From sparkling lakes to majestic mountains and breathtaking waterfalls, New Zealand road trips will amaze. Get away from windy Wellington to visit Napier’s Art Deco city or taste world-famous pinot noirs in Martinborough – New Zealand will surely amaze!
Lake Pukaki provides stunning views of Mount Cook, while Lewis Pass road winds its way across the Southern Alps. Or take the Routeburn Track past Glenorchy all the way to Paradise – for even more incredible experiences!
1. Mount Somers to Mount Sunday
If you haven’t experienced New Zealand yet, and found yourself stuck behind a campervan on a gravel road dodging cars and trucks that drive directly into your path and attempting to take photos that capture its breathtaking landscapes then you are still yet to experience its true essence. In our latest episode of Griff’s Great Kiwi Road Trip we explore some of its most scenic drives.
Mount Somers, New Zealand’s Waimakariri District’s hidden gem, lies only an hour’s drive from Christchurch and four from Dunedin, offering total tranquility among open subalpine tussock lands, historic coal mines, impressive volcanic formations and deep canyons and gorges.
Winter brings Canterbury’s ski season, when its picturesque streets come alive with snow-sport enthusiasts eager to hit the slopes. However, outside these months the region becomes tranquil; and visiting during this period will give you access to some of New Zealand’s finest mountain views.
Mount Sunday Walk offers breathtaking views of the Southern Alps and was used as filming location for Edoras in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Starting from town’s tiny car park, this track can be experienced either as an afternoon stroll or extended over multiple days by staying overnight at either Pinnacles or Woolshed Creek Huts.
2. Banks Peninsula
Banks Peninsula offers picturesque harbours, rolling hills and bays – making it a favorite day trip destination among both locals and visitors. Akaroa, with its charming French colonial architecture is its main draw; however, Banks Peninsula’s appeal extends far beyond that – from seals and penguins to Hector’s dolphins, New Zealand fur seals and native birds, there is much wildlife here for everyone to discover!
Griff and his crew embark on a tour of Christchurch and its surrounds from Christchurch, driving first to Sumner and then up onto the Port Hills for breathtaking views over Christchurch and Canterbury Plains below as well as offering numerous walks and viewpoints along the way. You will pass iconic sites like Sign of the Takahe (an indigenous bird renowned for being flightless), Gebbies Pass Road used by weary travellers walking from Lyttleton to Christchurch as well as numerous walks that offer wonderful viewpoints en route.
New Zealand boasts an abundance of scenic drives to suit every traveller’s taste, from Art Deco architecture in Napier to Rotorua’s boiling mud pools and Martinborough wine districts – there’s so much more than meets the eye when taking a road trip through New Zealand! So pack up your campervan and experience New Zealand like no one else can!
3. Christchurch to Akaroa
Christchurch and its surroundings boast breathtaking scenery from towering mountains to coastal towns – guaranteed to get your motor running! So strap in, set your road trip playlist, and start planning an incredible journey through New Zealand’s spectacular landscapes.
As soon as you leave Christchurch behind, head towards the Port Hills for breathtaking views over its bays (and on clear days even the Southern Alps!). After this breathtaking vantage point, descend into Banks Peninsula for its mix of French and British influences; explore inner and outer bays on foot, boat tour or sea kayaking expedition. Cafes, restaurants and wildlife reserves add another delightful element.
On your journey to Akaroa, take time out for a short stroll along Birdlings Flat Beach – here you’ll be able to spot Banks Peninsula sea cliffs as well as penguins, hector’s dolphins and seals!
Geraldine, just beyond Akaroa, provides plenty of stores and fuel stations as well as some fun attractions like Geraldine Orchard Farmshop and Cafe. If you plan to continue traveling beyond Geraldine, make sure you allow enough time to stop at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere; an important New Zealand wetland and habitat for native birds.
4. Queenstown to Te Anau
There’s an old saying that says traveling should not just be about reaching your destination, but also about enjoying the journey itself – this axiom certainly holds true when driving between Queenstown and Te Anau. While only taking 2 hours without stops to travel the road full of stunning viewpoints, charming villages, and stunning landscapes.
Start your journey off right by visiting Kingston, a picturesque lakeside village where you can admire Lake Wakatipu’s shimmering waters and snow-capped mountains. Take some time to stretch your legs and capture some picturesque shots before continuing towards Homer Tunnel and Fiordland National Park.
Mossburn Lookout Point offers another beautiful overlook halfway to Fiordland National Park and makes for an excellent photo stop, and may offer glimpses of rare Fiordland Mistletoe flowers found exclusively here in New Zealand.
From Queenstown it’s just a quick drive to Te Anau and Milford Sound’s entrance at Te Anau where camping or accommodation at Milford Sound Lodge awaits. Alternatively if time is tight it is also possible to take a scenic flight directly from Queenstown into Milford Sound, however this roundtrip flight could prove quite pricey.