The minivan is ideal to visit the country while looking for work.

What Transports for a Working Holiday Visa?

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  • 1Safety First!
  • 2Driving on the Left and the International License.
  • 3Should You Rent a Car in New Zealand?
  • 4How About Buying Your Own Vehicle?
  • 5Important Details to Check Before Buying a Vehicle.
  • 6How to Resell Your Vehicle Before Departure?
  • 7Can We Also Travel by Bus or Train?
  • 8Should We Use Domestic Flights?
  • 9Our Advice About Transportation and Budget.

Safety First!

The three main types of transport suitable for a Working Holiday Visa are the car, the mini-van (or motorhome) and the bus. Depending on the frequency of the trips and the budget, you will prefer one or another, knowing that it may be more interesting to purchase a vehicle than hiring one.

To explore the country, you will need a suitable means of transport.

You are going to drive for thousands of kilometers on the roads of New Zealand to find jobs or enjoy the scenery. That is why you need practical advice to travel with a Working Holiday Visa and without spending all your budget.

Driving a whole year with a used vehicle without facing an engine failure or dismantling a tire is just a matter of chance.

There are so many stories about full nights spent on the edge of a deserted road in the middle of nowhere ...

The mini-van behaves practically like a car, but it will be necessary to be careful when you park if you have never driven this type of vehicle before.

Minivans are often recommended for stays in WHV.

But if the occasional problems turn into good memories with time, repetitive troubles can cost a job or ruin your holidays.

And I am not talking about the risks that an antique car with a precarious security implies in a country where you drive to the left (if you are not used driving on this side of the road) ...

I will explain how to choose a means of transportation that will not fall to pieces 50 km from the first gas station.

And I will give you some tricks to resell your vehicle at the end of your stay, and thus recover a part of your initial expenses.

The New Zealand bus network covers the entire country. Contrary to popular belief, the coach is not particularly economical and only a loyalty card can help you save money. But you still have to make a minimum of trips during the year.

The bus remains an alternative under certain conditions.

Finally, even if the acquisition of a vehicle is unavoidable for a one-year trip, I would not forget to present alternative solutions.

A car rental, of course, but also the journeys by bus, train or airplane that often allow great savings.

The advantages and disadvantages of the different types of vehicles are covered with great details in our special transport guide. Do not be surprised if this part of the subject is only overviewed in this article.

Driving on the Left and the International License.

Driving on the left involves cars with steering wheels on the right. One get used to it very quickly as long as priority remains on the right.

You will drive left keeping the priority on the right.

The prospect of driving on the left generally worries the candidates for the Working Holiday Visa who do not come from the UK, India or Australia... Finding the steering wheel on the right inside a car is quite confusing for such drivers, but the New Zealand's driving code is fortunately almost similar to the international driving code.

Driving in a city requires total concentration. If the speed is limited to 50 km / h downtown, the first moments are quite stressful indeed. Once out of the cities, the tension drops as you are often alone on the road, which is not without danger.

Speed ​​is limited to 100 km / h on fast lanes. Low traffic and the habit of driving faster in Europe lead some travelers to excess speed.

Alas, deserted roads urge drivers to speeding ...

Too busy contemplating the landscape, some drivers lack vigilance.

To limit accidents, the speed is limited to 100 km / h on the highway known here under the name of State Highway (SH), and the radars easily trap tourists accustomed to drive at 130 km / h. The roadside checks where you are asked to present your driving license are numerous.

On this subject, do not forget that citizens without an English written driving license must possess an “international driving license” to be allowed to drive and rent a vehicle in New Zealand. This document can usually be issued for free in a short time.

Documents Required:

For an international driving license if you need one (caution, the procedure may vary according to your country of residence).

  • Original driving license + double-sided photocopy.
  • Valid national ID card photocopy (both sides).
  • 2 color photos.
  • Application form to fill.

Please note that the International Driving Permit is required to rent a vehicle in New Zealand if your driving license is not written in English.

Should You Rent a Car in New Zealand?

For occasional trips, and if you share the costs with other passengers, car rental is ideal.

If you can share the fees, it is recommended renting.

The rental of a car or a motorhome usually concern tourists visiting the country for a few weeks of vacations. But there are also many opportunities to rent a vehicle even if you are in New Zealand with a Working Holiday Visa.

Whether you're going on holiday or looking for work in a remote area, renting is a cost-effective solution for a short-time period.

The New Zealand market is particularly competitive and rental offers vary from 20 $ per day for a low-cost car, to $50 for a small motorhome.

New Zealanders have a passion for vintage cars. It's not uncommon to see old models on the roads, and you can even consider buying one during your Working Holiday Visa.

You can even rent old models with retro charm.

The ideal is to travel with friends in order to share the expenses.

Departing from Christchurch, it is even possible to negotiate a discount if you agree to return the vehicle to Auckland (the agencies are struggling to repatriate their vehicle on the North Island where most visitors arrive).

I advise avoiding the floor prices, synonymous of old cars models without airbags. A budget of $35 to $50 a day seems far more reasonable.

There are sometimes old French cars like 2CV. Some can be rented to tour the vineyards.

As incredible as it sounds, there are old French cars!

I advise you to redeem the deductible and subscribe to a broken ice insurance. Other complementary services range from the indispensable GPS, camping equipment and DVD players. New Zealand Maps, and the phone support, are almost always included.

GPS is often offered as an option by car rental companies because you can't just use your smartphone all the time or you would consume all your data.

GPS is available as an option but it is often better to buy one.

Vehicle rental is a practical solution that offers flexibility. On the other hand, if the transportation budget exceeds $3500 for the whole trip, you may consider buying a used vehicle to save money.

How About Buying Your Own Vehicle?

The car parks of the supermarkets also serve as a point of sale for second-hand cars.

Sales on car parks offer good deals.

The purchase of a second-hand car or camper is a common practice as part of a Working Holiday Visa stay. This solution corresponds perfectly to the spirit of the stay, as it facilitates the search for a job while allowing to discover the country with a maximum of autonomy.

If it is possible to sleep in a car, only the motorhome (and to a lesser extent the minivan) are recommended for this.

If you stay a whole year in New Zealand, you will have to face the winter and cool nights even in summer.

You can consider sleeping in your car during the cool days. But during the winter and especially on the South Island, it would be more difficult.

Do not expect to sleep in your vehicle in winter.

Being the owner of a vehicle does not absolve you of certain responsibilities, especially in terms of insurance (I invite you to read our insurance guide on the subject).

It remains to know how to find the rare pearl! Internet websites like Turners Auctions ffer vehicles at very attractive prices, usually between $1000 and $6000.

You can buy a car for a few hundred dollars. On the other hand, you have a good chance of breaking down in the middle of nowhere …

Beware of opportunities too good to be true.

You may as well visit the youth hostels (backpackers) to spot classified ads, or trying vehicles.

It is often possible to negotiate the price with the owner.

It is not uncommon to collect camping equipment at the same time, because travelers with a Working Holiday Visa who are often in a hurry at the end of their stay need to sell everything or give items for free.

To increase their chances of reselling their vehicles, some hurried travelers offer camping equipment as a bonus.

Camping equipment may be sold with the vehicle.

If you are lucky, you can buy an old car for a few hundred dollars only. It may be tempting to conclude the deal with a simple handshake, but you must insist on warranties and carefully check the condition of the vehicle before signing.

Important Details to Check Before Buying a Vehicle.

Some of the country's roads are deserted and there is only one car every hour. This remark is all the more true outside the high season. Watch the fuel gauge carefully and stay close to the vehicle to watch for traffic.

The car breakdown on a deserted road is to be feared.

Even if you inspect a vehicle for an hour and drive it for a quarter of an hour, there is no guarantee that it will not break down two days later. In order not to find your hands in the sludge at 50 km from the first garage, there are two solutions...

The Warrant of Fitness (WoF) is a technical control you absolutely need in New Zealand.

It does not guarantee a zero fault, but it certifies the good general condition of the vehicle recorded during the last compulsory inspection. Note that even if a WoF is still valid for the next 6 months, it must be redone 28 days prior to the resell of a vehicle.

The WoF is already a good indicator, but it is not always enough.

A recent technical inspection is compulsory in the context of a sale. But because of the rises of false certificates, it is often wise to ask a new check.

The WoF proves that the vehicle is in working order.

Because some people do not hesitate to falsify the WoF certificates, it is recommended submitting the vehicle to the Vinz technical check. A battery of tests on the mechanical parts costs about $110 and the full check of the assembly is delivered for $140. This is not cheap, but a tow service will cost you three times more in case of accident.

The VIN number is present on all vehicles. It allows you to consult the history of a car which isonvenient to detect scams or problems.

Locate the VIN number and check who is the real owner.

Another useful trick is to collect information about the previous owner before you even look at the vehicle.

The “Lemon check” is a service charged 25 $ which gives access to the history of the vehicle. A model that goes from hand to hand over a short period has a great chance of being defective!

When you find the vehicle of your dreams (or at least something functional), you will have to report the change of ownership to the NZ Transport Agency.

Visit the official website to download a form to fill (Notice of Change of Ownership of Motor Vehicle).

To finalize the sale of a vehicle, you must deposit the certificate of sale in a center of the Automobile Association.

The contract of sale is to be deposited in the post office or in an AA center.

In order for the sale to be effective, the document signed by the buyer and the seller must be sent by post, or deposited at a center of the Automobile Association (AA). The new papers of the vehicle will then be sent to you by post within 10 days.

How to Resell Your Vehicle Before Departure?

Before returning to your country you must resell your vehicle. Do not wait until the last minute to find a buyer or you will have to sell your loyal companion for a ridiculous price.

It is not enough to buy, you'll have to resell your vehicle later.

I hope you do not even imagine abandoning your vehicle to a dump before returning to your own country ... To be sure of finding a buyer, do not wait until the last minute to propose the resale of your vehicle (you need time to get a WoF certificate).

As a last resort, there are companies and garages that buy vehicles for half of its price. The transaction leaves a bitter taste, especially since a professional will search for the slightest defect without mercy to reduce the selling price. In order to escape such a tragic ending, there are other solutions...

Placing an ad on a dedicated car website costs only a few dollars and increases your chances of finding a buyer.

You can put your car on sale on the Internet.

Internet websites like Trademe or Autotrader allow to publish an advertisement infew minutes. But from my own extensive experience, it is better to start by visiting the youth hostels to meet potential buyers.

A mini-van with a nice decoration (even if it is slightly kitch) has more chance of finding a buyer. Consider this aspect at the time of the purchase, as it will be easier to sell at the end of your stay.

An original presentation can facilitate the sale.

The more you put your vehicle well in evidence and the faster you'll sell it!

Some people do not hesitate to go so far as to offer camping equipment to facilitate the sale. This is a good idea, but there is an unstoppable trick to multiply your chances of finding a buyer if you are trying to resell a minivan.

A minivan with an original decoration multiplies your chances by ten, trust me!

If you've had the good idea of buying a vehicle of this kind, and if your ad has a good photo, it's not impossible to conclude a presale deal several months in advance, which is ideal!

If you still have not found a buyer and the departure is approaching, you can try the auctions.

As a last resort, there are still auctions.

If none of these solutions yield results, you can try selling your vehicle on a car park auction. The principle is to park your car in one of the car parks listed on Auckland Car Fair or Canterbury Car Fair for about $30. Buyers come and go around your vehicle, and if you arrive early, the deal can be concluded in a blink.

Can We Also Travel by Bus or Train?

The bus is not the fastest mode of transport, but the extensive network makes it possible to travel anywhere in the country. But this is not the most economical way.

The bus network is very extensive in New Zealand.

If the bus can be an economical mode of transport, it is not necessarily suitable for a job search where you need a maximum flexibility. However, if you do not have a driver's license, there is only this solution or the train to provide an alternative.

Apart from loyalty programs, long-distance coach trips come at virtually the same price as a car rental.... On the other hand, for short trips within the same region, the solution deserves to be studied seriously despite its slowness and inconvenience.

If you travel often to visit the country or look for work, you will have to travel light or you will often lose your time to collect your luggage.

Luggage transport is the major drawback of the bus.

Kiwi Experience and Naked bus offer year-round subscriptions that allow you to get on and off whenever you want.

The atmosphere on board is sometimes so agitated that it is impossible to close the eye. Depending on your profile, it will be heaven or hell.

Attention, if the bus connects cities, it does not deposit you in front of your place of work!

When you know that you often have to go around an entire region to find a job, the bus is far from covering all your transportation needs.

The New Zealand train is slow, which allows to admire the landscape. But one must not be in a hurry, because a basic Auckland - Wellington lasts nearly 8 hours!

Only a few tourist lines still exist.

On the other hand, rail journeys are expensive, but a young traveler's card allows to get 20% off. The golden age of the train is gone in New Zealand since a long time, but some tourist lines have survived and the railways of the Tranz Alpine Scenic or Taieri Gorge Railway are breathtaking!

Tranzalpine Scenic with open wagons.

The open wagons allow to admire the landscape.

It's a great way to finish a year in Working Holiday Visa after reselling a car. Beware, however, if you are in a hurry as the journeys are usually spread over an entire day!

The scenery is so spectacular that some train wagons do not have windows so you can fully enjoy the view and take pictures.

Should We Use Domestic Flights?

To move from one island to another, it is often preferable to borrow a domestic flight. You will save especially the price of the ferry which is not negligible especially if board your vehicle.

Domestic flights are often more economical than a car rental.

If New Zealand occupies an area equivalent to the United Kingdom, its long geography and its mountain relief impose many detours. A domestic flight is the best way to save time, but can we consider plane tickets to be affordable for someone traveling with a Working Holiday Visa?

Considering that you are booking several months in advance, here are price estimates for the most frequent destinations:

Auckland - Christchurch $ 85
Auckland - Wellington $ 75
Auckland - Queenstown $ 45
Auckland - Dunedin $ 75
Auckland - Rotorua $ 95

Let's say you live in Auckland and get an interesting job offer in Christchurch. If you consider the price of a car rental (with gasoline), added to a ferry crossing and an hotel night, you will pay between $150 and $300 for the trip (not to mention the fatigue and the stress).

If you book your tickets in advance, you are advised to fly from one island to another to avoid long journeys by car.

Traveling from one island to another often costs less by plane.

Even if you share the cost of the car rental with other passengers, a plane ticket is two to three times cheaper and for a few hours of travel only.

While Air New Zealand is the most comfortable airline in the country, but it is not necessarily the most attractive in terms of fares.

The low-cost company Jet Star (by Qantas) offers broken prices on flights to major cities.

Peter Jackson's films were filmed in the land of kiwis. Many public places were decorated to promote the Hobbit trilogy.

The plane allows to admire the Middle Earth from the sky.

Admittedly, Air New Zealand offers a system of discount coupons, if you often take the same routes.

But it takes at least a dozen trips to take advantage of it, and this kind of good deal won't interest young people traveling with a Working Holiday Visa.

The plane remains a perfect solution if you find a job at the other end of the country and have to travel in record time.

Keep the idea in a corner of your head, this can prove to be useful from time to time.

Our Advice About Transportation and Budget.

If you need a car every day, it might be a better idea to buy a vehicle rather than renting it.

Renting or buying a vehicle ... that's the question!

One rarely imagines buying a car or minivan abroad. Such an investment is usually associated with many responsibilities. Yet, if you intend to explore New Zealand during your Working Holiday Visa trip, purchasing often proves to be the best solution.

The choice of a vehicle type is not obvious. We could discuss at length the advantages of the car, the minivan or the motorhome. There is a great deal of subjectivity intimately linked to the profile of each traveler.

The vehicle rental solution, however, is not excluded from the debate. Especially if you are an occasional driver and plan to take the road only during the holiday part of your stay in New Zealand.

We often leave Dunedin with regret, but the excursion to Taieri Gorge Railway is an excellent remedy for depression.

The train makes it possible to discover unusual landscapes.

Without a driver's license, you can rely on the bus or train network. However, you will have the feeling of missing an essential part of a Working Holiday Program, which lies in the autonomy!

I give way to Ben the Kiwi for practical questions. Please remember that there is little chance that he will agree to answer you on budget issues. There is such an infinity of combinations, between the nature of the vehicle, its fuel consumption and your itinerary, that any given answer would be a pure nonsense.

In reality, if you work during your stay, you will always be able to move in one way or another.

The country is so beautiful that it urges to all efforts and sacrifices.

William, Kiwipal
A Guide Written by William.
Founder of Kiwipal, New Zealand Travel Guide.

Questions & Answers.

What can I do for you? In my opinion, a good old van is perfect to explore the country in search of a job. Question me and I'll do my best to help you!

Ask a question to Ben

  • All topics ... 26 answers in total
  • Buying a Vehicle 7 answers
  • Traffic Laws 4 answers
  • Technical Control of a Vehicle 4 answers
  • Insurances 2 answers
  • Resale of Vehicles 2 answers
  • Car Rental 2 answers
  • Bus Travel 2 answers
  • Train Travel 2 answers
  • Domestic Flights 1 answer

Buying a Vehicle

  • How much does a used car cost?

    A few hundred dollars is enough to buy an old car. However, the safety is a priority and price cannot be a definitive criterion.

  • How to find a vehicle at the best price?

    The best solution is to go around the backpackers' hostels to pick up the ads displayed in the common room. Often in a hurry to get rid of their vehicle at the end of their stay, the sellers often offer very attractive prices.

  • What is the best city to buy a vehicle?

    Auckland offers the most opportunity to buy a car or a mini van.

  • How to buy a car at a public auction?

    Turners Auctions, the most famous auction site of New Zealand cars has ten points of withdrawals. You will find good deals between $1000 and $6000.

  • How to report the change of ownership?

    The seller and the buyer must contact the Land Transport office to notify the change of ownership.Land Transport New Zealand

  • How long to receive the new papers for the vehicle?

    The papers arrive by mail within 10 days (using a poste restante address is possible).

  • Should we purchase a gasoline or a diesel vehicle?

    Diesel powered vehicles are not popular in New Zealand. The petrol stations that serve this fuel are less frequent. It is therefore recommended opting for a standard gasoline model.

Traffic Laws

  • How do I consult the New Zealand Driving Code?

    The website "New Zealand Rode Coad" will answer all your questions.New Zealand Rode Coad

  • Is it easy to drive in New Zealand?

    Driving is all the easier as roads are deserted in the provinces. It is not unusual to drive several kilometers without seeing another car. The road network is nevertheless very well maintained, although it is essentially widespread on the coasts than in the inside of the country.

  • What are the speed limits in the country?

    Unless otherwise stated, you are limited to 100 km / h on the States Highway and 50 km / h in built-up areas.

  • Can one drive in with his own country’s license?

    Your own driving license might not be sufficient and you may need an international driving license if you don't come from an English-speaking country.

Technical Control of a Vehicle

  • What is the WoF?

    The "Warrant of Fitness" is the equivalent of French technical control. It certifies that a vehicle has been verified within the last six months. However, it must be done at a maximum of 29 days before the resale of the vehicle.WoF Official Website

  • How to ensure that the vehicle is authorized for sale?

    The "Lemon Check" of the Automobile Association is a $25 fee-paying service. By entering the VIN number of a vehicle, it is possible to obtain the full history of a vehicle.Lemon Check

  • How to have your vehicle inspected by a professional?

    There are two companies that specialize in vehicle inspection. VINZ can delegate an expert while AA requires that you come with the car to an approved center.Vehicule Inspection New ZealandAutomobile Association

  • Who practices the best technical checks?

    The Automobile Association (AA) controls are deemed more reliable, but nothing prohibits going through a simple garage to pay less.


  • What insurance to choose for your vehicle?

    The Automobile Association offers excellent insurances.AA Insurance

  • Should we subscribe to and insurance against accidents?

    The ACC will cover you as long as the accidental nature of the accident is recognized. Coverage is only valid in New Zealand. If you return to your own country, you will no longer be compensated.

Resale of Vehicles

  • Can one sell your vehicle at the purchase price?

    It all depends on how many kilometers you have traveled during your year with a Working Holiday Visa. Provided you have enough time, the resale price is expected to be slightly lower than the purchase price.

  • Which website to resell a vehicle?

    There are three reference sites that I invite you to consult.CarfairTrademeAutotrader

Car Rental

  • How much does a car rental cost?

    Outside major international brands, it is possible to find offers at $15 a day. But the quality more than mediocre and the age of the vehicle should discourage you. A minimum of $30 is to be considered for a correct vehicle. In any case, the price does not include the gasoline budget, and you will have to return the vehicle with the gas tank full.

  • Who to call to rent a minivan?

    The famous vans painted or decorated with psychedelic motifs are mainly found at Escape Rentals and Wicked Campers. For a hybrid between car and camper, you can also study the vehicle from the "spaceships" rental company.SpaceshipsEscape rentalsWicked campers

Bus Travel

  • Is the bus a good solution to search for a job?

    The bus is ideal for travelers who travel from one city to another to visit the country or look for work. But the bus will not drop you in front of a farm. The contractors of the Working Hostels will be indispensable unless you sympathize with a young driver with a Working Holiday Visa.

  • Which bus companies do you recommend?

    Two bus companies are particularly interesting for backpackers travelers.Kiwi ExperienceNaked Bus

Train Travel

  • How to book a seat on the Trans-Alpine?

    Visit the official website of Kiwi Rails.Kiwi Rails

  • How do I book a place for Taieri Gorge Railway?

    Visit the company website.Taieri Gorge Railway

Domestic Flights

  • Where can I find a list of New Zealand airports?

    The airport Wikipedia page has a map of the country's airports. But beware, only major airports are served by commercial lines.Airport list

Guillaume picture in the mountains

Ask Questions to William.

New Zealand Expert

Do not forget to baptize your vehicle with a funny nickname.

Be careful on the road and respect speed limits for your safety and to avoid fines.

Because some fines for unauthorized camping or speeding may empty a bank account and shorten the stay.

Did you read all our other articles on the subject? The Working Holiday Visa and the Guide sections offer articles about transport in New Zealand.

william Ask me a question

Useful Links

More information about the subject before leaving.

Guillaume picture in the mountains

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