ninety Mile Beach and sandboard down its sand dunes is by bus! Bus tour companies like Fullers GreatSights (more info on Klook and KKday) offer bus tours from the Bay of Islands to the Far North including a stop at Cape Reinga and down Ninety Mile Beach.
Find out more about this area in the 15 Must-Dos in the Bay of Islands.
3. Skippers Road
Location: Queenstown, South Island
What was once ranked as one of the world’s most dangerous roads is now only recommended to travel via bus or a 4WD tour. Skippers Road on the outskirts of Queenstown is a road leading to the Skippers Canyon, a picturesque area and base for white water rafting, jet boat tours and a giant canyon swing. However, this is another road in New Zealand that car rental companies list as a “no-go” on their car rental agreements.
If you want to experience this gnarly road and the adrenaline activities at the other end for yourself, you will need to use the bus shuttle services provided by the activities, such as Skippers Canyon Jet (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), Challenge Rafting (on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook and KKday) and the Canyon Swing (on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook and KKday).
Find out more about this area in the 45 Best Things to Do in Queenstown. And see an example of driving the gnarly Skippers Road with NZ Pocket Guide team on YouTube:
4. Nevis Road
Location: Queenstown, South Island
While many people watch the bungy jumpers take the leap at the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, spectators and jumpers will have to take a bus to have the same privilege of the Nevis Bungy, Swing and Catapult.
Located up a private road that, let’s be honest, is too gnarly for private cars anyway, the Nevis Bungy, Swing and Catapult can only be accessed by a shuttle bus operated by the activity provider.
See how the bungy compares in the 7 Best Places to Bungy Jump in New Zealand.
5. North Coromandel
Location: Coromandel, North Island
Finally, another area of New Zealand that many car rental companies forbid renters to go to is the winding and narrow gravel roads of the Northern Coromandel.
A scenic journey awaits when you get off the beaten track to the northern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula. However, north of Colville, the road needs to be taken with extreme care, so it’s best to take a bus tour with companies like Coromandel Adventures. That way, you’ll be able to see the stunning and secluded beaches and hiking trails of the Coromandel that not as many people get to see.
For more information, check out The Complete Guide to the Coromandel. And once again, watch the NZ Pocket Guide team visit the Northern Coromandel with Coromandel Adventures:
Places Only Accessible by Train
Yes, there are even some routes in New Zealand only accessible by train. While some routes do run for a short time alongside the roads, the majority of the trip is along a railway line in its own slice of wilderness. Here are a few examples:
- Taieri Gorge – Dunedin Railways
- Arthur’s Pass National Park – TranzAlpine (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook)
- North Island Train Route (Auckland to Wellington) – Northern Explorer (on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook).
For more information about taking the train in New Zealand, see our complete guide to the Train Network in New Zealand.
More About Travelling New Zealand Without a Car
That’s it for our guide on how to travel New Zealand without a car plus all the places you can only access by bus! For more tips on visiting New Zealand without a car, check out the following guides:
- How to Travel by Bus in New Zealand
- Public Transport Within Cities: How to Catch a City Bus in New Zealand
- 10 Reasons to Travel by Bus or Coach in New Zealand
For more tips for getting around New Zealand, see the 10 Best Ways to Travel Around New Zealand.