Top 10 scenic drives in New Zealand

Posted May 24, 2013 by Alberto Molero in Top 10

Scenic driving

Flickr image by Jon Sullivan

Since New Zealand is mostly remote natural landscapes, a driving holiday in New Zealand is one of the best ways to explore the island nation. Keep in mind that there are few large highways in New Zealand; mostly, you’ll be travelling smaller, two-lane roads and even crossing single-lane bridges that are to be shared with oncoming traffic.

It’s all worth it for the endless panoramic views. Here are 10 scenic drives to get you started.

Queenstown to Glenorchy: If you only have the opportunity to hire a car or campervan and drive while in New Zealand, this south island drive is it. As you wrap around lakes and skirt over the top of mountains, you’ll fell like an extra from Lord of the Rings.

Lake Tekapo to Lake Pukaki: For a drive that features those incredible turquoise-blue lakes, head for this drive. Lake Tekapo is one of the prettiest lakes in the country, and Lake Pukaki is one of the most photographed, as it is a great spot to take photos of Mount Cook.

Picton to Christchurch: A very diverse drive that takes you through wine country, before dropping you off on the coast to spot wildlife. This connects the ferry and the largest city on the south island, making it a convenient route to include as well.

Haast to Hokitika: This is a great drive that takes a long time because there’s so much to see; stop by Lake Matheson, known as the mirror lake; or take a longer stop and hike one of the many glaciers you’ll pass by on this route.

Queenstown to Lake Wanaka: Both your start and your end destinations are gorgeous in their own right, but the drive between the two is so scenic, you’ll want to drive over and over again.

The Lost World Highway: This 155km route crosses a scenic stretch of the north island, and is considered the country’s first official touring route. It’s the perfect way to get an overview of the landscape.

Gisborne to Whakatane: This coastal route will take you around New Zealand’s famed East Cape, which feels like the most remote destination in the world. Take your time and enjoy the laid back atmosphere – you’ll likely have every stop to yourself.

The Milford Road: This road was purpose-built to connect the main road system to Milford sound, and is often rated as one of the best drives in the world. The final stretch – a tiny, tiny tunnel through a mountain to the sound – is a quirky, memorable experience.

Greymouth to Westport: Another coastal route unlike any of the rest, this route takes you from palm trees to dazzling rock formations to splashing surf. If you like driving along the ocean, you’ll love this drive.

Wellington to Martinborough: Last but not least, this cute little drive takes you from the capital city, across lush hills, and down into a charming wine valley. The perfect city daytrip.

A campervan a great way to enjoy many of these memorable routes.  Campervan hire provides you with both your accommodation and a way to get from A to B. A campervan also provides you with amenities that car hire cannot, this includes; kitchen facilities, a shower, toilet and bedding.


About the Author

Alberto Molero

Alberto Molero is the co-founder, photographer and designer of WildJunket. As an adventure junkie, he’s fed his adrenaline cravings with scuba-diving trips in Borneo, ice-climbing excursions in Iceland and hiking expeditions in Australia. When he’s not traveling the world, he dreams of living on the beach and going surfing all day.

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