17New Zealand is virtually globally unmatched when it comes to perfect road-tripping offers. The country’s relatively small geographical size allows it the luxury of having a well-maintained road network and the best drive routes for stunning scenery. The best way to explore New Zealand is to get yourself a reliable ride and go road-tripping around the country, driving at your own pace, rocking to your select tunes, stopping where and when you want to savour and breathe it all in. Here are some spectacular routes.
Westport to Haast by West Coast Highway
The drive down the west coast to the South Island provides some of the most memorable scenery. Haast Pass is an approximate 140 km stretch of lush, densely forested area that offers a hugely diverse range of vegetation, waterfalls, and hiking scenery. The stretch from Greymouth down to Haast will prove to be most interesting. So too is the Arthur’s Pass National Park to Haast Pass route. Expect to find yourself marvelling over a myriad of natural features that give character to the landscape throughout the route. Points of splendour include the snow-capped beasts in the form of the Southern Alps mountain range with its multiple peaks of over 3000m running along the entire length of the South Island. Other treats include the various blue glacial rivers, the glaciers themselves, Gillespies Beach, beautiful scenery along Highway 6, the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, and as an insider tip, you can camp at Nelson Creek Campground. Driver alert: This is a windy road so drive carefully.
Te Anau to Milford Sound, the Milford road
The road from Te Anau to Milford Sound is a beautifully scenic route that provides an unforgettable road trip experience. The two and half hour trip along the Milford road takes you right into the heart of the Fiordland National Park. No doubt you’ll want to allow for ample time to view and explore the lovely scenery of pristine mountains and rivers and various points of interest. It’s best to fuel up and have supplies before heading out as there are no shops or fuel stations along the Milford road. The historic Gunn’s Camp at Milford Sound offer a limited selection of supplies. Points of interest include the Castle Hill Rocks, Cave Stream Reserve, Monkey Creek, Eglinton Valley, Mirror Lakes, and Knobs Flat.
Christchurch to Greymouth, Great Alpine Highway
This coast-to-coast route of Christchurch to Greymouth offers ever-changing landscapes, pristine mountains and rivers, steep gorges and other natural wonders. The Great Alpine Highway traverses the Southern Alps, through Porters Pass and world famous Arthur’s Pass National Park. Points of interest include the expansive Canterbury Plains, the Waimakariri and Otira River gorges, and exploring the Castle Hill Rocks and Cave Stream Reserve along the Otira Viaduct. Driving north will take you to the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. You may want to sample some beer when you get to Greymouth.
Pacific Coast Highway
Road tripping along the Pacific Coast Highway will provide an epic coastal journey experience. The route traverses the spectacular east coast of New Zealand’s North Island from Auckland to Napier. Be prepared for a treat of beautiful seaside scenery from glittering white sand, to crystal clear, rolling surf beaches and beautiful harbours. The well signposted route allows the driver to safely and easily navigate through some of New Zealand’s most spectacular coastal scenery. Be among the first to capture the majestic sunrise coming up over the Pacific as its first rays hit the spectacular white sandy beaches along the highway. Solidify your experience by diving into world’s best seafood, sampling award winning wines, and even enjoy the hospitality of any of the luxurious accommodation establishments along the route. Don’t forget to drink alcohol sparingly!
Taihape to Lake Taupo by the Desert Road
Taihape is 141 km from the resort town of Taupo. The south of the self-proclaimed the “Gumboot Capital of the World” offers very dramatic scenery of steep and unusual hill formations. Hitting the Desert Road to Taupo takes you across the alpine desert with the inhospitable weather adding to the road trip experience. Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe form a majestic backdrop along the route. Several signs along the road warns that it is dangerous to stop in certain areas. Taupo sits on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake and is a traveller’s delight. Activities to enjoy include great trout fishing and cruising on the lake. There’s an excellent choice of restaurants, geothermal parks and an abundance of hot pools, and great accommodation which takes advantage of the underground thermal activity to provide guests with hot spa relaxation.