New Zealand • Tour Travel Hotels

My last road trip to New Zealand feels like a million years in the past, even though it ended about 13 months ago, as of this writing. On one level, this is absolutely unsurprising, given that the WHO declared the coronavirus a global pandemic about a month after I left Christchurch.

New Zealand

I mention this because if you’re reading this in early 2021 and can’t wait to travel after Covid, or the distant future when the virus is nothing but a bad memory, I can personally understand why you you’ve been relaxing for some time. New Zealand.

Read on for practical tips on visiting New Zealand by car, as well as ideas on what to see along the way.

How long does it take to travel around New Zealand?

You need to be realistic about what you can see on a New Zealand road trip over a period of time. While New Zealand looks small on a map, the distances within the country are very large. Here are some examples:

  • Auckland to Taupo: 275 km / 3.5 hours
  • Rotorua to New Chums Beach: 225 km / 3 hours
  • From Christchurch to Tekapo: 225 km / 3 hours
  • From Queenstown to Milford Sound: 300 km / 4 hours
  • Franz Josef in Punakaiki: 225 km / 3 hours

Another suggestion is to travel light, although you do have a vehicle and don’t necessarily need to pack up neatly every night. In fact, I actually used the trunk of my rental car as something near the apartment lockers, spreading out my clothes in such a way that they could air out (and the wrinkles could relax!), And only bring the clothes I had planned to wear. the next day in a given hotel.

Where to go on your New Zealand road trip


New Zealand

Leave the underrated capital of New Zealand (and beautiful Waiheke island, which is probably the best place nearby), I recommend heading to Lake Taupo. Although the lake itself is nothing compared to those you will see in the south, Taupo is the best base for hiking along the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is probably my favorite New Zealand day hike, and a great place to start tasting north island.

Coromandel Peninsula

New Zealand

From Taupo you can read ROtorua (which in my opinion is quite disappointing), but quickly head north from there. Specifically, you’ll want to configure your GPS to New Chums Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula, which was probably the most beautiful place I visited on the North Island part of my New Zealand road trip.


New Zealand

Whether you are traveling between the islands of New Zealand with a flight of Auckland , or drive south from Wellington and take a ferry, Tekapo is my choice for your first major destination in the south island. Even if you can’t visit here in the summer, when the pink and purple lupins contrast perfectly with the fluorescent waters of the lake, this is a destination out of the ordinary.


New Zealand

Continue your New Zealand road trip by heading to the Adventure Center of Queenstown– there are many ways to do this. I left from Tekapo at Aoraki / Mt. cook, then I went down through Wanaka, where I would later return to the parachute jump. If you’re short on time, you can just drive straight from Tekapo to Queenstown.

Franz Josef

New Zealand

After finishing in Queenstown (and the kind of neighbor Milford Sound), head north to Franz Josef Glacier. Whether or not you continue until Punakaiki depends on you, but I highly recommend spending some time in underrated Christchurch before leaving the South Island.

North Island vs. South Island

On the surface, the South Island of New Zealand is much more impressive than the north. From the dramatic beauty of the Southern Alps and the various lakes that separate them to the many opportunities for adventure tourism, the South Island is the place that closely matches most people’s assumptions about New Zealand. This does not mean, however, that the North Island is not worth a visit.

All in all, if you can, I would recommend on your New Zealand road trip to visit both islands, even if your time on either ends up being cut short. That being said, if it’s a choice between the North Island or the South Island, I would probably prioritize the South Island. You can always return to the North Island in the future and, taking advantage of the hindsight, decide if that was the right choice.

Other FAQs on road trips in New Zealand

How much does a 2 week trip to New Zealand cost?

New Zealand is an extremely expensive country. It’s hard to travel here for less than $ 200 per person per day; your return flight will cost no less than $ 1,000 in economy class. As a result, the minimum amount that a single trip can expect to spend for two weeks in New Zealand is around $ 4,000.

What are the best months to visit New Zealand?

New Zealand’s summer months of December, January, and February highlight the best weather, but there are advantages to visiting the other seasons. Spring and fall are cool and cool, with colorful flowers and fall leaves, while winter is obviously when you’ll want to come to enjoy Queenstown’s ski culture.

How many days do you need in New Zealand?

You should stay in New Zealand for as many days as you can afford, both in terms of money and time. That being said, 2-3 weeks is a good goal to set, especially if this is your first trip. A few weeks in New Zealand will give you one of two options: see the country’s highlights in a sort of ‘cross section’; or to dig deep to two or three particular destinations.

The bottom line

There is never a bad time to start thinking about a New Zealand road trip. Once the country’s border opens in the wake of the pandemic, there will be no more excuse to wait any longer to pick one up either. The devil, as always, is in the details. Do you focus on your energy to explore one of New Zealand’s two main islands, or do you divide your itinerary and choose a handful of treasures from the north and south? The good news, if you’re reading this in early 2021, if you have more than enough time to decide. The best news? Even though it’s 2022 or beyond and Covid-19 looks like a bad dream, New Zealand isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Robert schrader

Robert Schrader is a travel writer and photographer who has traveled the world independently since 2005, writing for publications such as “CNNGo” and “Shanghaiist” along the way. His blog, Leave Your Daily Hell, offers a mix of travel tips, destination guides and personal essays covering the more esoteric aspects of life as a traveler.

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