Getting from Auckland to Queenstown (and return)

by Cristina on August 12, 2011

by Cristina | August 12th, 2011  

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, located in the northern half of the North Island http://www.newzealandtravelguide.com/north-island.

Queenstown is a scenic town located in the South Island , filled with a lot of things to do, regardless of when you plan to travel. The city sits on the edge of Lake Wakatipu and is surrounded by the Southern Alps.

Quick summary

The distance between Auckland and Queenstown is long and your best bet is to fly. The flight takes almost 2 hours and the one way fares start at US$139 per person. Your other option is to spend almost 3 days traveling by a combination of trains, ferry and bus. But you won’t be saving any money.

Flights from Auckland (airport code: AKL) to Queenstown

Auckland International Airport is the largest airport in New Zealand and offers flights both to cities in New Zealand and abroad. Queenstown is served by an international airport (code: ZQN), which receives connecting flight from New Zealand’s major cities. Flights between Auckland and Queenstown are run by JetStar and Air New Zealand. The flight time is almost 2 hours and a one way adult ticket starts at US$139 (on JetStar). Return flights start at US$268 per person.

>>read more about Cheap flights to Auckland

Trains, ferries and buses from Auckland to Queenstown

It is possible to travel between Auckland and Queenstown by a combination of train, ferry and bus:

  • Step 1: Auckland to Wellington by Overlander
  • Step 2: Wellington to Picton by ferry
  • Step 3: Picton to Christchurch by Coastal Pacific Train
  • Sep 4: Christchurch to Queenstown by bus

Step 1, 2 and 3 : The Overland Connection offers a scenic way to get from Auckland to Christchurch via Wellington and Picton. First you need to take the Overlander train from Auckland to Wellington. Then, from Wellington, you board an Interislander ferry, crossing Cook Strait and stop in Picton. From Picton you board The Coastal Pacific train to get to Christchurch. It takes 2 days to travel between the two cities. There are daily departures from Auckland at 7:25 a.m. and you’ll get to Christchurch after 2 days at 7 p.m. The adult fare is NZ$ 301. Tickets can be booked here

Step 4: InterCity Coachlines and Newmans Coach Lines offer direct links between Christchurch and Queenstown. Both companies offer three departures per day. The travel time is between 8 hours and almost 11 hours, depending on the type of bus. On the fast bus, regardless of the company you choose, the fares start at $39 NZD (non refundable).

Read more about:
>> Train Travel in New Zealand
>> Bus Travel in New Zealand

Driving from Auckland to Queenstown

If you want to rent a car and explore the beauty of New Zealand at your own pace, you need to take into account that to get from Auckland to Queenstown you need to take the ferry. Ferry tickets are expensive if you cross with a car (from NZ$ 208 per small car and an adult). Not to mention that the total travel time is over 22 hours, out of which the ferry crossing is 3 hours. So, plan for several stops along the way, even if you switch drivers.


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