Travelling by car or campervan is by far the best way to explore New Zealand. There is so many places to discover whilst having so much freedom to stop off at some amazing hidden gems! To help you explore our beautiful country the best way possible and to keep you safe here are our top tips that you should consider before you arrive in New Zealand and hit the road.
Make sure you give us a wave if you see our Rotorua Canopy Tours vans out & about in Rotorua.
For the serious stuff to keep you safe...
1. We drive on the left hand side of the road...
For some of you this may be completely normal but if you are from Europe, USA or China then you will be very used to driving on the right hand side. Tell your passengers about driving on the left hand side of the road so they are aware. They can help remind you, especially at the tricky intersections or roads where traffic is approaching from all different directions. You will be a pro on the NZ roads by the end of your road trip - you might even find driving back in your home country hard to get used to.
2. Buckle up your seat belt & put your mobile phone away...
Not wearing a seat belt and using your mobile phone while driving are both illegal to do in New Zealand and if you are caught by the New Zealand Police you can incur a fine which isn't cheap! These rules are put in place to keep you safe - you are putting yourself, loved ones in your car and others on the road in danger so buckle up and turn your mobile phone off. You are easy to recognise as an international visitor in a rental car so be discreet and don't make any silly decisions.
3. Road conditions change...
New Zealand road conditions change all the time due to weather and roadworks. Make sure you adjust your speed to the different weather conditions - eg. slow down if it's wet or icy and be careful when passing other cars. You should also be aware of animals - sounds strange but New Zealand has a lot of farmland and farm animals so it's quite common to see cows crossing the road on the open road (this can make for a great story and awesome photos to share with friends and family when you are back home!)
Remember it's important to follow road signs and drive to the weather conditions.
4. REST! REST! REST!
New Zealand is a small place with lots of different areas to stop off during a road trip. Plan to stop every couple of hours and avoid driving too many hours in one day - if you drive too much in one day you will miss so many amazing places! If you do feel tired, change drivers or find a safe place to pull over and grab a bit of shut eye.
5. Plan your road trip as you go...
If you have plenty of time to explore New Zealand then we highly recommend planning your trip as you go. The best thing about New Zealand is that it's super easy to get off the beaten track and find amazing places along the way that weren't originally in your plan. Usually the unplanned adventures you experience are some of the most memorable moments! If you book your trip as you go then it means you can stay extra nights at your favourite places and explore New Zealand a much more adventurous way!
Allow plenty of time to appreciate the amazing New Zealand views!
6. Plan plenty of time to stop along the way..
If you are short of time and you have a strict itinerary then the best tip for you is to plan your drives! Allow plenty of time to stop at amazing lookouts to get the perfect photos or to play with animals on the roadside! Pack a picnic lunch, find a remote forest, beach or view and enjoy the sound of New Zealand's natural beauty while enjoying some delicious New Zealand kai (food). If you need some help on planning your trip check out some of our New Zealand Itineraries
Note: Sometimes maps can give you an inaccurate timing from one place to another so make sure you do your research before you set off and hit the road.
7. Talk to the locals...
The best advice about what to do in New Zealand is from us, the Kiwis! We know all about the best places to visit in the area, the short cuts and the places to avoid! Along your road trip make sure you have a chat to the locals out and about in the countryside, at the next table during lunch, or in the small town dairy's (corner stores) - promise we are friendly and we love to meet guests visiting our country.
8. Have fun!
You have chosen the best way to explore New Zealand so make sure you enjoy it! You have so much freedom to do what you want, stop where you want, meet the friendly locals and be able to fully immerse yourself into the New Zealand way of living.
For more driving tips check out 10 things you should NEVER do on a kiwi road trip.
Drive safely and we will see you on the New Zealand roads!