Arriving in NZ on 10 sept and I will be on my own, whats the best way to travel around both Islands, heard hitch hiking could be an option, think renting car/campervan would be too expensive with just me to pay for it, are local buses any good?
thanks in advance
It kinda depends on the time period you're there for. If it's more than 4-6 months, buying a car would probably be your best bet. For up to 4-6 weeks I think I'd recommend renting a car (it should be quite cheap in September still, as it's the shoulder season). Maybe try hooking up with some other people at a hostel and rent the car together, or hang up offers on hostel noticeboards to take along passengers to your next destination in exchange for gas-money; that's a very commonly done thing, and a good way to offset the costs of renting by yourself. The freedom to stop by the side of the road at any given moment and marvel at the view is something you'd sorely miss when travelling by bus.
That said, the bus network in New Zealand is rather excellent, getting you anywhere you might ever want to go, with buses going everywhere daily, and on some busy routes (mostly around Auckland) several times a day, and - depending on the route, the driver, the mix of tourists/locals (averages about 50-50, but varies wildly based on route) and the time of year - buses do stop every so often for abso-amazing stealing-your-breath away views, while some drivers keep up a running commentary on the places they drive through.
There's various regional buses which often offer cheap prices if you do the research to know of their existence, but the big nationwide bus network is InterCity/Newmans (on routes where both have buses, go for Newmans, as they're more luxurious, and the drivers do a lot more roadside stops, especially on routes such as Christchurch-Queenstown where the drive is basically a tour). If you travel with them, make certain to get either a Flexipass (if you travel many short distances (up to 3-4 hours)) or a TravelPass (if you travel fewer longer distances (from 4-5 hours on)), as that'll save you quite some money. (Also, walk into a hostel's travel agency to buy that pass, as they'll often have special promotions tied to these passes, such as free whalewatching in Kaikoura.)
It's also worth walking into tourist information offices and asking about available supersaver offers for your next destination. That in the end is the cheapest way to get around; they're just very limited.
Hitchhiking is done in New Zealand, but never recommended.
one of the backpacker buses might be a better option than the public buses as you will get more of a chance to stop for photos along the way, and these tend to be quite social, more so than the intercity buses. they will also book onward accommodation for you and drop you off/pick you up from your hostel. I travelled with both Magic bus and Stray and found them both to be really good fun. Stray tends to get off the beaten track a little more - at the time i went travelling last year they were the only backpacker bus company who went to stewart island on their tours. you can buy all sorts of different passes for the north island, south island or both, and take as much or as little time as you like, so they are quite flexible. you can buy your pass online before you go, or when you reach NZ in auckland (and other places). the buses leave regularly (slightly less so in winter).