Practical Life in Auckland


Transport in Auckland


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Auckland is highly dependent on private vehicles as the main form of transportation. In 2007, approximately NZ$5.3 billion worth of large-scale projects were underway. More recently, the National government has encouraged more highway construction and removed the provision of a regional fuel tax that was to pay for ARTA's public transport upgrades. This has further decreased the chances of better public transportation.

Privatization during the 1980s resulted in Auckland's public transport system run by many different operators. They do not seem to work well together and there are few integrated public transport passes. The Auckland Regional Council is trying to sort out the system. ARC runs the Maxx(09-366 6400), the most comprehensive transport system of buses, trains and ferries.

Metro

At one point there was a series of trams that connected areas of Auckland, but this was dismantled in the 1950s. Public transport outside of buses,trains, and ferries is currently non-existent.

Metro/Bus:www.maxx.co.nz/how-to-travel/take-the-bus

Bus

Bus services provide the bulk of public transport, but only around 5 percent of all journeys in the Auckland region are undertaken by bus. Bus services in Auckland are mostly radial rather than ring-routes, due to Auckland geography on an isthmus. Service is also limited after hours (past midnight) and on weekends.

The Maxx website offers a trip planner and time tables for bus transport. Bus fares are charged on the distance traveled. Distance is based upon stage points that are set at specific points along a bus route, approximately every four kilometres. These points are set within stages and moving between stages (like from Manukau City to central Auckland) costs more money. Moving around the inner city is NZ$0.50, with moving between one stage costing NZ$1.60, two stages NZ$3.20, three stages NZ$4.30, four sages NZ$5.40, five stages NZ$6.50, and six stages NZ$7.50. One day pass, including transit on all Waka Pacific, North Star, GO WEST, Metrolink, LINK buses and North Shore and Downtown Fullers ferry services, costs NZ$11 while a three-day pass costs NZ$25. For a complete list of prices, go to MAXX list of bus fares.

Upon boarding the bus, have your fare ready to give to the bus driver. All buses accept cash for payment of fares. Exact change is appreciated but small notes can usually be accepted, and change given. Books of 10 ride tickets can also be purchased from ticket agents as well as on the bus. Most transport operators have smart cards, which can also be used to obtain discounts on cash fares. Depending on the type of card, you either insert the Smartcard directly into the driver's ticket machine or place it on the reader on the top of the machine as you board - make sure you take your card back when the ticket is issued.

There have been efforts to increase the use of public transit with 20 new 'Link' city route buses built in 2007 and the introduction of bus rapid transit on the Northern Busway (opened January 2008). The Link Buses are environmentally friendly and affordable with prices at $1.60 and stops every 10 to 15 minutes, 6am to 11.30pm. Unfortunately, these efforts haven't been completely successful as there can be long delays and many people still consider riding the buses with distaste.

The main long-distance bus company in Auckland, as for the rest of NZ, is InterCity (09-623 1503). There is also the travel and sightseeing arm Newmans Coach Lines.

Naked Bus travels along SH1 as far as Whangarei (three hours) and Wellington (12 hours), as well as further off destinations. Fares start from $1.

Go Kiwi (0800 446 549) has daily door-to-door shuttle services to/from Auckland, Rotorua, Tauranga, Hamilton, Waitomo and the Coromandel Peninsula.

Trains

Auckland has three main railway lines, serving the general western, southern, and central eastern directions from the Britomart Transport Centre in downtown Auckland. It is the terminal station for all lines, and connects them to ferry and bus services. There are just three train routes: one runs west to Waitakere, while two run south to Pukekohe. Services are at least hourly and run from around 6am to 8pm (later on the weekends). A $14 Discovery Pass allows a day's travel on most bus, train and North Shore ferry services. Otherwise, pay the conductor on the train. All train carriages have wheelchair ramps.

The MAXX also provides time tables and information on riding the trains. Service runs along the west and southeast of Auckland, with longer-distance options becoming more scarce. Auckland`s suburban rail network extends from Waitakere to the north-west of the city centre through to Papakura, south of the city.

Fares work much like bus fares with price dependent on distance. For a complete listing of prices, go to MAXX train fares.

Train: www.maxx.co.nz

Airports

Auckland Airport is the largest and busiest airport in New Zealand with over 13 million passengers a year. The airport is about 21 km south of Auckland City centre. It is the central hub for Air New Zealand. It has a capacity of about 45 flights per hour.

New Zealand has tough quarantine laws and all arriving passengers are subject to screening. During non-peak hours, passengers with no baggage can expect to get from plane to exit within 10 minutes; for passengers with baggage about 15-20 minutes. A NZ$200 instant fine applies for risky items not being declared, while a fine of up to NZ$100,000 and ten years in prison are possible for the importation of certain specifically risky goods.

Taxis

New Zealand taxis are usually very reliable with fair meters. Bargaining or tipping for taxi services in New Zealand is not generally acceptable.

Fares are $3, plus $2.40 to $2.60 per kilometre. There's a surcharge for transport to and from the airport and cruise ships.

Auckland's many taxis usually operate from ranks, but they also cruise popular areas. Auckland Co-op Taxis (09-300 3000) is one of the biggest companies. Alert Taxis, Discount taxis, and Auckland Combined Citicabs Taxis are other well known taxi companies.

Boats

Auckland's port is the largest in the country. Freight usually arrives at or is distributed from the port via road, though the port facilities also have rail access. Auckland is a major cruise ship stopover point, with the ships usually tying up at Princes Wharf.

Fullers has been the leading ferry operator in Auckland for over 20 years and offers a range of ferry trips, tours and charters around Auckland Harbour and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf.

Prices are around $55. Tickets can be purchased from the Downtown Ferry Terminal. For Waiheke Island services tickets need to purchased at the Downtown or Waiheke ferry terminals. Gulf Harbour Ferry can be purchased on the ferry or from the Downtown Pier 3 ticket office. Tickets for the Pine Harbour Ferry can be purchased on the ferry or from the Pine Harbour marina. Tickets for the West Harbour Ferry can only be bought on the ferry.

SeaLink offers Great Barrier Island service from Auckland.

Car

Auckland is extremely geared to a driving community. The city has engaged in some of the most pro-automobile transport policies anywhere in the world. New Zealand is now has the second-highest vehicle ownership rate in the world, with around 578 vehicles per 1000 people. Auckland has also been called a very pedestrian- and cyclist-unfriendly city, such as the inability for pedestrians and cyclists to cross the Waitemata Harbour. This focus on driving has resulted in substantial traffic congestion during peak times.

If you have a driver's licence in your home country or an international driving permit (IDP), you can drive in New Zealand for a maximum of one year. If your overseas licence or permit isn't in English, you must carry an accurate translation. After one year you'll need to apply for a New Zealand driver's licence. By law you must always have your licence with you when you're driving.

It's easy to underestimate traveling times in New Zealand. Although distances may seem short on paper, New Zealand roads may be narrower than you are used to, cover hilly terrain and vary from motorways to unsealed gravel roads. On most of New Zealand's main roads the speed limit is 100 km/h unless a sign says a lower speed applies. In urban areas, the speed limit is usually 50 km/h unless a sign says otherwise.

If you intend to drive in New Zealand, make sure you're familiar with our driving rules before you arrive.

  • In New Zealand, all motorists drive on the LEFT side of the road.
  • When turning left, give way (or yield) to traffic crossing or approaching from your right.
  • When the traffic light is red, you must stop.
  • The speed limit on the open road is 100km/h (approx 60m/h) but in some areas close to towns and cities 80km/h or 70km/h applies - watch for signs that tell you this.
  • In built up urban areas the speed limit is 50km/h.
  • Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts at all times
  • Always use your indicators when turning.
  • At an intersection where one vehicle will cross the path of another, and both are waiting on stop or give way signs (or where there are no signs), special give way rules apply.
  • if you're turning, give way to all vehicles that are not turning
  • in all other situations, give way to vehicles crossing or coming from your right.
  • In New Zealand you're not allowed to turn left at an intersection when the traffic lights are red.
  • Most roads in New Zealand have a single lane each way, but provide passing lanes at regular intervals - these should be used where possible. You must not cross a solid yellow line on your side of the centre-line, as this indicates it's too dangerous to overtake.

For more rules of the road, use the Helpful Road Code guide.

Parking is a problem in central Auckland, but there are plenty of car parks off Beach Rd, which is at the eastern end of Customs St. They cost around $8 for 12 hours. Most on-street parking meters (from $1 an hour) do not have to be fed money between 6pm and 8am or on Sunday - check the meters and parking signs carefully.

Roads

The State Highway network connects the cities in the Auckland urban area through the Northern, Southern, Northwestern and Southwestern Motorways.

The Auckland Harbour Bridge (Northern Motorway) is the main connection to North Shore City, and also a major bottleneck. The Harbour Bridge does not provide access to pedestrians or cyclists, which in 2008 led to calls for and investigations into retrofitting the structure. Harbour Bridge - connecting Auckland and the North Shore, an iconic symbol of Auckland.

The Central Motorway Junction, also called 'Spaghetti Junction' for its complexity, is the intersection between the two major motorways of Auckland (State Highway 1 and State Highway 16).

Two of the longest arterial roads within Greater Auckland are Great North Road and Great South Road - the main connections in those directions before the construction of the State Highway network.

You'll only be able to drive the same types of vehicles you're licensed to drive in your home country. The minimum legal age to rent a car in New Zealand is 25 years.

Rental, Car Hire

Apollo Car Rentals offer rental cars in Auckland, including a wide range of quality rental cars available at great rates. Branches in Auckland and Christchurch with complimentary airport transfers.

Britz Campervan, Car and 4WD Rentals has an impressive range of rental cars from handy compacts to 4WD's, all reasonably priced to let you discover NZ your way.

Budget Rent-A-Car is one of New Zealand's largest rental companies. They offer cars, 4-wheel drives and minivans.

Ezi-Rent Car Hire has affordable cars and friendly personal service at our 12 branches nationwide.

City Map:travel.nytimes.com/.../auckland/maps
Road Map: www.zoomin.co.nz/map/auckland

Update 6/12/2009





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