Franz Josef Glacier Guides’ top travel tips on self-drive in New Zealand

Looking for the ultimate road trip? 

You may just find it in New Zealand. 

Woven throughout the North and South Islands of New Zealand there are scenic drives that will leave your jaw dragging behind the rental car.

Driving in New Zealand offers stunning scenery but it also offers some challenging conditions.

Before you set off on your ultimate roadie, make sure you know how things work on the roads in New Zealand.

unique south island scenery4

This is not London! There’s no Tube to jump on at anytime of the day or night.  In fact, there is very little public transport once you’re out of the major centres.  So if you’re looking to explore the road less travelled, your options are to join a tour bus trip, or brush up on your road rules and drive yourself.

There is no shortage of amazing scenery but be aware that it may not always be easy driving. 

But it will always be worth it.

Some things to expect when driving in New Zealand

- One-lane bridges - do you know what to do?

- Single-lane highways – do you know the etiquette?

- Left-hand side – that’s the side of the road we drive on here (it may be different to what comes naturally).

- Dangerous roads.  Did you know the Skippers Road in Queenstown was recently ranked in the Top 22 most dangerous roads in the world?

- Deceiving maps.  Yes, the distance may not look very far on the map but often roads are windy, hilly and single lane.  Travel may take longer than you think.

Hey, if it were too easy there would be a lot more than 4.5 million people living here.



Some good advice...


Our best advice is to do your research on the roads you’re planning to travel and make sure you know the New Zealand road rules.  Don’t rush, soak it all in and give yourself plenty of time to get to the next destination.  And above all else, don’t miss out!  There are spectacular self-drive trips to be had in New Zealand.  Some of our favourites are:  Te Anau to Milford, South IslandThames to Coromandel Peninsula, North IslandArthur’s Pass from Christchurch to Greymouth

And the scenic self-drive trip you don’t want to miss out ON in New Zealand…..

The West Coast Scenic Route

This is a journey that ticks all the boxes… rugged coastline, waterfalls, sheer rock gorges, rainforest, beaches, glaciers and the Southern Alps.  Finishing in Franz Josef Glacier where you’ll need to rest up before planning your glacier adventure.


Check out the Tourism New Zealand website for some excellent ideas on self-drive itineraries.  And there’s lots of helpful information on driving in New Zealand on the NZTA website.

Enjoy your drive, and we’ll see you on the ice.