Car Hire or Mountain Transport – Which is Better?

Planning your New Zealand ski holiday? You’ll need to figure out how you’re going to get up and down the mountain each day. Depending on your group size and travel requirements, either a bus or a hire car may suit your needs. Let’s look at some things to consider when making your decision.

Should you hire a car or take the bus?

A rental car provides convenience, but the costs of car hire, fuel and parking can quickly stack up. If you’re planning to do some exploring out of town then a car is a great option, but for a quick ski trip with time split between the resort and the mountain, bus services can be perfect.

Travelling with kids? A hire car might be the best option for you. If you’ve got tired little ones that need to go home and have a nap after a big morning’s skiing, you’ll enjoy being able to leave the mountain at your leisure; no waiting for a bus.


Let’s see how the costs compare between car hire and mountain transport.

Car Hire Estimate

Car hire & insurance: $20-$100+ per day depending on vehicle selection.
Parking: around $20 per day for parking in a ski town. Hourly usually rates vary between $1-$6 per hour.
Fuel: A full tank of gas is around $100 and should be good for a few days’ worth of trips up and down the mountain with some extra exploring thrown in.

Shuttle bus

Shuttle buses are offered by most of New Zealand’s ski fields, with collections from central spots in the popular resorts like Queenstown and Wanaka. Costs vary from mountain to mountain but a return ticket for the shuttle from Queenstown to Coronet Peak or The Remarkables is $25 per day, with discounts offered for weekly passes. Hotel pickup is available at extra cost. And of course, there’s no need to worry about fuel or parking.

Pros and cons: Mountain Transfers

Pros: The access roads to ski fields can be daunting, especially if there’s been a dump of snow. Let an experienced coach driver take care of the driving while you relax and take in the sights around you.

Cons: Buses at popular times can be busy and have limited space for luggage. Return buses run until the end of the day, you may have to wait a while for the next bus service when you want to go home.

Pros and cons: Hiring a car

Pros: Enjoy the freedom to come and go from the mountain at your own leisure. You shouldn’t have any issues with luggage space either, just remember to book a suitably sized hire car. We recommend an SUV for a family, while a station wagon would suit a couple or small group.

Cons: Parking spaces in NZ’s ski resorts can be scarce and expensive. When driving up the mountain, you’ll need to carry snow chains and be able to fit them if required.

For advice on transport or anything else on your NZ ski holiday, contact us today.