High and low – sand and snow. A short but perfectly fitting description of how it is to road trip this country. You can start the day by the sea and end up in the mountains, or vice versa. When you read this, I’ve been driving from Auckland on the north island, down via Tongariro, taken the ferry from Wellington to Picton on the south island and from there pretty much all over the south island – and back up to Auckland. Many hours, kilometers and podcasts I can assure you. Also, a lot of beautiful sceneries and a Red Bull or two to not get tired behind the wheel.
My biggest tip in you ever travel to New Zealand is to rent a car. I would say it’s totally waste of time and money going here and not get a car. The distances sometimes can be pretty long and the flexibility of a car is priceless. Even greedy backpackers should rent a car or a camper van, because the bus tickets are really expensive and, of course, offers no flexibility what so ever.
Roadtripping is my favorite type of holiday, simply because you are so free and can do and see many things. I’ve been lucky doing many good ones in Europe, the US, Canada and South Africa to mention a few. New Zealand is the perfect country for road tripping due to it’s many attractions, scenic landscapes and cosy small towns. It’s also a very safe country, which was good to know as I slept 18 of the 23 nights in the car. No problem what so ever and 15 of those 18 nights I slept like a baby. Two nights were really cold and one night I’ve had a little too much coffee in order to stay awake behind the wheel – and you can say it did the job, perhaps a litte too well. There were three reasons I slept in the car:
- Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING was sold out. Not a single hotel, cabin, camping spot, hostel available. (Due to NZ holiday and record number of tourists, early January is the high season)
- Save some money. Since I went here alone the car was pretty pricy.
- To live a simple life, in order to appreciate sleeping in a bed and have comfort when that day comes. Goes hand in hand with my over-all reason for this trip; learning to find happiness in less.
However, there are some things that can be good to know when road tripping here:
- First of all: they drive on the left side of the road. Takes 10 minutes to get used to and it’s not as hard as people think.
- They drive FAST down here. Most roads here have 100 km/h as a max limit where I can bet my long blonde hair on that in Europe it would NEVER be more than 70 km/h. Even small, narrow and winding mountain roads have 100 km/m.
- The gas price is the same as Scandinavia, expensive!
- I’ve never seen as many roadkills as down here, luckily enough the animals are small though.
- Want to eat dinner? Make sure you get to a restaurant at latest by 8.30 PM, everything closes 9 PM.
- If you decide to take the ferry from Wellington to Picton (or/and back) make sure you book in advance in order to save a lot of money.
- I would advice NOT going to New Zealand from the 20th of December to the 20th of January. This is when the Kiwis (NZ people) have their Christmas holiday, children out of school and also the peak for foreign tourists. The weather says to be as good in late January and February.