New Zealand is bigger than it looks like. So when you plan your trip you should keep in mind that it takes some time to get around. We met people who spent more time on the road than at the actual sights of New Zealand. Make sure you schedule your trip roughly. We travelled around the South and the North Island for about two months and still missed out on some places.
An easy and probably the cheapest way to get around is traveling by bus. See the list below to check out different companies which offer different kinds of bus passes. The reason why we think it is greater to travel by car or campervan is, that you will miss out on some of the nicest spots if you travel by bus. By car you have always the possibility to stop at amazing view points in the middle of nowhere.
Hitchhiking in New Zealand is probably really easy and safe. We saw many hitchhikers on the way and even picked up one girld on the way to Mount Cook. On Waiheke we hitchhiked several times and only met very nice people who drove further than they actually wanted to go – only because of us. Anyways you have to be careful and hitchhiking is also quite time-consuming.
Relocation basically means that some customer drop off a campervan or car in one city, but the company needs that vehicle somewhere else. So you can relocate that car or campervan from one town to the other for a very cheap price. You can get really good deals where they pay the fuel, ferry or insurance. But the disadvantage is that you only have a couple of days (around 1 to 6 days) to take the vehicle to the final destination. This can be a short time for traveling let’s say from Christchurch to Wellington. You can do it – but you won’t see that much on the way. On transfercar or Rental Car Relocation you can find an overview which cars or campervans need to be relocated, what is included and where to pick them up and where to drop them off.
Buying a car or campervan is probably a cheap option to get around New Zealand. Many backpackers have good cars they want to sell before leaving the country. So this is an easy way to find a car or campervan to travel around. BUT buying a car can also cause many problems: for example you maybe need to deal with high costs of repair and you need extra time to sell the car before leaving New Zealand. So the easier way is to rent a car or a campervan.
Hiring a car is cheaper than hiring a campervan. To save some money we split our trip (Campervan on the South Island and car on the North Island). We also flew from Christchurch to Wellington, which was really cheap. We only paid 50 NZD for the flight (per person) and it took us around 30 minutes. A single ferry ticket without taking your vehicle costs already around 65-70 NZD.