There is so much to see in this tiny country and a few different ways to get around. Think about your budget, about the places you want to see and the amount of time you have. Buses can be a slow way to get around and don’t let you stop at every photo opportunity, but it’s the cheapest. Tour buses take you to the best places but cost a lot more. Driving yourself will cost a lot, whether you’re buying or renting, but you can go anywhere you want when you want, and camper vans save money on accommodation but cost a shit ton to rent.
There a few different bus companies available. I always used Naked Bus, you don’t have to ride naked, but you can get tickets as cheap as $1 if you book early enough. You can also use InterCity or any of the others available. The downside to this is missing those little photo opportunities and hidden spots that the intercity buses won’t stop at, but it will save you a ton of money if you’re on a tight budget or just want to get from A to B.
Two words: Kiwi Experience. If you want to see the country, meet some amazing people and drink until you can’t feel feelings anymore then this is the bus tour for you. You can pick and choose from different packages, depending on how much time you have, what you can afford and what you’re interested in. I did the full route, got to see the most spectacular things and made some great friends.
The downside is destroying your liver with cheap alcohol and spending a lot of money compared to the intercity buses, but it is awesome. Here are 22 reasons why you should. There is also Stray, what we all thought of as “the grown-up version of Kiwi Ex”, for people who actually want to explore New Zealand mostly sober (something I would recommend to anyone who isn’t a drunk 19-year-old like I was while I rode the Kiwi Ex).
Every town or city will have a car rental office, you can talk to them about renting in point A and leaving the car in point B, meaning you save money on a return journey, why backtrack when you don’t have to? Renting your own car can be costly, paying for gas and insurance on top of everything, but you are completely independent. You can go wherever you want when you want. Those places that the big buses don’t go to or can’t get to, including a drive on the famous 90-mile-beach. It’s fun, you can pitch up hitchhikers along the way, you can sleep in it if you need to, it’s your freedom.
One of the most expensive options if you’re in it for the long haul, but could save you money because it’s your transport and accommodation all rolled into one. Room for storage, cooking, and spooning. Go with Wicked Campers iconic camper vans for something a little different. This gives you even more freedom than just renting a boring old car, you can sleep under the stars and wake up to a view of snow-covered mountains one morning and a deserted beach the next.