Today, we are taking a look at the best ways you can get around New Zealand nomad style to experience the sprawling countryside as well as the bustling urban gems, even though for many people around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has made both international and domestic travel a distant memory. Of course, this should come as no surprise, as certain countries take the matter of COVID prevention quite seriously, one of which is New Zealand. In fact, New Zealand has some of the most proactive and prudent leaders in the world right now, led by the amazing Jacinda Ardern who has immediately put a ban on international travel to prevent the spread of the virus.
While the country is in lockdown to all but NZ residents and travellers with special permits, this doesn’t mean that you as a NZ citizen can’t travel the map and have an adventure of a lifetime in this breathtaking country. You might even find that COVID will encourage more sustainable travel in the future, which can’t be a bad thing.
Best Ways To Get Around New Zealand
Experiencing the New Zealand railway system
There is something inexplicably alluring and romantic about railway travel. Perhaps some of us dream about meeting that special someone as our eyes cross over our books as the breathtaking landscape whizzes by. Or perhaps it’s the scenery that New Zealand’s passenger trains go through that are enough to deserve our awe and amazement. Whatever it may be, there is no denying that there’s something truly special about boarding the oh-so-popular Kiwi Rail.
You can basically take a train from any major city to the next and even hop between those little secluded towns on the map, or you can time your journey to catch the TranzAlpine Rail Journey from Christchurch to Canterbury during which you’ll be passing through some of the most splendid sights in New Zealand. It’s an efficient and relatively affordable way to get around, especially if you like the idea of traveling like a true modern nomad.
Discovering NZ by bus
Speaking of travelling like a nomad, you’ll want to catch the cheapest deals and have the opportunity to explore the country while socializing and meeting exciting new people. Of course, one of the best ways to do that aside from picking people up with your car is to hop from place to place by bus. Naturally, New Zealand has an extensive bus system that allows you to travel literally everywhere on the map, however, you will have to switch busses for those really long trips. Or get yourself onto a hop on hop off backpacker bus and choose a tour that will take you to all the places you want to see.
You can even stay on a single bus if you’re headed directly from one remote location to the next, such the single-bus route from Auckland to Christchurch, during which you’ll even get to ride on a ferry, which is always fun. That said, you might have to switch busses if you intend to zig-zag your way across the country, go hiking in nature or stay at a campsite, and visit those off-the-main-road destinations on the way to your final destination.
Travelling on your own terms by renting a car
While New Zealand does have an extensive array of travel options for you to enjoy, if you really want to have the freedom to organize and experience a New Zealand adventure on your own terms, then nothing beats renting a car. Planning a grand NZ adventure can be difficult enough without taking bus, train, and ferry schedules into account, especially when you consider all the places you should visit across the map and all the activities you should partake in.
If you’re looking to travel New Zealand on a budget and experience everything it has to offer, then it might be better to rent a car and make your own itinerary to save money as much as possible and have the freedom to change your plans on a whim. That said, be sure to choose the right vehicle for your needs and the type of trip you’re embarking on and be sure to get a car that has a minimal impact on the environment.
Backpacking is the ultimate adventure
Okay, backpacking is not a mode of transportation, but it is a way of travelling and seeing the world, one that is probably most popular in New Zealand. Whether it’s because the country is so safe, or because of its many modes of transportation, or maybe it’s just the Kiwi culture that supports and encourages backpacking – there’s no denying that being a backpacker in NZ is an amazing experience.
Of course, backpacking by hitchhiking is not the safest way to get around, nor is it recommended, but it can still be a fun and rewarding experience. You do need to stay alert and keep your eyes open at all times, though, and be sure to have the police on speed dial should anything go awry. If you think you’re not up for it, then you can always take your backpack on a bus, a train, or a ferry.
Travel by water for a unique perspective
Speaking of ferry boats, there is a reason why backpackers and nomads in general are encouraged to skip the flights and travel around NZ the traditional way. Because at one point or another, you will have no other choice than to board a ferry from one shore to the other, which can truly be a mesmerising trip. You can even go on an organized boat ride or cruise through some of the most spectacular sights NZ has to offer, however you might need to dish out more cash for those luxe experiences. Whatever you choose to do, there is no denying that New Zealand has some of the most spectacular sights that can only be experienced by boat.
New Zealand might have closed its borders for international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy local travel in 2020. With these travel tips in mind, go ahead and plan yourself an affordable NZ escapade you’ll never forget. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up meeting some lifelong friends along the way.
Author: Lilly is a graphic designer and a passionate writer. Loves everything about home decor, art history and baking. Shares home with two loving dogs and a gecko named Rodney. Based in Sydney, but world is her playground