[W]hile Queenstown is one of the most popular spots on the South Island of New Zealand, its remote location makes it tricky to reach.
The city does have an airport with quite a few flights – not just to domestic destinations, like Auckland or Christchurch, but you can also fly internationally to Melbourne or Sydney from Queenstown. Unfortunately, these options are often quite expensive.
Traveling overland is often the best option; here are some suggestions to help you decide.
Tour Bus Options
The Kiwi Experience is one of the best travel options if you want to travel to Queenstown, because of the variety of passes they offer; for example, you can start in Christchurch, Auckland, or Wellington and visit other attractions and sights along the way before arriving in Queenstown (or, alternatively, to visit after you have enjoyed Queenstown).
There are two major benefits of about travelling by a tour bus as opposed to other transportation options:
Bus drivers provide commentary on sights and can answer any questions you have, help you make other tour or hotel bookings, or even give you directions if you’re looking for a special hike or view.
Tour bus providers often have free or discounted access to attractions along their route, but also have agreements with other providers to offer you extra discounts even when you are off the bus – this could be anything from a meal deal to bungy jumping.
Tour buses are not often as quick as driving yourself or taking a flight, since you’re stopping along the way – but as they say, getting there is part of the adventure.
Local Bus Transport
New Zealand doesn’t have a national bus line, per se, but Intercity services pretty much offer what you would expect of one.
They have a variety of routes that connect all south island cities, but there is typically only one scheduled departure per day.
Direct connections to Queenstown include Te Anau, Invercargill, Dunedin, Fox Glacier, Franz Jozef, and Christchurch.
Book ahead as many popular routes (especially Christchurch) sell out in advance.
Queenstown Transport Tips
Travelling by tour bus in New Zealand isn’t that much different than elsewhere, but some good rules to follow:
1. In most – if not all – cases, bus schedules only have one or two departures per day, and because of the potential for delays travelling long distances, buses leave their origin promptly.
It’s always good to be at least 15-30 minutes early – even if your bus is leaving very early in the morning.
Your provider will likely issue a suggested arrival time for you, and do pay attention to the departure point, as sometimes there is no formal bus depot.
2. Print out your confirmation emails for check-in; some buses just need your name, but others do like to see a confirmation number.
Make sure to note down the phone number, so you can call if you have a problem finding the bus (or if you are late – but don’t be, as they will likely leave without you).
3. Pack some snacks and water to bring with you, just in case; stops can be quite far in between.
This post was written and brought to you by Kiwi Experience. Take a look at our bus tickets and plan a kiwi bus tour today.
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Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:
- G Adventures for small group tours.
- World Nomads for travel insurance.
- Hostelworld for booking hostels.
- Rail Europe for train passes.