What is the best way to travel around New Zealand?

Paul and his wife are planning a self-drive holiday around NZ and want some advice.

Paul and his wife are planning a self-drive holiday around New Zealand and want to know if they can do this and visit both the north and south islands without too much hassle.


Q. Paul
My wife and I have spent the past 12 months driving around the mainland of Australia. We rented a motorhome and had a really great time. Now we are thinking we would like to try something similar across the ditch in New Zealand. Obviously, this presents more of an issue as the country is two islands. What is the best way to go about over coming this problem and are there any other tips when taking a self-drive holiday around New Zealand?

A. Travelling between the two islands in a motorhome is surprisingly easy with the Interislander Ferry, which operates between Picton and Wellington. Most of the motorhome companies you hire off can even book your ticket on the ferry for you. One expert piece of advice is to try and book a trip on the Kaitaki ferry, which is the largest ferry crossing the Cook Strait. This is the only ship that loads from the bow at Wellington and discharges from the stern at Picton, which means you are already pointing in the right direction and can drive straight off when you arrive at your destination.

Most people drive north to south in New Zealand, but frequently this leaves a surplus of vehicles in Christchurch and Wellington. Doing a Christchurch to Auckland Self Drive holiday can give you a bigger choice of vehicles, and sometimes better rates.

One thing to keep in mind is the weather at the time you choose to travel. Snow is common on the South Island and this may have an impact on how you want to travel around New Zealand. During the winter months, some of the high road passes such as Arthur's Pass, Lindis Pass and Lewis Pass (effectively, the roads that join the east coast of the South Island to the west coast) might be closed following a heavy snowfall. However, road crews generally open these within a few hours of the storm passing.

Rental car companies do prohibit driving their vehicles on certain roads during certain hours (usually 11pm–6am) and seasons, so it is worth checking before you plan your itinerary.

Have you taken a motorhome around New Zealand? Do you have any advice for Paul?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    2nd Mar 2019
    When we did the NZ road trip, North Is;and first then South Island, the hire company arranged for our vehicle to be dropped off in Wellington and a replacement vehicle was waiting for us at Picton. They assisted us with transfers and luggage etc so everything worked out satisfactorily.
    2nd Mar 2019
    We spent 3 months with APOLLO touring both islands as a post retirement tour.
    Great rates for this long hire..but vehicle was an old Bedford.. (posited van). Well maintained and reliable. Performed well in all situations.
    3 months provided sufficient time to see everything that we wanted including places we missed a few years earlier on our tourer m/c. 1500cc proved the ideal machine for all roads.
    Thoroughly support any trip to NZ.
    2nd Mar 2019
    We've had 3 road trips to NZ in the last 7 years (North, South and both Islands), but hired a car, not motor home. We stayed in a variety of accommodation, with the majority having a kitchen and laundry facilities, therefore you don't need to take a lot of luggage. We bought a chill bag to store staples and bought food as needed. We found accommodation places that had bbq and outdoor seating areas where you meet other travellers. We costed the hire of a motor home, caravan park costs, fuel etc and found the costs similar. For the both Island trip, we left the car in Christchurch and flew to Auckland and hired another vehicle.
    double j
    2nd Mar 2019
    We have only driven a hire car in NZ but have driven our motorhomes in eastern and Western Europe using many ferry crossings We have taken our motorhomes up as far as the Shetland islands and across to Russia driving a RH drive vehicle on the LH side of the road so I think NZ would would be a price of cake. Enjoy the road !!

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