Earthquake Disruptions

Due to extensive road damage resulting from the earthquake on 14 November 2016, a portion of State Highway 1 is currently closed between Picton and Christchurch, and travellers need to take alternative routes.

Budget recommend that customers travelling from the North Island consider making alternative travel arrangements such as flying from Wellington to Christchurch to ensure vehicle availability and avoid delays.

Please contact us on 0800 283 438 for more information on any part of your current booking or future bookings.

View the map of road closures and alternative routes published by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).


Travel Options

When travelling from Picton at the top of the South Island to either Christchurch or Queenstown, there are four routes to consider. Roads will be busy so patience is required with travel congestion expected especially in areas around townships.


Picton-Blenheim-Christchurch: allow approximately 7.5 hours travel time.


  • Picton-Blenheim (SH1), Blenheim-St Arnaud (SH63), St Arnaud-Murchison (SH6), Murchison-Lewis Pass- Hanmer Springs (SH65 and SH7 and SH7a), Hanmer Springs-Christchurch (SH7 and SH1).

  • This is the quickest route currently available between Picton and Christchurch, and offers the chance for a nights stopover in either Murchison or the thermal resort of Hanmer Springs.


Picton-Nelson-Christchurch: allow approximately 9 hours travel time.


  • Picton-Nelson (SH6), Nelson-Murchison (SH6), Murchison-Lewis Pass- Hanmer Springs (SH65 and SH7 and SH7a), Hanmer Springs-Christchurch (SH7 and SH1).

  • This is route gives you the opportunity to spend a night or two exploring Nelson and nearby Abel Tasman National Park, whilst avoiding the busier route from Picton to Murchison via Blenheim.


Picton-Nelson-Greymouth-Franz Josef-Christchurch: allow approximately 14 hours travel time.


  • Picton-Nelson (SH1 and SH6), Nelson-Murchison (SH6), Murchison-Westport (SH6), Westport-Greymouth (SH6), Greymouth-Franz Josef (SH6), Franz Josef-Christchurch (SH6 north and SH73).

  • Murchison’s just a hop skip and a jump away from the South Island’s west coast, so don’t miss the opportunity to experience this rugged coastline, overnighting in the spectacular tourist destinations of Punakaiki and Franz Josef, before enjoying the remarkably beautiful journey through Arthurs Pass back to Christchurch.


Picton-Greymouth-Wanaka-Cromwell-Queenstown: allow approximately 14 hours travel time.


  • Picton-Nelson (SH1 and SH6), Nelson-Murchison (SH6), Murchison-Westport (SH6), Westport-Greymouth (SH6), Greymouth-Franz Josef (SH6), Franz Josef-Wanaka (SH6), Wanaka-Cromwell (SH6), Cromwell-Queenstown (SH6).

  • If your intention was to do a full loop of the South Island, consider journeying down the entire West Coast on state highway 6 from Nelson to Haast, crossing back over the Southern Alps via Haast Pass, towards Wanaka and Queenstown. We do not recommend undertaking this leg of the journey in a single day due to difficult driving conditions and three to four days is highly recommended in order to fully enjoy the West Coasts pristine scenery and as well as it's world renowned attractions including the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. From Queenstown you can continue south on the Southern Scenic Route, taking in Milford Sound and the Catlin’s, before heading north again to Christchurch via Dunedin.


Useful Links



If you have a Budget Fastbreak or Rapidrez account, please enter your six-character number and surname in this field. Corporate Fastbreak members should also enter there six-character number and surname in this field.

If you're a member of an organisation or company that partners with Budget you may have a one of the following:

  • Direct PIN Number
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Add this number into the field shown to receive your discount.

If you're a member of Air New Zealand Airpoints™, Qantas Frequent Flyer, or FlyBuys New Zealand you may earn points on your rental charges. Select the program you are a member of and enter your membership number and we will automatically credit membership account with the applicable points after your rental has been completed.

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Enter your travel agency IATA number or Budget Assigned Number (BAN) in this field.

The minimum age for drivers is 21 years old for all car groups. A Young Driver Surcharge of NZ$25.00 (plus GST) per day per driver will apply to drivers under 25 years of age.

The 'Estimated Total' displayed on your reservation includes; base daily rate, taxes, coupon discounts, and surcharges. Items such as credit/debit card transaction fees and petrol are NOT included in the Estimated Total.

Please Note: The Estimated Total is subject to change based upon exchange rates at the time of rental.

Payment of the rental must be made by credit card and the credit card holder must be present when the vehicle is collected. When you collect your vehicle a pre-authorisation will be made on your credit card for the estimated value of the rental and any applicable security bond. Provided the vehicle is returned undamaged and no additional charges apply (e.g. fuel), the pre-authorisation is cancelled.

Budget accepts American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa.

Debit Cards are accepted provided that the card displays the Visa or Mastercard logo, has been issued by a bank, has the customer's name and card number on the card, and the funds are being debited from a cheque/current account. Prepaid and Reloadable debit cards and gift cards, as well as Travel Cards and EFTPOS cards are not accepted.

Standard Motor Vehicle Insurance (MVI) is mandatory and included in the rate.

Optional Budget Driver & Passenger Protection can be purchased for NZ$28* (plus GST) per day. The purchase of this optional insurance package reduces the renter's liability to NZ$300.00* (plus GST) for all car groups. In addition, Budget Driver & Passenger Protection provides cover for personal injury.

If Budget Driver & Passenger Protection is not purchased, the Renter will be liable for an amount ranging from NZ$3000.00* (plus GST) to NZ$3750.00* (plus GST), depending on the car group rented.

*Applicable to standard leisure rentals; subject to change.

If you are making a corporate reservation using a BCD or Fastbreak number, please check your company's rates and insurance coverage before booking. Standard Motor Vehicle Insurance is mandatory on all Budget leisure rentals, but corporate rates and insurance coverages may differ.

All additional drivers must meet the same minimum age & drivers license requirements as the renter. All additional drivers must be present at the start of the rental. If the additional drivers are not present at time of rental pick-up, they must present themselves to a Budget rental location at their earliest convenience to complete the Additional Driver Form.

Vehicles displayed on the website are for demonstration purposes only. Brands and models may vary by location and all vehicles are subject to availability at the time of rental.

You must present a full and valid, unrestricted, Driver's Licence at the time of rental. Licences issued in a language other than English must be accompanied by an International Driver's Licence.

Budget holds your GPS request with your reservation, however we cannot guarantee availability.

Please Note: If the drop off / return location is not within the same city as the pick-up / renting location, a one-way GPS drop off charge of NZ$50.00 (plus GST) may apply to the rental. This is in addition to any one way charges that may apply for the rental of the vehicle.

One way rentals to non participating locations are subject to availability.

The minimum age is 21 for all car groups. A Young Driver Surcharge of NZ$25.00 (plus GST) per day per driver will apply to drivers under 25 years of age.

Customers wishing to travel between the North and South Islands are not permitted to take Budget rental vehicles on the Inter-island Ferry across Cook Strait.

To allow for this type of inter-island travel Budget has introduced a special rental system called a Multi-Island Hire which creates one continuous rental. If you require a Multi-Island Hire, the following rental conditions apply:

  • For cars there is a minimum of 3 days consecutive rental required in each island (a minimum total rental of 6 days across both islands).
  • If you are traveling more than once between the two islands, the third (and subsequent) rental period has no minimum length of rental requirement.
  • The rental can start and finish at any Budget location in New Zealand (subject to vehicle availability).
  • You can cross between the two islands using the Picton Ferry Terminal and the Wellington Ferry Terminal, or you can fly into cities where Budget is located. Note: this policy only applies if you are traveling to the other island, not to a location within the same island.
  • A maximum of 5 hours is allowed between the drop off of the vehicle in one island and the pick up of the next vehicle.
  • A minimum of 72 hours notice is required of the renter's intention to cross between the North & South islands, if a crossover booking has not been previously made. If not enough notice is given, we cannot guarantee a vehicle will be available on the other side.

Please Note: No Budget vehicle is allowed to cross Cook Strait between the North and South Islands. If you take a vehicle across Cook Strait on an Inter-island ferry (i.e. if you pick-up a rental vehicle on one island and leave the vehicle on the other island) without Budget authorisation, you will be charged an automatic relocation fee of NZ$450.00 (incl. GST).

Full Budget Rental Terms & Conditions apply.