If you are planning a trip to New Zealand for a few days or a few months, the best way to see the country is from the road and we suggest hiring a car or campervan so you can explore and go at your own pace.
Whether you visit in the summer or winter, there are tons of places to visit and activities to do. From snow-capped mountains to relaxing hot springs, from winding mountain paths to the miles of rugged coastline, driving around this beautiful country lets you appreciate mother nature at her very best.
We are sharing our favourite road trips in New Zealand, to make planning your next escape a little bit easier. Let’s go!
5. Auckland and Bay of Islands Loop
If you only have a little time to spend in New Zealand, we recommend taking a short road trip north of the country’s largest city, Auckland and encompasses the beauty of the northern coast. Spot dolphins among the Bay of Islands and relax on one of the endless beaches of Omapere before returning south towards the vineyards of Waiheke Island, located a short half-hour ferry ride from Auckland.
4. Wellington to Auckland
Drive from Wellington to Auckland on the North Island, via the “Thermal Highway”, so you can explore some of the nation’s most interesting volcanic sites including the Lake Taupo volcanic crater, the geysers of Rotorua any many other geothermal sights along the way. Stop in at The Hobbiton Movie Set was a significant location used for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and The Hobbit film series. This trip can be completed in a day, but we would recommend giving yourself a few extra days to relax by the lake and explore each pit stop at your leisure.
3. Nelson to Queenstown
Drive from Nelson to Queenstown via the west coast of the South Island. Be sure to explore Punakaiki, home of the famous Pancake Rocks, embark on the West Coast Treetop Walk over the Hokitika Gorge, 20-metres above the forest floor, walk over Franz Josef Glacier and explore the lakeside town of Wanaka, before crossing the Cardrona Pass to discover Arrowtown, a historic gold mining town located a short drive from Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand.
2. Auckland to Napier
Drive from Auckland to Napier via The Coromandel and Bay of Plenty, on the North Island. Discover surf beaches, bubbling mud and tranquil lakes along the way, then at Whakatane follow East Cape road past historic sites to Gisborne, before heading down to explore Napier, a coastal city set amid the Hawke’s Bay wine region. Even though the drive can be done in a day, we recommend to stop regularly along the way and make it a week to remember.
1. Queenstown to Milford Sound
Drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound on the South Island, in just under four hours and experience one of the worlds most scenic highways. You will journey through peaks that are capped with snow, gaze upon mirrored lakes and arrive at the towering Mitre Peak, plus rainforests and waterfalls like Stirling and Bowen falls, which plummet down its sheer sides. Milford Sound is home to fur seal colonies, penguins and dolphins, so allow enough time to cruise around the fiord via boat, which is a popular way to see the area.