Tips for Traveling Between the North & South Island of New Zealand
New Zealand is the ultimate travel destination, gorgeous landscape, rugged beaches, city life, and more, it is also easy to see the country in one trip! New Zealand has 2 main islands, the North & the South Island which are separated by the Cook Strait. Whether you choose to travel by car, ferry, plane or a combination, read this helpful guide
New Zealand is divided into 2 islands, the North & the South along with several smaller islands.
Traveling from the North to South Island
Traveling between the two islands is easily done by flying or by taking a ferry across the Cook Strait. Flying is the fastest way to get between the North and the South islands, but taking a ferry is one of the most scenic journeys you will ever go on. Flying is a good option when traveling between the North to the South island and a flight takes about 35 minutes when traveling. A ferry ride will take about 3.5 hours, is a fantastic way to soak up the majestic scenery as well.
Flying in New Zealand
A flight from Los Angeles to Auckland takes about 13 hours. There are 2 major airports in New Zealand; Auckland Airport which is located on the North Island, and Christchurch Airport on the South Island. When you fly into New Zealand from North America, you typically will arrive in Auckland. If you are flying from Australia, you will have more options, and will probably arrive in Christchurch, Queenstown on the South Island, and Wellington and Rotorua on the North Island. Flying from Australia to New Zealand takes around 3.5 hours, depending on which city you depart from.
Traveling by air between the 2 islands saves a lot of time. You will most likely depart in Wellington on the North Island and fly into Blenheim on the South Island. The flight from the North Island to South Island takes about 30 minutes.
Renting a Car
Renting a car in New Zealand is a great way to see the country and will make your vacation unforgettable. Taking a road trip also allows for freedom to explore on your own, you can discover new places, choose to stay in hotels in or outside a city, and more. Drive on the left side of the road & make sure you have your drivers license with you. You will need a driver that is over the age of 21 to rent a car. Costs of renting a car vary depending the time of year and type of vehicle.
Timing is everything – if you book between March to October you will likely pay 30-50% less. You will want to book your rental car in advance, as this can save you quite a bit of money and the supply of cars can affect the price. Most rental companies offer free airport pick-up, so you can just pick up the car that you have reserved at the airport when you arrive. The roads in New Zealand are great and this will provide you with fantastic scenery, a chance to get off the beaten path, meet new people, did we mention Kiwi’s are friendly?
Taking a Ferry:
There are 2 ferry companies that operate this crossing, Interislander and Blue bridge. The trip between the islands by ferry takes about 3 hours. Ferries typically run 5 times a day starting at 2:30 am until about 8 pm. You can take the ferry as a walk-on passenger, and it is also cheapest when you don’t bring a vehicle on the ferry.
Take note however that rental car companies may not allow their cars to be taken on the ferry, so you will want to check ahead, and you may need to return your car to Wellington or Piccton before boarding.
You are allowed 2 pieces of luggage weighing up to 30 kgs (66 lbs), and will want to check in 30 minutes prior to departure. Taking a ferry is the most scenic way to travel, you will see Wellington, the rugged coastline of the North, beautiful birds and even seals, dolphins or whales!
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