Think of scenic landscapes and New Zealand is often among the first places you think of. Its two main islands, located in the south-western Pacific Ocean, are home to everything from vast mountainous landscapes to deserted beaches, volcanoes and glaciers.

This makes it a haven for road trippers, as car or camper van hire options provide the flexibility for visitors to explore the North and South Islands as they please. Alongside flights into the main international hub at Auckland, other airports in Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin provide ample start and end points for some truly epic journeys.

Christchurch to Queenstown

Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo

Covering around 600 km and linking two of the South Island’s main cities, this New Zealand road trip takes in the scenic beauty of Lake Tekapo, a region famed for its dark skies and stargazing. From there, it follows State Highway 8 and an alpine stretch known as Lindis Pass, complete with snow topped peaks and hiking trails. Wanaka is the gateway to the glaciers and forests of Mount Aspiring National Park, while Queenstown is home to ice bars, bungee jumping and skydiving.

From Queenstown, you can also head west to explore the renowned Milford Sound, a striking landscape packed with wildlife and adventure. Taking in all the breath-taking scenery will keep you busy, but don’t miss the chance to get pulses racing with some high-speed jetboating on Lake Te Anau.

Christchurch to Queenstown, via Dunedin and Invercargill

Moeraki Boulders
Moeraki Boulders

An alternative route from Christchurch and Queenstown, is to go via Dunedin and Invercargill. The 950 km route hugs much of the coast, and there is plenty to spy on the way, including the heritage town of Oamaru with its thriving foodie scene. Spy the Moeraki Boulders on route, a set of spherical stones dating back millions of years, and enjoy wildlife spotting in Dunedin, the home of the sea lion, albatross and yellow-eyed penguin colonies. Embark on a journey through heritage automobiles at Bill Richardson Transport World in Invercargill, before taking in the scenery along State Highway 6 as you return north to Queensland.

Auckland and Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands
Bay of Islands - Auckland

Although limited in scope, this route takes in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, as well as kilometres of rugged coastline. Popular with hikers and road trippers, you’ll find plenty of scenic shots all over social media documenting its golden sands, tranquil harbours and vast forests. Look out for dolphins around the Bay of Islands, a subtropical region with nearly 150 islands to the north of Auckland and take a deep dive into Māori culture. Or venture out to Waiheke Island, just a 40-minute ferry from Auckland, for vineyards, olive groves and a distinctive boho vibe. This is a region to explore at your own pace, as you’ll need time to take in its abundance of natural wonders.

Auckland to Wellington

Pohutu Geyser
Pohutu Geyser

Criss-crossing the North Island, this 775 km route promises everything from Lord of the Rings’ movie sets to bubbling geysers, volcanoes and some of New Zealand’s prime wine country.

Explore the Hobbiton movie set from Peter Jackson’s popular franchise near Matamata, before marvelling at Rotorua’s bubbling mud pools and the Pohutu Geyser. Stop off at Lake Taupo to spy the volcanic landscape, before heading east to Napier for art deco architecture and wineries on the coast.

The region is bursting at the seams with Māori culture, while Martinborough is also renowned for its wine. Finish this route among the lively streets of the world’s southernmost capital city, Wellington. Be sure to jump aboard its cable car for some of the best views of the city.

Insurance you should consider if you are travelling to USA and renting a car Car Hire Excess Insurance and Travel Insurance from Questor Insurance.