Debriefing: Inland Travel Costs

Well, I made it there and back, and through the countryside as well. As I suspected when I first wrote about this, having a budget of $2,100 (€1,428) for inland travel (one person, eight weeks) was more than sufficient. In the end, the tin had more than $430 (€290) leftover in it. This was remarkably cheaper than any of the vehicle hire options, especially when considering the fuel costs and necessary bus/shuttle rides that would have to be added in.

That being said, the combination of inland flights, bus trips, taxis and other shuttles to get around in has to be well planned. A number of the bus trips were best booked in advance to be somewhat cheaper (InterCity has special offer tickets which can be very cheap, but they can’t be changed). Most of the on-track/off-track shuttles as well as taxi fares are fixed price, but can be flexible (just ask if you can change). Inland flights are very much cheaper the further in advance you book; again the cheapest options cannot be changed after booking, except for a special fee. This is the only point where I could have saved about $150/€100, and it was on the Auckland-Invercargill leg.

This was a particularly problematical stretch because I was arriving very early in the morning and wanted to travel on to Invercargill as soon as I could. I originally booked a set of flights at around 10:00 am, but then thought to myself that if I arrive any later, the reservation would expire, so I changed the booking to Air New Zealand’s flexiticket, and a very much later flight. The flexiticket allows you to change to an earlier flight on the same day, subject to availability. So by booking a flight very late on my arrival day to ensure that I actually got into Auckland in time, I could then try moving my flight forward on the day. This worked out quite well. As soon as I was through customs, I went over to the domestic terminal and booked the earliest pair of flights that would allow me just over an hour in Christchurch (where I would be picking up the emergency equipment from Hire-a-Holden), and I was in Invercargill just on lunch time. One further point about inland flights needs to be noted here: While most international airlines allow 30 kg per suitcase, the domestic limit is 23 kg per item so that meant repacking the suitcase (in effect taking out one travel bag with about 8 kg worth of goods in it) at the domestic terminal. It also meant having to book extra baggage with the ticket, which in any case is cheaper than adding it on at the airport. But I should have booked the flexiticket variant right from the start, because that would have been cheaper than changing the ticket along the way.

The shuttle company in Dunedin didn’t charge my credit card for the shuttle trip to the airport, too bad for them. The Super Shuttle web page wouldn’t cough up a booking for a shuttle ride from Nelson Airport, so I used the Jayride site; surprising that there is a company out that there will to make a dollar (or two) out of Super Shuttle’s misery, but there you go. The bus trip from Nelson to Picton and return was booked on the InterCity bus via the Atomic Bus website; they were $1 cheaper. But this is where things began to unravel a bit. The bus back was full, and Atomic hadn’t passed on my booking. Until Atomic apologises (which I have asked them to do, but they haven’t done so yet) I can only warn people from booking via Atomic. At your own peril.

One other thing about this mode of travel that deserves attention is the accommodation that is required: Hostels, airbnb, apart from the DOC huts and campsites on the tracks. The hostel in Karamea offered to organise a shuttle from the end off the Heaphy Track, but I found a helpful soul to offer me a lift there instead. In only one case was the track shuttle included in the price of the accommodation, and is not listed below (Tapawera Settle, Tapawera, for a pick up from the Wangapeka Track). Obviously if you are in your big Freedom Camper from upwards of €4,500 (and, more typically €7,000+) for eight weeks, then a couple of nights can be spent at a free camping site. But that doesn’t really offset the €1,260 I spent on accommodation, does it?

Inland Travel Budget, 2017, one person, 8 weeks
Date of Purchase Item Start Destination Euro
28 Nov 16 Flight – Jetstar Dunedin Nelson €52.43
1 Dec 16 Flight – AirNZ Auckland Invercargill €256.33
13 Dec 16 Stewart Island Flights Invercargill Oban (return) €147.24
15 Dec 16 Bus – Tracknet Invercargill Te Anau €34.00
19 Dec 16 Flight – Jetstar Nelson Auckland €113.43
3 Jan 17 Bus – Intercity Te Anau Dunedin €19.58
6 Jan 17 Bus/Boat – Trips&Tramps Te Anau Hauroko Burn €101.02
11 Feb 17 Shuttle – Exclusive Cars Invercargill €12.24
14 Feb 17 Shuttle – Exclusive Cars Invercargill €12.24
19 Feb 17 Water taxi Freshwater Oban €40.80
20 Feb 17 Taxi Invercargill €17.00
2 Mar 17 Ferry – Real Adventures West Arm Manapouri €29.92
5 Mar 17 Taxi Te Anau €4.76
5 Mar 17 Bus Dunedin €2.31
6 Mar 17 Bus Dunedin €2.31
6 Mar 17 Bus Dunedin €2.31
7 Mar 17 Shuttle Nelson €15.46
13 Mar 17 Heaphy Transport Nelson Brown’s Hut €44.20
13 Mar 17 Bus – InterCity Kohatau Nelson €31.29
17 Mar 17 Karamea transport Karamea Wangapeka €34.00
23 Mar 17 Bus – InterCity Nelson Picton (return) €39.94
26 Mar 17 Water taxi Ship Cove Picton €54.40
27 Mar 17 Shuttle Nelson €13.10
3 Apr 17 Shuttle Auckland €36.12
3 Apr 17 Bus Auckland €2.38
3 Apr 17 Bus Auckland €3.74
4 Apr 17 Airbus Express Auckland €11.41
5 Apr 17 Bus Auckland €3.74
Total €1,133.97
Budget €1,428.00
Surplus €294.03