5 Road Trips Around NZ That Will Make Your Summer
New Zealand is a country with beautiful views, twisty roads and iconic small-town pubs. So what better way to enjoy New Zealand this summer than to hit the road, in your car? We have already talked about the best used cars you can buy from us, for the road trip. So where will you be heading?
Read our guide on the best road trips you can take around New Zealand that will make your summer below.
1. Auckland to Wellington via SH2
Suggested time: 4 - 6 days.
This is a classic roadie, with a twist. While traditionalists may barrel down SH1 to Wellington, doing the journey in a day, what’s the fun in that? Take it slow, via SH2 baby. This way you can take time out you need, for some of the most rewarding beaches, wine-country, and driving the North Island has to offer.
The first leg will see you travel between Auckland and Tauranga. We recommend stopping off at Waihi for a swim (or even a stay.) Following Tauranga is the great town of Whakatane, then onto Gisborne.
The East Cape, via SH35, is a worthwhile side-adventure, with some great campsites around the edge. At the very least, we recommend you visit East Cape Lighthouse and soak in the view. This is the easternmost point in New Zealand, and well worth a visit.
Winery country follows – the Hawkes Bay has some incredible vineyards, that are essential stops. If surfing is your thing stop in at Waimarama, 45 minutes south of Napier. Continue the drive down SH2 to the Wairarapa. Martinborough rounds off the drive, with some incredible wineries also worth stopping at.
Wellington is your final destination – beautiful food, coffee and shopping awaits (just pray that the weather is good).
2. Rotorua – Taupo – New Plymouth
Suggested time: 3 - 6 days.
Start in Rotorua. It is the tourist capital of the North Island for a good reason. Culturally enrichening, with loads of fun activities for the family (and the iconic luge is a must). If you have time, we also recommend visiting the beautiful lakes – Lake Tarawera and Lake Okareka are stand outs.
Continue on SH5 to Taupo. The lake is great for swimming, boating and fishing, and there are some excellent places to eat in the town. Beautiful villages dot the edges of Lake Taupo, with accommodation options on the lake edge.
Make your way to the Forgotten World Highway – SH43 between Taumaranui and Stratfod. This is an absolutely magical, desolate stretch of highway. The views are great, and the road is twisty, allowing you to dig deep and lock in to the drive. A true driver’s road. Whangamomona is a great place to stop for a rest, and you can head to New Plymouth the next day.
New Plymouth rounds off the trip – make sure you check out the excellent Len Lye centre, and the great cafes.
3. Nelson to Wanaka via the Nelson Lakes, on SH3
Suggested time: 3 - 5 days.
This is a tourist classic – and a great introduction to the beautiful vistas that await in the South Island.
Start off at Nelson, and immediately to St Arnaud. While this small town doesn’t offer much, it has probably one of the most beautiful views in New Zealand – the iconic Lake Rotoiti.
Continue your charge down the West Coast. Fox Glacier and Franz Josef are must-visits, and Fox Glacier township is a cute stop. Take it slow and enjoy the views. With the Tasman sea to your right, and the epic Southern Alps to your left, this is an iconic drive.
Haast is the last stop here for fuel – so top up if you need. We recommend getting to the splendidly isolated Jackson Bay. It’s a lonely and wild place, 40 minutes south of Haast. On your way to Wanaka, near the top of the lake is a great DoC campground at Boundary Creek.
Continue on to Wanaka, enjoy the epic views and the beautiful lake. It’s a magical destination.
4. Queenstown – Glenorchy (optional) – Te Anau – Milford Sound
Suggested time: 2 – 3 days.
The great Fiordland Explorer is a trip that all New Zealanders should make in their life. The Fiordlands are rugged, beautiful and have a world-wide reputation for a reason.
We think this trip should begin with a day-drive out to Glenorchy – a tiny town at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. A great spot for a picnic. Te Anau is probably the first major stop, and a great place to break the drive. There are some great accommodation options in this town, and the Fiordland National Park centre can help you plan walks and must-see sites in the region.
The next day, continue on to Milford Sound, a solid 2-hour, enjoyable drive from Te Anau. Soak in the views – tourists travel the world to get here.
5. Queenstown – Dunedin, via Invercargill and the Catlins
Suggested time: 3 – 6 days
This is an iconic road-trip. Commonly known as the ‘Southern Scenic Route’, this roadie takes you through Invercargill – the most southern town in the country – through the Catlins to Dunedin.
The first leg is to Invercargill, from Queenstown. This is a short 2.5-hour drive, and you’ll want to take time walking round Invercargill. Some awesome pubs to stop by for a beer, and (if you make it during the season), fresh oysters. Choice!
Next is a drive to the Catlins – a true adventure land. If you like surfing, hiking, and observing animal life this is the place for you. There are a number of great spots to camp, and scenic highlights include Nuggets Point Lighthouse and the Cathedral Caves, accessible only at low-tide.
Continue on to Dunedin, and make sure you stop by Tunnel Beach on the way – a secluded beach located on a rocky coastline. When you get to Dunedin, enjoy a beer at the Speights Brewery. You’ve earnt it, mate!
Are you looking for a car for your next epic New Zealand road trip?
Check out Industry Motor Group. We have a range of high-quality used vehicles, perfect for your next journey, and we offer car protection so you can stay safe on the open road. Browse our range online or walk into our Takanini or Penrose car dealers to buy a used car today.
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