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What You Need to Know About Booking Transport in New Zealand

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How to book transport in New Zealand.

Getting around New Zealand is a core part of your travel planning for an awesome trip in 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 for 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. 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. Otherwise, here is a quick list of what we like and dislike about these booking methods for booking transport in New Zealand.

  • 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 direct with a transport company tends to make it easier to deal with if plans change or if you have to cancel your booking.
  • Online Travel Agents (OTAs) are basically online platforms that allow you to book transport that is not directly on the transport company’s website. Use this is a tool to compare prices and passes, but if you want to book online, 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).
  • Travel Agents are people 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 wanting to make high commission, but bear in mind that you are also paying for their service too.
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Booking 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 backpackers use to travel 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 or ManaBus, is as easily as booking directly on their websites or with most travel agents around New Zealand. Even the receptionist in your 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 Backpacker Bus Passes? for an idea of passes and prices. You can also travel by night, find out more in 9 Things We Love About the New Sleeper Buses.

How to book a hop-on hop-off bus

Many backpackers use the hop-on hop-off buses as a means of travelling around most of the country while getting a social experience with like-minded travellers. 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, 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 How to Budget for a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Trip Around New Zealand.

How to book a tour bus 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 and do some research on bus tour company websites to compare prices. (Again, use the proxy website trick mentioned above). There are many travel agents both in New Zealand and overseas who have likely been on famils (free trips) with these companies who can tell you more about them.

You can also start by comparing these two bus tour companies: Contiki Vs. G Adventures: Comparison for New Zealand.

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Booking 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 this Guide to Renting a Car/Campervan in New Zealand.

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. Once you have researched the market by following this How to Compare Car and Campervan Rental Companies in New Zealand, book direct with the company (and see if they will match prices you have found cheaper elsewhere). 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 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 in New Zealand?

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Booking 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 some some of New Zealand’s smaller cities, particularly with Air New Zealand. Check out 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 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 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.

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