Plan the Perfect Family Road Trip Through New Zealand’s South Island

road leading into the snow capped mountains on south island new zealand

A road trip of New Zealand’s South Island is a one-of-a-kind adventure and must be on your family travel bucket list. From enchanted valleys to beautiful scenery and balmy weather, this road trip offers more than just a family vacation.

This all-in-one guide is your one-stop solution to help you prepare for your amazing road trip in your campervan. We have also added a few essential stops for creating lasting memories through the South Island.

This post is part of our series Discover New Zealand

A Few Safe Driving Rules In New Zealand

When it comes to planning, you need first to be mindful of the driving conditions you will face in New Zealand. Be aware that the roads are pretty narrow and steep, so don’t underestimate the total travel time between points on a map. You can use this calculator to calculate travel time accurately.

Also, never go over speed limits and be aware of all the safe speed guidelines. Speeding may seem thrilling and get you to your destination quickly, but on New Zealand’s roads, it is life-threatening, not to mention you’ll likely receive hefty fines.

Also, you need to possess a driver’s license in English, or an International Drivers Permit. Cars drive on the left-hand side and make sure you know about different railway crossing warnings.

The most important road rule is not to use your phone while driving since it is illegal here. Moreover, ensure that seat belts are on for you and all passengers at all times.

caution kiwis crossing sign on a forest road south island new zealand
Take care driving on New Zealand’s roads

Things To Take Care Of Driving A Campervan In New Zealand

Now prior to venturing on the roads, you need to remember a few things and be prepared for them for a hassle-free trip. This will help you create lasting memories with a memorable campervan rental trip through New Zealand.

1.  Avoid Getting Tired

Driving through the Kiwi roads can be quite taxing for your body and can turn your leisure trip into a whole lot of work. So, avoid fatigue at all costs. For that, follow the given tips:

  1. Take plenty of rest before every long drive.
  2. Allow ample rest time so that you drive safely between each destination.
  3. While driving, if your attention gets diverted, safely pull over on the side of the road and take a nap.

2.  Campervan Parking Rules

You should be well aware of all the nearby campsites for safe parking your campervan; otherwise, you will have to pay instant fines for illegal parking. It will be best if you make prior reservations for hassle-free parking. Not only this, travelling on roads doesn’t provide the opportunity to dispose of your waste on the roads. It’s essential to look for appropriate dump stations along your journey to avoid any issues later.  

3.  Say no to Alcohol and drugs

Remember, your driving skills are affected by Alcohol and drugs. The drugs have an impact on your senses and slow down your reaction times. So, it is best for the safety of everyone to refrain from driving under the influence of any kind of alcohol or drugs.

4.   Weather-related hazards

Keep the weather app handy to get instant notifications if there is bad weather. It is best to avoid driving during bad weather conditions, especially during the months of winter and early spring. 

5.   Beware of Busy season

Any long holiday weekends like Easter and Christmas in New Zealand are times when local’s are travelling too and you should expect more traffic jams. Thus, it is recommended to steer clear of being on the road or drive more cautiously during these times.

6.  Keep All The Apps And Websites Handy

There are a plethora of applications that can help you plan your entire trip. The journey planner website provides regular updates on roadwork, delays, and estimated travel time. 

Essential Stops To Visit During Campervan Road Trip In New Zealand’s South Island

Have a look at all the top stops that will help you enjoy a fun-filled family trip to New Zealand in your campervan.

  1. Milford Road: This scenic road experience has many significant points to visit. You will love how you’ll walk into Fiordland National Park and enjoy the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage area.
  2. Mackenzie Basin: This largest intermontane basin area offers unique landscapes that are a mystical sight in New Zealand.
  3. Arthur’s Pass: With the view of the highest pass over the Southern Alps, you will enjoy tramping here.
  4. Haast Pass: An explorer’s paradise, Haast is a renowned place for its remote experience, where you can enjoy both fishing and hunting 
  5. Queenstown: This majestic town has many beautiful experiences to enjoy, especially Coronet Peak and Crown Range.
haast pass new zealand south island road trip

Now you have all the vital points to prepare for your New Zealand road trip. These valuable points will help you have a terrific road trip and allow you to reach your destination safely. Now all you need to do is pack your bags and hop on to this lifetime adventure.

Make sure you take this road trip slowly and have regular breaks so that you savour the views and enjoy your journey through the South Island to the fullest.

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scenic road through the mountains south island new zealand
A long road leading towards lake and mountains on New Zealands south island

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