Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced $26 million in funding over four years to bring rural school bus drivers' wages in line with those who drive for "comparable public transport services".
The funding will be available from the start of the 2023 school year and operators will be required to opt-in.
They must agree to pass this increase and any subsequent funding increases on to their drivers.
"Around 100,000 students receive school transport assistance from the Ministry of Education, particularly in rural parts of the country," Hipkins said.
"For many students and families, assistance with transport to school is vital, and school bus drivers are essential to getting children to and from school safely."
It follows a wage funding increase in October for drivers of council-contracted school bus services.
"While driver availability tends not to be such an issue for rural school buses, we want to ensure that remains the case by offering comparable rates in line with any major movements," Hipkins said.
"[With this funding], the Ministry of Education can ensure there is consistency for all school bus drivers across New Zealand, and that driver wages for Ministry-funded services do not fall out of step with wage rates for comparable public transport services."