Media release

The Bee Card goes live in Queenstown tomorrow

Monday 14 September 2020

The launch of the Bee Card also coincides with a series of upgrades to the Queenstown bus timetable.

Orbus passengers in Queenstown are encouraged to ‘bee ready’ when bus fare collection resumes with the new Bee Card ticketing system on Tuesday.

Otago joins seven other regions across New Zealand to adopt the system.

So far, approximately 77,000 cards have been activated for the Otago region. Bee Cards have been issued on buses, from Otago Regional Council (ORC) offices and our retail partners, and through the Bee Card website. Over 23,200 cards have been registered online by passengers.

Queenstown’s famous $2 fares will resume tomorrow, while other fares have reduced with the launch of the Bee Card. Cash fares are $3, down from $5 per adult and $4 for 5-18 year olds, and now $4 from the airport, down from $10 per adult.

Bee Cards do not have to be registered, and passengers can still top up on the bus. 

Otago Regional Councillor and Chair of the Regional Transport Committee Alexa Forbes said the Queenstown launch of the Bee Card was following in the wake of a successful launch in Dunedin two weeks ago.

“That’s thanks in large part to the patience and readiness of passengers to get on board with the new system.

“The Bee Card comes with a heap of benefits, both for bus users and for ORC. It’s a ‘smart card’ with tag on tag off access, which makes it quicker and easier to use and minimises interaction with drivers—which is really valuable in the current climate.

“If you register your card, which I’d highly recommend everyone do, there are added benefits such as the ability to top up online,” Cr Forbes said.

“For ORC, the Bee Card also gives us a clearer picture of when and where people are traveling on the bus network, which makes for better planning in the bus network overall.”

Cr Forbes also issued some advice for Bee Card users for day one.

“There’s a couple of things to be aware of the first time you use your card: firstly, it will take a few seconds longer the very first time you tag on to a bus. That’s totally normal and expected—just wait until you hear the beep, and you’re good to go.

“The other thing to bear in mind is that online activity can take a while to process, for example top-ups can take up to twelve hours to be processed, so top up the night before.

“Another tip for first time users with a registered card; even if you’ve added credit, your balance will say ‘pending balance’. Don’t panic, the funds pull through as you tag on for the first time.

“And finally, don’t forget to tag off!”


Timetable improvements

Alongside the launch of the new Bee Card, a range of improvements to the Queenstown bus timetable will take effect from tomorrow.

ORC Transport Manager Garry Maloney said the changes reflected feedback received over the couple of years since the service was launched.

“We made some changes to the network early in the year with the introduction of the Lake Hayes Queenstown direct service, and again during Covid-19 lockdown. With the new ticketing system, we’re taking the opportunity to introduce improvements based on passenger feedback and demand.”

From tomorrow

  • Route 1 will extend from Fernhill and start and end in Sunshine Bay;
  • There will be additional peak trips for Arthurs Point and Arrowtown services during the morning and afternoon peak on Route 2;
  • Route 3 now includes Shearers Road;
  • The Route 5 Lake Hayes Direct becomes 7 days per week;
  • There are new stops at Hanley’s Farm, Akarua Wines on Arrowtown-Lake Hayes road and near Millbrook at the intersection of Malaghans Rd.


Find out more about the route changes online 

The updated Queenstown route map can be viewed here