A guide to roadtripping in New Zealand
There’s so much to see in New Zealand and a road trip is one of the most enjoyable and accessible ways to experience all the country has to offer. It also means you can create an itinerary that is unique and suits your timeframe and interests. Here’s our need-to-know guide for roadtripping in New Zealand.
What to know
New Zealand drives are some of the most beautiful in the world, but you need to be prepared, especially in winter. If you are planning on visiting from May through September, make sure you are equipped for all situations, and store chains in the boot. Keep an eye out for black ice – a thin, dark sheet of ice that is difficult to see – and drive cautiously, particularly near lakes and the coast.
It also pays to overestimate your travel time. New Zealand roads can be narrow and weather conditions and animal crossings may impact travel time. The maximum speed limit on motorways and open rural roads is 100 kilometres per hour (and 50 kilometres per hour in urban areas).
Plan your trip and you’ll never be disappointed – you don’t want to arrive at your destination at midnight instead of dinnertime.
The question here is: how do you choose? Enjoy the view along the winding drive from Blenheim to Christchurch past the Marlborough wine region and seal-studded Kaikoura coast. Or, revel in the Lord of the Rings landscapes on offer from Wellington to Kaitoke Regional Park. Wherever you choose to go, both islands have plenty to offer roadtrip enthusiasts.
The South Island is undoubtedly a showstopper. Spectacular routes such as the drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound boast the ultimate combination of bustling cities and breathtaking ocean views.
The North Island offers lots of diversity. Take in the hot springs and geysers of Rotorua and end up at the underground caves of Waitomo. Or, you can do a round trip that takes you from Auckland to picture-perfect Waiheke Island (take your car on the ferry).
No matter what the season, New Zealand weather can turn at a moment’s notice. Pack lots of light layers and a waterproof jacket.
Have wheels, will travel
You should carefully consider the type of car you want to hire. It’s also worth noting that most car hire companies in New Zealand require drivers to be at least 21 years old.
Hiring a motorhome can be the simplest option, as it’s affordable, comfortable and leaves you covered for accommodation on the road.
Planning to hit both islands? Many rental companies won’t let you take cars on the ferry from the north to the south (and vice versa). However, most companies have arrangements that allow you to drop the car off at the ferry terminal in Wellington and pick up a new one on your arrival at Picton. What a great way to start your road trip along the coast to Christchurch.
You will need either a current Australian drivers license or an International Driving Permit to drive in New Zealand. Be sure to keep it on you at all times when you’re behind the wheel.
Australia shares many similar road rules with New Zealand. In both countries you drive on the left-hand side of the road; are required to wear seatbelts; and are not allowed to drink and drive or use your mobile phone while driving. Braking for sheep? Well, that’s a Kiwi thing, right?
We’ve got heaps of choice deals for car and motorhome hire in New Zealand right now, so – what are you waiting for?
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