If you’re keen to explore New Zealand’s incredible landscapes at your own pace and with the freedom to stop off between destinations, then a self-drive is the perfect option.
People drive on the left in New Zealand, and lots of single lanes as well as little traffic make it an easy country to explore by car. Some of the coastal roads take you remarkably close to the water’s edge where you can spot seals sunning themselves on the rocks, while a drive through magnificent native forest feels as though you are entering a fairy kingdom. Soaring mountains and glistening lakes are an incredibly scenic backdrop and rolling green hills make you long to explore Hobbiton. It’s ideal if you can share the driving so that you get the chance to enjoy the views without having to keep your eyes on the road.
Our suggested self-drive itineraries depart from Auckland and take you across the North Island and the South Island, visiting must-see destinations and the main attractions.
Choice of cars
We work with a number of different car hire partners. Choose from a range of cars, from small economy and compact vehicles to full-size vans and SUVs. All of the cars are easy to drive and most of them are automatic (typically Group B up).
Drivers must be 21 and present a full licence held for a minimum of 12 months. For all rentals, the licence must be in English, or a foreign licence with an International Driving Permit (IDP).
Car hire inclusions can vary but typically include unlimited mileage, Goods & Services Tax (GST) and Standard Insurance with full excess. Most providers offer an inclusive upgrade option that reduces your excess.
A one-way fee plus GST is applicable for all one-way rentals of seven days or less.
You can still benefit from continuous hire with rentals from two locations, e.g. North and South Islands, within one itinerary, provided the next vehicle is collected the same day.
A motorhome holiday is an amazing way to explore New Zealand – you have all your creature comforts with you in a home-away-from-home and the flexibility to travel at your own pace. All motorhomes from our partner, maui, are easy to drive with automatic transmission and an in-vehicle tablet with ‘Like a Local’ GPS system. Amenities include air-conditioning and heating, a gas stove, fridge, shower and a flat-screen TV so you can travel in comfort. maui’s motorhomes are all environmentally sensitive with solar panels and low fuel consumption.
You can choose from a selection of motorhomes and packages depending on your needs – from more affordable models from maui’s sister company, Britz, to a maui Inclusive pack which includes Wi-Fi data allowance so you can keep connected while on the move.
It’s important to take note of specific driving restrictions that apply to rentals in New Zealand. If your rental vehicle is driven over the restricted roads/areas detailed in your Rental Agreement, your insurance coverage will be void. Your vehicle must only be used on roads that are properly formed and constructed as sealed, metalled or gravel roads. Vehicles cannot be driven on beaches or through streams, dams, rivers or floodwater, and cannot be taken onto any boat or ferry. Travellers using the Interislander ferry service will travel as foot passengers and collect another hire car when they reach the other side.
Outside of the cities you can drive for miles without passing any petrol stations so it’s worth filling up when you can. There are a number of hilly, narrow or winding roads so your journey may take longer than expected.
Good to know
In New Zealand you are not permitted to park facing oncoming traffic so make sure you park on your side of the road.
A number of our car hire packages with our local representative, AOT, include a personalised co-pilot kit. This provides you with all of the practical information you need to navigate the roads, plan your journey and make the most out of your New Zealand self-drive adventure. You can also add this co-pilot kit to any tailor-made self-drive itinerary.
• Driving instructions
• Detailed day-by-day itinerary description and directions
• Road atlas and city maps
• Local visitor guides
• Discount offers for various attractions
• Handy back pack.
We’ve picked our favourite New Zealand self-drive itineraries to give you a little inspiration. You can easily tailor each itinerary to work your schedule or preferences as they’re suggested routes. This flexibility means you can choose how long you go for, choose your preferred hotel and add detours or visits to big local attractions.
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