Orbus is Dunedin and Queenstown's public transport network.

In Dunedin, buses are connected via the Bus Hub located on Great King Street.

In Queenstown, buses connect via Frankton and downtown Queenstown on Stanley Street. There is also a ferry service that is part of the Orbus network – it goes from the Hilton (Kelvin Heights) to Queenstown.

It's pretty easy to take the bus we think! But if you're a newcomer, a visitor from overseas or another part of the country, you've come to the right place to learn everything you need to know about taking the bus!

Below you'll find all the information you need to start taking the bus.

Step 1: Get a Bee Card and register it

While you can buy tickets on board our buses (with cash only), bus fares are cheaper if you use a Bee Card.

A Bee Card is the prepay travel smartcard for Orbus and other regions of New Zealand.

Start by purchasing a Bee Card for a one-off cost of $5. Then top-up at least $5 (this prepays your fare).

You can get a Bee Card from:

  • Online at www.beecard.co.nz
  • On the bus (cash only) 
  • Otago Regional Council customer services offices
  • Bee Card retailers

Register your Bee Card

Registering your Bee Card helps keep your card and balance safe, and makes it easier to manage.

To register your Bee Card, go to the official Bee Card website and create a Bee Card account.

You don't have to register your Bee Card, but there are many benefits if you do, such as being able to top up online.

Learn more about the Bee Card

Step 2: Plan your journey

Use our "Journey planner" to plan your journey. You can see routes or tap in your location to get the best results.

You can also use the Transit app, Google maps or Apple Maps to see which buses suit your journey.

Orbus routes can be tracked in real time through the free Transit app (available on iOS and Android). 

Check for bus alerts

For the latest bus alerts on bus disruptions and cancellations on specific routes, you can check online on our website where you can filter alerts for your location and route.

On the Transit app, you can also get alerts for specific routes as well. 

Step 3: Find your stop

Once you've planned your journey, you'll be able to see where bus stops are located.

Head to your nearest stop and be ready 5-10 minutes before the scheduled time.

You can track your bus with the free Transit app, which shows Orbus buses travelling in real time.

When you see the bus driving toward the stop with the correct number, hail the driver (wave or raise your hand).

Person with left arm raised to single the oncoming bus to stop
Hail the bus you want to get on

Don’t worry if the bus doesn’t have an Orbus logo. If your bus number and destination is on the bus, that’s the one you want.

Don’t forget that conditions such as traffic, accidents and weather (even other passengers) can all affect the bus service times, so they may sometimes be late. Check bus alerts on our website or the Transit app regarding delays and/or cancellations. 

If you're feeling unwell, we encourage you to wear a mask.

Step 4: Get on the bus (tag on)

You've hailed the driver, and your bus has stopped, now you can "tag on". 

Hold your Bee Card against the ticketing machine scanner and wait for the beep.

If you don't have a Bee Card, you can get one from the driver, or pay for the fare with cash. 

You can also talk to the driver about where to get off if you need some help.

Place your Bee Card on the card scanner near the front door of bus to tag on.
Place your Bee Card on the ticketing scanner near the bus's front door to tag on.

Step 5: Get off the bus (tag off)

When your stop is coming up, press one of the red 'Stop' buttons near your seat to signal the driver you want to get off.

Try to press it after the last stop, instead of just before your stop so the driver has time to slow down and indicate. Also get out your Bee Card so you are ready to tag off soon.

If you're unsure of your stop, you can ask your driver, follow your bus on the Transit tracking app, or pre-plan using the Journey planner, or any other map app that you prefer to use.

Tag your Bee Card off as you depart (at the front or back off the bus) using the ticketing scanner again. 

Don't forget to thank the driver!

Always remember to tag off

If you forget to tag off, you get charged a default fare, which is the flat cash fare.

When a Bee Card user swipes their card as they enter – tagging on – the system recognises where they are travelling from.

When they tag off, it closes the loop and charges a passenger for their travel. 

Tagging off also ensures you won't be charged if you have changed buses within the free transfer window of 45 minutes from the last tag off (more information is below about free transfers).

Tagging on and off also gives us important data about where people travel helping us improve the network according to people's travel habits.

Tag off the bus using the ticketing scanner

Pro tips to make the most of your Orbus journeys

Make the most of free transfers*

A bus transfer is when you travel on a bus and then get off this bus to take another bus to continue your trip.

If you're a Bee Card holder taking two buses in a single trip, you may only pay for single fare when you transfer from your first bus to your second bus within 45 minutes of tagging off the first bus.

You must use your Bee Card to tag on and off both buses to get your free transfer.

The 45 minute transfer window starts when you tag off the first bus with your Bee Card. This means you have 45 minutes to tag on to the second bus in order to pay just a single fare with your Bee Card.

There’s no need to let your bus driver know you’re transferring.

How to transfer from one bus to another

Step one: Tag onto your first bus

Step two: Tag off your first bus

Step three: Tag onto your next bus within 45 minutes of tagging off the first bus

Step four: Tag off your second bus when you leave. It's that easy!

*Conditions for free bus transfers
  • You must tag on and off with your Bee Card between the two buses
  • Tagging on to the second bus must happen within 45 minutes of tagging off the first bus
  • Free transfers do not apply to any fares purchased on the bus with cash
  • Free transfers do not apply to any trips purchased for additional people on your Bee Card (using its stored credit)
  • Free transfers do not apply to/from and between ferries
  • For SuperGold concession holders, free transfers between two buses must take place within the same peak travel periods. If your first bus is in the off-peak period and the transfer to the second bus takes place during peak time, you will be charged a fare.

Download the free Transit app

Dunedin and Queenstown Orbus networks are on the free Transit app, a transport mobility app that allows you to plan your journey and see where you bus is in real-time. You can also get bus alerts for specific routes that you use, so you can know what is happening

Transit is available on iOS and Android devices. You can download the free app from the Apple App store or Google Play.

Learn how to use the Transit app 

Download the free Transit app from Apple app store or Google Play.

Try out our bike racks

All Orbus buses now have at least two bike racks at the front of the bus, so you have more options for getting around town – and your bike travels for free.

What you need to know about bikes on buses
  • Bike racks can carry up to two bikes at a time
  • They’re designed for wheels larger than 16” (41cm) in diameter
  • Let the driver know right away if you have problems with the bike racks
  • Children’s bikes may be allowed on the bus at the driver’s discretion, and must be securely held by the passenger
  • e-bikes can be mounted on buses however there is a weight restriction. No bike may weigh more than 25 kgs.

Please note it’s your responsibility to load and unload your bike. For safety reasons, our bus drivers are not able to assist you. Please don’t take it personally when they stay in the bus!