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The Ultimate Road Trip Guide to New Zealand

New Zealand is a land of incredible beauty, with a diverse range of landscapes, cultures, and activities. From the rolling hills of the North Island to the majestic Southern Alps of the South Island, there’s something for everyone in New Zealand. Whether you’re looking for stunning scenery, thrilling adventure activities, or just a relaxed getaway, New Zealand has it all. And the best way to explore this amazing country is on a road trip.

If you’re planning an epic road trip around New Zealand, this guide is for you. We’ll cover the best things to see and do, where to stay, and how to make the most of your road trip. So, buckle up and let’s hit the open road!

Where to Start

When it comes to planning a road trip around New Zealand, the first thing you’ll need to decide is where to begin your journey. The North Island and South Island are completely different experiences, so it’s important to decide which one you want to start with. If you’re looking for a more relaxed getaway, the North Island is ideal, with its beaches, wineries, and hot springs. If you’re looking for something more adventurous, the South Island is your best bet, with its mountains, glaciers, and adrenaline-filled activities.

Once you’ve decided where to start your road trip, you’ll need to plan your route. The North Island is smaller, so you can easily see the whole island in one trip. The South Island is larger, so you’ll need to plan your journey carefully if you want to see everything it has to offer. If you have time, it’s also worth considering a trip to the remote Stewart Island, which is home to some of New Zealand’s most untouched landscapes.

No matter where you decide to start, it’s worth taking the time to plan your route. This will help you make the most of your road trip and ensure you don’t miss any of New Zealand’s hidden gems.

Where to Stay

One of the best things about a road trip in New Zealand is that you can choose your own accommodation. From camping and holiday parks to hostels and hotels, there’s something for every budget and taste. If you’re on a tight budget, camping or hostels are a great option. There are plenty of campgrounds and holiday parks throughout New Zealand, and many of them offer powered sites with hot showers and other amenities. Hostels can also provide a comfortable, affordable place to stay, and many of them offer private rooms and even dorms with ensuite bathrooms.

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If you’re looking for something a bit more luxurious, there are plenty of hotels and resorts to choose from. From five-star resorts to beachside boutique hotels, there’s something to suit every taste. New Zealand’s major cities also offer plenty of accommodation options, from budget hotels to luxury apartments.

No matter what type of accommodation you choose, it’s important to book ahead. New Zealand is a popular destination, and accommodation can book up quickly during peak season. So, make sure to plan ahead and book your accommodation in advance.

Where to Eat

No road trip is complete without great food, and New Zealand has plenty of options. Whether you’re looking for a casual cafe, a fine dining experience, or something in between, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The North Island is home to some of the country’s best cafes, serving everything from classic Kiwi breakfasts to delicious gourmet dishes. The South Island is known for its seafood, with plenty of restaurants serving fresh fish, oysters, and mussels. No matter where you go, you’ll find plenty of restaurants serving up delicious local dishes.

If you’re on a tight budget, New Zealand also has plenty of options for cheap eats. From fish and chips to burgers and fries, you’ll be able to find something to satisfy your hunger without breaking the bank. And don’t forget to try some of New Zealand’s iconic dishes, like pavlova, hokey pokey ice cream, and kiwi fruit.

No matter what type of cuisine you’re in the mood for, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste in New Zealand.

Things to Do

New Zealand is full of incredible things to see and do, from adrenaline-filled adventures to relaxing walks in the countryside. If you’re looking for thrills, you can go skydiving, bungee jumping, or river rafting. If you want to explore New Zealand’s stunning scenery, you can go kayaking or mountain biking. And if you’re just looking to relax, you can take a stroll on the beach or explore one of New Zealand’s many national parks.

No matter what type of activities you’re looking for, you’re sure to find something to suit your tastes in New Zealand. From city sights to outdoor adventures, there’s something for everyone.

Weather and Seasons

New Zealand’s weather and seasons can vary greatly depending on where you are. In the North Island, the weather is generally milder, with summer temperatures reaching up to 25°C and winter temperatures ranging from 10-15°C. The South Island can be much colder, with winter temperatures reaching below 0°C in some areas. The best time to visit New Zealand is in the summer, which runs from December to February.

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No matter when you visit, it’s always a good idea to pack a raincoat and an umbrella. New Zealand is known for its rainy weather, so it’s best to be prepared for all kinds of weather.

Driving Tips

When it comes to driving in New Zealand, there are a few things you need to know. The speed limit on highways is usually 100km/h, while on smaller rural roads it can be as low as 50km/h. It’s also important to take extra care on winding mountain roads, as they can be narrow and slippery. Make sure to take regular breaks and drive slowly to stay safe.

It’s also important to be aware of New Zealand’s road rules. It’s illegal to use a mobile phone while driving, and you must always wear a seatbelt. If you’re driving at night, you must have your headlights on at all times. And of course, make sure to drive on the left side of the road.

By following these tips, you’ll be sure to have a safe and enjoyable road trip around New Zealand.

Getting Around

If you don’t have a car, there are plenty of other ways to get around New Zealand. Public transport is available in all major cities, with buses, trains, and ferries connecting the different parts of the country. There are also plenty of tour operators that offer day trips and multi-day tours, so you can explore the country without having to worry about driving yourself.

If you’re looking to explore more remote parts of New Zealand, the best way to get around is by renting a car. This is the most cost-effective way to see the country, and it gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace. Make sure to check the car rental company’s policy before you book, as some companies have restrictions on where you can drive.

Budgeting Tips

New Zealand can be an expensive country to explore, but there are plenty of ways to save money on your road trip. Accommodation is one of the biggest costs, so it’s worth looking for budget-friendly options like camping and hostels. Eating out can also add up quickly, so it’s worth stocking up on groceries and cooking your own meals. And of course, make sure to take advantage of any discounts or special offers you come across.

It’s also worth considering New Zealand’s flexible currency. Many businesses accept both New Zealand and Australian dollars, so it’s worth having some of both on hand. This will help you get the best value for your money.

Safety Tips

New Zealand is generally a very safe country to explore, but there are a few things to keep in mind. As with any country, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and take extra care at night. It’s also important to be aware of the weather, as flash flooding and strong winds can make driving difficult. Make sure to take regular breaks and drive carefully, and always carry a first aid kit in case of emergencies.

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It’s also important to be aware of New Zealand’s wild animals. There are plenty of native birds and animals in the country, so make sure to keep your distance and follow any safety instructions you may come across. Be especially careful when driving at night, as many animals are nocturnal and can be hard to spot in the dark.

By following these tips, you’ll be sure to have a safe and enjoyable road trip around New Zealand.


New Zealand is an incredible country to explore, with stunning scenery, delicious food, and plenty of activities to keep you busy. With the right planning and preparation, you can make the most of your road trip and have an unforgettable experience. From deciding where to start to stocking up on safety gear, this guide will help you plan the ultimate New Zealand road trip.