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Getting around New Zealand: What is the best option?

Should I rent a car or motorhome? How about travelling by bus? Which one is the best option?

Assalamualaikum and hello everyone! In this post, we will focus on one of the many famous question when it comes to travelling around New Zealand: What is the best option to travel around NZ? I hope this post will help you guys to decide which mean of transportation that suit you the best, especially for those who wants to explore the country all by themselves.

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Passing through Lindis Pass during Summer 2014

 

A) First things first!

  1. You can use Malaysian Driving License (the new version, because some parts are already translated in English). You don’t have to apply for International Driving License.
  2. Please follow the speed limit and respect the rules. Tourist (especially Asian) are known to cause many road accidents in NZ usually during the peak season (this is a fact). So please be aware: the speed limit is 100km/hr for highways/country roads and 50km/hr when you enter towns.
  3. You don’t have to worry about paying for toll roads because there are only two toll booths in NZ (if I’m not mistaken). Both are in North Island (between Auckland and Whangarei, and between Tauranga and Auckland).
  4. Try to avoid driving at night the roads are not equipped with street light, It can be very dark, and if the weather turns bad, it can be quite dangerous to drive. Sometimes you won’t even know which area are you driving (lakes? cliff?).
  5. Same as in Malaysia, you will drive on the left side of the road, and the driver drives on the right side.
  6. The country is blessed with many breathtaking scenery, and you can witness it along the way. But that doesn’t mean you can simply stop anywhere to admire the beauty/ take photos. Please stop at the designated place.

 

B) SINGLE/ DUO TRAVELLER/ BACKPACKER

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InterCity Bus service (Credit: www.backpackerguide.nz)
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Nakedbus (Credit: greyhound.backpacker.au)
  1. For me travelling with bus is the best option since it’s more economical comoare to renting a car. Two bus companies that I will recommend are NakedBus and Intercity.
  2. The bus companies offer various types of bus passes that suit all types of travelling need.
  • Check out these helpful links:
  • NakedBus cheap bus pass : 10 trip per passes will cost NZD269 (RM790) (Also available for 3 trips and 5 trips, including ferry ride between North and South Island)
  • Intercity Flexipass: Decide where you want to go and estimate how many hours of travel you’ll need.
  • Intercity Travelpass: Decide where you want to go and choose from multiple pre-planned itineraries.

 

Positive notes of travelling by bus

  • This is the best part: Wifi is available on the bus for free! 
  • The bus will stop at the main attraction (lunch stop, break) so you will have plenty of time to snap a photos and enjoy the view.
  • You can just chill while travelling.
  • You will be given a talk about the places that you will visit/ or pass by (usually in the South Island).
  • Nakedbus offer a “sleeper bus” where the it is equipped with sleeping bunks and pillows, plus charging port.

Not so positive notes:

  • Since the bus will only drop you at the main bus terminal/visitor information centre (I-Site),  you will have to think a way of exploring the place (take a map and walk, use public transport, join a tour group, make a new friend and travel together/hitchhike).
  • Travelling with a bus also mean that you need to be punctual! (bukan Malaysian time ye hehe). If you are late the driver will just leave you there. Make sure you take the correct bus by asking the drivers (I have my own story of taking a wrong bus, the driver was not happy :/)

 

C) THREE PEOPLE AND MORE / BIG GROUP

Renting either a car or a motorhome is the best option.

As long as you have a gps apps with you (like Waze or Google Map), you are set to go!

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Car or motorhome? My parents are pretty happy travelling with a car.

 

  1. Price

To be quite honest, I’ve never experienced driving a motorhome (boooo yeah I know), so I apologise if I got the following fact wrong. I usually travel in a small group (around two or three people), so I end up renting a car or take a bus. I assume that renting a car will be much cheaper than renting a motorhome (just my assumption). So I did a rough analysis, and here is the estimate price comparison:

Bettween car and campervan

Verdict: Yup, looks like renting a car is still cheaper 

 

2. What kind of traveler are you? What types of itinerary do you have?

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Mt Cook and Lake Pukaki, Canterbury (Picture credit: www.backpackerguide.nz)

My friends told me that driving a motorhome will provide you more sense of adventure compared to travelling with a car, and I have to agree with this (although I think road tripping with a car is not that bad, feeling2 macam dalam movie hehe ).

If your itinerary is flexible and you want to go with the flow, motorhome will suit you well. Whenever you want to call it a day, or when the weather turns bad and you decide you to end your trip for that day, you can overnight at any designated spots for motorhome (Check out Top 10 Holiday Parks and Holiday Parks).

Generally travelling with a motorhome is slower than a rental car. It is a fact. If you want to travel faster and have a specific itinerary/target place you want to achieve during your travel period, renting a car is the best choice.

Verdict:

  • Flexible itinerary/ go with the flow person/ I love adventure kinda person: Motorhome
  • You want to stick with the itinerary/fast travelling/ love staying in hostels and meet a lot of new people: Car

 

3. Feasibility

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Daily maintenance related with motorhome includes emptying waste tank. (Picture is from roadlesstraveled.us)

With motorhome, you don’t have to worry about packing and re-packing your stuff everyday. However, you will still need to do daily maintenance like emptying waste tanks, and other routines such as cleaning the dishes etc. So I guess for this, it is a win and win situation.

Verdict: Win and win situation for both options. Depends on what you don’t mind doing everyday 🙂 

 

Regardless what vehicles you are planning to rent, you need to know that:

  1. The rent is more expensive during peak season which is summer (November to January/Mid-February). During my past road trips, the rental price for a car range from $38/ day (during Spring, August to October) to $60/day (during Summer).
  2. The earlier you book the car/motorhome, the cheaper the rental price. If you can, do your booking 3 months earlier.
  3. The longer you rent a car (in terms of number of days), the cheaper the rental price. (Example: Renting a car for 5 days will cost $50/day, while renting a car for 8 days will cost $40/day).
  4. Of course travelling with more people will save you some money!
  5. Try to avoid renting a car with relocation. What is a relocation fee? Some companies will need to send their staff to relocate the car that you have rented back to the original starting point, hence the relocation fee is applied. Don’t worry, the relocation fee will be stated in the quotation send by the car company.
  6. The rental price stated on the webpage does not include the daily insurance fee. I’m pretty sure that the fee will cost roughly around NZD8 to NZD12 . It is compulsory to take the fee or otherwise you will need to pay for a car deposit which can be very expensive.
  7. Don’t just look for the cheapest price, but also look for the suitability of the vehicles, because at the end of the day you are going to spend a long time travelling in it. Things that need to be consider besides the number of people travelling are the number of luggage that can fit in, and how old/new is the vehicles.
  8. Car rental company that I have tried:

For motorhome (commonly used in NZ):

 

So what are you waiting for? Start planning now, the mountains and lakes are calling for you!

For more tips/itineraries regarding New Zealand trip do visit aedawanderlust.wordpress

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Lake Hawea, South Island

Written by Aeda Jamal

Part time Hobbit.
She had stayed in New Zealand for 2 years, studying science, daydreaming, roadtripping.

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