New Zealand is the perfect choice for an Antipodean road trip. If you’re thinking about hitting the road, here are a few things to consider at the planning stage so you can get the most out of your New Zealand road trip.
How to get the most out of a New Zealand road trip
Don’t cram too much in
New Zealand isn’t a large country, but it crams a lot into a small space. If you’re planning a two or three week vacation, you’re not going to see everything. It is still possible to see the highlights of both North Island and South Island with just seven days for each. Plan a circular route to avoid backtracking or fly between the two to cut out areas that you might not wish to visit this time around. Try to include at least one of the country’s scenic highways – they’re well worth the detour.
Factor in seasonal weather
Driving in a strange country can be daunting; and coping with icy or snowy roads more so unless you’re used to such conditions back home. That doesn’t mean you should rule out a New Zealand road trip if you plan to visit in winter. North Island in particular rarely experiences heavy snowfalls and driving is still a pleasure. If you’re worried about driving in adverse conditions further south consider a bus trip option for South Island.
You don’t need to hire a campervan
Hiring a campervan is a popular choice as it enables you to be more flexible when it comes to overnight accommodation. It can also work out cheaper than staying in a hotel. If you do decide to opt for a hotel or guesthouse stay, don’t forget to check it offers parking. Having a car rental rather than a larger vehicle is likely to be easier around town if you plan to spend time in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, though of course their excellent city transport means it’s easy to ditch the car altogether.
Get off the beaten track
The big advantage to hiring your own transport is that you can go wherever you please. Make the most of that freedom and ditch the easy-to-get-to places. Instead, head off the beaten track into the beautiful New Zealand countryside and see some of its small villages. Remember to build in time to get out of the car – some of New Zealand’s best experiences come when you venture along its hiking trails or explore its stunning beaches.
There’s no need to feel daunted
New Zealand drives on the left, which means you might have to get the hang of driving on the wrong side of the road. Most rentals are automatics, however, so you won’t have to contend with cack-handed gear changes. Most roads are relatively traffic free and feel quite empty, especially if you come from a town or city in Europe or North America. Signposts are easy to follow too; making this a good place to cut your car rental teeth if you’ve never done a self-drive itinerary before. Happy travels!