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Amazing-Sounding Towns You’ve Never Heard of When Road Trippin’ New Zealand

New Zealand is still strongly influenced by its rich Māori culture and heritage, which you can see in historical sites, performing art, and the original place names in te reo, many of which escaped being renamed by European settlers – particularly on the North Island.

As in many languages, te reo place names are often descriptive, as evidenced by the Māori name for the country itself – Aotearoa, or the land of the long white cloud. Many places are named after early Māori explorers, historical events, characters from Polynesian mythology, and more literal names such as “wide river mouth” or “many lakes”.

If you’re interested in the history of New Zealand, Māori culture, or you just want to impress your friends and family back home with all the wacky-sounding places you’ve been visiting, you’ll want to put a few of these towns on your itinerary for your New Zealand road trip.

From Akitio to Ohangai, Takaka to Tangowahine, Ohura to Kawakawa, Matakana to Raglan, we’ve got a list of the top craziest sounding towns that you need to explore for your next campervan hire in New Zealand.

1. Akitio

Akitio is a beautiful coastal district located in Tararua, on the east coast of the North Island. It’s a popular spot for water sports including surfing and river rafting, or you can just camp on the beach and enjoy the local nature walks. According to Google Translate, “akitio” means “literacy” in English, so you might want to take a book or two to enjoy while you take in the scenery.

Akitio Beach New Zealand

(Image source: tripadvisor)

2. Ohangai

Ohangai translates to “opposite place” – opposite of what, we’re not sure. The town itself doesn’t have much in the way of tourist attractions, but there are plenty of cosy B&Bs and it makes a great base for exploring the rest of South Taranaki.

3. Takaka

The small town of Takaka is located on the South Island’s Golden Bay and is a delightful place to hang out for a few days as it has a distinct hippie vibe. Takaka literally means “bracken” and is thought to be named after the legend of Tākaka – a slave on the Kurahaupō canoe who turned to stone.

Takaka New Zealand

(Image source: paradise.net.nz)

4. Tangowahine

Tangowahine – it’s fun to say – just try it! According to Google translate, the literal translation of this town is to “take a wife” so if you’re looking for love it might be worth a visit.

5. Wai-O-Tapu

Wai means water and tapu means path or sacred, so Wai-O-Tapu translates as “sacred waters”. The name may be interesting but the place itself is even more so and definitely, a “must visit”. This colourful geothermal attraction in Rotorua includes an impressive geyser, mud pools, and a geothermal park.

Wai-O-Tapu, New Zealand

(Image source: huffingtonpost.com.au)

6. Te Urewera

This spectacular former National Park on the North Island has a rather unfortunate name that means “the burnt penis”. As the story goes, it’s named after a Māori chief who rolled onto a fire while he was sleeping. Name aside, the Jurassic Park-like jungle and amazing views are sure to make an impression.

Te Urewera New Zealand

(Image source: backpackerguide.nz)

7. Ohura

Ohura meaning “uncovered place” is a small town to the west of Taumarunui. This place is definitely off the beaten track – in fact, it’s something of a ghost town with fewer than 150 inhabitants and an access road that’s no more than a dirt path. There’s not much here for tourists but you’re sure to meet a few colourful characters if you take the time to chat with the locals.

8. Kawakawa

Kawakawa is a charming small town with an interesting claim to fame. The town’s public toilets were designed by Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. It’s probably safe to say that they’re not like any toilet you’ve ever seen before. Kawakawa is the name of a native shrub with aromatic leaves.

Kawakawa New Zealand campervan rental

(Image source: flickr.com)

9. Matakana

The Matakana region is known for its vineyards and it’s a popular spot for travelling foodies due to its abundance of farmers’ markets. Matakana means “watchful” and it’s certainly a good place to watch the world go by.

Matakana New Zealand

(Image source: newzealand.com)

10. Tutaekuri River

“Dog shit” river doesn’t sound quite so appealing in English, does it? This river that flows through Hawke’s Bay is actually fairly stunning in places, but it gets its name from the colour of the water after it rains – you might want to choose another swimming spot just to be on the safe side.

11. Raglan

Raglan isn’t a Māori word – this fun New Zealand road trip destination is named after a British commander and was originally known as Whāingaroa meaning “long pursuit”. The town itself offers great café culture and plenty of waves for surfing.

Raglan River New Zealand

(Image source: trover.com)

12. Whakapapa

The name is funny enough as it is, but when you consider that “wh” is pronounced “f” in Māori language, it gives it a whole new meaning. Fear not – the actual translation of this Mt Ruapehu ski field and village is “genealogy”.

Mt Ruapehu New Zealand

(Image source: epicgapyear.com)

13. Waipu

Why poo? Why not? The inhabitants of this North Island town are surely sick of this joke but the town sign is a popular photo stop for road trippers passing through. The name means “reddish water” and there’s plenty to see in this friendly town. You’ll find Scottish heritage, a surf beach, caves, and plenty of accommodation and cafes.

Waipu New Zealand campervan hire

(Image source: mapio.net)

14. Waitomo

Wait a mo’! Don’t forget to visit the Waitomo Caves, which are home to millions of glowworms that radiate with a natural luminescence. The glowworms light up the limestone formations inside in spectacular fashion. Definitely worth the trip for your Instagram feed if nothing else!

Waitomo New Zealand

(Image source: quora.com)

15. Taumata Whakatangi Hangakoauau O Tamatea Turi Pukakapiki Maunga Horo Nuku Pokai Whenua Kitanatahu

We saved the best for last! At 85 letters long, this hill in Hawke’s Bay earns the title of the longest place name in the world. The full translation is “the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as land-eater, played his flute to his loved one.”

Taumata Whakatangi Hangakoauau O Tamatea Turi Pukakapiki Maunga Horo Nuku Pokai Whenua Kitanatahu

(Image source: amusingplanet.com)

These are just a sample of some of the uniquely named towns that you’re sure to come across while you’re on your New Zealand road trip. If you’re looking for campervan hire in New Zealand give the team at Travellers Autobarn a call for a wide selection of vans for hire at competitive prices.

After more? Check out other Other Road Trips itinerary options!

You’ve probably already heard of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch – the largest cities in New Zealand. You might even know a few of the more touristy towns like Queenstown and Rotorua. While there is no denying that these places are great to visit sometimes it pays to get off the beaten track and stop off at some lesser known destinations.

Here’s a rundown of some amazing sounding places in New Zealand that you might not have heard of but should definitely add to your New Zealand bucket list.

New Zealand is one of the most beautiful and remote countries on Earth. It’s peaks, valleys, bays, cities and trails are sought by people all over the world. New Zealand has everything from amazing culture and restaurants in cities, to memorable movie locations from the Hobbit, to an array of outdoor beauty and adventure that can be found in no other place. There are a few top locations that are both amazing to see and to Instagram.

1. Waitomo Glowworm Caves #glowworms, #unreal

These ancient caves feature millions of tiny insects that glow in the dark. These unique creatures hang from the ceiling of the cave, creating an optical illusion that looks like stars in the night sky. Visitors sail through the caves in small boats as their guide explains the magic history and nature of this location. Any picture inside these caves will be simply incredible on Instagram (remember to keep the flash off though).

glowworm campervan new zealand

Glow Worms Caves New Zealand

2. Mount Cook #snowinNewZeland, #CookisKing,#MtCook

Located on the South Island, Mount Cook is one of the highest peaks in New Zealand. It has amazing skiing during the winter time and is a great place to go to get away from the warmer parts in the North. The amazing, clean, beautiful, snowy slopes make great places to snag a photo. The photo below is captured along Mount Cook Road, a road that winds along the turquoise blue Lake Pukaki with a backdrop of the spectacular mountain ranges and the highest peak, Mount Cook.

Mount Cook New Zealand

3. Queenstown #NZadventure,  #LandofHobbits, #NZkayak

Queenstown is the HQ of adventure in New Zealand. The area offers everything including bungee jumping, skydiving, white water rafting, kayaking, mountain climbing and adventure trails. There are so many cool photos available here it is hard to know where to begin. Anyone looking for thrills and beauty should come to this location on the South Island. It is also home to some of the most iconic scenes from The Hobbit.

Queenstown New Zealand Travellers Autobarn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queenstown New Zealand

4. Tauranga #GoldenBeach, #BayOfPlenty

Tauranga is a spectacular beach on the North Island. Visitors come for surfing, jet skiing and general good times. There are places to hike and explore. There are also wonderful hotels and spas to relax at. Instagram experts might want to focus on the amazing beaches and nearby scenery.

Road Trips New Zealand

5. Waiheke Island #IslandBeauty, #IslandWinery

This island is known to be a spot for the artists, innovators, rich and famous to get away. It has amazing hotels to stay at as well as pristine beaches. There are also several top wineries that accept visitors. Tourists can enjoy all aspects of this island paradise. Photos at the beach, restaurants, winery or hiking trail are all great ideas.

New Zealand Road Trips

6. Auckland #NZnightlife, #CityLifeNewZealand

This is the largest city in New Zealand and the gateway to the rest of the world. It has skyscrapers, luxury real estate, great food, and a thriving nightlife. This melting pot has visitors from around the world enjoying local cuisine, beer, and the nightlife. This is a great place to shoot party shots and downtown photos.

Auckland New Zealand

Auckland New Zealand

7. Milford Sound #Glaciers, #UnrealBeauty

The Milford Sound is on the South Island and is home to the Fjordland National Park. It includes massive glaciers that are truly incredible. In fact, when famous author Rudyard Kipling saw this land, he called it the Eighth Wonder of the World. This area includes massive peaks and valleys. It is quite cold so visitors need to wear extra layers of clothing. Photographers will have no trouble finding the perfect pic to place on Instagram though.

 New Zealand Road Trips2

 

8. Hinuera (Hobbiton) #HobbitsAreReal,
#HobbitComesToLife, #IFoundTheHobbits

Hobbiton is one of the most iconic locations for visitors to New Zealand. The movie producers of the Hobbit left many of the most famous homes in the village standing. These stand among beautiful rolling hills and farmland. Visitors can walk right up to the homes and take the best pictures. At the end of the tour, people can sample the local ale or many other treats.

Hobbiton New Zealand

Hobbiton New Zealand

 

This island is known to be a spot for the artists, innovators, rich and famous to get away. It has amazing hotels to stay at as well as pristine beaches. There are also several top wineries that accept visitors. Tourists can enjoy all aspects of this island paradise. Photos at the beach, restaurants, winery or hiking trail are all great ideas.

The best way to capture those Instagramable #roadtrip memories is with a campervan hire in New Zealand. Travellers Autobarn hires out campers from Auckland and Christchurch. Get a quote and start planning your epic road trip today!

If you are looking for more campervan travel tips check out our Campervan Travel tips section…

Javi Lorbada – a Spanish travel blogger – travelled with us through New Zealand and is bringing you the below story – best day hikes in New Zealand.

New Zealand is one of the most naturally spectacular countries on earth. It’s the perfect place to hire a campervan and hit the road for the adventure of a lifetime.

Once you’ve chosen New Zealand as your next trip destination you would probably know there are hundreds of trails, tramping routes or day hikes if you are keen to explore the island in depth, the Great Walks are multi-day adventures through New Zealand’s best scenery.

Sometimes given your timeframe those walks are not feasible and you can enjoy same scenery doing day hikes.

You can see everything from native forests, lakes, and rivers to rugged mountain peaks, deep gorges, and vast valleys. So here are 10 of the best day hikes to visit on your New Zealand road trip.

Kuga-Campervan---Lifestyle-354

Akaroa Skyline Circuit (5–7h return)

Banks Peninsula is usually out of the equation while travelling in the South Island, its certain requires a detour from Christchurch but it will not disappoint. From million years ago volcanic activity, this peninsula created a special landscape.

From Akaroa take the purple track up to purple peak curry reserve, steep track going through native bush leaving behind Akaroa harbour. Around 2–3h up you will have a spectacular view of the whole Akaroa Bay. Go around the mountain to see Hinewai Reserve and some of the many small bays formed by the lava many years ago. Take the Stony Bay Road on your way down, precious views will be your companion all the way down. More information at Akaroa Walks.

Akaroa-Skyline-Circuit

Mt Sunday (30min–1h30min return)

Mount Sunday is a relatively easy hike up to 611m, this walk is located in the Hakatere Conservation Park in Canterbury. The views though are priceless, Rangitata River and countless mountains around will make your time unforgettable.

Recently here was filmed The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and this site was Edoras, for those LOTR lovers this site will be special.

Mount-Sunday

Mt John Observatory (3–4h return)

Mount John trail starts with an important elevation in the first 2km, more than 300 meters up that make this hike a bit steep. The track runs along the side of Lake Tekapo and once you reach the summit you’ll be amazed by the 360 scenic view of the Southern Alps, Lake Tekapo and Lake Alexandrina.

However if you don’t feel like walking up there, you can to enjoy the view you can just drive to the Observatory if you decided to do the latter, the road access has a fee of 8$ to get up there.

Mt-John-Observatory

Hooker Valley Track (3h return)

This can be one of the most frequented tracks, it’s easy, mostly flat and doesn’t require a great fitness level. Early in the morning will provide solitude in the walk avoiding the crowds.

The hike is a 10km return via the same track with breathtaking views to Mueller Glacier, Hooker Lake, and Aoraki/Mount Cook. Given its complexity, it’s one of the most rewarding day walks.

Hooker-Valley-Track

Mueller Hut Route (4h one way)

The Mueller Hut track is also in the Aoraki/Mt Cook area, quite different from the Hooker Valley, this track is kind of advance and alpine experience may be required during the winter months.

Although we didn’t reach the hut itself due to heavy snowfall days before, we went up to the Sealy Tarns, 2h one way.

The track zigzags gently until the tarn, mostly steps you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the Hooker Valley and the peaks in the area.

From the small pond follow the orange markers up the Hut, another 2h.

Mueller-Hut-Route

Roys Peak (5–6hr return)

You’ve most likely seen Roys peak pictures, and it’s true this hike it’s really common among trampers in New Zealand and that’s for a reason.

Very steep hike up to the summit will give you breathtaking views over Lake Wanaka, Mount Aspiring/Tititea, and surrounding peaks, definitely one of the best day hikes in New Zealand.

Roys-Peak

Ben Lomond Summit (6–8 hr return)

Probably the best views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, in here you can choose either to stop at the Saddle about 3h one way or continue to the summit to have 360 views. One one side Aspiring/Tititea and many more peaks, on the other
side Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the Remarkables.

During winter times this may require crampons and alpine experience, on a fine weather day the views are simply unforgettable.

Ben-Lomond

Bealey Spur Track (4–6hr return)

The track is really appealing, it’s gradually steep walking through mountain beech forest which means isn’t that cold or hot during summer.

At one point you have incredible views of Bruce Stream. Further up there are some tarns and the view gets better and better, especially to the Waimakariri River Valley and surrounding mountains.

Bealey-Spur-Track

Pouakai Circuit Reflective Tarn (4–5h return)

The walk starts at Mangorei Road and you’ll be going through “Enchanted Forest”, trees, locally known as Goblin Forest.

Sooner than you can imagine, on a clear day, Mt Taranaki will be seen and the rest of the walk will be pure joy.

Once you reach the Pouakai take a break and enjoy the coastline views, 20 min further up the tarn will be awaiting you for spectacular mountain reflections.

Pouakai-Circuit-Reflective-Tarn

Tama Lakes (5–6hr return)

Easy walk with almost no steep areas, and very interesting points on the way.

About an hour from the start the Taranaki Falls will refresh your walk, 20 meters high with amazing views.

Keep going for another two hours, walking through alpine herbfields always seeing Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. Firstly, the view of the lower lake at 1240 meters and after a gently steep climb the second viewpoint to the upper lake at 1440 meters.

If you want to go down the lakes, there are not formed tracks, the descent will be steeply through gullies.

Tama-Lakes

Bonus: Tongariro Alpine Crossing (7–8 hr one way)

In the beginning, we said the Great Walks are multi-day adventure tracks, however, Tongariro Alpine Crossing can be done in one day.

During the summer months, it can be quite crowded if you choose the winter times, be prepared, crampons may be necessary.

No matter how many people you find with you the walk it’s totally worth it, climbing the Mangatepopo Valley to reach the saddle between Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe, further up you will reach the highest point 1886 meters from where you can see the emerald lakes.

Whether summer or winter be prepared for a long and challenging day. So there you go, check weather conditions and choose your day walk in New Zealand.

Tongariro-Alpine-Crossing

Photography and article by Javi Lorbada, check his blog for more of his work.

After more? Check out other customer experience stories or Other Road Trips itinerary options!

In this guide we run through some of the best trips in the North and South Island as well as top do’s and don’ts for road trippin’ in New Zealand. Download the full guide to get all the road trips.

The South Island

Christchurch to Dunedin

  • Route 1 via Lake Tekapo
  • Route 2 via Timaru and Oamaru
  • Route 3 via Middlemarch

Christchurch to Queenstown (Download Version Only)

  • Journey through the middle of the island
  • Take the South-east coast (via Dunedin and Catlins)
  • Travel the West coast (via Arthur’s Pass, Franz Josef Glacier, Wanaka)
The North Island
  • Auckland to Wellington (Coromandel, Taupo and Rotarua)
  • Auckland to Northland (Bay of Islands, Cape Reinga)
  • Auckland to Waiheke Island (Download Version Only) 
Do’s and Don’ts: What you need to know when you’re on a road trip in New Zealand

 

roadtrips in new zealand 1

The South Island.

The South Island of New Zealand is famous for its staggeringly beautiful mountains, lakes and glaciers. The South Island is the largest of the two islands and is bordered by the Cook Strait in the north, the Tasman Sea in the West and the Pacific Ocean in the South and East.

Christchurch to Dunedin: A to B three different Ways

Here are three great routes you might want to consider: if you’re doing a round trip then this is a great opportunity to see more of the South Island!

Christchurch to Dunedin via Lake Tekapo

Total Driving time: 8 – 9 Hours | Recommended: 5 days

 A campervan road trip is the best way to make the journey from Christchurch to Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island. This trip can take you as little as five days or you can take things at a more leisurely pace to stretch it out over several weeks.

Once you’ve picked up your campervan in Christchurch head southwest through the green Canterbury Plains. If you opt for State highway 72 then you’ll find yourself on the Inland scenic route. There are lots of great places to stop and explore on the way such as the Pleasant Point Railway or the Waimate Walkway.

After you cross the Raikaia River, known for its salmon fishing, pull up the campervan and stop at Methven, a local Ski town. This is a great place to grab a coffee, take a hike or hire a bike.

Next stop is Lake Tekapo, this stunning turquoise lake is amazing to see in person, during the day and the night. When the sun goes down this is the perfect spot for stargazing. If you want to stop for the night then there are a number of great campsites nearby, try to book one that’s on the harbour or nearby the beach.

Dunedin is another 3.5 hours from here, so when you’re done soaking up the once in a lifetime views and scenery hop back in the campervan and hit the road.

roadtrips in new zealand 5

Christchurch to Dunedin via Timaru and Oamaru

Total Driving time: 8 – 9 Hours Recommended: 5 days

The second route we’re going to recommend keeps you close to the coast and takes you via Timaru and Oamaru. Once you’ve left Christchurch the first main stop is Timaru, located in the region of Canterbury. Once you’ve set up camp why not go for a dip in nearby Caroline Bay or try cooling off in the beautiful botanical gardens. If you are looking for some culture then take a trip to the local museums, they are home to some amazing Maori or Polynesian artefacts.

The next stop is Omaru via Aoraki Mount Cook, this is New Zealand’s highest peak and is truly a sight to behold. Spend a few hours hiking and taking in the breathtaking views. When you arrive in Omaru, get ready to make some furry friends! Omaru is home to a natural colony of Blue Penguins, the smallest penguin in the world.

If you can bring yourself to say goodbye to your new furry friends then the coastal city of Dunedin is only a short 1.5 hour drive away.

mount cook road trip new zealand

Christchurch to Dunedin via Middlemarch

Total Driving time: 6 Hours | Recommended: 4 days

If rural New Zealand is your vibe then you can skip out the stops in the north of the South Island and head straight to Middlemarch. The slow pace of life, stunning landscapes and wide-open never ending sky will make you fall in love with this area instantly. This is the perfect place to park up the campervan, catch your breath and just enjoy your amazing surroundings.

If you’re a fan of The Hobbit then make sure you check out Rock & Pillar Mountain, featured in the movie. Top things to do in the Middlemarch area include bike rides, hikes and Sutton Salt Lake.

The drive to Dunedin will only take you an hour from here, and when you arrive there is plenty to do. This is the country’s first city, which means there is history on every corner. Things to do include taking a tour of New Zealand’s only castle, Larnach Castle, strolling the boardwalk on Aramoana Beach or visiting the nearby Octago Peninsular for scenic views and local wildlife.

 roadtrips in new zealand 7

Christchurch to Queenstown: 

Download the full guide for three more unmissable routes from city to city. 

For more inspiration check out our YouTube channel! Search for Travellers Autobarn on YouTube. 

 

The North Island – What to see and where to go

What the North Island lacks in size it makes up for in natural wonders. It’s famous for its volcanic activity, magnificent national parks, and with a larger population it’s also home to Wellington and Auckland, two vibrant and cosmopolitan cities.

A North island adventure – Auckland to Wellington

Total Driving time: 8 – 9 Hours | Recommended: 5 days  

This memorable road trip takes you to some of the North Island’s most desirable destinations. Start the trip by hiring a campervan in Auckland. This northern city is infamous for its iconic Sky Tower that offers views of the Viaduct Harbour and the cityscape for as far as the eye can see. When you’ve finished exploring the city the first leg of this trip takes you on a two hour drive south to Coromandel.

The Coromandel region is renowned for its natural beauty, green pastures, misty rainforests and pristine golden beaches, The Coromandel is blessed with hundreds of natural hideaways, making it an ideal place to escape. A must visit is Hot Water Beach… a beach with naturally heated hot water springs.

When you’ve finished having fun in Coromandel then you’re going to head south in the direction of Rotorua. Don’t miss the absolutely stunning Redwoods forest that’s 20 minutes from the city centre. If you’re into mountain biking then you’ll love this place! Rotorua is a geothermal hotspot, which means this is a great destination to visit natural hot springs, bubbling hot mud pools and geysers!

rotorua roadtrip new zealand

This road trip then takes you west along the SH 5 for 2 hours, to Waitomo. Here lies the small village, known for its extensive underground cave systems. The name Waitomo comes from the Maori word wai (water) tomo (hole).  The caves are filled with tiny little glow-worms, unique to New Zealand. Their unmistakable luminescent light is a must see, you’ll feel like you’re in another world.

Taupo is the next stop on your list. This destination is well known for being home to the largest freshwater lake in Australasia. The nearby Huka falls is another must see, it’s where the 200m wide Waikato River forces itself through a small 20m gap creating a stunning blue foam! It’s an amazing sight to see!

If you’re a wine lover then we recommend that you hit up Napier before you pull into Wellington. Napier is home to some great wineries and picture perfect Art Deco style architecture. Last stop on this great North Island road trip is Wellington. The breezy drive south to your final destination takes you through the stunning Wairarapa scenery. If you can take the time to pull into the Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre to see the world’s only white kiwi!

At the bottom of the North Island, you will come to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. Discover New Zealand’s Maori roots in Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, or check out the cool shops along Lambton Quay.

auckland roadtrips

Auckland to Northland

Total Driving time: 8 – 9 Hours | Recommended: 5 – 7 days  

Once you’ve picked up your hired wheels, hit the State Highway 1 that takes you north. The long, sandy beaches of Waipo and Ruakaka make for a first great stop, or if you want to pick up supplies, food and coffee then pull into Whangarei and enjoy a few hours having a picnic or walking along the picturesque river basin.

As you get a few hours north of Auckland you’ll notice a definite shift in pace as the laid-back vibes of the Northland take over. The must-see destination in this area is the famous Bay of Islands. The Bay of Islands is a subtropical micro-region known for its stunning beauty & history. For those that love hanging by the beach and water activities, it’s absolute paradise.

Spend a couple of days exploring this area before packing up the campervan and hitting the road again. Another highlight of the North Island is Doubtless Bay. This large coastal area encompasses the distance from Mangonui, through to Coopers Beach, Cable Bay, Taipa and then out along Karikari Peninsula.

You can’t end a road trip to the top of New Zealand without a visit to Cape Reinga. This is not only the place where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean and the currents collide, but it’s also an important place in Maori spiritual traditions. Don’t leave without stopping by 90 mile beach, (in reality it’s more like 90 km in length), but it’s still mighty impressive to see.

If you want to extend your trip then other things to do in this area include:

  • Hiking the Tane Mahuta Walk
  • Viewing the majestic kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest
  • Taking the Haruru Falls and Waitangi River Tour on a Traditional Maori Waka
  • Completing the 12 tree-top challenge in Adventure Forest in Whangarei‎

 

Auckland and Waiheke Island:

Download the full guide for more details on this route! 

 roadtrip ideas in new zealand

Do’s and Don’ts: What you need to know when you’re on a road trip in New Zealand

New Zealand might seem like two small islands with a relatively small population, but do not be fooled. These small islands are mighty fierce! Embarking on a road trip is undoubtedly the most cost-effective, easiest and fun ways to travel around, but here are some top tips you should follow to help ensure you have an amazing and safe journey.

  • Do – consider whether you need a campervan or just a car

When you’re working out which vehicle is right for you consider your budget, the route and itinerary you want to take and your personal preference when it comes to accommodation. if your idea of camping is carrying your suitcase into a hotel room for the night then a campervan might not be right for you.

However, if you plan on staying in hotels and hostels then consider that they are in short supply and will sell out in the summer seasons. If you plan on hiring a campervan then one of the plus sides is that you can often ‘freedom camp’, which means you get to cut out paying for accommodation all together! However, you can only legally free camp in certain places – so plan your stops carefully. Check out http://www.freedomcamping.org/ for more details.  

  • Do – think about the length and locations of your road trip

Start planning your New Zealand road trip by listing out all the places you want to visit and how long it takes you drive between each. If you’re on a tight timeframe then you may need to cut a few stops out – trying to fit too much in will end up with you spending more time behind the wheel and less time actually exploring.

New Zealand is small but the roads are often narrow and windy, plus in winter they may be covered with snow and ice. This means you’ll have to take it slow! We recommend you always allow for extra time between destinations.

road trip ideas in new zealand

  • Don’t – abuse freedom camping regulations in New Zealand

There are lots of places that you can legally free camp in New Zealand, (e.g. pull up the campervan and sleep by the roadside). However, there are also lots of places where it isn’t legal and if in doubt don’t assume it’s ok. It’s a law that’s taken seriously.

Freedom camping laws are there to help prevent litter, waste and unwanted guests – so plan ahead before you park up for the night. http://www.freedomcamping.org/

  • Don’t – forget to drive on the left or follow other road customs

Remember that in New Zealand you drive on the left. If you’re from the UK then this is the norm anyway, however if you’ve travelled from the US or mainland Europe this may come as a shock. When you’re starting out take it slow and concentrate, (that might mean turning down the tunes or telling the passengers to pipe down!).

Driving a large campervan is certainly different to zipping round in the cars you’re probably used to so you’ll be forgiven for driving a little slow. However, if you notice faster traffic starting to line up behind you, pull over and let them pass safely.

If you are after more Campervan Travel  Guides please check out our New Zealand Campervan Travel Guide section…

Welcome to campervan road trip adventures in New Zealand – the country who has the highest number of campervans per capita in the world!

There is so much to see – weather in winter or summer – Waitomo Caves, Lake Taupo, Tongariro National Park, Milford Sound, Mount Cook & Fox Glacier – you simply will have an amazing time. Check out our road trip itineraries and have an epic adventure…

 

So often, travelling in a campervan is not so much about the destination but the journey. Thankfully, in New Zealand it’s most often about both. A campervan in NZ offers the freedom and adventure of the open road and the opportunity to wake up under a snow-capped mountain one day and the salty air of the ocean the next. The magic of New Zealand is that it combines a variety of stunning natural landscapes in a relatively small area with so few people.

Whether you like snow-capped mountains, the bluest lakes, geo-thermic waters, rugged rainforest, windswept beaches or glaciers, hop in a campervan and enjoy the trip of a lifetime.

 

New Zealand lies amidst the lush green mountains and serene valleys. It is the ideal breakout to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city life. It is the perfect destination to visit on your next road trip and at the same time exploring some great wineries on the go.

New Zealand’s naval climate along with ample of sunshine and nightly sea breeze, provides a suitable climate for the wineries located there. Wine plantation is normally bred over a period of 7-8 weeks. The slow mellowing period retains the freshness and the tenderness in the wine plantations there, thus making them rare.
Nearly all the wine regions are located within a demarcation of approximately 120 km along the coastline. This country is stuffed with different soil types and varied climatic conditions, thus making it a hub of wine production.
In addition to this, the snowy mountains and the blue rivers provide a beautiful background to the beautiful vineyards. This makes them enticing sites to travel for your trip to hop and dig around.
With these five winemaking regions along with picturesque locations, we are sure that you would love to find yourself passing by these vineyards when you are trotting along the routes of New Zealand.

1. Canterbury wine region

This place is located in the heart of Christchurch and has striking landscapes. Exquisite wide and empty plains cover this splendid region from the Southern Alps of New Zealand to the east coast of the South Island.

This area is well known for its stony and alluvial soil. It has hot and dry climate in summer and cold, clear and frosty weather in winter. So, this region is gradually turning out to gain popularity in its speciality of Riesling and Pinot noir wines.

wine regions new zealand

2. Auckland wine region

Being New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland is home to about approximately 1.5 million people. It’s wine region spreads along a wide region and about 100 wineries dwell in it. It is a big city with sheltered harbours, islands, volcanic cones and so much more.
It has a subtropical climate along with silty-clay subsoils or sandy loam soils. Most of the plantations are cultivated in the low lands along the east coast which is located on the outskirts of Auckland. It is abode to some of the most primaeval wineries. The speciality of this area is the Bordeaux style wine. This area is increasingly gaining popularity in the production of red and white wine as well.

3. Waiheke Island wine region

Many people from around the globe come to explore this enchanting little island which is a perfect escape for people of Auckland city. It is hardly 30 mins away and has world-class wineries, art tours, vineyards, wine tours and sandy beaches.

Being located on the shore, the sea has a huge impact on the climate and initiates the growth of the grapes for the production of wine. The sea breeze helps in moderating the temperature. The soil texture and the weather are such that it can grow bountiful varieties of wine.

new zealand wine regions

4. The Central North Island wine region

This stretch covers lots of areas like The Waitaki, Kapiti and the Central Plateau Nearby Taupo. The wineries in this region are growing bit by bit and they are scattered over tiny pieces of land. It has a mixture of heavy loams and clay subsoils. It is fairly warm in summers and chivalry cool in winters.

It has the Bay of Plenty nearby which is a well-known destination for surfing and bodyboarding. It also has two of the largest wineries in New Zealand. It is still on the verge of growing and is seen as a potential wine haven in near future.

5. Wairarapa wine region

This is one of a perfect weekend getaway places in New Zealand. It has vivid scenic locations like mountain background along with grape and olive plantations spread across along the terrains. This area is rich with alluvial soils with minimal rainfall, peak sunshine and colder nights. This makes it a suitable place for winemaking. This place is notably famous for its Pinot Noir Wines. There are a lot of premier hotels, restaurants and cafes in this area, which again makes it a great hop spot.
What’s better than enjoying your favourite wines with rich bars of chocolates and wandering in
the dazzling beauty of New Zealand on your campervan road trip?

If you are after other amazing road trip ideas check out our Other Road Trips Ideas section…

Imagine a country that is as visually appealing as it is adventurous… Every year, New Zealand draws in thousands of travellers who visit the spectacular country to photograph its picturesque scenery and drive on its epic roads. It is one of the most adventurous road trip destinations in the world, within just hours you can go from rugged mountains to contemporary cities to sandy beaches. Forget Instagram selfies, food-grams, and outfits-of-the-day – New Zealand’s landscapes will have you reaching for your camera every time you turn a corner. Take a minute to awe at the beauty of these Instagram-worthy roads in New Zealand, guaranteed to feed your sense of wanderlust…

Road from Christchurch to Tekapo

instagram worthy roads in new zealand

Photography by Aaron Leslie @aaronleslie

 

Remote road in the South Island

instagram worthy roads in new zealand

Photography by Philipp Benedikt / @our.world.experience

View of Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook National Park

instagram worthy roads in new zealand

Photography by Chris Keller / @chriskellerproductions

 

Windy road from Queenstown to Glenorchy

instagram worthy roads in new zealand

Photography by Aaron Leslie @aaronleslie

Mount Cook National Park

instagram worthy roads in new zealand

Photography by Claire & Arthur / @lesdroners

 

Road to Queenstown, South Island

capture

Photography by Aaron Leslie @aaronleslie

 

Mount Taranaki, Pembroke Road

instagram worthy roads in new zealand

Photography by Philipp Benedikt / @our.world.experience

 

Overlooking Auckland City

instagram worthy roads in new zealand

Photography by Thomas Frank Hill @thomasfrank

 

Tepako-Twizel Road, Lake Pukaki

instagram worthy roads in new zealand

Photo by Philipp Benedikt / @our.world.experience

 

Glenorchy-Queenstown Road

instagram worthy roads in new zealand

Photography by Claire & Arthur / @lesdroners
Check out more beautiful posts @travellersautobarn and tag #travellersautobarn #detourism on your grams for a chance to be featured!

Rent your next New Zealand adventure with Travellers Autobarn!

If you are after other amazing road trip ideas check out our Other Road Trips Ideas section…

New Zealand is a one-stop-shop for all your travel desires, whether its sightseeing, adrenaline seeking or beach-going. No matter what your style, a great way of experiencing the country’s best bits is by road trippin’ it! Here are some awesome road trip itineraries to satisfy your taste of adventure.

The Scenic Journey – South Island

New Zealand’s best deserved draw card is without a doubt its breathtaking scenery. If you want to focus your trip on the lands immense and diverse landscape, well, head in any direction and you won’t be disappointed!

But if you like a little more structure, start your road trip from Christchurch and take a scenic road trip around the South Island, where every leg of the journey will make you gasp in awe. Head to Mount Cook to see the icy blue Lake Pukaki with snowy mountain backdrops. Make sure you bring your camera because it’s a picture-perfect postcard location that you will want to snap from every angle.

After that, get right into the wild as you make your way to Milford Sound. You’ll feel like you’re in another world surrounded by mountains, rivers, rain forests, and valleys. Next, take a mesmerising four hour journey to Glenorchy, a town near Queenstown set against a background of native forests and towering mountain ranges. No matter what path you take in the South Island, you will constantly be pinching yourself to make sure it isn’t a dream!

 

Road Trip New Zealand Ideas
Image via TheSmartLocal

 

The Thrill Seeker – South Island

Calling all adrenaline junkies – this road trip has your name on it. New Zealand is the land of adventure, and there’s certainly no shortage of ways to get your heart racing. From Christchurch, take the route south to Tui Canyon where you can jump and abseil down fast flowing mountain streams with a canyoning adventure.

Next, drive to Franz Josef Glacier and undertake the ultimate valley hike or ice walking tour in a beautiful World Heritage location. After you’re all walked out, take the scenic five hour drive further down south, heading to Queenstown. If you’re driving in the winter season, just make sure you have proper snow chains on your vehicle, because the roads in this area can get pretty icey! No matter how much of a dare devil you are, no one likes to risk their safety on the road.

Saving the best to last, the adrenaline capital Queenstown should be on every thrill seekers bucket-list. Here, you’ll find extreme activities such as jet-boating, bungee jumping, skydiving, skiing, white water rafting, you name it, Queenstown has it!

Road Trip Ideas New Zealand Queenstown
Queenstown – Image via Lonely Planet

 

New Zealand Road Trip Ideas Milford Sound
Milford Sound – Image via World for Travel

 

The Big City Life – North Island 

If you’re a lover of a thriving big city, New Zealand has that in the bag too. Start your journey in the North Island at Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. A varied scenic landscape and a huge range of activities, attractions and experiences will make for an awesome stay whether it’s for a night or a week!

Next, head onward with your journey further south to Hamilton, the fourth largest city in New Zealand and home to some pretty great nightlife. It’s also a convenient city to base yourself at for a visit to Hobbiton Movie Set – for the lovers of Lord of the Rings out there.

The final North Island city not to be missed is Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. Wellington is dubbed one of the worlds coolest little capital cities, and is popular with backpackers for its happening vibes and culture.

New Zealand Road Trip Ideas City Auckland
Auckland – Image via Nomads World

The Beach Bum – North Island 

As well as having some of the most beautiful and varied landscape you will ever lay your eyes on, New Zealand has some awesome beaches too. With over 15,000 kilometres of coastline, there’s a heck of a lot of beach road tripping to be done! Some of the best beaches in New Zealand are at the far north of the country, in the surrounding areas of Auckland.

Start at Hot Water Beach on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, a natural spectacular that features hot bubbling water through the golden sands. During low tide, you can witness the arising through the sad and take a dip in the relaxing natural springs.

Then make your way west of Auckland to Piha Beach, New Zealand’s most famous surf beach. This black sand beach is rolls over the Tasman Sea and features a rugged coast line with dramatic views. In summer it is regularly patrolled by life-guards, but this one is mainly for lovers of the swell.

Next, head onward to the northern most point of New Zealand, and visit Ninety Mile beach, renowned for its never ending sands and great surf. Grab a bite to eat as you watch the spectacular sunset, and then carry on your journey to discover the rest of the hidden beaches in North Island, New Zealand.

 

New Zealand Road Trip Ideas
Photo via @click_click_claire

 

New Zealand Road Trip Ideas - Piha Beach
Piha Beach – Image via Expedia

Check out Travellers Autobarn for some great deals on campervans and station wagons – your best method of road tripping in New Zealand!

If you are after other amazing road trip ideas check out our Other Road Trips Ideas section…

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