Take a New Zealand Road Trip

Self Drive Touring Around New Zealand

Why Self Drive? The scenery, the roads, the people, the freedom...

A pre-planned and expertly designed itinerary is a great way to explore New Zealand. Driving yourself adds that bit of freedom to set your own daily schedule, fit in your morning coffee ritual or divert off the beaten track a little. Self drive touring gives you a sense of independence with the security of well planned and pre-arranged bookings.

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Car on New Zealand road with kiwi signpost
New Zealand - Made for Touring

New Zealand has over 88,000kms of roads across the North & South Islands. By comparison the UK (a similar size country has over 400,000kms of roads and California has over 600,000kms. The population of New Zealand though is just 5 million and so 88,000kms is plenty! There are very few motorways or large multi-lane highways and even some of our 'state highways' are just 2 lane roads (one each way). This of course means that you aren't going to get around as fast as you might in other parts of the world - but that's all part of the charm of self-drive touring. Quieter roads, great scenery, and superb destinations at the end of your day.

Quick Facts:

  • We drive on the left, cars are right-hand drive (steering wheel on the right).
  • The maximum speed limit where indicated is 100kph (62mph). Rural and cities the maximum is 50kph (31mph) and often lower - observe the signs.
  • Virtually all rental vehicles are automatic transmissions. 
Take a look at some Self Drive Tour examples

New Zealand's South Island is home to much of the iconic scenery and imagery you may have read about. From golden sand beaches in Abel Tasman National Park to prehistoric forests of the West Coast, cool climate vineyards and wildlife rich oceans.
The North Island is home to over 3/4 of New Zealand's population and naturally has the largest cities. It offers a diverse range of scenery from the 'winterless' region of Northland to snow capped mountains of the central volcanic plateau.
Like 2 scoops of different flavour ice cream - you would if you could? The same rules apply here. If you have enough time to explore both islands - then do it! Often described as 'the world in miniature' a touring itinerary across the North & South Islands will highlight the true breadth of New Zealand's diversity.

Self Drive tours of New Zealand
Things you need to know
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Auckland Harbour Bridge lit up at night
Fuel, Insurance & Road Tolls

Depending on the vehicle you choose the fuel will be petrol (gasoline) or diesel. Fuel costs vary across the country but are in the range of NZ$3 per litre (NZ$12 per US gallon) for petrol and NZ$2.80 for a litre of diesel (NZ$11 per US gallon). NZ doesn't have its own reserves and is a long way from anywhere so yes, it is expensive compared to other parts of the world. Our custom itineraries will give you an estimate on how much you are likely to spend on fuel.
There are very few roads in New Zealand where a road toll is payable. This is a small cost and instructions on how to do this easily are well signposted as you approach the toll road.
Rental vehicle insurance is included with all our tailor-made itineraries. This will cover you for accidental damage to the vehicle or third party vehicles and property in the event of an accident. Deductible (excess amounts) amounts are quite low (even zero) depending on the car type and level of cover you choose. Our consultants can explain more if needed.

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Visitor to New Zealand renting a vehicle
Driving in New Zealand

The basic legal requirement is that you must have a valid overseas driving license or driving permit. For example, it must be a full license that allows you to drive the type of vehicle you wish to drive. It must be in English and if it is not you must carry an accurate and approved translation, you can find an approved translator here.
Most rental companies have restrictions on renting vehicles to anyone under 21 (for some this is as high as 25). If you have current valid mobility permit you may also be able to obtain a temporary New Zealand permit. In addition to these requirements we strongly advise you make yourself familiar with the New Zealand Road Code. You can see this and more information here. Talk to us if you have more questions about your validity to drive.