New Zealand – A land of mountains, snowfields, caves, glow-worms and vast wonders, it’s hard to believe anybody would take such a magnificent place for granted. While the do’s are easy enough – and we’ll solidify five of our very own below – figuring out the no-no’s of such a laid back destination is no small task. Luckily, the team at Relaxing Journeys has a collective ear to the ground, bringing you the inside scoop on five things you should do on your New Zealand road trip, along with another five you definitely shouldn’t.
Don’t Assume Petrol is Available at the Next Town Over
…or assume that it isn’t, but there can be a couple hundred kilometres between you and a petrol bowser. Account for the long, meandering roads of New Zealand in your self-drive plan and research general fuel stops ahead of time.
Do Stop in the Designated Bays and Pull-outs Along the Road
You may spot a driver or two parked on the side of the road, on a mountain side or by a highway, determined to snap a spectacular memory. While we can hardly blame them for falling in love with the landscape, it must be noted just how dangerous it can be to pull over outside a marked area. People have lost mirrors, broken bones and caused accidents.
Do Pay Attention to Road Signs
Although some roads may be heart-stoppers – not every mountain pass has a guard-rail between you and a sheer cliff – the local roads and transport authority has done a solid job in accurately marking any upcoming challenges and obstacles, signing sudden declines, inclines, bends, junctions etc with yellow and black road-signs, along with approaching speed limits to keep you safe.
Don’t Restrict Yourself to the Beaten Path
New Zealand is covered in walking and hiking trails (the locals call it tramping), delving into some of the most visually arresting scenery you’ve ever seen – certain areas are also untamed wilderness. Sticking to the beaten path in any National Park is a sure fire way to keep safe, have fun and see everything there is to see, without the need for a search party.
Don’t Disrespect the Maori Culture
New Zealand takes its collective relationship with its indigenous heritage very seriously. The island nation was formed on a treaty between the British colonists and the Maori chiefs – today, Maori culture is an intrinsic element of everyday life in New Zealand.
Do Be Camper Conscious
There’s no better way to see New Zealand than on the open road, driving a hired campervan. Knowing which one is right for you and your circumstances can take a lot of research, but to give you a general idea, most people don’t need an SUV unless you’re planning off-road action, creek-crossings and a lot of beach driving, and families prefer vehicles capable of plugging into powered sites during the winter months. Not sure what you need? We’ll help you fill in the blanks.
Don’t Ignore the Weather
New Zealand weather warnings are not cautionary, they’re mandatory. Check road conditions daily, keep yourself updated on weather patterns, listen to the locals and don’t drive Lewis Pass, Arthur’s Pass or Haast’s Pass in inclement weather, or anytime you’re told not to. Landslides happen regularly in heavy rain and in the winter months – and since New Zealand is prone to changeable conditions, you need to be adaptable in your plans. Don’t take any chances.
Do Fall in Love with New Zealand
It’s impossible not to fall head over heels in love with both the south and the north islands. Don’t fight it.
Ready to go? Got your do’s covered and don’ts noted? Map your great New Zealand road trip with Relaxing Journeys.