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New Zealand Bus Travel Companies

New Zealand is well served by many bus companies and of bus routes that makes this a great way to travel New Zealand. Nearly all of New Zealand is accessible by shuttle bus, coach or bus although some smaller places may have more infrequent connections. The scheduled coach or bus services are complemented by smaller backpackers' buses that run a hostel-to-hostel service that is like a small tour

Scheduled Buses

The major New Zealand  coach operator is InterCity, which has scheduled bus services to all major cities and towns in New Zealand. There are also many smaller bus companies that offer frequent bus services within a limited regional area. Some of the bigger of the smaller coach operators include Northliner Express in the Northland Region, and Atomic Shuttles in the South Island. The smaller bus and shuttle bus companies usually offer a cheaper service, although InterCity services are included in several travel passes making them a popular option with many New Zealand travellers.

InterCity Coachlines

New Zealand's major coach line operates coaches to most destinations in both the North and South Islands. Although many travellers buy individual tickets, you can save up to 40% by buying one of the passes that are available.

Northliner Express

Northliner Express (website is a regional bus company that is particularly good for travel north of Auckland although they work with other regional bus companies to provide connections to Tauranga, Rotorua and as far south as New Plymouth and Wellington. They are a good choice for the Bay of Islands.
Northliner Express offer the following travel passes:
Bay of Islands Pass
Good for a return trip between Auckland and the Bay of Islands. You can get on and off at destinations along the way within a one-month period. This pass costs $53 and you must hold a current BBH, VIP or YHA card. Valid one month.
Loop Pass
This is a good pass if you want to travel between Auckland and the Bay of Islands. The pass allows travel between Auckland and Paihia/Kerikeri returning via the west coast (Opononi, Omapera, Waipoua Forest and Dargaville). This pass costs $83 and you must hold a current BBH, VIP or YHA card. Valid one month.
Northland Freedom Pass
This pass allows travel from Auckland to the Bay of Islands and to Kaitaia, returning to Auckland via the west coast (Opononi, Omapera, Waipoua Forest and Dargaville). This pass costs $115 and you must hold a current BBH, VIP or YHA card. Valid one month.
Top Half Pass
The Top Half Pass is good for travel between Rotorua and the Bay of Islands with stopovers at destinations along the way within a one-month period. This pass is good for travel on the following routes: Rotorua-Hamilton-Auckland-Bay of Islands-Auckland if purchased in Rotorua or Auckland-Bay of Islands-Auckland-Hamilton-Rotorua if purchased in Auckland. This is a good value pass which costs $80 and you must hold a current BBH, VIP or YHA card.

Atomic Shuttles

Atomic Shuttles (tel: (03) 319 5641; website is the largest of New Zealand's small bus operators with an extensive route network on the South Island that rivals InterCity's services.

Other coach & shuttle bus operators

There are a lot of small bus companies that operate scheduled services to regional New Zealand. Many of these companies operate door-to-door shuttle bus services that are often cheaper than the services offered by InterCity. Shuttle bus services are particularly widespread in the South Island.
Scheduled shuttle bus services on the North Island include:
Bay Xpress
Bay Xpress operates a daily coach service linking Wellington with Napier.
Tel: 0800 4 BAYXPRESS (0800 422 997)

Dalroy Express
This coach line runs express services between Auckland and the Taranaki region with daily buses in each direction between Auckland and Hawera via New Plymouth with connecting services from Hamilton to Rotorua and Taupo and from Auckland to Paihia in the Bay of Islands.
Go Kiwi Shuttles
Go Kiwi operate door-to-door minibuses on the Coromandel Peninsula with connections to Auckland, Tauranga and Rotorua. They offer a 15Tel: discount if you have a BBH, VIP or YHA card.
Tel: 0800 446 549

Guthrey's Express
Guthrey's Express operates four daily bus services connecting Auckland and Rotorua via Hamilton. There are also two daily services linking Taupo and Rotorua and a twice-daily service between Auckland and the Bay of Islands.
Kiwi Traveller
Kiwi Traveller offers a scheduled service between Wellington and Rotorua with stops in Palmerston North, National Park and Taupo. The full journey between Wellington and Rotorua costs $66. Tickets are valid for six months so you can hop on and off en route. This service runs every day.
Tel: 0800 500 100

Scheduled shuttle bus services on the South Island include:
Akaroa French Connection
Akaroa French Connection operates a daily shuttle bus service linking Christchurch with Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula.
Tel: 0800 800 575

Akaroa Shuttle
The Akaroa Shuttle also operates transport between Christchurch and Akaroa.
Tel: 0800 500 929

Alpine Coaches
This small coach operator runs a daily service linking Christchurch with Hokitika and Greymouth on the West Coast. The one-way fare is $35 ($60 return).
Tel: 0800 274 888

Backpacker Express
In addition to running bus services between Queenstown and Glenorchy, Backpacker Express is mainly in the business of transporting people hiking the Greenstone, Caples and Rees/Dart Tracks.
Tel: 03) 442 993

Budget Buses & Shuttles
This company operates two daily door-to-door shuttle services between Christchurch and Timaru.
Tel: (03) 684 9391
Catch-a-Bus operate a door-to-door shuttle service between Dunedin and Te Anau and also between Christchurch and Dunedin.
Tel: (03) 363 1122 (Christchurch), (03) 489 4641 (Dunedin), (03) 249 8900 (Te Anau).
Citibus Newton
This Dunedin-based company runs a coach service that connects with the Taieri Gorge Railway at Middlemarch, making it possible to take the scenic train ride between Dunedin and Middlemarch and continue by coach to Queenstown.
Tel: (03) 477 5577

Coast to Coast
Coast to Coast operate a daily shuttle service between Christchurch and Hokitika and Greymouth on the West Coast.
Tel: 0800 800 847

The Cook Connection
The Cook Connection runs coach services from Timaru and Oamaru to Mount Cook. They offer a 10Tel: discount if you have a BBH, YHA or student card.
Tel: 025 583 211

Deluxe Travel Line
Deluxe operate buses mostly in the Marlborough region with services linking Blenheim and Picton.
Tel: (03) 578 5467

East Coast Express
This small coach company operates a daily service linking Picton and Christchurch.
Tel: 0508 830 900
Hanmer Connection
Hanmer Connection runs daily buses from Hanmer Springs to Christchurch, Kaikoura and Greymouth.
Tel: 0800 37 378
K Bus
K Bus runs four services each week between Nelson and Golden Bay and the timetable is designed to allow you to walk the Abel Tasman Track end to end. They also operate services for people hiking the Heaphy Track.
Tel: (03) 525 9434

Kiwilink operate an extensive network of routes in the northern South Island with services connecting Picton, Blenheim and Nelson with Golden Bay and the Abel Tasman Track. They also operate connections to both the northern and southern trailheads of the Heaphy Track.
Tel: (03) 577 8332.
Lazerline Coaches
Lazerline Coaches operate a daily coach service between Christchurch and Nelson via the scenic Lewis Pass.
Tel: (03) 388 7652 or 0800 220 001
Methven Travel
Methven Travel operates several daily shuttle services linking Methven with Christchurch and Christchurch Airport. They offer discounts if you have a backpackers card.
Tel: (03) 302 8106

Mount Aspiring Express
Mount Aspiring Express run two daily services between Wanaka and Mount Aspiring National Park.
Tel: (03) 443 8422

South Island Connections
This company runs coach services up and down the east coast of the South Island linking Picton with Kaikoura, Christchurch and Dunedin.
Tel: (03) 366 6633 or 0508 742 669

Southern Link Shuttles
Southern Link Shuttles run daily services linking Christchurch with Nelson, Westport and Queenstown as well as daily services from Dunedin to Queenstown and Wanaka.
Tel: (03) 358 8355
Spitfire Shuttle
The Spitfire Shuttle operates daily door-to-door shuttle bus services linking Invercargill with Te Anau with connections to the Catlins Coaster bus.
Tel: (03) 249 7654

Topline Tours
Topline Tours runs a daily coach service linking Queenstown and Te Anau.
Tel: (03) 442 8178
This company specialises mostly in transport to the main hiking tracks including the Kepler, Milford, Routeburn­ and Greenstone Tracks. They also operate several daily coach services linking Queenstown with Te Anau and Milford Sound.
Tel: (03) 249 7777

Wanaka Connexions
Wanaka Connexions run daily services linking Dunedin with Queenstown and Wanaka.
Tel: (03) 43 9122

Backpacker Express

Runs bus services between Queenstown and Glenorchy, Backpacker Express is mainly in the business of transporting people hiking the Greenstone, Caples and Ress/Dart tracks.

Ph: 03 442 9708

Website: or

Backpacker Buses

Another option for backpackers is the multitude of specialised bus services operated specifically for backpackers. Some of these are very useful services stopping off at hostels and also making detours to attractions that the conventional buses miss. However some of the so-called backpacker buses are just tours, which is a different concept to independent travel.
Kiwi Experience, Magic Travellers Network and Stray Travel are the three biggest backpacker bus companies, which operate extensive route networks throughout the country and represent a good travel option. Generally the backpacker buses cater to younger backpackers and they have a reputation as party buses.
They all claim to cater to independent travellers and although you can get on and off the coach at any point en route, you are limited more than if you were travelling on a regular scheduled bus. The main constraint is that you are forced to follow the bus company's set route and you have to stay overnight at the town the bus company has chosen as its overnight stop. These compulsory overnight stops limit your freedom and the set routes make it difficult to make excursions off the set itinerary. Another drawback is that the hostels these buses stop at tend to be the bigger places, as they have to be big enough to accommodate a full bus, and backpackers travelling on these buses miss out on many of New Zealand's great little hostels. Although you are not forced to stay at any hostel, it can be difficult to go your own way when all your mates on the bus are staying at the bus company's recommended accommodation.
There's no doubt that travelling on a backpackers' bus is a lot of fun and you meet some great people, however after a while you stop making an effort to meet other people since you already know most of the other travellers on the bus.
If you're thinking about buying a pass for one of the smaller backpacker bus companies, first check whether it really caters for independent travellers, allowing you to get on and off as you please -- if it doesn't offer this sort of flexibility then it is probably just a tour.

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