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New Zealand's Christchurch to Auckland road trip is a great introduction to the land of the long white cloud,  it gives you a terrific look at both islands, it offers cultural highlights, natural wonders, vineyards, and activities for the funloving and adventure seekers alike.  If the boss will only give you a week off you can cover the distance and get a taste of van life. 

New Zealand is the best destination in the world to earn your stripes with a motorhome or campervan.  After this, the world is your oyster. 

Here are the highlights to help you embark on your first road trip to Aotearoa. 

Christchurch to Kaikoura would be your first leg, Kaikoura is a marine wonderland – this is your spot for Whale-watching trips and spotting other marine mammals. 

Stay - Top 10 Holiday Park Kaikoura 

Kaikoura to Picton - Blenheim town is the heart of the Marlborough wine region. Depending on how much time you dedicate to this area you might also like to take in Nelson 

Stay - Spring Creek Holiday Park,  Spring Creek is just 5 minutes outside Blenheim 

Top 10 Holiday Park Marlborough, is in Picton 25 minutes from Blenheim and where you get the interisland ferry from.

Picton to Wellington - Interislander Ferry is a 3 1/2 hour spectacular cruise through the Cook Strait.  The drive-on-off Ferry has food and drinks onboard but the important thing is to make sure you have a good view. If the Interislander is full try the Bluebridge Ferry.

Wellington - Apart from walking around the city's waterfront, the must-do's of Wellington include the Te Papa Museum of NZ and the Cable Car from the center of town to the top of town for commanding views of this beautiful little city. 

Stay - Top 10 Holiday Park Lower Hutt - is about 15 minutes from the city center

Wellington to Martinborough - The charming town of Martinborough is only an hour from Wellington and is the central point for the wineries of the area.  Martinborough is the start of the Rimutaka Cycle Trail and a dark skies destination. 

Stay - Top 10 Holiday Park Martinborough 


Martinborough to Palmerston North - en route stop in at the Pukaha National Wildlife Center, they have a captive breeding program for Kiwis.  When you arrive in PN you will need to worship at the NZ Rugby Museum and then get some 'real' culture on at the Te Manawa Museum and Art Gallery.  A drive to have a look at Manawatu Gorge should also be on your checklist. 

Stay - Palmerston North Holiday Park

Palmerston North to Taupo via Mt Ruapehu -  Mt Ruapehu is one of the peaks that forms part of the UNESCO Dual World Heritage Tongariro National Park and The Sky Waka Gondola is your ticket to seeing the craggy landscape that rises to an altitude of 2020m over the 1.8km ride. On a short trip, this is a great way to experience Tongariro NP.

Stay - Top 10 Holiday Park Taupo

Taupo - In Taupo, there is a broad spectrum of activities from Jetboat rides, Thermal pools,  Lake cruises, Trout fishing, Fly fishing, White water rafting, Bungy get the picture!

Explore the natural geysers at Rotorua. Photo by Matthew Hunt on Flickr.

Taupo to RotoruaRotorua probably needs no introduction as being the center of Maori culture in NZ as well as the geothermal experiences.  Whatever activities you didn't have time to do in Taupo you can do in Rotorua along with a fantastic forest suspension bridge, a giant maze, ziplining, and go-carting.

Stay - Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park 

or Top 10 Holiday Park Blue Lake 

Rotorua to Auckland via Waikato - If you are into middle earth or even if you're not you will find the Hobbiton movie set tour fascinating. 

Tip - Join the Top 10 Holiday Park Club or if you are Australian and already had a BIG 4 Holiday Park membership you will get reciprocal rights.  Use your membership to get 10% discount on park site fees and 15% off the Interislander Ferry. 

There is nothing not to love about a New Zealand road trip. As soon as you're home you will start planning to go back for more. 




Shelley Richardson

Shelley Richardson

Shelley has been working in the travel industry for over 30 years, in aviation, for tour operators and since 2016 for DriveNow. Having travelled extensively worldwide, alone, as a couple and with her family, Shelley has experience to share about how to make the most of your holiday, especially road-trips to amazing destinations.

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