Travel Tips for New Zealand – Self Drive Holiday
Located in the south western Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is a fabulous holiday destination at any time of year. It’s a unique country with breathtaking scenery, lush forests, snow capped mountains, plunging fjords, white sandy beaches and a pleasant climate. It’s stunning landscape was used to spectacular effect in the film trilogy of ‘The Lord of The Rings’ .
New Zealand is divided into two islands each offering something different and the best way to see it all is by hiring a car.
New Zealand Car Hire Tip – Drive on the left and give way to traffic approaching from the right.
The Northern Island is the smaller of the two islands although about 75% of New Zealand’s population live there. Auckland, known as ‘the city of sails’ is the largest city in the northern part of the island. Sailboats and yachts are an impressive sight and line the waterfront around Auckland.
There’s lots to do in and around Auckland. Just as in any large city the shopping is great and there are numerous traditional markets and many attractions, vineyards and beaches a short hour drive of the city. Waitakere Ranges Park is perfect for family fun. It’s full of green forests, waterfalls and canyons as well as beaches with great surfing and horse riding. From Auckland get on the North Western Motorway, turning left at Lincoln North, this will bring you to Waitakere. If you’re an adrenalin junkie you’ll love it here – popular activities in the area include skydiving, paragliding, kayaking, and windsurfing.
Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter & Underwater World is about 15 minutes drive from Auckland. This is a magical experience and perfect for a family day out. Head along the scenic Tamaki Drive to get here.
New Zealand Car Hire Tip – The distances are in Kilometres and the speed limit on the open road is 100km/hr. In built up areas it’s 50km/hr.
Travel south along the Southern Motorway and after a couple of hours you’ll reach Tauranga, the largest city in the ‘Bay of Plenty’ region. Tauranga is great for beaches, shopping and has some excellent restaurants. White water rafting is very popular here on the Wairoa River between Tauranga and Matamata.
The Southern Motorway will take you from Auckland to Rotorua and here you can take in some traditional Maori singing and dancing. Rotorua is the tourism capital of the North Island and it’s also where you’ll see the famous geysers. Some geothermal attractions include Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Whakarewarewa Thermal Village, Te Puia and Kuirau Park.
New Zealand Car Hire Tip – all passengers have to wear safety belts.
The spectacular Waitomo Caves are definitely worth a visit. To get here, head west from Rotorua and continue along the Southern Highway. From here you could drive south to the capital Wellington which is located in the south of the island. Wellington is the cultural capital of New Zealand and home to the country’s National Museum. It has a stunning harbour and is surrounded by hills. Activities here include mountain biking and bush walking while popular attractions well worth checking out include Wellington Zoo, the Botanic Gardens and the Museum of Wellington City and Sea.
From Wellington it’s possible to hop on a car ferry to Picton on the South Island. The 19km stretch of water, known as Cook Strait, will take about three and a half hours to cross, It’s definitely worth the experience though! Alternatively you can take the more speedy catamaran.
From Picton you can visit the east coast city of Christchurch by travelling on the Southern Highway. The vibrant city has many attractions, festivals, theatres and art galleries and lots of shopping opportunities. Christchurch is also known for its gardens and the standard of restaurants here is exceptional. Christchurch also has skiing and snowboarding opportunities and is blessed with amazing scenery.
New Zealand Car Hire Tip – There is zero tolerance to drink driving in New Zealand. Do not consume alcohol and then drive.
Drive south along the coast and head for Dunedin. Dunedin is an excellent example of a well-preserved Victorian city in the southern hemisphere. There’s loads to do and see here including a chocolate factory, historic houses, gardens, galleries and museums. Larnach Castle is well worth a visit. It’s set on 35 acres of landscaped gardens and boasts stunning views over the bay. Baldwin Street in Dunedin is said to be the steepest street in the world.
The well-known city of Queenstown is a holiday destination for all seasons. In the wintertime Queenstown turns into a winter wonderland. It offers fantastic skiing and snowboarding opportunities and people come from all over the world to test their skills.
Golfers should take the opportunity to play on some of the most picturesque courses in the world. These include Millbrook Resort, Arrowtown and Frankton – these areas are also great for fishing. And if you are thinking about hiring a car to get around, check out our Car Hire New Zealand page.
Remember to give us a shout via the comment box below if you have any questions or if you’ve any tips on hiring a car in New Zealand…enjoy your trip.