Tips for a New Zealand Road Trip

It’s easy to get wrapped up in excitement before a trip, but these things are essential to know before you go driving around an unfamiliar country. These are our tips for a New Zealand road trip.

Pre-trip Preparation

  1.  Picking up your vehicle: make sure you have a valid driver’s licence written in English and a credit card in your name.
  2. Pack smart: basic camping supplies, water, food.


  1. Don’t overestimate your driving ability. Locals will drive quicker than you. Take your time, take rests and let people pass if you are driving slowly (no hate).
  2. Remember GPS/map apps predicted ETA may be off. With winding roads and difficult conditions, allow adequate time to get to your destination.
  3. Try not to let your eyes wander if the view distracts you. Wait for a designated rest area to pull over and take a look.
  4. Don’t just pull over anywhere. Wait for a designated rest area.
  5. Pay attention to weather warnings and don’t take unnecessary risks.
  6. Don’t try to take the wrong kind of vehicle on the wrong road.


  1. Don’t overestimate your ability and allow enough time to complete hikes (up and down). Many of the incredible hikes are fine for everyone with an average fitness level – but if there are warnings, pay attention to them.
  2. Fishing more your thing? You can also check an interesting article on lures for trout
  3.  Bring essentials: water, food, torch (just in case) and warm clothing.


Some tourists are under the (wrong) assumption you can camp anywhere in New Zealand. Get informed before you go so that you don’t damage the beautiful environment.

  1. Free camping

Free camping is quite controversial in New Zealand. Tourists taking advantage of this can result in environmental and economic effects. Here are the significant take away points:

  • Know whether your vehicle is self-contained or not. Free camping is allowed around a lot of NZ if your vehicle completely self contained (toilet).
  • Pay attention to restrictions and block them out on your map.
  • If you don’t have the right van or you are in a restricted area it is a $200 instant fine.
  1. One of our favourite options is to camp on property. One website that is fantastic for this is It’s essentially Airbnb for camping with very affordable prices and an authentic experience.
  2. Campgrounds
  3. Holiday Parks

Returning the vehicle

Make sure to get back on time agreed at pick up. We hope you have a fantastic experience in New Zealand – it’s truly one of the best countries to road trip in the world!

For example road trip itineraries see our related posts:

          Christchurch to Auckland

          Queenstown to Christchurch