New Zealand is a country that needs little to no intro. Stunning landscapes, warm locals and a very high level of life that could suddenly turn you into a budget traveler if you are not careful welcome an increasing number of visitors yearly.
But with such an array of great places to check out there, which spots should definitely make it into your road trip?
1. New Zealand Road Trip Map
2. New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
2.1. The South Island of New Zealand
Choosing the South Island to begin your New Zealand epic road trip adventure is a great idea as you can extend as much as you want your time in – in our humble opinion – the most beautiful island of the country.
Here’re the stops you cannot miss as you road trip your way around New Zealand:
1. Mount Sunday
The first stop could not be more iconic.
2. Kaikoura Seal Colony
Seal spotting anyone?
3. Milford Sound
A beautiful open water area.
4. The Catlins
You will wonder where all the craggy rocks came from.
This one will make you feel like you are on a fantasy world.
6. Routeburn Track
A rather nice strip of land that will help you see across the valley where it sits.
7. Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony
An interesting place where blue penguins congregate.
Wineyards and sprawling hills that are home to many farms.
9. Nugget Point Lighthouse
What you were looking forward at sunset.
10. Ohau Stream Walkway and Waterfall
A lovely place where you may see wildlife that include wild otters.
11. Lake Matheson
Surrounded on all sides by tranquil woods.
12. Takaka Hill
A great lookout spot, don’t you agree?
13. Fox Glacier
An interesting place that you must partake in if you want to know of the pristine beauty of New Zealand. A breath away from the south pole, this glacier reminds us how cold this part of the world may be.
14. Abel Tasman National Park
Part of the coast where you may see clear waters and a number of protected wildlife.
Venture here to see one of the major cities of the country, and you will find it both busy and peaceful at the same time.
16. Taieri Gorge Railway
One of the best rides in the world that will take you to the gorge where you have an amazing view in a colorful train car that is unlike any other.
A lovely place where you will see the land as it appeared thousands of years ago. There’s nothing but flat grasses and kind people in their villages to visit.
18. Mount Tasman
An amazing place that rises above the softness of the landscape.
One of the larger cities in New Zealand, where you can find almost anything you might need to continue your way around the country.
20. Wharariki Beach
A nice place to surf or simply relax with the rolling waves hitting the shore.
21. Otago Central Rail Trail
A location where the rail once stood, it is now a path you may hike for as long as you like.
22. Farewell Spit
Home of lots of different birdlife species.
A rather stunning spot when you can witness the cascading hills that drop directly into the sea.
2.2. The North Island of New Zealand
Take a ferry to the North Island to continue exploring New Zealand’s busiest region.
24. Wai-O-Tapu, Rotorua
How beautiful is this one?
25. Ruakuri Cave
Fancy venturing into the ground? Then check this one out!
26. Mount Taranaki
This mount is just behind Cape Egmont Lighthouse, in the next stop.
27. Cape Egmont Lighthouse
These two make a lovely picture when you are on the ground near the lighthouse. The lighthouse has protected boats from the coast for years, and the mountain is a lovely place where you may take a hike if you so choose.
28. Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve
This spot has high rocks on all sides. The cove itself will protect any boat, and it is a beautiful place to rest as you cannot be seen on any side.
29. Koutu Boulders
Lovely rock formations that are nearly perfect spheres. This beach feels like an open-air modern art exhibit.
30. Hobbiton Movie Set
Tolkien fans, this is your home.
31. Waitomo Glowworm Caves
With its millions of glowworms on the walls, this one is high on everyone’s list.
32. Tongariro National Park
A rather beautiful place that was named by the aborigines long ago. It features lovely rocks and hills that are fun to hike.
33. Aranui Cave
Another cave near the coast worth checking out.
A quaint town that will remind you of the English cities of the Victorian era.
Along with the previous one, Auckland and Wellington are the two major cities on the North Island and they are both industry and commerce hubs.
36. Lake Rotorua
A spot where you pass through to find nothing but lakes and nice villages.
37. Ninety Mile Beach
This stop is actually about 55 miles long, and it is a public highway that you may drive up and down to the tip of the island.
38. Waikato River
Whether you are into fishing or just witnessing the wildlife, Waikato river should be yet another stop on your road trip.
39. Huka Falls
Among the most beautiful in the country.
40. Putangirua Pinnacles
A high point that will lead you down to Piha Beach.
41. Piha Beach Auckland
Perfect to surf, relax or take a dip in the waters of the Pacific.
2.3. Extra Locations
Moving on to several outer locations on the islands will improve your trip. You may need to take a boat or ferry to get to each place, and they will all be worth your visit. Poor Knights Islands and White Island are great scuba diving spots. But there’s more:
42. Moeraki Boulders
A spot that will remind you of other formations that have simply appeared over the centuries.
43. Bay of Islands
See many small islands along with playful dolphins.
44. Hot Water Beach
A place where the water is naturally warm!
45. Waiheke Island
Just off the coast, and worth checking out.
3. The Conclusion
New Zealand is an untouched paradise filled with kind people and visiting its stunning landscapes and towns could feel as walking into a movie set. Whether you have time enough to make it everywhere on your list or not, bear in mind that the trick is to adjust this itinerary to your needs and wants.
Enjoy and don’t forget to check out other great road trip itineraries like this one of a 1 week Andalusia adventure or this other one on the best 50 stops of an Iceland road trip!