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Transport

Rail
The map on the left shows the main railway lines still operational in New Zealand.  Like the UK in the 60s with the "Beeching Axe", the NZ rail system was gutted in the 60s and 70s.
It seems unbelievable that it is not possible to travel by rail through the main population centres.
Apart from major commuter networks in Auckland and Wellington, most passenger rail travel is now tourist based.

Fares indicated are return, and will vary according to season and promotions.

The Overlander, between Wellington and Auckland. ($230)

The TranzAlpine, between Christchurch and Greymouth, through the Southern Alps. ($114)

The TranzCoastal, between Picton and Christchurch ($99)

Air
Due to the difficulties caused by the mountainous geography of New Zealand, air travel is a logical approach to providing a fast and reasonably efficient transport system between most major population concentrations.

The map on the left shows only the main airports, both domestic and international.
In addition, most small towns will have a basic landing strip close by.

A proliferation of small heliports and airstrips has been caused by the huge growth in tourism in recent years.

Semi-deregulation of the airlines, plus the addition of cut-rate competition has pushed down the cost of air travel.

Lowest available prices are (April 2008, AirNZ):
(Return fares)
Wellington - Auckland:     $140
Wellington - Christchurch: $140
Auckland - Christchurch:  $204
Auckland - Sydney:          $580

Road
People from the UK will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of most of the roads in NZ.  The roads are well maintained, with excellent surfaces, even in some of the less well travelled areas.  The vast majority of the roads are simple two lane bi-directional, with very few dual carriageways or motorways, except in and around Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin.

The driver from the UK will be used to being able to choose his desired route from a plethora of A and B roads, but this choice rarely exists here, as the network of roads is far less extensive, and there is usually only one suitable route to any desired location.

I have not duplicated the NZ map to show the road network, as it should be visible on the Rail map above.  Drivers needing more accurate online maps of NZ could use the excellent Wises website.

The rules of driving are virtually identical to those of the UK with the one major exception being the right turn rule. This is explained in two places on the LTNZ website. For more information, try here and here.

The national speed limit is 100 kph, and is controlled by visible speed cameras, hidden radar/camera traps, cops with radar guns and police patrol cars.  Speed limits in built up areas is usually 50 kph, with 60 or 70 kph in less densely populated areas.  As in the UK, the police give you a little margin (about 10%) before they will book you, but be warned, there are very tight limits around schools, and you may get a ticket for doing only 54 kph.

I have found our police in NZ to be very professional and friendly, having been stopped quite a few times for random breath testing, coming home from adult education classes late at night. The historic habit of drinking and driving is proving difficult to eliminate, and there is a national crackdown, with the police not needing a reason to stop and check your alcohol levels.  They will often set up an inspection site on a main road, breath testing every driver, and blood testing (on the spot, in a special trailer) to confirm.  It is an offence to refuse to give a breath or blood sample, and the alcohol limits vary with driver age.  Under 20 and the blood limit is 30mg/100ml, virtually a zero drink policy, one drink and you'll be over the limit.  Over 20, and the limit is similar to the UK, 80mg/100ml. More details here.

Penalties can be severe, big fines, driving disqualification and imprisonment are possible.

Cars
New Zealand traditionaly used cars from Britain, or british cars assesmbled in NZ from kits sent from the UK.