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 national bus tours to hop-on-hop-off bus tours to cheap city-to-city buses. Find more information about travelling New Zealand by bus in the links below.
Location: Golden Bay, South IslandNew Zealand’s longest sandspit 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.Find out more about exploring around Farewell Spit with our7 Best Walks at Farewell Spitand10 Amazing Things to Do in Golden Bay.
Ninety Mile Beach
Location: Northland, North IslandAnother sandy destination in New Zealand, Nighty 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, however, that you can access Ninety Mile Beach and sand board down its sand dunes is by bus! Bus tour companies like Great Sights and Dune Rider offer bus tours from the Bay of Islands to the Far North including a stop to Cape Reinga and down Ninety Mile Beach.Find out more about this area in10 Must-Dos in the Bay of Islands.
Location: Queenstown, South IslandWhat 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, Queenstown Rafting and the Canyon Swing.Find out more about this area in10 Queenstown Must-Dos.
Location: Queenstown, South IslandWhile 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 and Nevis Swing.Located up a private road that, let’s be honest, is too gnarly for private cars anyway, the Nevis Bungy and Swing can only be accessed by a shuttle bus operated by the activity provider.
Location: Coromandel, North IslandFinally, another area of New Zealand that many car rental companies forbid renters to go is on 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 outCoromandel Guide for Backpackers.
Routes 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
- Arthurs Pass National Park – TranzAlpine
- North Island Train Route (Auckland to Wellington) – Northern Explorer
For more information about taking the train in New Zealand, see Train Network in New Zealand.