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Don’t miss these drives on your New Zealand road trip

It’s no secret that driving in New Zealand is both scary and amazing. The scenery along pretty much every highway is so jaw dropping that it can be hard to keep your eyes on the road! To be honest I could pretty much write a post about beautiful drives that lists every single road in this country. Even the route we take to go to our local supermarket winds alongside the insanely blue Lake Wakitipu with views across towards the Remarkables mountain range. It’s ridiculous.

But so far in my adventures, it’s these particular drives that have stayed with me.

Coromandel Thames coast

It’s no surprise that this road was driven by Jeremy Clarkson during the Top Gear NZ special! It winds along the coast and offers great views across the bay.

thames coast

Sorry for the terrible photography – my skills have improved somewhat in the last 4 years…

Desert Road

The desert road takes you past some amazing middle earth sights – including Mt Doom! Explore this volcanic landscape and marvel at the hostile, but beautiful environment.

desert road mt doom

Source, because I formatted my memory card without saving my photos. Such a rookie error

The Waikato Region (aka driving through Hobbiton)

Ok this isn’t a specific road… But anywhere you drive in the Waikato region just feels like exploring an enormous set of Hobbiton. The undulating green hills seem like nothing more than a film set!

Best drives waikato female in purple dress spinning

Nothing to see here, just pretending to be a Hobbit in the Waikato.

Kenepuru Sound

The road that winds along the Kenepuru sound offers glimpses of the blue, sheltered ocean and beautiful green hills. If you’re lucky you might even spot some of the sound’s wildlife – dolphins call this place home!

Best drives kenepuru sound

Just a snap I took through the car window…

Nelson to Tanaka

The winding road from Nelson over to the Golden Bay region climbs up and over Takaka hill, offering stunning views down towards AbleTasmann national park and across towards Kahurangi national park.

Best drives nelson to tanaka

We were absurdly hungover on January 1st and we still enjoyed this drive

West Coast Drive

The road from Westport to Greymouth is wild, windy, and absurdly scenic. Dramatic cliffs are pounded by huge waves and the road traces the very edge of this powerful landscape.

Best drives west coast

The Wild West coast. Say that in a pirate accent and I dare you not to smile. Arrrgh!

Makarora – Wanaka

This road is especially great if you’ve just come down the west coast as it gives you your first glimpse at some of the famous lakes of the lakes region. You’re surrounded by mountains and glacial blue water – magic.

Best drives makaroa wanaka

The lookout at ‘the neck’ – a small gap between lake Wanaka and lake Hawea

Queenstown – Glenorchy

Consistently voted the best NZ drive, this short journey packs a lot in! Winding towards the alpine town of Glenorchy you can see towards Mt Aspiring national park, spot the glacier on Mt Earnslaw and of course admire the ever-changing blues of lake Wakitipu.

Best drives queenstown glenorchy

So much pretty.

Tekapo – Mt Cook

If there was ever a road designed for photo opportunities this would be it. Your entire windscreen is filled with Mt Cook and you have the bright blue of lake Pukaki (my favourite lake!) to reflect the mountains in.

best drives mt cook lake pukaki

What a ridiculous road.

Crown Range

The drive to the nearest town has never been so pretty, as you pass over the crown range and past the famous Cardrona ski resort. Watch this one in winter – it can get icy!

crown range road

I only pooped my pants a tiny bit driving a massive campervan on this road in the snow.

Lindis Pass

Drive the Lindis pass knowing that you’re on the highest state highway in the south island. The road follows a valley with dramamtic scenery on either side and can often be covered with snow in the winter.

lindis pass best drives

It beats the M6.


Have you done any of these drives? Are there any you’d add to the list?

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