Want to explore the real New Zealand? A road trip is one of the best ways to rediscover the great outdoors - rugged mountains, freezing glaciers or active volcanoes, it's easy to discover New Zealand by car or campervan. We gathered together the team who've done these trips and asked them for their highlights.
If you only have a little time to spend in New Zealand, this short road trip encompasses the beauty of the northern coast as well as the metropolitan city of Auckland. Spot dolphins dotted among the Bay of Islands and bask on the endless beaches of Omapere before turning south towards the vineyards of the Wahike Island, a half-hour ferry ride from Auckland.
Driving is the easiest way to see New Zealand. City hopping by public transport is great in some countries (and New Zealand does have plenty of backpacker buses) but driving allows you to get off the beaten track. You'll find it easier to reach lesser known regions and uncover hidden delights often overlooked by the main tourist trails.
This is a great route to discover the beauty of New Zealand's North Island. Explore Peter Jackson's Hobbiton before following the "Thermal Highway" south to discover a host of geothermal delights, from the bubbling geysers of Rotorua to the volcanic crater of Lake Taupo. This route winds its way through the wine regions of Martinborough, capturing the very best of the scenic North Island before arriving in Wellington to soak up the lively atmosphere of the southernmost capital city in the world.
It's easy to fly between these two cities but you'll be missing out on a chunk of what New Zealand has to offer: larger-than-life national parks, natural spas and the rugged mountains that make this country famous. In a car or campervan you can make the most of the outdoorsy Kiwi way of life and meet the friendly locals. What are you waiting for?
If you don't have much time to explore the South Island, choose this short route. Hop aboard the TranzAlpine train and follow the Waimakariri river which crosses from east coast to west. Begin your road trip in the seaside town of Greymouth. Head south along the rugged coastline and visit the majestic Fox and Franz Josef glaciers before descending through the mountains to Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world. Skydiving, bungee jumping, white-water rafting - whatever you fancy, you'll be sure to finish your trip with a rush of adrenaline!
The question here should really be "why not drive?"! The lush rainforest and pristine mountain lakes that make up the west coast of New Zealand are incredible. The chance to wind your way through this World Heritage region where glaciers and mountains meet the ocean turns driving into a privilege rather than just a mode of transport.
This route begins with the TranzAlpine rail journey across the width of New Zealand before making your way south past the windswept beaches and impressive glaciers of the west coast. After the excitement of fun-filled Queenstown, sweep south. Stop off at the stunning Milford Sound and the wild beauty of the Southlands. You'll encounter the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguin in the Caitlins and the historical centre of Dunedin before ending your adventure under the starry skies of Lake Tekapo. Finishing back in Christchurch, this route takes you on an unforgettable journey through the unspoilt landscape of New Zealand.
Driving is the perfect way to see the scenic South Island, with great roads through the Southern Alps before swinging back north up the Otago coast. Having a car or campervan to get around means you can structure this route as you want with the additional bonus of being able to arrive in places earlier than the tour buses!
This route is a great way of exploring New Zealand's wine, wildlife and winding roads. Heading north from Christchurch will take you to the seaside town of Kaikoura where you can try the local delicacy of crayfish and go whale watching before reaching the far north of the South Island - the Marlborough Sounds. With outdoor activities galore, there's time to try them all before driving to the nearby Nelson Lakes. Nelson is the perfect spot to base yourself to visit Abel Tasman National Park before you head south to Hokitika and the drive through the Arthur Pass that will return you to Christchurch.
The delightful north region of the South Island is home to vineyards, lakes and areas of stunning natural beauty. Having a car or campervan to hop between them means you can stay as long as you like as you're not bound by the timetables of public transport - so it's no problem if you find that perfect Sauvignon Blanc and feel a few more days in Marlborough might be necessary!
"The Queen Charlotte Track is the most beautiful 3 day walk in the Marlborough Sounds. If you're in a rush it is still worth walking a section of it. You can get taxi boats to different points in Picton." Nadine
This great value 3-week multi-centre holiday takes you all the way round the world; from the tasty dim-sum and buzzing night markets of Hong Kong, on to New Zealand for 12 days exploring by campervan, before ending with a city break in pretty San Francisco. See itinerary and price
This multi-centre holiday visits Shanghai, New Zealand and San Francisco and takes you round the world in 2 weeks. Experience Shanghai’s blend of ancient and modern city living before taking a laid back self-drive through New Zealand’s North Island. Finish up with a 3 night city break in trendy San Francisco! See itinerary and price
Explore the highlights of both islands by self-drive & rail, from the cultural significance of North Island to the rugged coastline and spectacular mountain scenery of South Island. Inclusive of some of the most scenic rail journeys in New Zealand this trip allows you to witness this stunning landscape from the comfort of your train seat. See itinerary and price
This 3 week self-drive itinerary showcases New Zealand’s diversity, from the bubbling geysers and Maori culture of Rotorua to the snow-capped mountains and glassy lakes of Queenstown. We’ve hand-picked our favourite accommodation from cosy B&Bs to boutique-style lodges - each property is unique and is guaranteed to impress. See itinerary and price
Travelling at your own pace and following our tailor-made, luxury self-drive itinerary, you’ll cover the highlights of both North and South Islands and stay in some of New Zealand’s finest accommodation. Begin in Auckland and ending in NZ's adventure capital, Queenstown. See itinerary and price
If you want to plan a trip to New Zealand and include a self-drive, we can help you choose a campervan to suit, or pick the right car and advise on hotels, motels or luxury lodges - whatever suits your style and budget. To start planing your trip, contact one of our New Zealand specialists or request a quote by email.