What You Need to Know About Booking Transport in New Zealand© westcoast.co.nz
What You Need to Know About Booking Transport in New Zealand

Booking Transport in New Zealand: What You Need to Know

© westcoast.co.nz
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
NZ Pocket Guide is 10 years old. Thank you for trusting us with your trip for over a decade!

How to Book Transport in New Zealand

Getting around New Zealand is a core part of your travel planning for an awesome trip to New Zealand. But how do you book transport in New Zealand and how do you get the best deals? We’ll go through it all in this guide to booking transport in New Zealand!

Bus, car, campervan or flights are popular ways of getting around New Zealand, but with travel agents, websites and the companies themselves offering great deals, how can you find the best ones? There are a few tricks online that you can use to get better deals, but those who are seeking face-to-face advice and full itinerary planning may want to consider a travel agent. We’ll also go through the benefits and disadvantages of each booking method below.

So start planning the trip of a lifetime with this guide on booking transport in New Zealand!

3 Ways to Book Transport in New Zealand

There are three ways to book transport in New Zealand: booking directly with the company, with an online travel agent, or with a travel agent. Here is a quick list of what we like and dislike about these booking methods for booking transport in New Zealand.

  1. Booking direct is great for those who want to be in charge of their own travel planning. Prices are usually cheaper if you book direct to avoid extra commission costs a travel agent would get. If you find cheaper elsewhere, the company would usually match the price. What’s more, booking directly with a transport company tends to make it easier to deal with if plans change or if you have to cancel your booking.
  2. Online Travel Agents (OTAs) are basically online platforms that allow you to book transportation that is not directly on the transport company’s website. Use this as a tool to compare prices and offerings. If you want to book online, however, then book on the transport company’s website. Try making your booking from a proxy website with your location set to New Zealand for cheaper prices. (Some transport companies in New Zealand have been known to advertise higher prices to people browsing their website from overseas).
  3. Travel agents are people/companies who usually book a whole package for you, including activities and flights. This can be handy if you don’t want to organise your itinerary yourself or you are a newbie to travelling and want to get some advice. Travel agents are known for being a little pricier, due to the motivation of making a high commission, but bear in mind that you are also paying for their service too.

For a complete guide and the pros and cons of each booking method, check out Travel 101: Booking Direct Vs. Online Travel Agents Vs. Travel Agents.

Booking Transport in New Zealand: What You Need to Know© NZPocketGuide.com

The Best Way to Book Buses in New Zealand

Buses are a great way to get around New Zealand cheaply. In New Zealand, there are three types of buses that travellers use to explore the country: national coaches, hop-on hop-off buses and tour buses.

How to Book a Coach in New Zealand

Booking a coach like InterCity is as easy as booking directly on their websites or with most travel agents around New Zealand. Even the receptionist in your hotel or hostel should be able to book a bus for you. The earlier in advance you book coaches in New Zealand, the cheaper the price will be.

As well as single fares between A and B, the national coaches in New Zealand also offer passes. If you are planning to use the coach a lot, then getting a pass may cost you less than buying single fares. Check out What’s the Difference Between InterCity Bus Passes? for an idea of passes and prices.

You can also travel by night, find out more in 10 Things We Love About the Sleeper Buses.

How to Book a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

Many travellers use hop-on hop-off buses as a means of travelling around most of the country while getting a social experience with like-minded people. Because most people book hop-on hop-off buses at the beginning of their time in New Zealand, you will find many travel agents and hostels selling hop-on-hop-off bus passes in New Zealand’s arrival cities (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown). You can even walk into their Auckland Central offices and book direct or book directly on their websites or give them a call.

If you are going to book directly online before arriving in New Zealand, we recommend using a proxy website and changing your location to New Zealand to see the same deals that the bus companies advertise over here. (Prices have been known to be different between countries).

For more tips on how to save money on your bus booking, check out the 5 Tips to Save Money on a Bus Tour in New Zealand.

How to Book a Fully-Guided Bus Tour for New Zealand

There are many great companies in New Zealand offering awesome national tours around New Zealand. It’s likely that you will want to book your tour before you arrive in New Zealand, so you can use a mix of OTAs (a great one is Tourradar) and do some research on bus tour company websites to compare prices. (Again, use the proxy website trick mentioned above). Many travel agents both in New Zealand and overseas have likely been on famils (free trips) with these companies who can tell you more about them.

Booking Transport in New Zealand: What You Need to Know© Backyard Roadies

Featured Bus Tour: Backyard Roadies

You can’t get more local than Backyard Roadies who formed out of the pandemic showing locals their awesome New Zealand “backyard”. Well, it’s time to show international travellers the highlights too on their variety of New Zealand tours ranging from 10 to 21 days! To add to the “Kiwi” vibe, Backyard Roadies is not only 100% New Zealand-owned and operated, but they go the extra mile to make their guests feel like locals, spending more time at each destination than most other tours. With small groups and a mix of male and female guides, Backyard Roadies offers fun, safe and great-value tours for all.

Learn more about their tours, and book directly, over at backyardroadies.com.

Booking Transport in New Zealand: What You Need to Know© NZPocketGuide.com

The Best Way to Book Rental Cars and Campervans in New Zealand

If you’re keen to get off the beaten track on your own self-guided tour around New Zealand, then renting a car or a campervan is the way to go! There are so many rental options in New Zealand that we have put together these Renting a Car in New Zealand: The Essential Guide and Renting a Campervan in New Zealand: The Essential Guide.

How to Book a Car or Campervan in New Zealand

There are some great comparison websites to compare prices and inclusions for car and campervan rentals in New Zealand, like Booking.com or DiscoverCars.com. Once you have researched the market by following this How to Compare Car and Campervan Rental Companies in New Zealand, get in contact with your chosen rental company to see if they will match prices. Prices on rentals fluctuate greatly between seasons and even between the times you pick up and drop off the vehicle. Get more tips on picking the best times to rent vehicles in 20 Ways to Save Money on Car & Campervan Rental in New Zealand.

When booking, you will either pay for the rental in full or give them a deposit (you don’t pay this after your rental in New Zealand). The deposit is likely to be non-refundable.

To help with budgeting, check out How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Car or Campervan in New Zealand?

Booking Transport in New Zealand: What You Need to Know© NZPocketGuide.com

The Best Way to Book Domestic Flights in New Zealand

New Zealand’s main cities are well-connected with domestic flights. Flights also run a couple of times a day in some of New Zealand’s smaller cities, particularly with Air New Zealand. Check out our complete guide, Domestic Flights in New Zealand for more information.

How to Book Domestic Flights in New Zealand

The best way to book flights in New Zealand is either by booking directly with the airline or using an online travel agent. Online travel agents are great for comparing prices, as well as finding good deals for random travel dates. However, airlines have been known to offer better seats to those who book direct, so you may want to keep this in mind.

Either way, the top tip for booking flights online is to use private browsing. OTAs and airline websites use cookies to bump prices up the next time you land on their websites, which is a good way to get people to panic-buy. Private browsing eliminates the cookies and stops the prices rising on each new page you load. For more tips on booking flights that apply to both domestic and international, check out How to Book a Cheap Flight to New Zealand.

More About Booking Transport in New Zealand

That’s it for our guide to booking transport in New Zealand. For more booking and transport tips, check these out:

Finally, find more essential travel advice in the 31 Tips for Travelling in 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.

Was this article useful?