Not only does New Zealand offer some breath-taking views, but by traveling by car, you can benefit from roads that are easy to drive; the traffic is usually at low volumes, which all helps to add to the perfect road trip. If you are planning a holiday to New Zealand, consider one of the following stunning routes.
Southern Alps – These magnificent-looking alps stretch across South Island in New Zealand; they measure approximately 500 meters (1,640 ft) and the panoramic views and the glacial lakes the alps provide have to be seen to believed. The alpine environment is home to a rich mix of grasslands, insects, birds and plants. This is a trip of a lifetime so allow yourself plenty of time to travel this route.
Christchurch-Marlborough Wine Country – A must for wine lovers, the journey from Christchurch to Marlborough can be completed in a few hours; this coastal drive offers stunning views of snow-capped mountains. Moreover, you will find plenty of opportunities for pit stops like the Wailuku beach and the Kaikoura Coast. If you can pull yourself away from the magnificent views of the coast, the next stop on your itinerary should be the Ohau Stream walk. Famed for its seals, the Ohau Stream Walk will take you past the stunning waterfalls, and if you’re visiting in the winter, you’ll have a good chance of spotting the seal pups that will be playing underneath the waterfall. Once in Marlborough, you’ll be spoilt for choice with its hundreds of wineries to choose from – and this can be a road trip all on its own. The best way to enjoy the region is to visit the Marlborough Wine Trail online map to draw out your own itinerary.
Bay of Islands – This short drive encompasses over 100 islands and picturesque towns. If you are a nature lover, you will want to experience Moturua Island, which is famed for its captivating views and rich forestry; make sure you have your camera with you as many rare species of wildlife inhabit the islands – and make time to explore the beaches as well. Other highlights include Roberton Island and the perfect blue waters of its lagoons; if you have a sense of adventure you might want to indulge in some kayaking while you are there.
Hawkes Bay – Hawkes Bay is another area that has a well-established reputation for its fine wineries, but there is plenty more to see and do. Destinations to enjoy along the way include Napier, with its classic architecture, Havelock North, which is known for its food trails, local art, stunning views and French film festival, and Te Awanga, which is popular with surfers, swimmers and nature lovers. To make the most of this trip allow approximately 4-5 days.
Forgotten World Highway – This 148 km (92 miles) stretch of road is also referred to as New Zealand State Highway 43. As the stretch only takes a few hours to cover, it is ideal for the traveler that is looking for a quick road trip as part of their New Zealand adventure. Along the way, you will pass through many small towns and settlements, including Toko and Strathmore, and you will experience some unforgettable countryside scenery as your travel through.
Christchurch – Queenstown – This popular driving route can be covered in a matter of hours provided the driving conditions are good. However, depending on your priorities, you might want to take your time to explore the best the region has to offer. The best way to approach this trip is to use a Christchurch City car hire to take you from the airport; and then follow along the route map.
Asian Pacific Triangle – A road trip through the Alpine Pacific Triangle will take you through three of Canterbury’s most popular destinations: the Waipara Valley, with its 70 plus vineyards and annual food festival and Hurunui, with its beautiful beaches, picturesque alpine villages and coastlines to enjoy. Completing the triangle is the Kaikoura region and its naturally beautiful scenery and wildlife. Each destination is within easy driving distance of each other – all you need to do is find a local car hire firm.
Auckland to Wellington – The journey covers approximately 650 km (404 miles); if you are using a car rental company, you’ll need to allow at least seven hours to complete the drive if you are planning on traveling straight through. Depending on the time you have available, the stop off points you’ll most want to include are Auckland Museum, the Waitomo Caves, dune lakes and Kapiti Islands. This route is also recognized for its geothermal park.
North Island – Geysers and volcanoes are among just some of nature’s most spectacular sites that you can expect to witness when you take a road trip in North Island. Ideally, you’ll want to allow a couple of weeks to complete this journey, but if time isn’t on your side, then stop at the major points like Auckland or follow the Thermal Explorer Highway for its mud pools and geysers.
The Catlins – Situated in South Island, The Catlins are famed for their rare birds, wildlife havens, striking rainforests waterfalls and gorgeous coastal views, but it is sometimes an area that gets ignored by tourists. Curio Bay is renowned for its fossil forests and rare birds such as the yellow-eyed penguin, and Nugget Point also provides views of the yellow-eyed penguins as well as seals; both attractions are a short walk from car parks. You can access the Catlins by catching a flight to Christchurch or Queenstown and getting a hire car.
Just So You Know…
- Stay on or below the legal speed limits indicated on road signs. The maximum speed on any open road is 100kmh (62 mph). The maximum speed in urban areas is 50kmh (31 mph).
- Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts or child restraints at all times, in both front and rear seats.
- Signposting follows standard international symbols and all distances are in kilometers (km).
- It is illegal to pass other cars where there is yellow line instead of a white line marking the middle of the road. The yellow line indicates that it’s too dangerous to overtake.