Anytime is the ideal time to get out and enjoy one of so many New Zealand road trips. We live in paradise, yet too many of us never explore our own country. Our impressive endless scenery, fascinating history, and cultural opportunities are waiting for us. Let go of whatever is stopping you and check out this list of fabulous road trips in New Zealand.
Whether you chose one of the New Zealand itinerary suggestions below, or just a segment of it, you are pretty well guaranteed to discover something new and amazing.
Note: Always check the official rules regarding New Zealand’s traffic light’ levels. Many options are at reduced capacity, therefore, booking ahead is more important than ever, as is reading cancellation policies.
Our favourite New Zealand road trips
We think New Zealand road trips are the best way to explore our country. While our cities are amazing, so much of the magic is discovered off the beaten path.
We like to take it slow. By allocating no more than a couple of hundred kilometres of driving in a day, we have time for lots of stopping. Be it a scenic view, a hike, an interesting cafe, or chance to dip our toes in the sea, there is always something exciting to find when we keep our New Zealand road trips itineraries flexible.
A preview of what you’ll see
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Where to go on your NZ road trip
Extra things to bring on any NZ road trip
A few things to keep in your car to make your New Zealand road trip even better:
- Have a torch (flashlight) for each person. You will need them if you stumble upon caves and tunnels.
- Make sure your insect repellent works on sandflies, especially if you are touring the west coast of the South Island.
- Carry a towel with you in your car.
- Bring a windproof jacket, even in the summer.
- Download your map and driving directions, as the internet may be spotty in areas.
Practical information for international drivers in New Zealand
- In New Zealand, we drive on the left side of the road.
- New Zealand motorways and city roads are great. Rural roads, however, are sometimes gravel (called ‘metals’) or just not in as good of shape as what you might expect.
- New Zealand speed limits on the open road are up to 100 kph (62 mph). However, they are slower as you pass through towns, or on windy or rural roads.
- Most importantly, know New Zealand’s driving rules. Be sure to understand how to cross the one-way bridges.
A few more tips
- There are toilet facilities in most NZ towns. Blue highway signs identify them. We generally find them clean with flush toilets.
- If you’re not from New Zealand, you will want to be sure you have medical and travel insurance before you arrive.
- If you are travelling by camper, there are campsites throughout the country, and also many areas allow freedom camping.
- Be sure to check for NZTA road closures before you begin a rural or off the beaten path journey, especially if it has rained heavily recently.
Best deals and discounts for New Zealand travel
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- Activity discounts: Bookme regularly offers discounts up to 70% on selected tours, activities, restaurants and more.
- Get an exclusive 15% discount on New Zealand activities from Klook!
Use code: KLKEXPLORENZ15
(Applies to NZ activity purchases over $50 initiated in NZ or Aus)
- Vehicle hire: RentalCars is like a rental car search engine with no hidden costs, that lets us find the best deals on car rentals.
- Campervans users check out Spaceships Rentals NZ‘s free one-way drop-off between Auckland and Christchurch.
- Hotels: We use Booking.com to compare and book accommodations. Don’t miss Booking.com’s Getaway 2022 Deals that save 15% or more on selected accommodations. (T&Cs apply)
- Other accommodations: If you prefer B&B or self-contained type lodging, check out Bookabach.
Find more money-saving resources and T&Cs on some of the above, check our Travel Resources page.
Looking for help planning a New Zealand adventure? We invite you to join Explore New Zealand Facebook Group to ask questions or share photos, stories, or anything about New Zealand.
Curious about some of the lesser-known, yet interesting facts about New Zealand? Check out this list of fun New Zealand facts.
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