Top 6 Kiwi Driving Routes For Motorbikes, Cars And Motorhomes
Posted on March 2, 2016
If you’re moving to New Zealand and importing your personal vehicle or you’re using McCullough to ship something special into the country, chances are you’re looking forward to getting out on the open road.
Whether you’re on a motorbike, behind the wheel of a sportscar, wrangling the kids in a family car or stretching out in a motorhome, New Zealand offers some of the world’s best routes and roadtrips.
Northland’s west coast route from Auckland to Cape Reinga
This is a great route if you need to keep the family entertained or if you’re looking for a great, driveable road for a bike. Head north-west out of Auckland towards Dargaville, which is a great place for a coffee and a bite to eat before heading along the west coast towards Waipoua Kauri Forest where you can stop off to see the mighty Tane Mahuta giant kauri. Just north of the forest you come out at the high sand dunes, popular summer swimming spot and great fish and chip shop at Opononi. Following the Hokianga Harbour inland to Rawene you can catch the Kohu Ra Tuarua vehicle ferry across to Kohukohu and from there on to Kaitaia, Ahipara, Ninety Mile Beach and right up to Cape Reinga.
The Coromandel circuit
Another route easily reached out of Auckland is the relative peace and quiet of the Coromandel peninsula. Although at peak tourist season and the height of summer it tends to be quite busy, the picturesque scenery, native bush and rugged mountainous skyline – as well as well-maintained roads – make for a great bike route or long-weekend roadtrip in something small and zippy. From Thames, head north to Coromandel Town where there’s great food and all types of accommodation and then across to the east coast where stop-offs include Whitianga, Cooks Beach, Hahei and Hot Water Beach.
The East Cape
Although the simplest route between Whakatane and Gisborne is to continue on SH2 south of Opotiki, the winding, coast-hugging SH35 offers more than six hours and 334km of beautiful driving. It’s best to divide the drive into two if not three or four days and enjoy what’s on offer with the family. Te Kaha has a good campsite and resort, Waihau Bay is home to the much-photographed Raukokore Church, fishing trips, and accommodation, a turnoff from Te Araroa will get you to the East Cape lighthouse and Ruatoria and Tokomaru Bay both offer accommodation and great food. The final leg of the trip takes in the wonderful beaches of Anaura Bay, Tolaga Bay and Waikau Beach as well as Te Tapuwae o Rongokako marine reserve.
Napier to Marlborough via Wellington
This route involves experiencing two of the most famous aspects of New Zealand: our wine and our two islands. Starting in the art deco city of Napier, you can take three days travelling the 373km to the capital via the Wairarapa – the Mt Bruce wildlife sanctuary, Masterton, Carterton, Greytown and Featherston – before staying the night among the boutique vineyards, wineries and eateries of Martinborough. On to Wellington via the Hutt Valley and then across Cook Strait to Picton, from where you can get to the sauvignon blanc region of Marlborough centred around Blenheim. With 230 cellar doors along the route it’s no wonder that it’s been branded the Classic NZ Wine Trail.
The West Coast
With New Zealand’s Southern Alps immortalised in cinema thanks to Sir Peter Jackson’s Lod of the Rings and The Hobbit and the South Island’s windswept West Coast the subject of Booker Prize-winning novel The Luminaries, it makes sense to have a great New Zealand driving trip which incoporporates them both. The scenery on SH6 between Westport and Greymouth is simply stunning with the ocean on one side and the snow-topped alps on the other while a stop-off at Punakaiki to see the Pancake Rocks is a must for any first-time visitor. South of Hokitika you reach Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier and magnificent views of Aoraki Mt Cook before tuning inland at Haast and crossing Mount Aspiring National Park en route to Wanaka.
Queenstown to Milford Sound
The hustle and bustle of Queenstown with its international visitors and adventure tourism businesses makes it a great starting point for one of the county’s best drives – the 288km to Milford Sound. Yes, you’ll be accompanied by bus-loads of visitors, but the journey – especially the final two hours from Te Anau to the Sound – are one of the world’s greatest drives. Start out south with the lake on your right to Kingston and then climb through the mountains before turning on to SH97 and SH94 at Mossburn. Te Anau onwards you’ll see picture-perfect lakes, steep-sided cliffs and mountains, dense rainforest and the 1.2km long Homer Tunnel. It rains a lot in this part of the world, so just be way of the conditions.