Top Tips to Get the Most Out of a Self Drive Tour of New Zealand

What are the seven essential elements of a New Zealand self-drive tour vacation?

A self-drive holiday (vacation for our American friends) offers you a unique and memorable way to explore New Zealand at your own pace. We have extensive experience in travelling around New Zealand and putting together unforgettable vacations for our clients based on that experience. So, we’d like to pass on these top tips to help you get the most out of your Aotearoa New Zealand self-drive tour holiday/vacation.

1. Plan Your Route Wisely – we can help you!

We totally understand. You are making this trip and want to see as much as possible while you are here to make it worthwhile. Afterall, it’s human nature, when investing in a vacation, to want to make sure you are getting the most out of it.

But: be warned. It is a common pitfall for visitors to Aotearoa/NZ fall into. You want to visit and see everything in one go. Understandable. , But this approach can often see you driving a lot and stopping for only one night in a destination before moving on. This can be tiring and you miss a lot of the small highlights or charm that many of New Zealand’s towns have on offer.

We recommend you carefully research your destinations and plan your route in advance. It is really worth considering what you want from your holiday/trip. Is it relaxation, adventure, the great outdoors or some quiet immersion in nature?

Think about factors such as driving distance, road conditions, and attractions along the way. This is where working with a local trip planner can really help — we are here to help you with this all the way. (Hint: NZ doesn’t have a lot of interstate-style roads, which means travel is generally a slower than it is on multi-lane highways, and travel times often catch people out.)

2. Be Flexible with Your Itinerary – we can also help with this

Maori cultural performanceAllowing for and staying open to changes in your itinerary based on weather conditions, local events, or unexpected discoveries can make all the difference to a relaxed trip.

Self driving gives you the opportunity to embrace the freedom to deviate from your original plans and explore new opportunities that arise during your journey. And we will help you to ensure the pace you travel at allows for this.  Flexibility is one of the highlights of a self drive tour, so you want to allow for it in your planning.

3. Immerse Yourself in Local Culture

Time in each chosen destination is precious. Travelling at your own pace, gives you the opportunity to take time  to interact with locals. A bit more more time in each destination opens up space for sampling regional cuisine and participate in cultural activities. All of which serve to enrich your travel experience.

New Zealand has a rich and warm indigenous Maori culture. And we know of many activities and attractions you can experience which give you the opportunity to learn about and embrace the customs, traditions, and way of life in Aotearoa. It could be visiting a Maori carving centre, and experiencing a traditional Maori meal and concert. Or it could be immersing yourself in an overnight stay at a cultural lodge and experiencing hands on activities. Experiences like these will enrich your knowledge of New Zealand Maori culture and your overall New Zealand experience.

4. Embrace Spontaneous Adventures Along the Way

Mt Somers Walkway

Make time for some local short walks

A self drive tour offers the chance to experience spontaneous adventures and unexpected detours along the way. Explore a hidden trail spotted on a map. Stumble upon a local market. Stop to take advantage of an encounter with local wildlife.

Some of the most memorable experiences happen when you least expect them. Ensuring that your itinerary allows enough flexibility to allow you to embrace and enjoy the spontaneous opportunities that pop up is crucial and this is where our local knowledge can help you to factor in the right pace and time to get the most out of your trip.

5. Stay Safe and Informed

A common concern when undertaking a self drive tour is that you will be ‘on your own’. When you travel with us help is never hard to find. We give you a comprehensive itinerary with driving directions, tips of what to see along the way. And 24/7 support is available via a call to our support staff.

You can also prioritize your safety by adhering to speed limits, wearing seat belts, and avoiding distractions while driving. And we also advise that you stay informed about local regulations, road closures, and potential hazards. (We will always contact you if there is a weather event to be aware of that may affect your travel to ensure a smooth and secure journey.)

Walking in Greytown South WairarapaAvoid fatigue by taking regular breaks to stretch your legs, rest, and recharge. Use rest areas, scenic viewpoints, and local attractions as opportunities to relax and rejuvenate before continuing your journey.

When we help you plan your journey we try to ensure that there are no huge stints of driving in your itinerary and you have enough time to take things at your own pace.

6. Explore at Your Own Pace

You can say goodbye to strict timetables and rushed schedules! A self-driving tour vacation puts you in charge. Linger in charming villages. Embark on spontaneous adventures. Simply take a leisurely drive through scenic landscapes without feeling rushed. You can stop where you’d like to and decide to ease into the day with a later start to the day’s travel, if you want to.

7. If you must see it all – rely on the experts!

Road to Aorangi Mt Cook South Island New Zealand

Keeping an eye on the road can be a problem with views like these!

Even though we’ve warned of the pitfalls of trying to rush your way through the country we do understand that time is precious. Especially, with a destination like Aotearoa/New Zealand that takes some getting to. Sometimes you need to try to pack in the most that you can along the way.

Its all about making the most of the time you have. And we have a few tricks up our sleeves. Tricks that can help you ensure the pace of your tour is not too rushed but you still hit the main hotspots.

This may include a domestic flight between locations to cut down on travel time. Alternatively, it may mean tailoring your itinerary to your specific interests. This means you get to do and see things that you want to do. And it often means allowing 2-3 nights in each place to give you some down time… Afterall, this is a holiday. Right?

Why self drive on your New Zealand tour vacation?

A self-driving holiday of New Zealand, offers unparalleled freedom, flexibility, and adventure. It allows the We Tour team to help you craft the perfect travel experience tailored to your preferences. Seeking scenic landscapes, cultural immersion, or off-the-beaten-path adventures? Whatever your travel dreams, the open road beckons, ready to lead you on an unforgettable journey of discovery.

Our sample itineraries for North Island, South Island and NZ-wide self drive tours are a great start to planning an Aotearoa trip you will never forget. Talk to an expert tour planner today and start planning your dream New Zealand self-drive vacation