Planning Ahead for your NZ Road Trip
One of the things we find with our guests arriving into New Zealand from other countries, is how often they underestimate the distances in New Zealand and how long they should realistically allow to travel between locations.
We recommend doing your homework (or asking us!) to get a realistic idea of how long you should allow between key destinations in each island, and what you can realistically fit into a day on the road.
Google maps of course will give you some clues, but you also need to allow for the fact that the majority of New Zealand's roads and highways are just one lane each side of the road, some parts of the country may be slower to travel through due to weather and road conditions (and traffic), and you will also need to navigate one way bridges fairly frequently (look for the arrows indicating who should giveway, and always give way to any vehicle already on the bridge).
If you are planning to head off the main tourist routes at any stage, you might also need to take into account that some of those roads will be loose shingle/gravel, so your speeds will need to go down to drive safely.
Plus of course, the landscapes are frequently so beautiful you need to factor in plenty of time to pull over at lookouts to capture some images or video for your friends back home.
Our tips for a great kiwi roadtrip:
1. Choose your starting point - and which direction you are going to head from either Christchurch or Auckland. You can fly into the international airports of either city, and Affordable can collect you from the airport so you can pick up your vehicle, or else if you are arriving later in the evening, we recommend you book a night's accommodation so you can set off fresh in the morning.
2. Do your homework when working out your itinerary. Check our blogs for some suggestions on places to include, ask us for recommendations if you need them, or check out the itinerary creation service our guest blogger Ferg Blakiston provides via his website at www.visitsouthisland.nz
3. Allow a generous amount of time to travel between your planned stops - as well as the comments above about how long it can take to drive in New Zealand, keep in mind that many of our country roads are also quite narrow and winding, so it is a very different experience from long, flat motorways in terms of time and the amount of concentration involved (even more so if you are used to driving on the other side of the road!).
4. If you are arriving on a late flight, book a night's accommodation before picking up your vehicle and starting your road trip. That also gives you time to do some grocery shopping and stock up on any supplies you will need before you head out of the city. The majority of NZ supermarkets close for the day by 9pm or 10pm at the latest, so if you are landing later than that, you will need to wait until the morning to shop.
5. If you are hiring your motorhome or sleepervan from us, allow up to two hours when you collect it as we take some time to go over everything with you, and take you for a familiarisation drive so you can feel confident once you hit the road. Your comfort and safety is of utmost importance to us, so don't be afraid to ask about anything you don't understand.
6. Keep an eye on the NZ news and weather to ensure you know what the conditions are likely to be for the days ahead. You can also check the AA website for any road closures or warnings, and the Metservice website for predicted weather forecasts and severe weather warnings.
7. Plan to book in for some locations to holiday parks where you have a powered site and can fully charge up all your devices as well as empty your toilet etc. The TOP 10 Holiday Park group has properties around the country, or else you can visit Rankers for more ideas.
8. Familiarise yourself with our road rules in advance. The best place to get this information is from the Road Code on the NZTA website. Start here.