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.
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.
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.