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How To Road Trip In New Zealand Like A Pro

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As we mentioned before in our article, The Best Road Trip in New Zealand, New Zealand is a definite must-go destination for both road trip junkies and laid-back sightseers alike.

Thinking of planning your first road trip to New Zealand, or wanting to step up your road trip game before you embark on your next one? Be sure to read on for our comprehensive guide to road tripping in New Zealand.

(Related story: 5 Things You Need To Do Before Going On A Road Trip)

(Related story: A Beginner’s Guide To Taking A Road Trip Alone)

Plan your itinerary early

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As we have mentioned before, New Zealand is a huge place with a never-ending number of places worth visiting. This is why it is crucial to plan and decide on your itinerary and route as early as possible.

On top of being more fuel-efficient, planning early also ensures that you maximise your time visiting each destination and helps prevent you from getting lost.

Pack essentials, and some extras

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Make sure you are stocked up with whatever supplies you might need on the road, and always pack a few extras of everything. This is especially so if you plan to visit New Zealand’s more rural areas. Here are some things you need to put on your road trip checklist:

  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, and long-sleeved shirts: The sun in New Zealand can get very strong, and it’s easy to get sunburns even through the windshield.
  • Water bottles: New Zealand’s tap water is universally drinkable, so just be sure to bring a large bottle to refill every now and then.
  • Flashlight & batteries
  • Printed maps: Charging stations can be few and far between in rural areas, don’t rely on your phone for a GPS system!

Decide on your vehicle

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Before you get on the road, decide what kind of vehicle best suits your budget and lodging preferences.

If your main concern is budget, or you’re planning on booking accommodations in your itinerary, a car would be a better choice for you. Cars are cheaper to rent, and also consume less fuel.

However, if you’re travelling in a group or you intend to sleep inside your vehicle, invest in a camper van. Trust us, the comfort, utilities, and space that come with it more than make up for the heftier price tag.

No matter what vehicle you end up choosing, don’t forget to invest in insurance! Weather conditions can be unpredictable in New Zealand, so make sure that you’re covered in the event of an accident.

Get used to New Zealand driving etiquette

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Driving might confuse you if it’s your first time in New Zealand. For example, most of the highways in New Zealand only have one lane for each direction of traffic.

There are passing lanes for overtaking every few kilometres, but just be sure that you drive on the left lane if you want to drive slowly. You might not realise that you’re actually blocking the road or slowing down traffic. And if someone honks twice while overtaking you, it’s not a rude gesture. It’s actually a local habit of saying thanks!

P.S. Don’t be surprised if you see herds of sheep on the roads. New Zealand is home to over 20 million of these fluffy creatures, so if they block you on the road, just be patient and let them pass.

Stop and smell the flowers

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Last but not least, take time to stop and appreciate the beautiful sights New Zealand has to offer. Stop at rest spots frequently to just take in the sights and immerse yourself in the land and culture.

Be sure to remain respectful of the land and people, and enjoy yourself!

Kia ora (‘be well’ in Te reo Maori) and happy road tripping!

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