New Zealand and Australia offer a range of hire vehicles
New Zealand and Australia offer a range of hire vehicles

Concerned about driving on the left hand side of the road?

We often get asked if it’s better to opt for self drive or private transfers in New Zealand and Australia. There are certainly advantages for both options on your vacation or honeymoon. A concern for some people is driving on the opposite side of the road. Visitors from the US, Europe, a lot of South America, China and other right side driving countries may find the left hand side a little daunting at first. But if you’re driving in New Zealand, and most of Australia you’ll find the roads are relatively quiet and easy to navigate. With the exception of the large cities of course. Below is a short video from the New Zealand Transport Agency that briefly touches on a few important New Zealand driving laws.

Pros & Cons of private transfers and guides

If self driving in New Zealand or Australia is a major concern then having a driver or private guide will remove the worry from this aspect. Along with the general ease of not having to drive and concentrate. This also frees up the driver to take in the stunning scenery down under! However if you enjoy driving you’ll find some excellent drives, particularly in the South Island of New Zealand. The South Coast of Australia also offers stunning scenery via the Great Ocean Rd, as an example. With a driver/guide there are a few points to keep in mind.

Do you speak a different language?

Did you want just a driver, or a driver guide who’ll be able to offer you commentary about the surrounding area? For those traveling with limited English – both New Zealand and Australia have a broad range of foreign speaking driver guides. From Russian speaking guides to Spanish, French and Italian. We have a database of professional guides covering almost all languages. Or at least we’ve been able fulfill all requests to date!

In rural New Zealand you can encounter sheep on the roads!
In rural New Zealand you can encounter sheep on the roads!

Cost comparisons of a private driver/guide and transfers vs self driving

One big positive of self-drive is the freedom you have to explore at your own pace, and on your own timetable. This allows for all those stops you may want to make at different sites and locations. A deciding factor on whether you choose to self drive or utilise private transfers, can often be cost. The cost between self-drive and private transfer options vary greatly. Self drive usually varies between hire car types and pick up locations. Hire cars can be a simple vehicle starting at approx NZ$80 per day to a luxury BMW SUV or Range Rover etc. at approx NZ$500 per day. Additional costs for renting a vehicle can include airport pick up & drop off fees (around $50 + gst per pick up or drop off). Also optional excess reduction insurance, both of which are charged directly to your credit card upon vehicle collection.

Private transfers, drivers and guides also come in a range of different levels. As an example, Queenstown offers high-end transfers and guiding in luxury vehicles including Bentley’s and Range Rovers. A full day with a driver/guide can cost upwards of NZ$1,250 – NZ$2,000 + depending on what was included, number of guides, and how far you want to travel etc. We use quite a few different operators throughout both countries. Dependent on your requirements and New Zealand Travel Budget we’ll have a solution for your vacation.

The scenery driving to Milford Sound is breathtaking
The scenery driving to Milford Sound is breathtaking

Helicopter transfers in New Zealand and Australia

Another money no object option to consider is helicopter transfers. This is probably the ultimate way to travel in New Zealand and parts of Australia. Distances in Australia are far greater and helicopters are often not practical in some locations. Traveling by helicopter in New Zealand and Australia does come with some caveats. Weather is the most obvious ‘spanner in the works’ with helicopter transfers. Think “no see no fly” as a rule of thumb. So ideally you should have a driver/guide as a back up if you are considering transferring to multiple destinations via helicopter. Luggage and weight restrictions also come into play, depending on how many people are traveling and the type of machine utilised.

Also where to land and proximity to landing zones is an important Consideration. Fortunately a large number of properties we utilise either have a helipad on site or nearby. Increasingly however, suburban locations are restricting helicopter access, so this needs to be taken into account. We’ve taken all of these aspects and many more into consideration when planning our New Zealand helicopter vacation to give you an idea. 

Private jet transfers in New Zealand and Australia

Beyond helicopter transfers there are private jets. They are usually suitable for longer distances, and again there are a lot of factors to consider here. We have access to a number of private jets throughout the South Pacific beyond dependent on your needs.

There are certainly plenty of options when it comes to getting around New Zealand and Australia. Whether you choose to self drive or private transfer all depends on what suits your personal needs, taste and budget.

Luxury Adventures – Tailoring luxury travel in New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific Islands since 1999.

H-130 private helicopter transfer in New Zealand
H-130 private helicopter transfer in New Zealand

Tony Townley

Tony Townley is a luxury lifestyle specialist and owner of Luxury Adventures based in Auckland, New Zealand. With over 20 years of experience in the luxury travel industry I have an excellent understanding of the accommodations, experiences and destinations on offer. When not working or spending time with my family I can be found indulging in my love of the outdoors, food, wine and travel - mountain biking, skiing, fishing, diving and hiking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *