Best road trips in New Zealand

There are many drives on the South Island that rank among the best road trips in New Zealand ... photo by CC user paul (dex) bica on Flickr

Hitting up New Zealand on vacation soon, and looking for the best driving routes in the country? This article contains a few suggestions that we (and soon, you) will hold up to be among the best road trips in New Zealand.

Auckland to Cape Reinga

photo by CC user Fuadounet on Flickr

Seeing how your New Zealand adventure will likely begin in Auckland, it makes sense to take your first road trip from the City of Sails to the northernmost point of the entire country.

After picking up your ride from Apex Car Rental, head out of the city on Highway 1 towards your first destination, the Bay of Islands. Here, the chill of the Southern winter is unknown, as the laid back residents will attest to when you meet with them in places like Paihia and Okiato. Be sure to charter a boat cruise when you are in the area, as the chances of encountering pods of dolphins are high.

Continue on afterward to Cape Reinga, which is the northernmost point in New Zealand. From the lighthouse here, one can observe the waters of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific intermingling with each other, which is a sight that surprises many when witnessed for the first time.

On the way back to Auckland, stop by Ninety Mile Beach (which is actually 88 kilometres long in reality), where you will be guaranteed to find some beach bliss.

Nelson to Franz Josef Glacier

photo by CC user brewbooks on Flickr

The raw power of the sea and the beauty of the west coast mountains on New Zealand’s South Island are the stuff of legends, so when you make it here, head south from Nelson via Highway 6 towards the Franz Josef Glacier instead of going on Highway 1 towards Christchurch.

Abel Tasman National Park will dazzle you with its white sand beaches and its palm studded secluded bays with crystalline waters (for a place so far south, it seems out of place, but not in New Zealand), while the drive from there towards Greymouth will take you on a road that is cut into the side of mountains that crash straight into the Tasman Sea.

At the end of this route, the eons-old ice of Franz Josef Glacier will provide an awe-inspiring but chilly end to this diverse road trip in New Zealand.

Queenstown to Milford Sound

photo by CC user Alex Proimos on Flickr

While there is much to love about Queenstown, which is rightly praised for being the adventure sports capital of the country (and perhaps the entire Southern Hemisphere), the adventure only begins there, as there is more of it to be found on the road to Milford Sound.

Heading along mountain lakes and through the pass that lets you squeeze past the Remarkables, you’ll then head through bucolic farmland to the gateway town of Te Anau. After stocking up on supplies, head north and west along deep fiords and thickly vegetated mountains until you get to Milford Sound.

Here, you’ll have the opportunity to take one of the most breathtaking boat cruises on Earth. No matter the weather, it will be an experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

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