Media release

Queenstown’s new $2 bus arrives

Monday 20 November 2017

An ambitious new public transport project – Orbus Queenstown – was officially launched this morning.

The trailblazing new bus service offers flat-rate fares to anywhere in the network for just $2 with a GoCard. The new bus service is being delivered by the Otago Regional Council with support from the Queenstown Lakes District Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency; it will be operated by Ritchies. 

A strong crowd turned out to welcome the highly-anticipated new service at Queenstown’s Village Green this morning. 

Otago Regional Councillor Andrew Noone says today is the beginning point for a modern new public transport network that will ease the strain on Queenstown’s roads. “In the future, we hope that public transport will become the mode of choice in Queenstown – the easiest, most convenient, and most affordable way to get around this area.” 

Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult says Orbus “has the potential to revolutionise how we go about getting from A to B to C and back again in our town”. 

“I was on 6.02am bus in from Arrowtown and I can say personally that it was a genuinely enjoyable way to get into Queenstown. It’s always nice being able to enjoy the magnificent views we have all around us without having to watch the road.” 

Orbus is the first step in a long-term strategic plan to ease the strain on Queenstown’s road network and pristine environment. The Transport Agency’s South Island Regional Relationships Director Jim Harland says the solution is not as simple as constructing more roads. 

“Steep and constrained topography means building more roads alone will not address Queenstown’s transport issues – a broad range of measures are required to provide the well-integrated and responsive public transport system the Wakatipu Basin needs,” he says. 

“With efficiency, reliability and affordability to the fore with the new Orbus service, it’s well-placed to significantly improve Queenstown’s transport network for a better future.” 

All Orbus travel is free from today until Sunday, November 26, and GoCards are available free of charge this week. From Monday, November 27, GoCards can be purchased for $5 from the O’Connell’s Mall kiosk, Queenstown Airport or on any Orbus bus. Orbus riders must use a GoCard to receive the subsidised $2 fare; cash fares are $5 per adult, $4 per child (cash fares to and from Queenstown Airport are $10). 

The new service offers extended hours and more frequent services on four routes; Fernhill to Remarkables Park, Arrowtown to Arthurs Point (via Frankton), Kelvin Heights to Frankton Flats and Lake Hayes Estate to Jacks Point. 

Full timetable and route information can be viewed on the Regional Council website at and additional information is available via the Orbus facebook page. Riders can find out the location of their nearest bus stop and track bus movements in real time via the Transport Agency’s free Choice app

Orbus Bus Ambassadors will be handing out free GoCards, maps and timetables and will be on hand to provide information this week. Alternatively, riders can call the Orbus helpline on 0800 ORBUSQT (0800 6728778) or email

The new bus service is part of a wider coordinated plan between ORC, QLDC, New Zealand Transport Agency and Queenstown Airport Corporation to address transportation issues in the greater Queenstown area. 

NZTA's Jim Harland, QLDC mayor Jim Boult, ORC councillor Andrew Noone, ORC acting CEO Nick Donnelly and Ritchies director Andrew Ritchie


About Orbus Queenstown

As well as being an affordable alternative to driving, Orbus aims to reduce traffic congestion on Queenstown’s road network and reduce the impact that private transport has on the environment. The new bus service, delivered by the Otago Regional Council, is part of a wider coordinated plan between the Otago Regional Council, Queenstown Lakes District Council, the New Zealand Transport Agency and Queenstown Airport Corporation to address transportation issues caused by the rapid growth and unique geography of greater Queenstown. Orbus has been jointly funded by ORC, the NZ Transport Agency, and QLDC.

For further information contact:

Andrew Noone

Otago Regional Council
Ph 027 430 1727

Communications contact:

Eleanor Ross
Senior strategic communications and engagement advisor
Otago Regional Council
Ph 027 558 9914