The Best Transport Methods for a Working Holiday in New Zealand© THL
The Best Transport Methods for a Working Holiday in New Zealand

Transport for a Working Holiday in New Zealand: How to Get Around


How to Travel Around New Zealand with a Working Holiday Visa

Sure, there’s a lot of information out there about short-term travel around New Zealand, but what about if you’re on a working holiday? What are the best transport options for a working holiday in New Zealand? You want to find the right balance of having long-term transport, affordability and being able to get between New Zealand’s tourist attractions and your Kiwi workplace. We take all of this into consideration and more in this guide to the best ways to travel around New Zealand with a Working Holiday Visa.

By the way, have you seen The New Zealand Working Holiday Visa: Everything You Need to Know? It’s kind of the bible to all things “working holiday” so check it out!

5 Best Transport for a Working Holiday in New Zealand

Head down to the guide below for an overview of the best transport methods for a working holiday in New Zealand. Otherwise, check out the links below to head straight to our complete guides for each transport method:

  1. Car
  2. Campervan
  3. National coach
  4. Hop-on hop-off bus tour
  5. Hitchhiking.

Before we run through the pros and cons of each way of getting around New Zealand when on a gap year or working holiday, check out this cheeky video of working holiday tips:

The Best Transport Methods for a Working Holiday in New Zealand©

Buy Your Own Car

For the ultimate convenience of getting to work and exploring the country, buying your own car is a popular transport choice for a working holiday. Due to being able to stay in New Zealand for up to a year on a working holiday (in most cases), buying your own vehicle makes much more financial sense than renting a car. You can make some money back at the end of your working holiday by reselling your car.

The Pros of Buying a Car

  • Freedom – Go where you want when you want!
  • Convenience – Going to the supermarket is no longer a mission as it would be if you had to rely on public transport or walking, for example.
  • Social catalyst – Offer rides in your hostel or on Facebook Groups and you’ll have friends in no time.

The Cons of Buying a Car

For more advice on buying your own car, head to Travel By Car in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide.

The Best Transport Methods for a Working Holiday in New Zealand© Pxhere

Buy Your Own Campervan

Consider buying your own campervan much like buying your own car but your accommodation is within your vehicle. Not only do you have cost-effective transport by selling your vehicle at the end of your trip, but you could save a lot of money on accommodation, as campsites are much cheaper than hostels or renting a room in a houseshare. You could even park up for free in some regions but bear in mind that freedom camping rules are strict in New Zealand.

The Pros of Buying a Campervan

  • Freedom – Like having a car, a campervan means you can go where you want when you want.
  • Convenience – On top of simple trips to the supermarket being much easier than using public transport, there’s no need to unpack and repack your luggage for moving accommodation.
  • Spend less on accommodation – Staying in campsites or even freedom camping (if you have a self-contained campervan) are some of the cheapest accommodation types in New Zealand.

The Cons of Buying a Campervan

  • Buying and selling – Like buying a car, this can be time-consuming. Check out our tips in the 10 Tips for Buying a Secondhand Car in New Zealand and How to Sell Your Car in New Zealand which apply to campervans.
  • The possibility of breaking down – It can be expensive to fix not only the vehicle mechanics but also living appliances.
  • Cost of maintenance – If things go wrong, as they often do with secondhand campervans, you’ll have to pay to fix them. Find out how to maintain your vehicle here.
  • More responsibility – You need to be aware of the New Zealand road rules, parking and driving responsibly.
  • Working out the logistics of freedom camping – Laws on freedom camping in New Zealand are different between regions so figuring out where you can camp for free legally can be a logistical nightmare. Check out What it’s Really Like to Freedom Camp in New Zealand for more advice.
  • Driving a campervan can be challenging – Campervans are harder to drive than cars and can be tiring to drive on long trips.

Get more information about this transport method for a working holiday in Travel by Campervan in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide.

The Best Transport Methods for a Working Holiday in New Zealand©

Travel on the National Coach Service

We’re not going to lie; the national coach services are the cheapest way to travel around New Zealand. This can also be advantageous for working holidaymakers who can’t drive or are worried about driving in a foreign country. There is one national coach service, InterCity, which has more than 600 stops around the country. Combined with some of the town and city public bus services, you can get to most places that working holidaymakers work and visit.

The Pros of Using the National Coach

  • Cheap – It is the cheapest way to travel around New Zealand.
  • Relaxing – With no responsibilities associated with driving yourself, you can just sit back and enjoy the New Zealand scenery.
  • Gets you to most towns and cities in New Zealand.

The Cons of Using the National Coach

  • You can’t get everywhere – While the coach will get you to the centre of most towns, getting to out-of-town attractions is very difficult. FYI, many of the attractions in New Zealand are.
  • Stringent schedules – You can only take your coach at a certain time and place with most locations having only one departure a day.
  • No photo stops or roadside activities – Unlike driving yourself or taking a bus tour, the InterCity buses don’t stop for tourist activities – only for refreshments and bathroom breaks.

Learn more about the different types of InterCity bus passes here, as well as what it’s like to travel by bus in How to Travel by Bus in New Zealand: FULL Guide.

The Best Transport Methods for a Working Holiday in New Zealand© THL

Use a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

Get the experience of a guided New Zealand bus tour with like-minded travellers while having the flexibility of “hopping off” anywhere along a set route by taking a hop-on hop-off bus tour. What makes New Zealand’s hop-on hop-off buses, like Kiwi Experience, Stray and Flying Kiwi, ideal for a working holiday is that their bus passes are valid for the entire year.

The Pros of Hop-On Hop-Off Buses

  • You don’t have to plan an itinerary – Bus tours follow set routes to set destinations, so you don’t need to worry about “where to go”.
  • You can travel independently if you want to – With the option to hop off the bus, you can enjoy more independent travelling.
  • Transport to your accommodation – The buses stop at selected hostels instead of bus stops.
  • Pit stops to photo stops and attractions.
  • Meet like-minded travellers on the bus.

The Cons of Hop-On Hop-Off Buses

  • More expensive than taking the national coach.
  • Not as many destinations – Bus tours don’t have as many destinations as the InterCity bus nor the flexibility to visit wherever as you would in your own vehicle.
  • Hop-on hop-off only works well in the quieter seasons – Hopping on and off the bus during the summer season can be a logistical nightmare when buses are often fully booked and you have to wait for the next available bus.

Get started on seeing if hop-on hop-off bus tours are right for you in Hop-On Hop-Off Buses in New Zealand: Complete Guide + How Do They Work.

The Best Transport Methods for a Working Holiday in New Zealand©


Finally, a way to travel around New Zealand on a working holiday visa is hitchhiking – seriously! Hitchhiking in New Zealand is legal and some working holidaymakers choose to travel this way to save money, meet interesting people and experience a sense of adventure. Of course, this way of getting around New Zealand isn’t risk-free, so be sure to follow our advice in our guide to Hitchhiking in New Zealand.

The Pros of Hitchhiking

  • It’s free!
  • Meet some interesting people.
  • Sense of adventure.

The Cons of Hitchhiking

  • Risk – There’s an element of risk in hitchhiking as you never know who you are getting in a car with.
  • Time-consuming – You could be waiting a while for a lift and you may need to find several lifts to get to your destination.
  • Hard to plan – Not knowing when you’re getting a lift can make it hard to plan anything for when you arrive at your destination, forcing you to “go with the flow”.

Again, make sure you check out Hitchhiking in New Zealand for tips and advice. You can also use “carpooling” as an alternative, as explained in A Guide to Car Sharing in New Zealand.

More About Transport and Getting Around New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa

That’s it for our guide on transport for a working holiday in New Zealand but it is by no means the end of our advice! Check out these for more handy tips:

Finally, to consider ALL of your transport options, head to What is the Best Way to Get Around New Zealand?


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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