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Getting from Auckland to Christchurch (and return)

Auckland is the largest metropolitan area in New Zealand, located in the northern half of the North Island. It is an interesting cultural mix and also offers super landscapes to explore.

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island and the second largest city in the country. The English heritage shows in the older buildings and offers the city a distinct flavor.

Getting between the two cities is not very hard, but you have to do some research before you choose which means of transportation is the best for your time and budget.

Quick summary

If you don’t like to spend too much time traveling, then consider flying. It only takes 1 h 20 min to get from Auckland to Christchurch and the one way fares start at US$73 per person. If you have two days on your hands, you can consider taking the train or the bus. But you also need to take the ferry to cross between the two islands. Overall, it’s more expensive to travel by bus or train than to fly.

Should you add Christchurch to your round the world trip itinerary?

Flights between Auckland (airport code: AKL) and Christchurch

Christchurch International Airport (CHC) is a major transit point for both domestic and international flights. Flights to/from Auckland are operated by JetStar and Qantas Airways. The cheaper tickets are offered by JetStar; you’ll pay from US$73 per person for a one way flight. Return flights start at US$146 per person. The flight time is 1h 20 min.

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>>Cheap flights to Christchurch
>>Cheap flights to Auckland

Trains and ferries between Auckland and Christchurch

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. From Wellington, you board an Interislander ferry, crossing Cook Strait and stop in Picton. The ferry crossing takes 3 hours. 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

>>read more about Train Travel in New Zealand

Buses and ferries from Auckland to Christchurch

If you don’t want to travel by train and don’t mind spending a lot of time on the road, then you can choose to travel by bus and ferry. The national carrier InterCity Coachlines operates bus services between Auckland and Wellington. Then, you need to take the ferry to Picton, and from there another bus to Christchurch, also run by InterCity Coachlines.

There are three departures each day from Auckland. Fares to Wellington start at NZ$ 35 (non refundable) for an adult, one way. The travel time is 11 hours.

There are up to 7 ferry departures per day between Welling and Picton, during the peak season (and only 2 during the off peak season). The journey time is 3 hours. Fares start at NZ$ 65 for an adult, one way. You can book tickets here.

There are two departures each day from Picton to Christchurch. Fares start at NZ$ 31 (non refundable) for an adult, one way and the travel time is almost 6 hours.

>>read more about Bus Travel in New Zealand

Driving from Auckland to Christchurch

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 Christchurch you need to take the ferry. And ferry tickets are expensive if you cross with a car (from NZ$ 208 per small car and an adult). The total travel time is 16 hours 25 min.

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