Travelling from Christchurch to Queenstown: What are my options?

Like any great travel story, you can get a varying array of travel times and distance options between locations. This journey is no different! Depending on the route you choose to take travelling between Queenstown and Christchurch can take you anything from 3 – 6 hours and can be 320 to 480 kms (or more).

Whichever way you choose to go, you won’t be disappointed.

From the flat rolling hills of the East Coast to the craggy wilds of the high country, this is a stunning journey best taken at a slow and leisurely pace. Don’t be fooled by the short distance though.  New Zealand roads can be winding and at time dangerous, so keep your foot steady and your eyes on the road!

Driving yourself is not your only option. But it is a good one! Let’s have a look at what’s available as far as travel options go, and you can then make a decision about what suits you best based on travel times, your budget and what you want out of your trip.

Transfercar: Relocation vehicles are a great way to travel for free in New Zealand. You can often find any number of vehicle types such as 2 – 6 berth motorhomes and campervans, vans, trucks, sedans, station wagons and little hatchbacks. The upside to this option is that you can see the sights on the way and share any petrol costs with other passengers. You can also travel the route that suits best (as long as you have enough kms to do so) and stop when and where you like.

If you were to relocate a vehicle, here’s a general breakdown of the costs included based on 3 days travel (which is the average time companies will give you for free and on an average sized vehicle):

Daily rental: $0.00

Petrol (91 Octane @ $2.07/litre as of December 2011 and calculations based on a Toyota Camry 2400cc which will use around 10 litres per 100km).  $90.00 (approx)

Accommodation (if not relocating a campervan and based on average Backpacker accommodation @ $25.00 per night): $75.00

Total including accommodation and petrol: $165 + Food and fun

Total excluding petrol (as it is often included in the relocation package): $75.00 + Food and fun

NOTE: Campervans and motorhomes have kitchenettes and sleeping facilities.

Bus: There are a number of busses you can take which will have a variation of pricing plans. Bussing is great if you want a direct transport option and would still like to see some sights on the way.

The down side to bussing though is not being able to stop wherever you like and having to share your travel with strangers (good or bad depending on what you like).

These figures are based on an average of what is offered out there for one passenger so keep in mind you can find both cheaper and dearer busses available.

Total bus fare: $20 – $100.00

Accommodation (based on average Backpacker accommodation @ $25.00 per night):  $75.00

Total: $95.00 – $175.00 + Food and fun

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Air: Flying is always the quickest option and seats can be purchased at hugely discounted prices. In saying this, flights can also be quite expensive and will depend on the company, time of year and your flexibility.

Many of the companies will not allow you to take any luggage on cheap flights which also restricts your travel plans if you intend to travel for any length of time.

Total (average): $60.00 – $150.00

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Travel industry competitors

The competition in the travel industry is high. Although Transfercar can offer a free travel option to drivers it is competing for attention with many other alternatives such as the options mentioned above. Here’s a breakdown of  how we compare:

Competitors Strengths Weaknesses
Flight Efficient travel




Own car Convenient


High running costs

Pay for wear & tear

Rental car Convenient


Expensive to rent

Unfamiliar to drive

Rental camper van Convenient


Accommodation on wheels


High fuel usage

Bus Cheap Uncomfortable

Less freedom

Less convenient

Train Cheap Less freedom

Low flexibility

Car pooling Share costs Less convenient

Less freedom

Difficult to find travel partner

Depending on your budget and flexibility, any one of these options may suit. Just be sure that you go for the option that works best and take into consideration things like luggage, time, route and expenses.

At the end of the day though, have fun and stay safe!

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