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NZ Travel - Hitchhiking vs Car Rental vs Bus

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific NZ Travel - Hitchhiking vs Car Rental vs Bus

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1. Posted by lost again (Budding Member 66 posts) 10y

lost again has indicated that this thread is about New Zealand

I am leaving for NZ in a week for about almost 40 days of travel there : my goal is to see as much as possible for as cheap as possible.
Here are my conflicts over how to travel:

Hitchhiking - Free (maybe help with gas), meet interesting people, slight risk, unpredictable, and can't necessarily see some of the out of the way places

Car Rental - Almost the same price as kiwi experience with out the bother of touristy folks, complete freedom, scary as hell for the first week getting used to driving on the left side of the road, able to meet hitchhikers (and have some help with gas payment hopefully), but far more expensive than hitchhiking (even though I could afford it). I got a $19 dollar a day rate on a small car from Ace Rentals- is that good?

Bus - bus programs like inter city flexi pass (http://www.flexipass.co.nz/default.asp) pay for hours, cheaper than car but less freedom to go wherever you want, must rely on the buses schedule instead of my own

The two I really am really debating between is the car rental and hitchhiking. These are some pros and cons I forsee, any others you can predict? What has your experience taught you? Any advice will help (I know I have asked advice on topcis related to these but now I am trying to finalize the decision by tomorrow when I want to book the car or not)

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4811 posts) 10y

Quoting lost again

Car Rental - Almost the same price as kiwi experience with out the bother of touristy folks, complete freedom, scary as hell for the first week getting used to driving on the left side of the road

Make that for the first two hours. Adjustment is really swift, and after that, the only thing you'll be doing is cursing your inability to not hit the window wipers whenever you mean to signal direction. :) Driving in New Zealand is very easy; I can recommend it.

I got a $19 dollar a day rate on a small car from Ace Rentals- is that good?

That's very decent, yeah. Of course for such a long time period in the off season you can expect cheap day rates, but even so it's nice.

As for picking up hitchhikers: put a note on the notice board of whatever hostel you'll be staying at for where you plan on going next and that you're willing to take people along if they share in gas costs. I suspect you'll be getting someone wanting to take you up on the offer at least half the time, and it gives you the chance to get to know the person beforehand, rather than having to make a snap decision if this is someone you'd want in the car or not.

Bus - bus programs like inter city flexi pass (http://www.flexipass.co.nz/default.asp) pay for hours, cheaper than car but less freedom to go wherever you want, must rely on the buses schedule instead of my own

I did this for most of my time in New Zealand, and I had no complaints. The buses go pretty much everywhere you'd want to go, daily, and between a travelpass for longer distances and a flexipass for shorter distances, was quite cheap. However, since you got such a good rate for the car, the added flexibility of being able to stop by the side of the road whenever you see something particularly beautiful definitely weighs up against the perhaps slightly higher cost.
The one real benefit of a bus is that you wouldn't have to be driving through snow yourself, if you hit that (which isn't guaranteed, but is definitely a possibility on the South Island).

3. Posted by lost again (Budding Member 66 posts) 10y

Thanks sander, that is very helpful!

4. Posted by aarvee (First Time Poster 1 posts) 9y

Hi lostagain,

I am sorry I am replying so late. I hope you had a great trip around New Zealand last year.

I found a New Zealand car rental company Jucy Rentals from whom I hired an El Cheapo car for 30 days in the off season this year at $15 per day.

Cheers

[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please ]

5. Posted by vikanadian (Budding Member 2 posts) 9y

i am thinking of heading to nz in january. i am wondering, can anyone tell me how the hitch hiking is. is it easy to get picked up in general? i know some countries are better than others.

just recently i hitch hiked norway. it turned out to be a great country for hitch hiking....didnt stand around for more than 30 minutes anywhere from oslo all the way up to bodo.

i would like to hear that nz is the same.

thanks,

trevor

6. Posted by lost again (Budding Member 66 posts) 9y

I ended up renting a car and really found it worthwhile. There was a phase where I would sleep in the car for two nights, stay at a hostel one night, and then sleep in the car for two nights. It can really save you some money. Plus renting cars are pretty cheap, almost the same as the bus sometimes and you can choose where you want to go when. There is so much of NZ you can explore with a car that you couldn't hitch hiking or using a bus.

But, if budget is your primary issue, than try hitchhiking. I actually picked up a german hitchhiker and we ended up traveling together for several weeks. So its possible but not always the most economics. Again, if you can afford it, rent a car, it will be worth. You can meet people along the way in hostels that will help share gas costs and you will make friends fast if you have a car.

Or you can try to get lucky and meet someone else with a car, often the hostels will have posts of people driving places. I didn't see too many hitch hikers but I hear its very possible.

best wishes
NZ is amazing!

Karl

7. Posted by rockstar33 (Budding Member 19 posts) 9y

i will be in nz for 2 months and i am kind of debating the same travel issues. i was thinking i would just buy a cheap car and sell it when its time to return to the states. I heard there was a good place in auckland to do that. also people have recomended camper vans and hitching as well. I will also be alone and i would like to meet people who i can spend some spontanous travel with. what are your suggestions?

8. Posted by lost again (Budding Member 66 posts) 9y

Hey rockstar, I spent a month 1/2 in New Zealand and was able to afford renting a car. I paid $19 a day and it was worth every cent. Two months might be worth buying a car but I would recommend renting, its a lot more hassle to worry about buying. Perhaps its cheaper, I heard good and bad stories, so it could go either way. You could rent a camper van but they are pretty expensive, I remember seeing a lot of Wicked Vans (a camper van company). i would meet up with people and they would help me pay for gas. I traveled with one german guy for a while and we would sleep in the car for two nights, hostel it one night (so we could shower and properly cook), and then another two nights in the car. WE did that for about a little over two weeks and it really saved money. Then again, it depends on the travel style you want to do.

Regardless of what type of car or bus you get, I recommend to do it. you might get lucky hitchhiking and finding some cool people to travel with but there is so much to explore in NZ, so its really nice if you have a consistent form of transportation. With two months, if you use a car, you should be able to see everything worth seeing. There were only a few things I missed in a month 1/2. Its possible to hitchhike, you will probably have some fun stories about people you meet. But at the same time, there is so much natural beauty to see in NZ, I recommend driving yourself.

hope that helps
Karl

9. Posted by sarahjapan (Budding Member 28 posts) 9y

I hope you get this reply before you go...but you should consider buying a car while you are there. I know it is only for a short while ( i was there 2 months). I bought my car for $500 and then I sold it at the end for $700. The kiwi experience costs at least $500 to get around the south island. Buying the car was really worth while. In NZ there is so much along the road to stop and see be it a berry stand or a winery or a trail head. I really recommend a car!

10. Posted by pinkgirlie (Full Member 121 posts) 8y

We rented a car and drove. The freedom was excellent and it was really cheap. $19 a day is £9.50 which is incredibly cheap. Ours was £11 a day and that's about $22. We thought that was unbelievable. That's with the top insurance and 2 drivers. Have a look at Ezy car rentals which is what we used, but I doubt they could beat that price! The bus passes we looked at were about 3 times the car rental.

Buying a car sounds an interesting idea, but I prefered knowing it was going back somewhere and I didn't have to bother sorting it out!