3 ways to travel through New Zealand

New Zealand is home to spectacular scenery and diverse wildlife, and attracts millions of tourists per year looking to experience its pristine nature.

Here are three of the best ways to experience it all.

1. By road

Self-driving tours of New Zealand are extremely popular. You can drive yourself in a rental car and stop at the ubiquitous motels and B&Bs, or take the popular rental campervan option. There’s a van for every budget and comfort level, and New Zealand has much less strict laws regarding where you can park and stay for the night.

Although New Zealand is quite narrow, it’s also quite long, so be prepared for some big days in the driver’s seat. Luckily the spectacular mountainous terrain and quaint countryside is sure to keep you in awe, and never bored.

New Zealand’s tourism website makes it easy for prospective travellers to plan out a trip, listing popular routes for you to follow. You can choose to tour either the North or South Islands, or plan out a tip-to-tip roadtrip.

Hire car companies are very experienced in letting you pick up from one city and drop off at another, and if you’re willing to be a little flexible in your plans, companies like TransferCar specialise in relocating cars for hire companies. They’ll let you drive it to where they need it to go, and you won’t have to pay a rental fee. Sweet!

"The track runs through volcanic plateaus and over deep river gorges, winding through snowcapped peaks and three volcanic mountains."

2. By rail

New Zealand is home to two of the most spectacular rail journeys in the world, one going down the length of the country, and the other going across.

The TranzAlpine railway runs from east to west across the South Island, connecting Christchurch to Greymouth. The journey is 223 km long and takes about 4 and a half hours, taking in amazing scenery across the New Zealand Alps. It’s spectacular year-round, but wait until the colder months if you want to travel through a winter wonderland.

The Northern Explorer train runs from Auckland to Wellington three times a week, from Auckland at the top of the North Island, down to Wellington at the bottom of the island. The track runs through volcanic plateaus and over deep river gorges, winding through snowcapped peaks and three volcanic mountains. You’ll also be able to appreciate some incredible engineering solutions in the many bridges and tunnels that make up NZ’s oldest passenger line.

3. By boat

Being a series of islands, New Zealand has a lot of water to explore. From ocean, to river, to fjord, sound, and glacial lake, experiencing New Zealand by boat is an excellent choice.

New Zealand is home to a diverse range of aquatic life, including dolphins and whales. Kaikoura, on the east coast of the South Island, offers whale watching experiences year-round, and is one of the only places in the world where you can see sperm whales in the wild. Orcas (killer whales) and humpback whales also seasonally visit the area during their yearly migrations.

One of the most popular options is a cruise through Milford Sound on the South Island. Carved out of the landscape by an iceberg, Milford Sound was formed millions of years ago and has been described as the “Eighth wonder of the world”.

It’s impossible to adequately describe the sheer scale of the location; cliffs rise hundreds of metres from the water on both sides to snowcapped peaks, while enormous waterfalls rain down onto rocks populated by fur seal colonies. For the more adventurous, several tourism operators offer kayak journeys into the sound.

New Zealand is a country of breathtaking beauty, with something for all interests. Whether you’re after a relaxing holiday, or an adrenalin adventure, the land of the long white cloud has something for you.

Make sure you can experience it all in safety and comfort with a comprehensive travel insurance policy, and be prepared for every eventuality. Get a quote today.