New Zealand Road Trip Guide - Everything You'll Ever Need!

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There’s no better way to discover this sparsely populated paradise other than roaming with your own vehicle. It’s the best thing I had ever done for the sake of traveling, and I can assure you that this is the best way to discover this wonderful country… Yes, New Zealand road trip!

The memories of me and my travel mates shouting in awe when we first saw the snowy mountain ranges unveiled to us when we were driving along the uphill highway were still crystal clear.

It was our road trip in South Island, from Motueka all the way south to Invercargill and then to Christchurch. Our 3 weeks were packed full of excitement and unforgettable experiences.

For your information, our road trip was in the winter of 2016, when the tourist peak was the lowest. I stayed in New Zealand for 5 months under the Working Holiday visa, before me and my new friends started our road trip.

With this article, I’ll share all the things I learned and the things I wish I knew before our New Zealand road trip.

new zealand road trip

Getting Around For New Zealand Road Trip – Car vs Campervans

The first question in mind while planning road trips in New Zealand, a car or a campervan? These two options are the most popular among travelers. If you have difficulties deciding what’s more suitable for your trip, let me give you a hand.

Cars

While cars basically cost less than campervans, whether it’s rented or bought, it has several disadvantages compared to campervans and motorhomes.

Pros

  • Cars consume much less gas than campervans. It will save you a lot of cash in the long run… or long drive? Gas in New Zealand can be costly sometimes, and it was much expensive in rural areas, like Fox Glacier town.
  • It’s easier to operate and is faster, due to the smaller size of the car.

Cons

  • First of all, it’s a struggle to sleep inside with your travel mates unless you’re traveling alone. It’s a little too packed for everything, even in a station wagon. Moving everything at the back of the car to the front seats is a troublesome daily routine. There’s not much room for you to roll your bodies during the sleep.
  • You can’t spend time in the car. The space in the car is very limited so you will probably spend your time outside of the car before going to sleep, be it drinking or reading.

For my New Zealand road trip, I drove a 1998 Honda Accord station wagon, which I bought from someone selling the car in the Facebook group. She sold it to me at a pretty decent price as she will be leaving the town in two days, for NZ$900.

I owned a car under my name for the first year in my lifetime!

Planning to apply for New Zealand Working Holiday Visa? Here’s a detailed guide with photos on how to do it. 

Campervan and Motorhome

Campervans and motorhomes obviously provide more flexibility for your travel in New Zealand. With them, you basically own a mobile home. Who doesn’t like the idea of a mobile home anyway?

Pros

  • More space inside the vehicle. Campervan and motorhome are more like a mobile home than a vehicle, they have everything for your daily needs.  A kitchen, toilet, comfy bed, and more importantly, space. Inviting new friends into your campervan is a great idea to spend the night after a long day of travel and driving.
  • It’s easier to camp with campervan or motorhome than with a car. In some camping sites, there are no basic facilities, like toilets. There’s where they come in useful. Just make sure you don’t camp in the public car park, which doesn’t allow camping. You’ll disturb the neighborhood and might get a ticket on your car when you wake up.

Cons

  • It’s more expensive than a car, in terms of both gas and car rental. I’ll run through the price of renting a campervan and motorhome in a minute.
  • Campervans and motorhomes are bigger, wider and a lot harder to operate compared to a car. Make sure you have been driving consistently for some time before you proceed with the payments.

So… Which Is More Suitable For Me?

It all depends on what you prioritize, budget or convenience.

Let’s say your priority is budget, then go for the car. If it’s the latter, go for a campervan or motorhome. If you are solo traveling or traveling with your partner, a car is a good idea. And if you are traveling in a group of 3 or 4, definitely a campervan or a motorhome.

It’s a great idea and enjoyment for a couple to rent a campervan or motorhome as well, as long as you have enough budget and are willing to spend.

new zealand south island mount cook from hooker valley track

Getting A Car or Campervan in New Zealand

Cars

There are several body types of cars. For a road trip in New Zealand, I always recommend a station wagon more than a sedan. Unless you plan to spend all your nights in paid accommodation rooms, or even worse, sleeping in the car sitting up.

The backseats of a station wagon can be pushed all the way down to make it flat for sleeping. Note that sitting straight on the ‘bed’ is not possible if you’re taller than average, you will hit your head against the car roof.

I certainly support the idea of buying a car instead of renting one if you are traveling for a longer-term, like a month or more. You’ll need some documents for the buying process, no worries, I’ll guide you through that in a minute.

Join the Facebook Buy and Sell Groups in the cities you will be arriving in New Zealand. Try to deal for a car before your arrival, so that you can get your car once you stepped outside of the airport.

There are various communities like these as well, especially among your own nationalities doing New Zealand road trip, who are looking for a buyer once their road trip is done.

A station wagon car typically costs around NZ$1500-2000. For cars with more than 300,000 kms, the price is much lower. I was blessed there weren’t any issues with my car (NZ$900) other than punctured tires, which cost me NZ$250 to replace both front tires.

I sold it for $900 to a Kiwi before I left the country. For a minivan, be prepared to pay around NZ$2000-3000.

If you chose not to buy from the communities, TradeMe is a great platform for buying and selling pre-owned items. You can find anything from a wallet to aircraft there. Have a look at BackpackerBoard as well.

Check out my 10 Days New Zealand South Island Itinerary here! It’ll help with your trip planning for sure!

Campervan or Motorhome

I’m not sure if you like the way I put campervans and motorhomes together, but my opinion is that they’re somehow similar in the functionalities and convenience, so bear with me.

In New Zealand, you will mostly to be stumbled upon Jucy campervans and motorhomes. It has a low minimum age requirement and budget-friendly price, often the choice for backpackers.

Of course, there are a lot more campervan rental companies in NZ. No matter which one you choose, make sure you compare the price and quality of the car before swiping your card.

I can’t tell you the price for sure, as prices are always changing depending on the season and availability. There are a lot of rental companies offer a very old car at the unreasonably low price. Watch out for that. They usually do not provide good maintenance for the car and services for you.

My friend rented a car in Christchurch from a car rental company at a very low price. There was a problem with his car somewhere near Te Anau and the engine couldn’t start. He called the company, but was provided no useful information, he had to call for a trailer to pull his car to a nearby garage.

At the end of the day, he spent more than what he would have paid if he booked with a trusted company, and wasted a lot of time.

Maui and Iconic motorhomes are also great choices. Have a look at different car rental companies and compare them among each other. Choose the best one for you and your travel partner(s). Travel is all about enjoying, right?

new zealand south island road trip under starry dark sky

Necessary Documents for New Zealand Road Trip

Driver License

Lots of people keep asking whether they need an International Driver License or not. The answer is if your current driver’s license of your home country is in English, then you are OK to go. However, if it’s not in the English language, you should carry accurate English translation.

The other option would apply for an International Driver License in your home country before setting foot in New Zealand. Likewise, make sure it’s in the English language.

Remember to carry it with you every time you drive. You might get a ticket (NZ$400+) for not having either of the stated licenses.

If you carried non-English language driver license into New Zealand, make sure it’s translated by a translator approved by NZ Transport Agency.

Car Ownership

Well, there’s no actual document for this. When you buy a car from someone, you can do it online or through the post office (New Zealand Post).

The buyer has to pay around $9.00, the seller pays nothing. The whole procedure took around 5 to 10 minutes, then it’s done. In a week or two, New Zealand Transport Agency will send you an mail, informing you about the previous owners of your car, and proves that you are the new owner.

You must be thinking about whether you have to wait a week or two for the letter but nope, you don’t necessarily bring this letter with you. Just make sure everything was completed in the post office, ask the officer to be sure.

You will get a receipt for the payment there. Which address should you write? Well, it’s up to you to decide. I bought the car for my job a few weeks before my road trip so I received the letter in my guest house.

Car Insurance

For my road trip, I bought an AA Car & Vehicle Insurance. I have compared several car insurances company, and AA offers the best price and coverage. Get your quote in the link above, it’s not an affiliate link by the way.

During my New Zealand South Island road trip, I’ve seen around 3 car accidents, one of them was entire upside down (I hope they are OK).

Even though driving in New Zealand can be safe most of the time, it doesn’t hurt to get yourself insurance. Nobody knows when an accident happens.

WoF, a.k.a. Warrant of Fitness

You’re probably not going to buy a new car in New Zealand, so understanding WoF is important.

It’s basically a full “medical” checkup of your car. If you are buying a car, try and find cars that have WoF valid until your road trip is over. Otherwise, you have to go for vehicle inspection yourself, and it might cost you a fortune if there are any parts needed to be replaced.

If your car was registered before the year 2000, your WoF will be valid for 6 months. Whereas for cars registered after the year 2000, the WoF will be valid for 12 months. Check out here for more info.

Tips: Most people will not buy cars with WoF that is expiring soon. If you are planning to sell your car fast and at a decent price, you might have to renew your WoF before selling it to a new owner.

new zealand south island road trip wharariki beach arches beach

Best SIM Card for New Zealand Road Trip

While there are many companies for you to choose from, I only recommend two of them: Vodafone and Spark. During my stay in New Zealand, I used Vodafone and had no complaints about the package and services.

On the other hand, there are some features by Spark which Vodafone could not offer, which is 1GB data per day in the WiFi booths.

Spark WiFi booths are almost everywhere in the cities. While the speed might not be up to your expectations, it will do its job when you are surfing for information.

The prices for both are basically the same. Comparing the features of the $29/month package, Vodafone offers 1GB 4G Data, 200 minutes calls (each for domestic and international) and 200 texts (each for domestic and international).

For the same price, Spark offers the same domestically but only 100 minutes of international calls and 50 international texts. The plus for Spark is the WiFi booth if you need it.

My recommendation? Spark. With WhatsApp and social media platforms, you don’t really need international calls and texts. 1GB data per day in the WiFi booth sounds more appealing to me.

Read one of my most popular posts on 27 Remarkable Things to Do in New Zealand South Island!

new zealand road trip itinerary

What to Bring For New Zealand Road Trip?

Portable gas stove

You can easily buy this at TheWarehouse supermarket for around $25, excluding the gas cartridges. You don’t really need this in motorhomes since the kitchen is already built-in.

Each gas cartridge can last you for around 3 meals. Be noted that water boils extremely slow during winter if your portable gas stoves are not strong enough. I never saw my water boiling during winter by the way.

Tips: Cooking and dining together is the best evening activity you can have with your partners and friends!

Groceries

There are three major supermarkets in New Zealand: NewWorld, Countdown, and PAK’nSAVE. Convenient store chains include FourSquare, FreshChoice and many more.

It’s not difficult to come across supermarkets and convenience stores in New Zealand so don’t worry about the shortage of food supplies.

Try to load up your food supplies in supermarkets rather than convenience stores, as things are cheaper there.

PAK’nSAVE usually has lower average prices compared to the other two, in my opinion.

Tips: Apply for the member cards in supermarkets for discounts on groceries!

Water bottle

Get yourself a couple of big water bottles to fill up water. 1.5L bottles should do the job well. Tap water in New Zealand is safe to drink, therefore you need not to worry about running short on drinking water.

Blankets

Just in case you feel cold in the night. I bought a good queen-size fleece blanket in TheWarehouse for $20, which did its job very well.

Winter in New Zealand can be bone-chilling cold, at least for me, so I suggest investing in one if you need it.

Head Torch

There are no lights available in rural campsites other than moonlight. Bringing a head torch makes things easier when you’re setting up your car for sleeping, cooking, setting up a tent or anything else.

Power Bank

Charge your phone anywhere you want and whenever you want. Bringing a power bank saves you from running the risk of a dead phone, which you might need for GPS.

Pillow

A lot of people forgot about pillows prior to embarking on their road trip. While you can easily make one using your jacket or whatever clothing, it’s still easier if you buy one pillow.

You can get it in TheWarehouse supermarket.

Compass

Yes, I know most smartphones have built-in compass apps. But it doesn’t hurt to bring one with you and do things the old school way. We all know phones are not reliable 100% of the time.

AA Smartfuel Card

Gas occupies a large part of your budget on a road trip in New Zealand. With AA Smartfuel card, which is free in BP or Caltex, you can redeem points every time you fill up your tank. Use these points to get a discount on your next gas filling.

It’s free and easy, so why not? It saves you quite a lot in the long run, and your pocket will thank you for that.

new zealand road trip guide looking out car windows from car

Best Mobile Apps For Road Trip in New Zealand

Other than social media apps, these are the apps that will prove useful to you on your New Zealand road trip.

Campermate

This app was made solely for the sake of the road trip. You can easily find all the remote attractions which cannot be accessed by tourist bus. We once went to a beach full of half-eroded boulders in a residential area near Moeraki Boulders. We were able to escape from the crowd and enjoy our time there, thanks to Campermate. You can also share the hidden gem you discovered by adding the location to the app. Make sure to download it before you hit the road. It is also applicable to Australia.

GPS

For our road trip, we used Google Maps. But it’s totally up to you which map you prefer to use. We recommend Google Maps if you don’t have a preferred GPS app, we never had any issues with it during our road trip.

Kindle

The second best way to spend your evening time other than cooking is reading some e-books (Unless you’re a fan of drinking). There’s no denying that carrying a Kindle is much better than carrying a few paperback books.

Learn These Skills Before Your New Zealand Road Trip

Learn how to change tires

There will be a time when luck wasn’t good and your tires in a bad mood. (Rhyme? Anybody?)

I got flat tires at Dunedin, and I replaced them for $250 for both tires, due to one punctured tire and shallow tread depth for both tires.

This could easily hurt my pocket further if I didn’t know how to change the tires myself. If you don’t know how to change your tires, it’s time to brush up your mechanical skills.

You can check out YouTube videos below or check out the guide here. Make sure you have the tools in your vehicle!

Learn how to change engine oil and oil filter

Well, it’s not essential but it’s still good to know. I didn’t know how to change the engine oil and oil filter back then until my friend changed them and taught me through the whole process. But I never had any practical experience.

It’s not hard to find engine oil dealers in New Zealand. Technicians usually charge around NZ$50-100 for engine oil and oil filter change.

Things You Should Know For New Zealand Road Trip

Now for the most interesting part of this whole article. Be sure you know these things before starting your New Zealand road trip.

Drive on the left lane

The driver seat is on the right side. The right lane is for overtaking. If you’re from the US or Canada, you might need some time to adapt to this, but it’s no big deal if you stay cautious and alert.

Just bear in mind to be careful whenever you’re on the road.

Most of the highways in New Zealand has only one lane for each direction

However, there are passing lanes for overtaking every few kilometers. Make sure you drive on the left lane if you want to drive slower. Sometimes foreigners are not aware that they are blocking the road or slowing down the traffic behind.

Most of the Kiwis are too kind to honk at you. Know what’s happening around you all the time.

Honking as a sign of thank you?

Most of the time, people who overtook you in the road will honk you twice, as a way of saying thank you.

The speed limit in New Zealand is 100kmh

It’s a reasonable number, a lot of the highways in New Zealand especially those built along the lake have winding turns. There are road signs telling you how slow you should be driving to indicate how curved is the turn. Make sure to pay attention to those road signs!

It’s easy to drive over the speed limit in the straight highway (from Queenstown to Invercargill) if you’re not paying attention. And speeding can easily cost you a ticket by the cops.

Don’t be distracted by the beauty of New Zealand landscapes!

I said this because it happened to me several times. In the highway, there’s probably no cars ahead of you, locals drive fast, travelers like us usually spend our time driving slowly and enjoying the scenery.

I drove to the opposite lanes several times during our New Zealand road trip. Just be aware of what you’re doing, be sure to adjust your car back to your own lane before anything bad happens.

Use the high beam headlight!

There are no lampposts along the highway unless you’re in the city outskirt, so you definitely need to utilize high beam wisely.

It’s much safer because it gives you more visibility of what’s ahead of you. Be alert always, turn your high beam back to low beam when there is a car approaching from the opposite direction or driving near ahead of you.

You might get honked at (definitely not a thank you sign), and might cause accidents as high beam blinds the other driver’s eyes.

Sheep might be on the road

When you are driving near farms, it’s not uncommon to see sheep occupying the road, when the farmer transfers them to another farm. Just slow down and enjoy the view!

There are viewpoints all along the highway

Be sure to never stop your car by the highway for photos. Everyone passing by will hate you on this, and it’s a very immoral thing to do. People might crash right into your car.

Always pay attention to signboards, they will show you where the viewpoint is, and how far ahead from you. Slow down when you’re approaching, then park into the viewpoint car park.

Hitchhikers

It’s a common practice by travelers in New Zealand. Kiwis and other travelers having their New Zealand road trip often pick up hitchhikers, especially in the summer.

I never picked up a hitchhiker in New Zealand because our backseats were full of our backpacks and stuff.

If you’re planning to do hitchhiking, make sure you don’t do it in the middle of the highway, the chances of people stopping for you is low, and it’s dangerous.

And if you’re driving and plan to pick up hitchhikers, make sure there’s no car behind you. If there is, make sure you slow down gradually, turn on your car indicator light and let them pass you before you make a complete stop.

Sewage Management

If you’re driving motorhome for your road trip, make sure you know where and how to dispose of your waste. I never drove one so I didn’t know the details, but I’ve found a guide for you on how to dispose of sewage properly.

You might be interested in 10 Legit Ways to Save Money While Traveling. Psst… It’s different from what you heard from others.

road trip on highway cloudy day

Where To Stay in New Zealand During Road Trip?

With your own mobile home, your biggest question would be “Where can I spend the night?”, “Where can I stay for free”, etc. Well, here I covered both free and paid accommodations and campsites.

Note: If you are camping with your car or campervan, make sure you scroll the windows down a little to allow ventilation. 

Free campsites

There are numerous free campsites available all over New Zealand. The best way to locate one is by using the Campermate mobile app I mentioned earlier. It covered all the free campsites, with reviews and photos there, so you can easily find the best campsite for yourselves.

It’s harder to find free campsites near major cities and touristy towns, especially Queenstown and Wanaka. You might have to drive some distance if you want free camping near those cities.

There are some parking lots which allow camping. I used to sleep in my car in a public parking lot, which allows camping. You can find them in Campermate.

Note: Some free campsites are solely for cars and campervans only, not motorhomes. On the other hand, some campsites are only for self-contained vehicles like motorhomes. Check before you arrive!

Check out these awesome camping tips & checklist!

Backpacker Hostels

If you prefer to mix with a bunch of like-minded travelers, make new friends with other backpackers, considering opting for backpacker hostels.

You might be able to meet some new friends who are doing the same road trip route with you.

Consider applying for BBH card (NZ$45) or YHA card (NZ$35), both give you some discounts when booking your accommodations. You can buy both of these cards at the airport when you arrive in New Zealand.

Otherwise, you can opt for buying it online too. If you are staying in New Zealand for some time, I recommend BBH card, it’s more widely accepted and you can get NZ$15 refund booking your first hostel online.

For your information, dorm bed costs around $24 in New Zealand.

Holiday Parks

Holiday park is basically a big piece of land, with a big field to park your vehicles and several blocks of hostels.

You can either choose to camp in your car in the field or stay inside the hostel. Both are of different prices, of course, the latter one will be more pricey.

Holiday parks can be expensive most of the time, but it’s safer there compared to free campsites. Go for holiday parks only when the free campsites are full.

Couchsurfing

Yes, Couchsurfing. It’s not a very popular practice for travelers doing a road trip in New Zealand but you can still find hosts to accommodate you.

It would be a lot harder to find a host in the summer though, so book in advance if you want to. I wouldn’t choose Couchsurfing because I want to be more flexible in my length of stay at a certain place.

Local Hosts

You can find some Kiwis to host you for several days on Facebook or friends’ recommendations.

I stayed with my Kiwi host, Ken in Rakaia for 10 days before I leave New Zealand. It was a wonderful and memorable stay. We go for several day trips together too!

Some will charge you a small fee, but it depends on you whether you find it worthy or not. Not all hosts are as interactive as Ken though, keep in mind with that.

camping in new zealand under dark starry sky milky way

Best Places to Visit in New Zealand South Island

I did my road trip in New Zealand South Island, from the northern tip to the southern tip, then to Christchurch city.

Here are the places I find that you shouldn’t miss! The order below follows my New Zealand South Island road trip itinerary, from north to south then to Christchurch.

Golden Bay

If you don’t know Wharariki Beach, look up for it in Google! There’s a great chance you’ve seen that beach before if you are a Windows user. It’s a little hard to find the Archway Islands if you enter in a different way.

Consider taking a tour into Farewell Spit as well, or a horse trek sounds cool too! Remember to visit the northernmost tip of South Island (in the picture below) while you are there.

new zealand northernmost point of south island in golden bay

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks

Located at the northwest coast, Punakaiki attracts thousands of visitors every month for its famous Pancake Rocks. They’re not rocks made from pancakes but limestone with pancake-shaped formations.

A few minutes walk from the observation deck you will arrive at the Blowhole, where seawater blast out from it when there is a strong thrust of sea wave underneath, which pumps the water up. Check out here for more info.

new zealand punakaiki pancake rocks on sunset evening

Franz Josef Glacier & Fox Glacier

Both of these glaciers are different and are located in different places. I put them together as they are near to each other.

There are several tour companies in the towns nearby, which offer an aerial view of the glaciers from their helicopter ride. It’s not cheap at all for your information.

You can walk to Franz Josef Glacier in around 30 minutes from the entrance, for some up-close photos.

Lake Matheson

Lake Matheson offers the best view of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. The reflection of the snowy peaks on the lake made the location famous tourist attractions. The best time to take some photos is in the morning when the wind is quiet and your chance of getting perfect reflection is higher.

Never leave this out in your New Zealand South Island itinerary!

Tips: Be informed that most of the time, the photography deck will be occupied by tourists with tripods, you have to go very early to secure a spot. 

new zealand lake matheson reflective view on mount cook and mount tasman

Wanaka

Wanaka is my all-time favorite town. It made me stay for 4 nights in Wanaka alone. And I had my first skydive there with Skydive Wanaka. There are loads of different treks and ski field for you to choose from. It’s the perfect place for travelers to chill and relax by Lake Wanaka.

Definitely consider hiking Roy’s Peak, and embrace the 360° panorama view from the peak, surrounded by nearby hills and lakes. Best hike I’ve ever done in my life.

new zealand wanaka skydive

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is best visited between mid-November and early January, when the lupins bloom. Winter is also a great time to visit Lake Tekapo as well, when the mountains turned white, covered by thick snow.

Pay a visit to Church of the Good Shephard for an amazing dark sky milky way photo.

new zealand south island lake tekapo

Lake Pukaki

What’s great about this lake isn’t the lake itself, but the salmons in Lake Pukaki i-Site. Stop by there and enjoy the salmons from high-altitude lakes in Mount Cook regions. You’ll thank me later.

new zealand south island lake pukaki isite salmon

Arrowtown

Arrowtown was a gold mining town centuries ago, now it’s more than just that. It’s also one of the filming locations of Lord of the Rings, which made it famous for tourists.

Because it’s just a small elegant town, one day is more than enough to visit. Have a cup of coffee and a walk in the town, it’s a breath-taking down there.

new zealand arrowtown huge chess set autumn season

Queenstown

A lot of people start their New Zealand road trip from Queenstown, as vehicle pick-up is convenient near the airport.

Queenstown is often flocked by tourists mainly from China. Don’t believe me? Go to Fergburger and have a look at the queue, it never fails to amaze me.

Some Kiwis travel all the way to Queenstown just for the great food. If you are staying there for some time, have a try at Fergburger for their world-class mouth-watering burger.

Don’t miss out on Flame Bar & Grill as well, their pork ribs are the best I ever tried in my whole life. Spend your time walking by the lake or have a cup of coffee looking over the snowy peaks.

new zealand south island queenstown autumn season red leaves

Milford Sound

A fiord wonderland in the southwest or South Island. It took two hours of drive from the nearest town, Te Anau.

The drive alone is magnificent enough especially during the winter. (At least it’s magnificent for someone who never experiences so much snow, like me.)

Take the cruise, which is the best way to enjoy paradise. You can choose to kayak but I’m more toward cruising, it’s longer and it takes you further. There is a high chance dolphins will swim by the side of cruises!

new zealand milford sound browne falls in winter season

Catlins Waterfalls

No, the name of the waterfall is not Catlins. Catlins is a conservation park, with a lot of fascinating waterfalls.

Bring your tripod and camera, it’s time for some good waterfall photos. Do your homework with Campermate first before you depart to Catlins.

Know where to stop and which place is worth your time to stop your engine and go photographing.

new zealand waterfalls catlin forest park

Dunedin

An interesting and happening city. The vibe in Dunedin is by far the best I felt among all the cities during my New Zealand road trip in South Island. It’s worth it to spend a day just walking around in this city and enjoy yourself.

Remember to pay a visit to the World’s Steepest Street at Baldwin Street.

Moeraki Boulders

One of the most iconic nature remains in New Zealand. These spherical boulders attract thousands of tourists every single day. If you want to have your time there, go before the tourists arrive, usually before 10 am and evening.

Tips: Go and take a sunrise photo, the boulders are facing the east, which made them great subjects for photographs.

moeraki boulders new zealand sunrise over boulders

Oamaru

There’s a lot of reasons you should pay Oamaru a visit. Oamaru holds one of the oldest public gardens in New Zealand, classic Victorian architecture and two penguin colonies.

While there are companies that offer close interaction with blue penguins, there’s a better way to experience this. Blue penguins come up to the shore in the evening and night time.

Drive to the Waterfront Road, park your car, and wait for penguins to appear. Remember to behave and don’t disturb the penguins.

It’s heart-melting enough just watching them cross the road and fell down clumsily.

Mount Cook

The tallest mountain in New Zealand along the Southern Alps, standing at 3724m. There are several treks in Mount Cook National Park. If you are not interested in multi-day trekking, do the Hooker Valley Trek. The path is very well-maintained due to its popularity. It offers everything you need to see in this national park so make sure to mark it down to your list!

Tips: There are several paid campsites (NZ$8 per person per night) in Mount Cook National Park. Great choice if you are not afraid of cold and wish to sleep beside the tallest mountain in New Zealand. 

Kaikoura

Dreamed of watching humpback whales with your own eyes. Your dream may come true in Kaikoura! I said “may” because it’s not guaranteed that you will see one unless you take the helicopter package, which easily cost a few hundred dollars.

Albatross tours are also very popular in this small town.

There are a lot of treks you can do in Kaikoura and I definitely recommend you to do Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. Like other places in New Zealand, you can get the map for free in i-Site.

You can get more information for places to visits in New Zealand at 25 Must-Visits for A Perfect South Island Road Trip. I’m sure you will love that.

Are You Ready for Your Road Trip in New Zealand?

I hope the information I provided in this article is useful to you in some way. Feel free to comment below if I missed out on anything. Nevertheless, have a great road trip in New Zealand, be it South Island or North Island, or both! Enjoy your travel and have a nice day.

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Your Ultimate Guide to Road Trip in New Zealand. Sharing all the things I wish I knew before going for my New Zealand road trip, and destinations to visit in South Island. 5500+ words, it's the ONLY guide you'll ever need. Click here to learn everything about New Zealand Road Trip. #swingabroad #travel #newzealand

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Yen is a university student from Malaysia and a huge fan of Blues music and photography. His passion for travel can be traced back to 2016 when he spent 6 months traveling New Zealand. By blending into the locals and traveling long-term, he shares all the comprehensive and detailed travel ideas and guides for the countries with his footprints.

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3 thoughts on “New Zealand Road Trip Guide – Everything You’ll Ever Need!”

  1. Even I’ve been to New Zealand multiple times, and I lived there for one year back in 2018. So for my 4th trip to New Zealand, I wanted to make a proper road trip around New Zealand. To do that I am thinking about to rent a campervan as New Zealand is popular to rent a camper van. And this blog helped me in making my decision.

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