If we were to describe New Zealand in one word, it would be ‘heavenly’ ❤ . Pristine landscape, ever changing beautiful scenery and nature that’s literally like a painting all around you – this country is best explored via a road trip!
We took a 14 day road-trip around South Island, like nomads 🙂 moving from one town or village on the countryside to another every day. Here are our two cents on what to expect while driving around this beautiful country:
1. Check for Road Closures :
New Zealand weather can be very unpredictable during certain seasons especially during heavy rains or winter season. Roads get washed off during landslides and heavy rains. There are websites and apps where you can check the status of the roads – sometimes fully closed for a short duration and other times closed overnight. All the official road closure related information can be found here. Do check this out before hitting the road.
2. Be prepared :
If you are going to New Zealand, we know you must have booked some tours and activities with guides that start at a scheduled time. Always keep buffer time, so that you don’t have to speed up to reach your intended destination. New Zealand roads can sometimes be one way, sometimes closed, or blocked with traffic during peak season and in certain cities. Generally Queenstown and areas nearby have significant traffic.
3. Only stop at designated spots:
The landscape will be beautiful and if you are a photography freak, you would want to stop every 15-20 minutes to get the perfect shot. There are ample number of designated photo stops, camping grounds and picnic areas that you will find every few kilometres on your way.
For the safety of yourself and others, pullover very carefully. Such spots are VERY prone to accidents. Be mindful of all road signs! There are lot of areas in New Zealand where you might have to share the road with the cyclists. There are alo unmanned railway line crossings as well. So be cautious!
4. Take GPS & Insurance while renting a car :
GPS would be your lifesaver while on road. Some of the remote areas do not have cell phone network or reception at all. If you are not an old school paper-map geek, we recommend getting a GPS device, it’s just for ~~8 NZD a day or 40 NZD cap for the whole trip depending on your rental car provider. The average highest speed is 100 km/hr.
New Zealand has a lot of advertisements against drunk driving and over speeding and the roads can get pretty narrow with lower angle turns in hilly areas, so rest up if you are tired and be safe. Also, insurance is a must in case you need any assistance on the road. Best part about New Zealand roads is that there are absolutely no tolls. We recommend to not drive during the night on highways as it is pitch black on most of the stretches of the road with little to no street lighting.
5. Stock up on food :
The landscapes are beautiful in this country precisely because most of it is left in pristine condition. It will be difficult to find shops in remote areas, though there are cafes at every popular touristy spot. But, if you are exploring lands where it’s just you and no one around, which is more often than not, we recommend buying some snacks before you leave major cities. Some of the popular super markets are Packn’SAVE, Four Square etc.
Carry lots of water with you as well, unless you are in glacier country where you can stop by a glacial mineral water natural stream to fill up some energizing fresh drinking water. Always keep a spare bag for garbage, please don’t litter this beautiful landscape!
6. Fuelling up:
Remember to ensure you have enough fuel always. There are petrol pumps only in major towns and cities in NZ. Sometimes there might not be one for more than 80 – 100 KM stretch. On average petrol cost approximately 2.40 NZD per litre when we last visited in December’ 19. Petrol prices may vary based on city and vendor. We recommend specifically avoiding unmanned petrol pumps where you can pay by card- operated by NPD, they will charge an extra amount (hold amount of 150 NZD) on your card, and reimburse later, which is not mentioned anywhere while paying, so better to avoid confusion.
Finally and most importantly, just relax and enjoy the drive amidst one of the most beautiful landscapes on earth! And remember to take lots and lots of pictures 😊! Happy Exploring!
Drop us a note if you need any other information on what to do on the road in the 100% pure Kiwi country!
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Top 5 must do Treks in South Island, New Zealand! (Low – Moderate difficulty level)
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