What you need to know before your New Zealand road trip

What are the dos and don'ts of road tripping through New Zealand? Here are some of the essentials.

You couldn’t find a better road trip destination than New Zealand. With its lush fields, amazing mountains, glaciers, fjords and even caves, what’s not to love? It’s a country that couldn’t be more picturesque. And one of the best ways to experience this is on the road, getting amongst the scenery yourself.

So what do you need to know if you’re planning on road tripping through New Zealand?


It’s remote

Much of New Zealand’s appeal stems from the fact that its landscape is largely untouched. While most roads will ensure a fairly seamless trip, there are still some wilder roads. Make sure you’re aware of the difficulties that you may encounter and prepare for these. A teeny tiny car might not be the best way to travel from top to bottom, so think about where you’re planning to go make sure you’ve got the vehicle and supplies to match. Jucy Vans are a fairly common mode of transport for roadtrippers. Their vans are kitted out with basically everything you need (including a mini kitchen).


Don’t underestimate the roads

On a similar note, make sure you’re aware of what the roads have to offer. Just because a lot of the roads are new, doesn’t mean they’re flat and straight. New Zealand is incredibly mountainous and it’s important to prepare for the winding and sharp turns that you’ll probably encounter. If you’re planning on hiring a car, then make sure you fit it out with snow chains during winter, especially if you’re travelling further up the mountains. Don’t drive tired either – these aren’t the sorts of roads you want to lose concentration on!


Do your research

Spontaneity is a lot of fun, but there is SO much that you might miss out on if you don’t plan ahead. Do some Googling and read up on some of your favourite travel blogs for inspiration. Also check out some of these recommended itineraries which will give you an idea of where to go and the best way to see it. You should also have a look at this map, which features some of the main highways you can take.


Make sure you can actually drive

This may seem pretty obvious, but it’s important to be across New Zealand’s road rules and to ensure that you’re licensed to handle the vehicle you’ll be driving. Australians should be covered by their local driver’s license but if you’re from anywhere else, you may need to double check the rules. Have a go at an online driving test to see whether you’re prepared. If you fail, you may need to brush up on your skills and road knowledge.


Keep your eyes on the road!

It’s hard not to stare at the scenery as you pass it – it can be pretty breathtaking. Except that if you’re looking at the mountains then you’re not looking at the road, which could get you into a bit of trouble. If you’re desperate to have a peek, pull over to take a photo and get a better look. But don’t try to do either of the above while you’re behind the wheel. It probably won’t end well.


Know what to do if you get into an accident

It’s important to know what to do if you do get into an accident while you’re on your road trip. Firstly, check the safety of your passengers (and the passengers of any other vehicles involved) before you worry about property damage. Collect the details of other drivers involved, take photos and record number plates where you can. It’s also a good idea to note exactly where the accident occured. Find your exact location on a map so that you can pinpoint it later if you need to make a claim.



My final tip: don’t let anything pass you by. Get out of the car, admire the scenery and go exploring. Take photos of everything you see and make sure to soak up your trip. But for the best way to enjoy your road trip, stay safe. This will ensure that your trip is an experience to remember forever.