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9 things to NEVER do on your New Zealand road trip

Since moving to new Zealand I’ve been endlessly surprised. By both the stunning scenery, and the thing that some people are trying to pass off as driving. Seriously guys, I’ve never seen anything like it! And if the girl who took 5 attempts to pass her test (true story) thinks you’re driving a little erratically…well, that’s probably not a good sign.

So if you’re planning a road trip around New Zealand, PLEASE don’t do these things!

campervan new zealand mount cook roadtrip jucy south island

Honestly, why would you even want to drive in New Zealand? The Birmingham ring road is way nicer.

DON’T…Drive on the right

To Brits and Aussies this might seem like an obvious one. Heck, even to all you right side weirdos this might seem self-explanatory. But you’d be terrified and surprised at just how many people seem to forget which side to drive on! Many rentals cars have a handy sticker reminding tourists to drive on the left but it seems that many forget. You haven’t had a proper New Zealand experience until a 12 foot campervan ahead of you repeatedly swerves across the middle line.

DON’T…forget to add extra time for photo stops

Sure, your satnav might tell you the drive is going to take 2 hours. But by the time you’ve stopped for that scenic walk, scenic lookout and 46275 waterfalls you’ll be lucky to make it by nightfall. Always add an hour or so on to your estimate to give yourself ample opportunity for photo ops.

When theres view like this at every turn you WILL double your journey time stopping to take photos.

DON’T…Drive like a nana

Look – it’s cool if you don’t feel comfortable enough to go at the speed limit. It’s a limit not a target after all. But driving at 50 in a 100 zone? That’s just downright dangerous and, frankly, a sign that you shouldn’t be driving at all.

DON’T…refuse to let others pass

You see all those handy slow vehicle turn outs? Consider using them if you’re driving slower than most, or have a queue of cars following you for half a mile. It’s common courtesy to your fellow motorists. Likewise, if you’re in overtaking lanes consider slowing down a little to let faster drivers pass while a safe opportunity is available.

DON’T…Drive tired

If you’re feeling woozy then consider taking a break rather than pushing through. The roads in New Zealand aren’t exactly straight and all those bends and hills require alertness. All of those mountains look beautiful but they don’t exactly encourage driving in a straight line. Find an awesome lookout and stop for a rest, the good news is there’s always going to be a beautiful view!

Not your average highway. Especially with snow.

DON’T…Pull over for photos

Yes I know – New Zealand is the world’s most photogenic country. But braking sharply and veering halfway off the road is going to kill someone. As is parking your car across half of a lane and standing in the middle of the road to take a photo.

…or take one hand off the wheel to snap through your windscreen!

If you want to take a snap wait for the next lookout point. I promise you that the photos you treasure forever are not going to be the ones with a blurry foreground or half your window in it.

lake hawea lookout

The ONLY photo I’ve taken while we were moving that came out okay. Any guys? I wasn’t driving at the time!

DON’T…Forget to use your indicators (or use them incorrectly!)

This isn’t just a New Zealand thing, people seem to forget how to use their indicators the world over! Think back to the ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’ mantra you were taught on your driving test – it wasn’t just a helpful suggestion.

DON’T…Park in spaces unsuited to your vehicle

Cramming your motorhome into a teeny tiny parking space with the bum hanging out will result in a group of locals convening to point and laugh. It’s a national pastime now, don’t judge us. You’re also likely to receive a scrape from a passing car and lose your security deposit. Not cool.

Actual photos from driver around Queenstown. Source.

DON’T…drive aggressively

Look, I know you’re super excited to see this amazing country. Of course you’re eager to get to your first stop! But please don’t pull out in front of other motorists in order to get ahead. You’re going to cause a crash – and that’s really going to ruin your road trip itinerary. If I had a dollar for every time we’ve been forced to slam the breaks on to avoid a collision because some douche decides he’s too busy to wait? Well, we’d be able to afford a much nicer car.


What do you think – if you’ve roadtripped New Zealand are there any others you’d add? 

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2 Comments

  • Reply Taryn

    Possibly don’t have a nervous breakdown as every single driver charges behind and stays within an inch of your bumper despite there being no where to pull over. Stay calm and try not to swear out of the window!

    February 10, 2017 at 11:23 pm
    • Reply Cheskie

      Oh man, sometimes the locals can be as bad as the tourists! I’ve seen some crazy driving since we arrived!

      February 11, 2017 at 1:26 pm

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