February 2017: Driving New Zealand’s touring routes

The great Kiwi road trip is a popular way to travel New Zealand, for visitors and locals alike.

Canterbury
Self-drive holidays give your clients the freedom to stop frequently and discover New Zealand’s beautiful (and ever-changing) landscapes at their own pace. 
 
New Zealand’s themed highways travel through some of these diverse landscapes. 
 
Your clients can follow coastal highways with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean; travel the road that leads to volcanoes, ancient caves and bubbling mud pools; or taste their way through signature New Zealand wine regions. The routes are marked with distinctive brown signs making them easy to follow.

Read on for a taste of New Zealand’s well-known touring routes, from north to south. 

Twin Coast Discovery Highway (Northland) 

Tour both coastlines of New Zealand’s warmest region and discover picturesque beaches and marine adventures of every description.
 
Explore some of the many cycle trails and walking tracks and visit locations of local and cultural significance including Tane Mahuta - the famous Kauri Tree, 90 Mile Beach and Waitangi - the ‘Birthplace of our Nation’.

Highlights:
Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Dive the Poor Knights Islands
A night-time tour of Tane Mahuta
Dolphin spotting cruises

Find out more and plan a trip:
Northland self-drive itinerary
About the Twin Coast Discovery Highway


Pacific Coast Highway

Experience every kind of seaside scenery on this epic coastal journey, from Auckland to Napier, otherwise known as the Pacific Coast Highway.
 
The trip takes you off the beaten track to some of the North Island's most beautiful and remote coastal areas.
 
Highlights:
Cycle the vineyards in Napier
Visit New Zealand’s only active marine volcano
Spot glow worms after dark on an evening kayak tour
Dig your own spa on Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel

Find out more and plan a trip:
Pacific Coast Highway itinerary
About the Pacific Coast Highway


Thermal Explorer Highway 

The Thermal Explorer Highway covers much of the upper North Island, stretching from the northern city of Auckland, through the central plateau and Taupo, to Napier on the sunny east coast.
 
This highway takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in New Zealand, along a path well known for its geological wonders – from huge limestone caves, to bubbling geothermal areas and volcanic plateaus.
 
Highlights:
Geothermal action in Rotorua
Sail to the Maori rock carvings on Lake Taupo
Tour Art Deco Napier

Find out more and plan a trip:
Thermal Explorer itinerary
About the Thermal Explorer Highway


Forgotten World Highway

The Forgotten World Highway, New Zealand’s first heritage trail, is a combination of absorbing New Zealand history and scenery. Winding and climbing from the Taranaki district to the Ruapehu region (or vice-versa), the route takes in spectacular mountain and bush scenery, as well as a collection of tiny settlements and points of historic interest.
 
Highlights:
Journey into the wilderness on a self-drive rail cart
Cycling the Timber Trail
Exploring the Bridge to Nowhere
 
Find out more and plan a trip:
Forgotten World Highway itinerary 


Surf Highway 45

Surf Highway 45 hugs the Taranaki coastline, the unique shape of which offers 180 degrees worth of surf swells. This makes the route one of New Zealand’s best surfing and windsurfing locations.
 
The entire route is just over 100km long, meaning you can tackle it in a day, or take a few days to really enjoy this fascinating region.
 
Highlights:
Rugged surf beaches
Egmont National Park at the base of Mount Taranaki
Len Lye Centre in Taranaki
 
Find out more and plan a trip:
Surf Highway itinerary 


Classic New Zealand Wine Trail 

Three major wine producing regions, a capital city, rural towns and coastal waterways combine to create the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail.
 
Highlights:
Cycle the vines in Martinborough
Explore Wellington’s tasty sights with a gourmet walking tour
Taste fresh seafood on a cruise in the Marlborough Sounds 

Find out more and plan a trip:
Classic New Zealand Wine Trail Itinerary
About the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail


The Great Alpine Highway 

This coast-to-coast route traverses the Southern Alps – an incredible showcase of pristine mountains and rivers. Take your car or sit back and enjoy the ever-changing scenery by train.
 
Highlights:
Punting on the River Avon in Christchurch
Hike in Arthur's Pass
Craft beer tasting at Monteith’s Brewery in Greymouth
 
Find out more and plan a trip:
Great Alpine Highway itinerary


The Alpine Pacific Triangle

The Alpine Pacific Triangle combines some of New Zealand’s premier tourist attractions, all within two hours’ drive of each other.  Beginning in the Waipara Wine Region, the Alpine Pacific Triangle heads along the coast to the eco-tourism destination of Kaikoura, or inland to New Zealand’s leading thermal resort – Hanmer Springs. Please note that SH1 north of Kaikoura is currently closed due to earthquake damage. For regional updates, see our Kaikoura updates page
 
Highlights:
Whale watching in Kaikoura
Soak in Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa
Explore Waipara wineries
 
Find out more and plan a trip:
Alpine Pacific Triangle itinerary


Southern Scenic Route

Journey into the captivating lower South Island to uncover an unforgettable mix of rare wildlife, remote rugged lands, and delicious seafood.
 
The Southern Scenic Route will take you off the beaten path to discover stunning deserted coastlines, majestic fiords and welcoming locals.
 
Highlights
Explore more than 300 vintage cars at Bill Richardson’s Transport World
Spot kiwis in the wild on Stewart Island
Cycle the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail
 
Find out more and plan a trip:
Southern Scenic itinerary


Important points to note when booking your clients’ self-drive holiday: 

To ensure your clients are well rested after their flight, we recommend they stay a night or two in their arrival city before collecting a rental vehicle.

New Zealand has unique road rules and driving conditions that your clients may not be used to. For a safe and enjoyable journey make sure your clients know where to find information on New Zealand’s road rules before they depart for their holiday.
 Here are some suggestions:
As a travel seller you can educate yourself on the unique differences of driving in New Zealand by completing the online module, ‘Driving Safely in New Zealand’.
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