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How to Get to South Island

How to Get to South Island by Air

Overseas visitors wishing to travel to New Zealand can do so by air or sea. Air travel is the most convenient, practical and quick way to get to NZ. Christchurch is the sole international terminus on South Island with over 20 international airlines flying in from destinations around the world. Wellington and Auckland on North Island are the other international airports - arrive here and take a domestic connection to Christchurch or the smaller domestic airports (Invercargill, Milford Sound, Wanaka and Mt. Cook) in South Island. Connecting flights are also available from Christchurch to other places on South Island.

By Sea

The only other mode of travel is by sea - either by ferry from North Island or in a cruise ship. Innumerable cruise ships leaving Europe or North America feature NZ on their itinerary and arrive here during the summer season.

Ferry rides between the two islands take a few hours of travelling time from Wellington to Picton (83km) in South Island. Interislander and TranzRail operate year round car and passenger ferry services across Cook Strait linking both the islands and also further connect with the passenger line of Tranzscenic trains. The ferries have comfortable lounges, overhead decks and other facilities for travellers to really enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful trip. The ferry route crosses Cook Strait, goes past the rugged southern coastline of the North Island and offers travellers a chance to spot whales, dolphins and myriad seabirds. The approach to South Island is spectacular with stunning views of the Kaikoura Ranges and the natural splendours of Malborough Sound.

Getting Around South Island

By Air: Plenty of domestic flights are available to many places on South Island by Air New Zealand, the domestic carrier and on Mt. Cook Airlines. Private companies also charter flights, small biplanes and helicopters.

By Road: Bus services on South Island are excellent with all kinds of buses available to the differnt parts of the island - shuttle services, scenic tours, intercity services, backpackers buses, coaches and mini buses for group travel. The Intercity Booking Office (442 8238) will give you information about bus schedules and routes.

Another great way to see the island is by driving in a rented car - many rental companies provide a wide range of options for hire. Traffic drives on the left of the road, International Driver's License is mandatory and traffic rules are strictly enforced. Within the cities and towns, lots of tourists like the idea of exploring the place on foot or by cycle. Cabs and bus services are always there for the less energetic or time constrained visitor. Visitors Information Centres will supply you with roadmaps and choice of modes of transport available.

By Train: Trains are the perfect way to traverse the scenic splendours of South Island - travellers can simply gaze as miles and miles of spellbinding panoramas unfold before their eyes. The TranzCoastal (Picton to Christchurch) runs along South Island's east coast past dramatic snow-capped mountains and rugged coastal areas. The TranzAlpine travels between Christchurch and Greymouth, and winds its way through spectacular gorges and river valleys before crossing the snow-capped Southern Alps.

Pass Alert! The 'Travelpass' offers unlimited travel on Tranz Rail trains and InterCity buses.

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