New Zealand Travel Tip #1: How to Ride the Bus

February 26, 2009

Even within the U.S., every city does bus travel a little differently. Traveling in New Zealand, the important thing to remember is that people are very nice and happy to help if you smile and ask nicely, but it doesn’t hurt to have an idea of what to expect.

In Auckland, I’ve stuck to riding the Link Bus, because it goes everywhere I need to be. It’s a flat fee of NZ$1.60 a ride (about US$1 right now, so very cheap), and if you just want to sit and ride the loop around and around, go for it.

Here’s how you ride the bus.

1. Identify a bus stop either by the big bus shelter, or a sign post on the sidewalk. Even in the more residential areas here, many of them have electronic signs that tell you when the next bus is coming.

2. Have your money ready. You don’t need exact change, but the driver won’t appreciate being handed a $20 either, so if you have coins, use them.

3. Put your coins in the small tray to the right of the driver’s change machine. If you need change, the driver will set it there for you to take. I imagine using the tray saves a lot of time from people dropping coins as they get handed to them.

4. A ticket will come out of the side of the machine. Take it. It’s your receipt.

5. Find a seat. Don’t take up a whole extra seat with your bag. It’s rude, and people here don’t do rude. There should be a small are behind one of the front seats where bags can be stowed if you need to set something down.

6. When your stop is next, hit one of the red “STOP” buttons located throughout the bus. A sign at the front of the bus will light up, indicating the bus is stopping.

7. When the bus stops, leave using the back door. The front door is for people who are getting on. If the door doesn’t automatically open, you can say, “Back door, please!” and the driver should open it for you.

8. You’ll notice that most people say “thank you” when getting off the bus. I don’t know if the driver can hear them, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still nice to do.

And voila! You’re an expert city traveler.

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