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Road Trips in New Zealand

New Zealand is an incredible destination for a road trip. From its stunning landscapes to its rich cultural heritage, New Zealand offers a unique experience that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

One of the most alluring aspects of a New Zealand road trip is the sheer variety of landscapes you'll encounter along the way. From the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps to the rugged coastline of the West Coast, and from the rolling hills of the North Island to the pristine beaches of the Abel Tasman National Park, the scenery is breathtaking at every turn.

But it's not just the natural beauty that makes New Zealand a great road trip destination. The country's history and culture are also an integral part of the experience. From the Maori culture and traditions that have been passed down for generations, to the colonial architecture and landmarks that tell the story of New Zealand's European history, there is so much to discover and explore.

And let's not forget about the incredible food and wine that New Zealand has to offer. From fresh seafood caught in the country's coastal waters to world-renowned wines produced in the many vineyards dotted throughout the country, there is something to please every palate.

But perhaps the greatest appeal of a New Zealand road trip is the sense of adventure and freedom that comes with hitting the open road. With so much to see and do, and with so many hidden gems waiting to be discovered off the beaten path, every day on the road is an opportunity to create unforgettable memories and experiences.

Whether you're an adrenaline junkie looking to try your hand at bungee jumping or skydiving, a nature lover eager to explore the country's many hiking trails and national parks, or simply someone looking to relax and unwind in a beautiful and welcoming country, a New Zealand road trip has something for everyone.

In short, New Zealand is an incredible destination for a road trip, with stunning scenery, rich culture and history, delicious food and wine, and a sense of adventure and freedom that can't be beaten. So what are you waiting for? Grab a map, hit the road, and start exploring all that this amazing country has to offer.

Expect on your itinerary

Value Value
Landscape Landscape
Nature Nature
Benefit-stress ratio Benefit-stress ratio
Beach Beach
Comfort Comfort
Road conditions Road conditions
Security Security

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Skippers Canyon Panoramic Road Skippers Canyon Panoramic Road

Skippers Canyon Panoramic Road

24 km 18 km/h 1 days scenic
New Zealand Road Trip New Zealand Road Trip

New Zealand Road Trip

5,237 km 69 km/h 26 days roadtrip

Road Trip Highlights of New Zealand's North Island

New Zealand’s North Island offers a plethora of unique attractions. For beautiful views and towering cliffs travel to Cape Reinga located at the very tip of the island. It is here that the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. Its main highlight is a beautiful lighthouse that is located against a dramatic panorama. At a stone’s throw away, you’ll find Ninety Mile Beach which is a perfect spot to admire stunning sunsets. The strand is almost 88 km long and is a paradise for nature lovers.

If you are searching for quiet spaces, travel to Matakana. It is a tranquil settlement dwelt by farmers. Here, you’ll get fresh local products and regional specialties. To top that up, Matakana can also boast scenic beaches and vineyards dotting the landscape surrounding the village.

Let’s not forget about the country’s capital, Auckland. This vibrant city is full of great museums, cultural venues, and top-rated dining spots. Among the most exciting attractions, you’ll find Auckland Museum, One Tree Hill, Auckland Art Gallery, and Mt Eden.

For travellers who love a rush of adrenaline Sky Tower is the place to visit. It is the tallest edifice of the southern hemisphere with an observation deck located at an altitude of 328 metres. There’s a possibility to try out the Sky Jump and Sky Walk, considered the biggest local attraction.

Are you a fan of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy? You should travel to Hobbiton located in Matamata. It is visited by thousands of tourists on an annual basis. There are plenty of thematic tours and exhibits available on site.

The Waitomo Caves are another top-notch attraction. It is a cave complex and home to Arachnocampa Luminosa which is unique to New Zealand. What’s more, the more adventurous travellers will probably be eager to try water rafting inside the cave.

Suggested Road Trips on the North Island of New Zealand

Road Trip Highlights of New Zealand’s South Island

New Zealand’s South Island is all about breathtaking panoramas and natural jewels. All of that is best to be experienced in one of the country’s natural reserves. Travel to Marlborough Sounds located at the northern end of the island. It is home to thousands of bird, animal, and marine species, including a rare species of king shag. Take a boat and admire the beautiful dolphins swimming in the nearby waters.

The lovers of outdoor activities should travel to the Nelson and Abel Tasman National Parks. It encompasses sandy coves, arid hills, and green plateaus. It offers a wide choice of options for lovers of active holidays. These include white-water rafting, sailing, horse trekking, and rock climbing to name a few.

For unforgettable landscapes, it’s best to opt for West Coast with dramatic glaciers, rugged mountain summits, and deep forests. It is one of the only two areas in the world where glaciers give way to a lush jungle. 

Suggested Road Trips on the South Island of New Zealand


New Zealand's : traffic regulations

New Zealand follows left-hand traffic which might cause a problem for European travellers as well as rookie drivers. However, at least the road signs system resembles European standards. Remember that yellow lines on the road indicate that it’s too dangerous to overtake.

The minimum driving age is 16.5; however, the minimum driving age if you want to rent a vehicle is 21. Unfortunately, some car rental companies tend to apply extra charges in case of young drivers. What’s more, if you are older than 70, you may face problems with renting a car in New Zealand.

Interestingly, you are allowed to use speed camera detection equipment and no fees or penalties will be applied if police officers spot such a device in your car.

If you are travelling with children who are younger than 15 years of age, you should take care of their safety and make sure that they are travelling in a special child seat or child restraint. Children under 12 years of age can travel in the front seat, but only if secured by a suitable restraint system.

New Zealand : required documents

The documents that you should carry while travelling around the islands are: driver’s licence or an International Driving Permit, certificate of insurance, vehicle registration document, and vehicle technical inspection certificate.

New Zealand: things to avoid behind the wheel

If you are caught without your seatbelts on, you’ll have to face high penalties. Police officers can apply fines that are as high as NZ $150. New Zealand is also extremely strict when it comes to drinking and driving. The blood alcohol level cannot exceed 50 mg per 100 ml of blood. Thus, it’s better to avoid drinking before your trip as even a small amount can take you way beyond the limit. Drivers who are younger than 20 years of age can’t have any alcohol in their bloodstream. It is also illegal to drive and use a mobile phone so equip yourself with a hands-free set.

New Zealand : speed limits

All motorists must follow speed limits that are indicated on road signs. Outside built-up areas, you can drive at a speed of 100 km/h. When it comes to built-up areas, the speed limit is 50 km/h. Your speed should be also dependent on the weather conditions. Some roads can be located in a limited speed zone so you need to adjust your driving to the limits indicated for a given road section.

In New Zealand, speed cameras are placed immediately after the road sections where speed limits apply. There’re also plenty of mobile speed traps located in vans parked at one of the road sides. Stay extra cautious and follow the speed limits to avoid any unpleasant situations.

When taking a Road Trip in New Zealand

There are a few things to be aware of when taking a road trip in New Zealand to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

By being aware of these factors, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable road trip in New Zealand.

Best Time for taking a Road Trip in New Zealand

he best time of year for taking a road trip in New Zealand depends on your preferences and the regions you plan to visit. Here are some factors to consider:

Overall, the best time of year for a road trip in New Zealand is during the summer months from December to February, when the weather is warm and dry, and the days are long. However, if you prefer fewer crowds and lower prices, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn.

What to pack for a Road Trip in New Zealand

When packing for a road trip in New Zealand, it's important to consider the varied climate and landscapes you may encounter, as well as the length of your trip and the activities you plan to do. Here are some essential items to bring:

By packing these essentials, you'll be prepared for a comfortable and enjoyable road trip in New Zealand.

How expensive is a Road Trip in New Zealand

The cost of a road trip in New Zealand can vary greatly depending on your budget, travel style, and itinerary. Here's a rough breakdown of the average costs you can expect:


Food and drink:



Overall, you can expect to spend around NZD 50-80 per day per person for a budget trip, including accommodation, food, and transportation. A mid-range trip can cost around NZD 100-150 per day per person, while a luxury trip can cost upwards of NZD 250 per day per person.

For a week-long road trip, budget travelers can expect to spend around NZD 350-550 per person, mid-range travelers can expect to spend around NZD 700-1000 per person, and luxury travelers can expect to spend upwards of NZD 2000 per person.

For a month-long road trip, budget travelers can expect to spend around NZD 1500-2000 per person, mid-range travelers can expect to spend around NZD 3000-4000 per person, and luxury travelers can expect to spend upwards of NZD 8000 per person.

Keep in mind that these are rough estimates, and your actual costs may vary depending on your specific itinerary and travel style. It's always a good idea to do some research and budgeting before your trip to ensure that you have enough funds to enjoy your trip to the fullest.

Guidebooks and Road Maps for Road Trip in New Zealand

There are many guidebooks and road maps available for a road trip in New Zealand. Here are some highly recommended ones:

These guidebooks and road maps can be found at many bookstores and online retailers. They can also be downloaded as e-books or accessed through smartphone apps for added convenience while on the road.

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