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New Zealand Travel

Travel To/From/Around New Zealand

When travelling from overseas or inter-island to the New Zealand ski fields, people fly into Auckland or Wellington on the North Island, or Christchurch and Queenstown on the South Island. You can look at flight options here. Once in New Zealand, self-driving is a great way to get to the New Zealand ski fields, and there are other transport options available.

Flights to / from Queenstown

Flights into Queenstown originate from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. There are also a good number of direct trans-Tasman flights from the east coast of Australia (Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast) to Queenstown Airport. These used to be quite expensive, but the increased number of flights has helped to keep prices down.

Flying into Queenstown is ideal for:

Flying to / from Christchurch

There are plenty of direct flights to Christchurch from Auckland, Wellington and the east coast of Australia. You can look at routes and flight options here. For return flights to Australia, note that a couple of the cheaper flights have a departure time that’s ridiculously early in the morning. Christchurch also receives flights from Singapore, Guangzhou and Dubai.

Christchurch Airport is the gateway for:

Flying to /from Auckland and Wellington

You will not have any difficulty finding flights to Auckland and Wellington with many carriers covering the route from various international cities. Both Wellington and Auckland can be used as the gateway airport for the Mt Ruapehu ski fields, Whakapapa and Turoa.

Getting Around New Zealand

Unless you just base yourself in Queenstown where you can utilise shuttles to the ski fields and possibly Wanaka, you’ll want to have a car to make the most of skiing in NZ. Alternatively if you want to explore multiple ski fields you can go on a New Zealand ski tour where all the transport is looked after.

Est. Road Travel Times in the South Island (Hours)

  Methven   Mt Cook  Wanaka  Q/Town
 Christchurch  1.0  1.5  5.5  6.0
 Methven  -  4.0  4.5  5.0
 Mt Hutt  0.5  4.5  5.0  5.5
 Mt Cook  3.5  -  2.5  3.5
 Dunedin  4.5  4.5  3.5  3.5
 Wanaka  4.0  2.5  -  1.0
 Queenstown  5.0  3.5  1.0  -

Est. Road Travel Times in the North Island (hours/minutes)

   Auckland  Whakapapa  Turoa  Wellington
 Auckland  -  4:35  4:50  8:45
 Rotorua  3:10  2:30  3:00  6:20
 Whakapapa  4:35  -  0:40  4:40
 Turoa  4:50  0:40  -  4:05
 Wellington  8:45  4:40  4:05  -

Driving Around

Driving times are generally longer than expected due to hills, corners and bad road conditions. Of course, the travel times for New Zealanders will be less considering the break-neck speeds at which Kiwis drive! The road toll in New Zealand is higher than in Australia, but speed is not the only contributing factor. Ask a Kiwi about the drink driving laws and what the blood-alcohol-content limit is – bet they can’t tell you.

The highway infrastructure is somewhat limited once you are a little distance away from major cities. Don’t take safety barriers on the sides of the road for granted. One-way bridges are pretty common on fairly major roads, so keep your wits about you. Other road hazards might include tourists stopping on the side of the road to take photographs of the awesome scenery, or a huge flock of sheep completing blocking the road.

The roads up to the New Zealand ski fields are even more primitive, the majority with gravel or mud roads. With a little snow on top, the roads can then become perilous. Chains are often required. Purchase a ground sheet otherwise you’ll regret it when you have to lie down on the incredibly muddy roads to put chains on. Everyone has a different theory as to why the roads have not been paved, but it’s likely to be a sheer cost factor. Unfortunately for many visitors to New Zealand, the safety of the mountain roads is a major detractor. The car parks at the resorts are also a disadvantage of skiing in New Zealand. They are generally in a bad state and full of mud – disgusting actually. It’s not possible to keep your shoes, clothing or car clean after visiting one of the car parks. Another tip – don’t leave your roof racks up or the keas might have a field day munching on the rubber.

Some hire car operators don’t allow their cars to travel up the ski field access roads, so make sure you check this. Most rental car companies will require that the driver needs to be a minimum of 21 years of age. An international drivers license is another requisite, but there are reciprocal driving rights between New Zealand and most other countries.

Also beware of the road rule of giving way to vehicles turning right.

See each particular ski field for the "How to Get There" page for travel information on getting to the New Zealand ski fields.

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Buses to New Zealand Ski Fields

Buses are the other option for getting around. If you’re just going to one or two resorts, then shuttle buses will suffice, but if you want to explore multiple areas, car hire will provide you with more flexibility. As a general rule, the buses are fairly expensive.