Driving across New Zealand an adventure that will leave you breathless. From soaring mountain ranges, to pristine rainforests and sandy beaches, New Zealand has plenty to offer for everybody. One of the best ways to travel New Zealand is by car or camper van. New Zealand is a free-camping nation which means you can pretty much pitch a tent where you please, as you travel the best drives in New Zealand.
Auckland to Cape Reinga
Allow 3 to 4 Days
Easily one of the best drives in New Zealand, Auckland to Cape Reinga has everything you need - from green rolling countryside to seaside adventures and a few low key but beautiful must-make stops along the way.
The first stop is Paihia, a coastal town surrounded by rainforest that’s home to the gigantic 2,000-year-old Kiwi Kauri Tree. From Paihia you can swim with dolphins or visit the remarkable Hole in the Rock by taking a sailing tour around the “Bay Islands”. The 144 islands vary in size and are similar to Australia’s Whitsundays, but without the tourists! The islands feature everything, coastline roads, blue waters, grass covered hills… and even the birth place of New Zealand!
From Paihia the drive continues up to 90 Mile Beach and Cape Reinga. Stop along the way to the Cape, and travel inland to explore the natural rock pools, rock jumping spots and waterfalls of the North Island. Finish up in Cape Reinga to enjoy the stretching coastal views and ocean breeze!
Auckland to the Coromandel Peninsula
Allow 3 Days
The Coromandel features some of the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand with the peninsula on the North Island boasting incredible coastlines, bluffs and lookouts. First on the list as you drive from Auckland is Cathedral Cove. Take an hours walk from the north end of the beach along cliff tops, then take the walking track down into the cove. A massive cavern with an arched doorway forms a beautiful gateway from which you can see the ocean. A stop at Hot Water Beach is also a must. The geothermal activity under the ground makes the place like a natural spa, helping the ocean's water reach temperatures of up to 60 degrees Celsius!
The view from along the Coromandel coast features many natural phenomena that make it one of the best drives New Zealand! Pack a picnic, and enjoy the beautiful ocean views and ambience.
Rotorua - Raglan - Waitomo - Taupo Return - South Island
Allow 4 to 5 Days
From surf to waterfalls, the changing landscape between Rotorua to Taupo easily makes it one of the best drives in New Zealand.
From Rotorua, head west and spend a night in Raglan, the South Island’s surf capital. Take a surf lesson or two and enjoy the coastal scenery before heading to the magnificent glow worm caves at Waitomo. Explore the caves by taking a guided boat ride, tubing or abseiling.
After your adrenaline pumping stop at Waitomo we suggest you drive two hours to spend the night in Taupo. Enjoy resting by the largest lake in New Zealand or take a day to hike along the Tongariro Crossing. For the adventurous ones, Taupo is also a great place to go sky-diving.
From Taupo head to the mud pools, hot springs or the huge caves of Hidden Valley then keep driving on to Tongariro National Park. On the way back to Rotorua stop along the way to enjoy some of New Zealand's inland scenery, such as Huka Falls. There are just so many options when seeking out the best drives in New Zealand!
Queenstown to Milford Sound
Allow 2 to 3 Days
The best part of a trip to Milford is the drive itself. Milford Sound has been described as the ‘8th wonder of the world’ and is easily one of the best drives in New Zealand - if not the world. Expect stunning views of mountain ranges when travelling through Southland and into the Fiordland National Park. The cliffs and waterfalls of Milford Sound are a sight to behold.
It takes 8 hours to drive to Milford through to Queenstown, without breaks. So to fully enjoy the dense rainforest, snowy mountains and crystal clear lakes we recommend taking your time, allowing a few days to stop and enjoy the scenery. If you have the time we highly recommend stopping at Mirror Lakes and Fiordland National hike for a hike.
Queenstown, Lake Wanaka, Mt Cook Loop
Suggested time: 4 to 5 Days
Leave Queenstown and head north-east for an hour to Lake Wanaka. Wanaka has many activities to enjoy all year round, from bike riding along the waterfront to sky diving, hiking and skiing in winter. The following day make your way north east to Lake Tekapo, about a three hour drive from Wanaka. The winding roads will lead you through Lindis Pass. Enjoy the valleys and make sure to stop at Lake Pukaki as you drive along the Southern Alps. For the avid hiker take a few extra days to climb Mt Cook, or if you’re in a more relaxed mood explore the outdoor hot pools and watch the stars at the Observatory. We're sure you'll find this to be one of the best drives in New Zealand.
For a change of pace, make your way east to the coast. Timaru is the perfect place to stop for a quick dip and bite to eat. From there continue south until you reach Oamaru, an old town that’s retained its Victorian charm. Stroll through cafes, art galleries and check out the colony of blue penguins at night.
For your final day, continue along the coastline and drink in the stunning coastal views - maybe spotting an occasional giant sea lion.
If you find trouble along the way don’t hesitate to call Marshall Batteries for roadside assistance, a jump start, a new battery or even a fuel top up! 0800 228 837