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Planning a New Zealand Highway Journey — 30 Most Ceaselessly Requested Questions

North or South Island? Automotive or Campervan? Which metropolis ought to I fly into? — This information solutions all of your burning questions on planning your first New Zealand highway journey!

Drone Shot of Car at Arthur's Pass - New Zealand Road Trip

When New Zealand opened its borders again in Could, we had been one of many first few to e book our flights.

Our 12-day South Island highway journey was an absolute dream — we met the friendliest locals, drove by means of unimaginable landscapes and ticked off bucket checklist experiences like mountaineering Roys Peak in Wanaka.

Arthur's Pass Castle Hill Drone Shot - New Zealand Road Trip

Throughout our journey (and after), we acquired many questions on Instagram about planning a New Zealand highway journey. As a useful resource, we determined to compile essentially the most continuously requested questions that will help you plan your personal post-Covid journey to New Zealand!

*Bookmark this web page as we’ll be updating the article as rules swap up!

Click on to leap to related sections:

Entry Necessities and Guidelines | North or South Island | Planning Your New Zealand Itinerary | Price range | Renting a Automotive or Campervan | Driving, Petrol and Parking | Lodging | Miscellaneous | Travelling And not using a Automotive

Covid Stuff — New Zealand’s entry necessities and guidelines

On Arrival Covid Test Kit - New Zealand Road Trip

1) Covid-19 assessments?

Pre-departure assessments are not required ranging from 21 June 2022 — yay.

Nonetheless, guests are nonetheless required to take two ARTs after arrival (on Day 0/1 and Day 5/6) — check kits are supplied free of charge on the airport, with directions to submitting the outcomes on-line.

2) Pre-departure paperwork?

Solely two! A New Zealand Digital Journey Authority (NZeTA) and a journey declaration.

Each have to be ready earlier than arriving in New Zealand. The NZeTA prices NZ$9 (~S$7.74) on the app, or NZ$12 (~S$10.33) on-line. You’ll even be prompted to pay an Worldwide Customer Dialog and Tourism Levy (NZ$35, ~S$30.12).

3) Masks?

Masks are not obligatory outdoor, however typically inspired indoors.

North or South Island?

North Island Mitai Maori Village - New Zealand Road Trip

4) It’s my first journey to New Zealand. Ought to I go to the North or South Island?

Each islands have loads to supply and are price visiting. They will also be coated on a single journey!

The North Island is understood for a stronger Maori presence and engaging geothermal exercise. It’s additionally the place you’ll discover Hobbiton from the Lord of the Rings trilogy!

Wanaka Roys Peak Summit Viewpoint During Sunset - New Zealand South Island Guide

The South Island is bigger than the North, with only a third of its inhabitants. Identified for dramatic landscapes and journey, South Island attracts thrill-seekers from throughout.

But when we’d needed to choose, South Island undoubtedly stole our hearts.

Learn additionally: Final New Zealand Bucket Record — 26 Greatest Issues to Do in NZ’s North and South Islands

Planning Your New Zealand Itinerary

Traveller at Singapore Changi Airport - Planning a New Zealand Road Trip

5) Which metropolis ought to I fly into from Singapore?

North Island: Auckland (direct through Singapore Airways and Air New Zealand)
South Island: Christchurch (direct through Singapore Airways and Air New Zealand) or Queenstown (stopover in Melbourne or Sydney)


6) Open-jaw or roundtrip flights?

Open-jaw flights discuss with whenever you’re flying out and in of various locations.

We’ve visited the South Island twice, the primary was a spherical journey route flying into Queenstown whereas the second was open-jaw — flying into Christchurch and flying out through Queenstown.

It boils right down to the experiences you’re after so take a look at each itineraries to resolve:

Open jaw New Zealand itinerary from Christchurch to Queenstown
Roundtrip South Island New Zealand itinerary with Queenstown as a base

South Island Lake Pit Stop During Driving - Planning a New Zealand Road Trip

7) What number of days do I want for a New Zealand highway journey?

New Zealand is a giant nation (roughly 368 instances the scale of Singapore), with masses to do. Round two weeks is an effective size — although we may simply spend a month there!

8) Any must-visits?

We beloved each city we visited. But when it’s your first time in New Zealand, listed below are some locations you shouldn’t miss:

North Island: Rotorua, Hobbiton, and Waitomo
South Island: Queenstown, Arthur’s Cross, and Milford Sound

Driving at Arthur's Pass during Winter - New Zealand Road Trip

9) When is the perfect time to go to New Zealand? Does the climate differ between North and South Island?

There isn’t a “dangerous” time to go to New Zealand. However the climate might be erratic, as there’s no wet season.

Summer season months (Dec – Feb) are busier, with hotter climate of round 20 – 25˚C and longer sunlight hours. Winter months (Jun – Aug) have common temperatures of 7 – 12°C and shorter sunlight hours, however provide winter sports activities like snowboarding.

Common temperatures lower as you journey south, that means the South Island is colder. Inland alpine areas are usually colder as effectively! In Could, we skilled 0˚C at Arthur’s Cross (wasn’t even the official winter season but) and needed to bust out our warmest gear.

Price range

Kaikoura Dolphin Encounter Swimming with Dusky Dolphins - New Zealand South Island Guide

10) How a lot does a New Zealand highway journey price?

Our 12-day South Island highway journey price S$2.8k per pax, excluding flights. This consists of all the things from automobile rental, petrol, lodging, actions, insurance coverage, and meals!

It’s value-for-money — contemplating we had some fairly epic experiences, like swimming with wild dolphins and taking over the world’s tallest cliff soar.

11) How’s the meals? Is it costly?

There’s not a variety of conventional meals, aside from the Maori’s hāngī. You’ll discover largely cafe or restaurant meals the place mains price round NZ$20 (~S$17.22).

South Island Milford Sound Eating Outdoors - New Zealand Road Trip

12) Price range suggestions?

Meals is an space you may actually save on. As a substitute of eating out on a regular basis, purchase ready-made meals or put together your personal meals! Grocery store chains like 4 Sq. and New World turned our greatest associates on our New Zealand highway journey.

All of our lodging (aside from Wanaka) had a fundamental kitchen — that means we may prepare dinner!

Learn on for tricks to save on petrol.

Renting a Automotive or Campervan in New Zealand

Car Group Photo at Arthur's Pass - New Zealand Road Trip

13) Do I want an Worldwide Driving Allow to lease a automobile?

In response to New Zealand’s tourism web site, you don’t want an Worldwide Driving Allow in case your driver’s license is in English.

14) The place to lease a automobile? Advisable automobile mannequin?

Through Klook! There are a number of automobile rental firms on the platform and you’ll filter by automobile sort and choose up location.

We acquired a five-seater Nissan X-trail (from ~S$65.56/day). It was the proper dimension for our group of 4, with the boot massive sufficient for 4 mid-size suitcases (round 68cm x 51cm x 30cm every).

15) Are there various kinds of campervans?

Sure! Two varieties — self-contained and non-self-contained. 

Self-contained campervans have a conveyable bathroom on board. The type the place you need to deposit your waste at dump stations.

Self Contained Campervan with Portable Toilet - New Zealand Road Trip Frequently Asked Questions

One of the best factor a couple of self-contained campervan is that it provides you the license to freedom camp — that means you get to park in a single day free of charge. For those who’re involved about cleansing the bathroom, public bogs are frequent in New Zealand (all of that are fairly clear) so that you don’t even have to make use of it a lot.

Some reasonably priced campervan firms to contemplate are Completely happy Campers (from NZ$42/day) and Jucy Leases (from NZ$44/day).

16) The place can I park my campervan?

There are three most important forms of campsites in New Zealand — Freedom tenting websites, Division of Conservation (DOC) campsites, and Vacation Parks. 

Campervan at Taupo Freedom Camping Five Mile Recreation Site - New Zealand Road Trip

Freedom tenting websites have minimal or no services, therefore the necessity for a self-contained automobile to park right here. The draw of freedom tenting websites is that guests can park free of charge in stunning areas — and there are over 500 freedom tenting areas in New Zealand! 

DoC campsites are sometimes in nationwide parks. They’ve fundamental bathroom services and cost a small charge for parking. 

Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park Campervan Parking - New Zealand Road Trip

Vacation parks additionally cost for parking and are pricier than DoC campsites, however provide facilities like energy stations for charging plus shared services like kitchens, loos and laundry machines. 

Freedom tenting might be enjoyable, however we’d advocate reserving a vacation park each few days to cost your gear and use the services. Vacation parks do get booked out rapidly so have them reserved upfront!

Campermate and Rankers Tenting NZ are helpful apps for checking the areas and costs of campsites in New Zealand. 

Campervan Outdoor Dining with Rainbow Background - New Zealand Road Trip

17) Automotive or campervan?

Execs of renting a campervan? It may be cheaper and your itinerary is much more versatile! Your private home is actually travelling with you, so in the event you’d prefer to spend an additional day someplace (or change your plans utterly), it’s straightforward to take action.

A campervan highway journey can be a novel expertise — loads of tales to inform the grandkids.

Cooking in a Campervan - New Zealand Road Trip

Regardless of Instagram selling the glamorous aspect of #vanlife, there are a few downsides. The apparent one — it’s small. We’d solely advocate it in the event you’re in a gaggle of two or three, or it’ll be actually cramped.

Second, campervans have a median velocity of 70km/hr, that means longer drives! Campervans are additionally not ultimate for winter as they don’t have the perfect insulation.

In the end, it’s actually as much as you to resolve what sort of highway journey you need 😊

Driving, Petrol, and Parking in New Zealand

Driving through Milford Sound - Planning a New Zealand Road Trip

18) Is it troublesome to drive and navigate? What about throughout winter?

Typically, nope! Google Maps is correct and the roads aren’t notably windy or steep.

Additionally take word throughout winter, the roads can get icy in colder areas like Milford Sound. We didn’t want snow chains whereas we had been there in Could — simply decelerate in the event you come throughout frost warnings.

South Island Tekapo to Mount John Drive - New Zealand Road Trip

19) What’s the common velocity restrict?

30 to 60km/hr for cities and accident-prone areas, normally 100km/hr for open roads. There’s a hefty NZ$400 high-quality in the event you’re caught rushing!

20) Is the cell sign dependable on the highway?

Milford Sound was the one place we didn’t get a sign. To be secure, obtain your route from Google Maps so you may navigate offline!

Driving in New Zealand South Island - New Zealand Road Trip

21) Was it powerful to seek out petrol stations?

Petrol stations might be present in all main cities and cities! Nonetheless, there have been some distant areas on our route that had fewer (or no) choices.

For instance, the closest petrol station to Milford Sound is within the close by city of Te Anau. Then there’s Arthur’s Cross which solely has one petrol station — and it closes at 5PM. So you should definitely gasoline up earlier than lengthy drives!

22) How a lot did you spend on petrol?

We spent ~S$506 (S$126.58/pax) on gasoline for our 12-day South Island highway journey — although we didn’t exit of our option to discover the most cost effective gasoline choices. I used the Roadtrip app to calculate the price of gasoline previous to the journey, and it was fairly correct!

*Professional-tip: Obtain Gaspy, a fuel-sharing app that lets you discover the most cost effective gasoline costs round! 

Milford Sound Carpark - New Zealand Road Trip

23) How do you pay for parking?

All of the carparks have kiosks the place you pay when you park! Enter your automobile plate quantity and supposed parking length after which pay by card.

Driving to Milford Sound Car Shot - New Zealand Road Trip

24) Any suggestions for driving?

Firstly, add an hour to your driving time! This offers you the pliability to cease at random viewpoints alongside the best way (belief us, you’ll need to!) and elements in bathroom breaks and petrol stops.

Second, New Zealand’s roads should not lit in any respect — particularly whenever you’re outdoors the cities. Take warning when driving at evening and bear in mind fundamental highway courtesy, like turning off the excessive beam when there are vehicles approaching.

Thirdly, obtain your maps in the beginning of the day because the connection might be poor (or non-existent) in additional distant areas like Milford Sound.


Arthur's Pass Alpine Motel - New Zealand South Island Itinerary

25) How did you choose lodging? Did you keep in a number of inns?

Since we didn’t lease a campervan on our 12-day South Island Highway Journey, we swapped lodging each few days. Some issues we seemed out for had been
a) proximity to most important sights, and
b) whether or not there’s a kitchen

Kaikoura Waterfronts Apartment - New Zealand South Island Itinerary

Right here’s the place we stayed throughout our South Island highway journey:
– Christchurch: Aotea Motel (Christchurch)
– Kaikoura: Kaikoura Waterfront Flats
– Arthur’s Cross: Arthur’s Cross Alpine Motel 
– Tekapo: Lake Tekapo Cottages 
– Wanaka: Edgewater Lodge 
– Te Anau: Lakefront Lodge 
– Queenstown: Heartland Lodge Queenstown 

All of those had kitchens and had been both near our final location of the day or nearer to our subsequent location for the subsequent day.


Queenstown Carpark Payment Kiosks - Planning a New Zealand Road Trip

26) Money or cashless?

Playing cards are most popular to money in New Zealand! Even the Queenstown arts market accepted card funds. The truth is, some petrol kiosks solely settle for playing cards.

We use multi-currency playing cards like Revolut which doesn’t cost transaction charges and even matches google’s alternate price so we didn’t have to alter cash earlier than the journey.

27) What SIM card ought to I get?

We pre-booked a 10GB Vodafone SIM Card (~S$41.15) through Klook which we picked up at Christchurch Airport.

28) Is faucet water secure to drink?


29) What ought to I pack for winter?

Don’t underestimate New Zealand’s winters. It will get chilly within the alpine areas, particularly when there’s wind.

Some fundamental winter necessities embody a thick jacket, thermals/Uniqlo’s heattech, gloves, a beanie, and correct mountaineering boots. Warmth packs are a pleasant to have too in the event you get chilly simply!

Travelling And not using a Automotive

Solo Travel in New Zealand - New Zealand Road Trip

30) Can I get round with out a automobile?

There’s a hop-on-hop-off bus service each within the North and South Island, excellent for solo travellers who don’t need to lease a automobile! It’s at the moment not working however is about to renew from 7 Nov 2022.

Ideas for Planning Your First New Zealand Highway Journey

Milford Sound Group Photo - New Zealand Road Trip

New Zealand is one my favorite international locations I’ve ever visited and I hope this checklist of FAQs is beneficial in your planning course of!

A couple of parting suggestions earlier than you go forth and plan your personal epic New Zealand highway journey:

1) Take a look at our New Zealand content material! They’re fairly good if I do say so myself 🤪
12D New Zealand South Island Itinerary Below S$2.8k
New Zealand South Island Information — 25 Greatest Issues to Do in Queenstown, Kaikoura, Milford Sound and Extra
Half 1 — 10-Day South Island Highway Journey Below S$2.2k
Half 2 — 5-Day North Island Highway Journey in a Campervan Below S$600

Hiker Climbing Roys Peak Tekapo - New Zealand FAQs

2) Some helpful objects to pack:
– Headlamp (for mountaineering)
– Reusable luggage (plastic luggage aren’t supplied in supermarkets!)
– Reusable cutlery (for consuming outdoor)
– Correct mountaineering footwear (Decathlon and IMM have reasonably priced choices)

3) Apps to obtain:
Gaspy (for gasoline costs)
Campermate / Rankers Tenting NZ (for campsite areas and costs)
Google Maps

Are there any questions we missed out on in our New Zealand highway journey FAQ information? Tell us within the feedback!

Like what you see? Comply with us on FbInstagram, and YouTube for extra journey updates!

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