As I’ve mentioned in the summary of the “New Zealand in nine days”, the best thing you can do is to get a head start on visiting the South Island with a flight. As we calculated both options, if you rent the RV in Auckland and then return it there, you will be adding a solid 1,200 km to your itinerary, plus a four-hour ferry crossing. Now, for US a 1,200 km drive is a 11 hour drive on the highway…New Zealand roads are quite different.
As a rule of thumb, If you plan to drive more than 400 km in a day, I will reconsider that itinerary. The speed limit is anywhere between 50km/h and 100km/h, you are carrying a pretty big RV around, and the mountain roads are more frequent than the straight line roads.
Are there budget airlines in New Zealand?
There are several choices to fly to Christchurch. You can book your flight with New Zealand Air when you book the overall flight. Because we had short side trip from Australia, we flew JetStar, a budget airline that actually was a good experience. Our one way flight, with the usual surcharge for the suitcase that you expect from a budget airline, was about $70 NZD per person, which would have not even paid for the gas for the drive to Christchurch.
The JetStar experince was actually quite good. We flew Virgin in the past in Australia, and I would say that we had a much better experience this time around. Expect to buy your own sandwich, if you absolutely have to… is a one hour and a bit flight.
Now that we at the subject of “what things cost in New Zealand”, maybe a quick post on that.