Themed highways

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New Zealand's 10 themed highways will lead you through some of our most famous landscapes, with great attractions along the way.

When you have a finite number of days available, following a themed highway is the travel equivalent of a sure thing. These routes have been road tested, taste tested and given the stamp of approval by travellers and authorities alike. And these routes are easy to follow - they're marked with distinctive brown signs.

Driving in New Zealand

Important things you need to know about driving in New Zealand.

North Island

South Island

North Island

Twin Coast Discovery Highway: Renew your love affair with the ocean and discover some significant moments in New Zealand's history. The Twin Coast Discovery Highway begins in Auckland and travels north, tracing both coasts to Cape Reinga and back. 

Thermal Explorer Highway: Experience New Zealand’s awe-inspiring earth forces on a road that leads to volcanoes, ancient caves, shooting geysers and bubbling mud pools. Beginning in Auckland, the Thermal Explorer Highway takes you south to the caves of the Waikato region, and the geothermal areas of Rotorua and Taupo.

Pacific Coast Highway: A journey of more than 1000km around the East Cape of the North Island, with stunning coastal views, seaside villages, untouched forest and sunny wine-making districts.

Surf Highway 45: Taranaki's hemispherical coast collects 180 degrees of ocean swells. You can be almost certain that the surf will be pumping between New Plymouth & Hawera.

Forgotten World Highway: While it's only 150 kilometres long, the Forgotten World Highway through the back blocks of the Ruapehu and Taranaki regions is a rugged, remote and highly memorable driving journey.

South Island

Alpine Pacific Touring Route: Eco-adventure meets indulgence on this route, which travels up from Christchurch to Kaikoura, where you can watch whales play, and on to the hot spring resort town of Hanmer. Then it's back to Christchurch via the wineries of Waipara.

The Great Alpine Highway: This beautifully scenic route will carry you across the width of the South Island on the road known as Arthur's Pass. Enjoy charming historic towns and dramatically changing landscapes.

Inland Scenic Route 72: Drive along the dotted line where the Canterbury Plains meet the Southern Alps. Outdoor adventures - both gentle and daring - are your reason for choosing to follow Inland Scenic Route 72.

Southern Scenic Route: This is the road to big skies, awe-inspiring scenery and encounters with native animals. Travel from Dunedin to the bottom of the South Island, and up again through Fiordland to Queenstown.

North & South Island

Classic New Zealand Wine Trail: Taste your way through the wine regions of Hawke's Bay, Martinborough and Marlborough.

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