How to Road Trip New Zealand
*As a disclaimer this only applies to the South Island and is based on my personal experiences over the last month of traveling here. Also it’s currently spring going on summer-which definitely affects which places I recommend stopping at.
How to Road Trip New Zealand:
1. Get a car!
In order of budget and timeframe: buy one, rent one, or simply hitch hike.
Everywhere is beautiful, it’s just a matter of choosing the top places you want to visit and activities that tickle your fancy. Also make sure to hit the scenic roads, they are well marked and well worth the petrol. Just remember that kiwis drive on the left side of the road!
3. Stop often!
There are lots of marked walks and hikes to amazing viewpoints and lookouts- many of which take under an hour roundtrip.
4. Make sure you have some sort of camera handy at all times
You’ll never know when you might see something particularly cool, and it might not wait for you to get your camera out of your pack or the trunk of your car.
5. Figure out where you’re going to sleep
There are a variety of options (budget dependent). Holiday parks offer full facilities while also allowing you to set up a tent, or car camp, or even bring an RV. There’s locations for “freedom camping” which have no facilities and are donation based. Also you could stay at hostels or even splurge on a motel or hotel room!
6. Be flexible
You shouldn’t have a rigid plan…weather here can change rapidly and this can affect your activity choice. For example if it’s raining, exploring caves or areas with waterfalls might be more entertaining than waiting for the clouds to clear to view stars.
7. Get used to meat pies, scrumpy, and Tim Tams
They are what the locals consume for a reason; they are affordable, delicious and scrumpy (1.25 liter bottle of 8.2% cider) provides a pleasant buzz for 10 NZ dollars. I will also claim that Tim Tams are, for the record, better than Oreos.
8. No need for phone service or GPS
There’s free wifi in nearly every settlement and no shortage of tourist info centers that are happy to provide you with maps and ideas for activities in the area.
9. Places that are worth the stop
From North to South: Karamea, Farewell Spit, Golden Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, Mt. Cook/ Aoraki, Lake Tekapo, Punakaiki, Queenstown, Milford Sound, Dunedin, and all the way to the Southernmost point of the island- the town of Bluff.
10. Now that you have the inspiration, its time to travel!