And when it comes to road trips, there might be no better destination than New Zealand!
Caravanning, campervanning and motel-hopping have long been a part of New Zealanders’ annual holidays—and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a country built for road trips, with its beautifully scenic backdrops and ruggedly picturesque coastlines. Travel even just a few kilometres you’ll soon see that nearly every moment here is a postcard.
On a New Zealand road trip, there’s truly something for everyone!
New Zealand instantly offers up a whole plethora of sites from mountains and rainforests to beaches, lakes, waterfalls, caves and glaciers the moment you sit behind the wheel. The nation really has every landscape you could want to see on a road trip, condensed into two small islands.
Separated by a 3.5-hour ferry journey across Cook Straight, New Zealand’s North and South Islands are uniquely distinct from each other, offering road travellers the chance to explore their individual geographies, sceneries and climates.
And it’s not just New Zealand’s natural beauty that’s on display. Since the release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Hobbiton has quickly become a must-do item on many bucket lists. Located approximately 2 hours from Auckland, this permanent movie set offers a rare insight into the film making business and lets those transfixed by the story to release their inner Hobbits, Elves and Orcs.
As a country rich with history, you can explore New Zealand’s diverse culture throughout your journey. Take time to immerse yourself in a Maori cultural show or performance to learn more about the nation’s first peoples. Many cities also display traditional artefacts in museums, giving you more opportunities to experience this early history.
Much like Australia, New Zealand boasts an impressive array of cultural diversity. This is probably no more evident than in its cuisine. From roadside stops to five-star dining, road trippers have the chance to experience all the best food and produce New Zealand has to offer. A journey through NZ can often become a feast for the palate, as well as the eyes.
And what goes well with food? Well, wine of course! New Zealand is home to more than 500 wineries, spread across both islands.
Specialising in all varieties of wine, New Zealand is famed for its impressive cold climate white wines specifically Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris. But don’t let first impressions fool you, the country has a growing reputation internationally for its red wines such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Remember, if you’re planning a wine-related road trip, it’s important to never drink and drive. A designated driver should always be chosen before you start to indulge each day, or better yet, hire a professional driver to escort you on this portion of the trip.
If sitting by an open fire and wrapping your hands around a crisp glass of Pinot Gris is not your thing, there are plenty of chances to get off the beaten track. New Zealand really is the adventure capital of the world.
Walking, hiking, cycling and kayaking are favourite past times for locals. Both the North and South Islands attract visitors year-round keen to explore the more physical side of NZ. Don’t forget—this is a country that prides itself on being the home of modern bungee jumping!
And what’s an adventure trip to New Zealand without some skiing? There aren’t many opportunities in life to ski an active volcano, but Mt Ruapehu offers just that. Situated on New Zealand’s largest ski field, Mt Ruapehu is a must for those seeking thrills and spills in the land of the long white cloud. Both islands offer skiers the perfect conditions to experience varied terrain and world class-snow and accommodation!
As with any road trip, safety is important. New Zealand is generally a safe country, but still has some special challenges for road trippers.
Getting back on the road, drivers will find New Zealand both scenic and in-parts challenging. This may be especially true if you plan on taking a detour along the Forgotten World Highway. It’s remoteness, tight corners and tricky turns will take you from Stratford to Taumarunui and test both your desire to find the ultimate selfie backdrop, as well as your driving ability.
While New Zealand is lacking in poisonous animals (unlike their closest neighbour, Australia), that doesn’t mean it’s without some dangerous wildlife. Sheep, cows, rabbits and birds are some of the animals you will encounter on the road, but possums especially have become something of a nuisance to New Zealand drivers. So, keep your wits about you when driving and remember to keep one eye on wily possums as well as the amazing foliage!
Before you begin your New Zealand road trip, you may want to take some precautions first. Getting the right insurance cover—car, travel and maybe life or funeral insurance, too—could help you feel more at ease during your trip and help smooth out any issues or serious accidents that might happen during it.
Something for everyone!
No matter how you decide to tackle it, from a cosy campervan or an action packed 4X4, New Zealand really is the ultimate driving destination. It is hands down one of the most gorgeous places on earth combining white capped mountains, down to sandy beaches. There is simply no better way to immerse yourself in everything the country has to offer than through the lens of your windscreen.