have a look further down for more details about the places on the map
I honestly think New Zealand is the perfect spot for great road trips. Not only does the landscape change spectacularly every 100 kilometer, it just has a lot to offer: citytrips, hikings, adventures stuff and don’t forget about the wine tastings…
So when is the best time to go? Well the weather is the warmest, from November to April. It’s a lot busier during Summer, which is from December to Februari, but on the other hand there’s more happening as well… I’m thinking music (and wine) festivals but also christmas on the beach! If you’re more into skiing the period from June to August is probably a better idea.
I went during the months November and December, and had great sunny weather (about 20-25° C)
Where should you go? Since you made it to New Zealand, which is pretty much far from everywhere… GO EVERYWHERE! I heard a lot that the South island was prettier than the North one, but I have to say, it’s just different! The North island is definitely a winner as well.
How to get around? Getting around in New Zealand is super easy. Honestly, there’s not a lot of roads so getting lost is not part of your trip. Rent a car, take a bus, hitchhike or go by an organized tour like this for example.
Me and my friend hitchhiked in the North Island and rented a car in the South... Renting a car was easier to see more but hitchhiking was a bigger adventure and more exciting.
Where to stay? There's hotels, hostels, there's a lot of campsites or try couch surfing ... but the best one: cheap campsites in national parks! Costs about $6 a night and there's clean toilets, water and some even have cold showers. You can get a little map of where they are located in a local tourist information point.
Here's a selection of pictures I took and a some random words:
AUCKLANDThis is where we arrived. It's a really big city for New Zealand but there's not that much happening... The city is good to get over your jetlag but I wouldn't spend too much time there, NZ is waiting!!
HUIAClose to Auckland, amazing black beaches and tropical plants! And if you're unlucky like us, it comes with tropical storms :-) Anyway, it's a great place to do some day trips and hikes. There's also possibilities to go surfing when the weather is better!
MATAMATAYou might know this place from the Lord of the Rings movies, but since I'm not a big fan, it was never the plan to end up here. But that day, this amazing couple we were hitchhiking with, invited us to their home. They showed us the neighborhood, went on a little hike, they cooked for us, we got to spend the night and got to enjoy their neighbors backyard baths... Oh and did I already say we got some avocados from their avocado tree?! Definitely an "I-love-Kiwis-day". Deep inside I've always known that they were nice, I watched Flight of the Concords at least 10 times ;-) (What I'm trying to say here is this is why you should hitchhike and go meet some locals!)
ROTORUAProbably the smelliest town in the world. The smell of the volcanic activity in the ground is not that fun but it's pretty cool to see from nearby! Oh and this comes with hot thermal waterfalls, rivers and everything! Just try to find the free ones. You can pay a big entrance fee to bathe in a crowded river or find the free one and have the river for yourself... Just ask the locals! (Am I saying this too much? (-; )
TAUPORelaxing by the lake. Or hiking for real. From this place you can catch a bus to climb the tongariro volcano. If you wonder where the pictures of volcano lakes and crazy mountains are... The day I wanted to go, the volcano erupted!! Unbelievable but I guess it's a sign I have to go back to New Zealand, what a shame :-) Instead of erupting volcano pictures that I can assure you would have been an amazing subject to photograph, you get a pic of me, hitchhiking to Napier :-) almost as good!
NAPIERAlso known as the Art Deco capital of New Zealand. Feels like a movie set for the Great Gatsby and that can't be a bad thing!
HAWKE'S BAYTime for some wine tasting! We took a tour, ended up being the only 20+year olds with a bunch of 65+year olds, and believe it or not... It was the best fun! After a glass or 2... ;-)
WELLINGTONThe capital city and to my opinion, the best city in New Zealand. Especially Cuba St and surroundings, food and drinks all day! Great place if you want to gain a lot of weight in only a little time :-) or that basically happens on every holiday right..? Another thing, it's also a bit windy (they call it Windy Welly for a reason) so don't make the mistakes I made: wearing a hat :-) Apart from that, just a lovely city!!
ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARKParadise. Honestly, go there and stay there! Golden skies, blue mountains, perfect beaches... I'm still overwhelmed watching the pictures! You can get a little pass to stay overnight in the park. Get your backpack out, hike from beach to beach, put your tent up on the beach, wake up with (one of) the best views (I ever saw) and you can thank me later!
WEST COASTA wild sea on this coastline. Dramatic-picture-taking-spot number one! The road next to the ocean is probably one of the most beautiful drives I've ever done. I could say its the Great Ocean Road from New Zealand. Couple of little towns on the way as well, good for fuel, coffee stops and grocery shopping. Also some pretty camping spots next to lakes. Waking up with a view!
FOX GLACIER(and the Franz Josef glacier) we couldn't get close because we didn't book a tour on the glacier (yes got to go back) but we did get to pick up an Scottish hitchhiker with our rental car. Returning the favor and everyone's happy!
WANAKAGreat if you love outdoor sports. Not completely my kind of fun but got some great pics and views on the road to this little town, and a good feed after the drive so no complaints!
QUEENSTOWNAfter days of driving in the middle of nowhere, only bumping in to people now and then (and mostly 60 plussers or busses full of Japanese tourists) FINALLY a little city! People, YOUNG people, parties, barbecues next to the lake, fun and more fun! Oh yes, before I forget: after 2 hours almost got a big fine for parking the car wrong (strange parking rules there so watch out) but like I said before, Kiwis are nice and if you look as innocent (and confused) as I do, Mr. ParkingFine will be happy not to give it to you after all! Hooray for New Zealand (and for being a girl, comes in handy now and then). I guess I should also warn you, you're going to stay longer as you want. Especially after trying the FERGBURGER (please remember this name!). Probably the best burger in town, I mean in New Zealand, I MEAN IN THE WORLD. Go. check. it. out.
MILFORD SOUNDAfter a week of partying, this is what you need. (Unless you're doing the hike, prepare yourself! Have heard some great stories and they're all spectacular!) We took the boat, relaxing afternoon on the water, surrounded by impressive landscapes and rainbows, especially those rainbows will make you feel in heaven.
DUNEDINNot entirely sure what to write here... Just try to find the place of the picture! Such a great view on the city. And we secretly slept in our car there... Waking up with that view is just all we wanted that day.
OAMARUIn between Dunedin and Oamaru, make a little stop to look at the boulders, so pretty! Oamaru itself is a small old town with some great old shops! I remember a Dutch bakery with amazing pastries... Evening activity: penguin watching, not too bad either.
CHRISTCHURCHAnd then there was Christchurch, unfortunately ruined by a big earthquake a couple of years ago. You can still see the city's scars as they're busy rebuilding it all. They did find some good solutions like a shopping mall in shipping containers... Clever idea from the Kiwis! The pic with the car is another I-want-to-wake-up-here spot, where we had a good sleep in our little car!
Got curious and want to see all the pics of this trip? Click here!