New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and is easily navigated by road. If you’re into stunning natural scenery, friendly locals, great food and wine and more adventure activities than you can shake a stick at, you’ll certainly love exploring what this country has to offer.
If you are starting to plan your great New Zealand road trip, read our 5 tips for making it a successful and exciting journey.
1. Car or Campervan?
This really all depends on your personal preferences for traveling and both are excellent choices for hitting the road. While many people like to rent a car and find hotels or lodges or AirBnBs (get $50 off your first stay by signing up here) to stay at along the way, campervans have become increasingly popular over the last few years as a comfortable way to travel. By hiring a campervan you will be able to easily cook your own meals, a bed to sleep in and often bathroom facilities on board if you opt for a self-contained van. New Zealand has many campsites and places that you can park up for the night and will save money on expensive hotels. Freedom camping is an option if you have a self-contained van, or failing that there are incredible Department of Conservation campsites scattered around the country in remote locations or private Holiday Parks in our towns and cities.
2. Decide on your route in advance
New Zealand may seem like a small country but there is so much to see and do that it can take months to see it properly. If you only one week or so to explore, we suggest that you choose either the North Island or South Island and concentrate on one of those. Both islands have incredible landscapes so it can be hard to decide. If you prefer cities and beaches then the North Island is the way to go, whereas if you like skiing, rugged landscapes and glaciers, then the South Island is the best bet. Check out our North or South Island New Zealand article to help you decide which island might be best for you. You can also check out some of our pre-planned itineraries for inspiration.
3. Check the weather forecast and pack appropriately
While New Zealand experiences fairly mild weather most of the year compared to other countries, it can get very cold in the South Island in winter. No matter where you are in the country, having wet weather gear is a good idea as rain is frequent throughout the year thanks to our maritime climate.
If you are road tripping during the summer months, make sure to always apply SPF. Burn time can be quick due to the hole in the ozone layer above us so covering up with a hat, sunglasses and a shirt will ensure you stay protected.
Check out the Ultimate New Zealand Packing List to help you decide what to pack.
4. Know your drive times… and then add more time
There is never usually more than a few hours drive between towns and cities in New Zealand but since you are going to be in awe of the beauty around you, you will definitely want to stop off and take pictures or do a little exploring. When you’re driving from A to B, always know the expected time the journey will take and then allow yourself more time to get there. In short, don't trust the GSP for drive time when planning a NZ road trip!
5. Get involved!
You will never be stuck looking for things to do when exploring New Zealand! Even if you are not usually much of an adrenalin junkie, it would be a shame to miss out on all the adventure activities on offer. Why not get out of your comfort zone and try a bungee jump or skydive? How about a ride on the Shotover Jet in Queenstown or go swimming with dolphins in Kaikoura? The list of tours and activities that you can experience while on a road trip in New Zealand certainly has something for everyone and if you are looking for something a bit less nail biting you can opt for a Hobbiton tour or a Maori Culture experience.
If you need some help planning your great New Zealand road trip, contact us today to see how our travel planning experts can assist you in creating an experience of a lifetime.