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The Orbiter Bus and the Metrostar Bus in Christchurch, NZ

The Orbiter Bus and the Metrostar Bus in Christchurch, NZ

In our series on public transportation in Christchurch, we have focused on the Christchurch metropolitan bus system. In our first post, we looked at pricing and discussed how the buses in Christchurch work. In our second post, we talked about how you can get to the lodge from Christchurch airport by taking the Purple Line bus. In our continuing series, this post will now look at two very important and vital buses; The Orbiter and the Metrostar. As Haka Lodge has a bus stop literally right outside of it, bussing around CHCH is a great option for those on a budget!

The Orbiter – what is it, who runs it?

The Orbitor is the most popular bus in Christchurch. It is run by Leapord Bus, one of the major players in the Christchurch bus system. It has been the most popular bus in Christchurch for over 10 years and it has a 12% share of the bus passengers – a huge number considering how many buses Christchurch has! The bus is very iconic as it is the only green bus in the city. But be sure to keep an eye out, because not all of them are green! Being the most popular route, they don’t have enough green vehicles to keep up with demand, so they use other buses from time to time.

The Orbiter got its name because of its route. Unlike the other buses which drive back and forth along a set line, the Orbiter goes in a circle. Be warned; it does not even go through the CBD or the Bus Exchange! I once had a friend who tried to take the Orbiter to the city CBD. An hour later, he realised why it has its name; it orbits the city! The reason it is so popular is because it stops at most of the major shopping malls in Christchurch and goes through a huge number of suburbs and main roads.

Some of the major stops include Linwood Ave, The Palms, Northlands Mall, the University of Caterbury, Westfield Mall in Riccarton, Barrington Mall, Princess Margaret Hospital and St Martins Shops.

The Metrostar – what is it, who runs it?

The Metrostar is the second most popular bus in Christchurch. It is run by Red Bus. It has an iconic design that is hard to miss; it is orange on the body with splashes of purple here and there. Like the Orbiter, it does not go through the CBD, which means it does not go through the bus exchange. Unlike the Orbiter, it does not go in a circle. Instead, the route is a single line that cuts through major stops in suburbian Christchurch, and it goes back-and-forth on this line.

Some of the major stops include Halswell Shops, The Hub in Hornby, the University of Caterbury, Westfield in Riccarton, Merivale Mall, The Palms, QEII and New Brighton Beach.

As you can see, the Orbiter and the Metrostar overlap on many stops. A local’s tip here would be that if you have a choice between the two, take the Metrostar. Both are great buses, but the Metrostar is less popular and so it is less likely to be chock-a-block full. It also goes through less popular routes and goes on less major roads, so during heavy rush-hour traffic it normally goes faster than the Orbiter. Both have buses coming in staggered intervals, either 10, 15 or 30 minute intervals depending on the time of day. But be warned; during rush-hour traffic the buses can get backed up, and instead of waiting 10 minutes between buses in can be up to 15-20 minutes. This is especially true with the Orbiter. It can be frustrating seeing 3 buses backed up together!

This ends our post on the Orbiter and Metrostar Buses. For more information, be sure to check out

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