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Students hiking in New Zealand

Getting Around New Zealand by Bus

I am writing this to highlight New Zealand’s wonderful bus system that helped me to travel all across the South Island without ever buying or renting a car.

To show how well it works I thought I’d share a trip I took one weekend around the middle of my semester. 

Leg 1: Dunedin to Queenstown

The first leg of the trip was a bus ride on Friday afternoon from Dunedin to Queenstown, the famous resort town. I walked and explored this cool town which offers countless shops and restaurants for visiting tourists. Many students choose to spend several days relaxing in the town staying at a hostel however, I was only there for the evening. 

Leg 2: Queenstown to Routeburn Track

The next morning I woke up early to catch a shuttle bus to the shelter at the start of the Routeburn Track. Here I was able to hit the trail around 10am and spend the rest of the day hiking.

The Routeburn Track was absolutely beautiful and I cherished every moment of it. I am an experienced hiker so I hiked most of the track in one day. I stayed at a hut roughly four miles (6km) off the track as it was free, although it made for a long day of around 25 miles (40km)!  

Beautiful scenery on the Routeburn Track

Some of the beautiful scenery on the Routeburn Track

Leg 3: Routeburn to Milford Sound and back to Dunedin (via Queenstown)

The next day I woke up early and hiked out to the end of the track where I met a shuttle bus at 11am to take me to Milford Sound.

When I arrived at Milford Sound I took an afternoon cruise – it was absolutely gorgeous and really relaxing after my hard day’s hike. After the cruise, I boarded a bus back to Queenstown and then on to Dunedin. All in all, the bus transport was incredibly convenient and I never found myself spending more than 15 minutes waiting for a bus.


In total, the trip cost roughly NZ$200 and included transport from Dunedin to Queenstown, a shuttle to the start of the Routeburn Track, a shuttle from the Routeburn Track to Milford Sound, a cruise on Milford Sound, transport from Milford Sound to Queenstown and then back to Dunedin. The track service was provided by Tracknet.

The trip was not only affordable but allowed me to hit three South Island highlights in one weekend which was really cool. 

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Jacob Rob Study in New Zealand blog

By Jacob RobUS Study Abroad Student

Updated 2 years ago

Jacob Rob is a rising junior at Princeton University where he is studying International Relations and Environmental Studies. Jacob has always had a deep passion for travel and the outdoors and studied abroad at the University of Otago during the sophomore spring semester. He not only enjoyed the wonderful outdoor opportunities but “what I found myself falling in love with most was the people and culture.”

*Views expressed are the blogger's own
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