5 Steps to plan a road trip in NZ

New Zealand! The great unknown! I really didn’t know much about NZ when we started planning this trip, but 3 Hobbit movies later and I felt like an expert! (Jk we actually researched and planned for about 1-2 weeks, but having some Lord of the Rings background never hurts )

The task of planning and organizing a 16-day road trip may seem daunting at first, but follow these 5 steps and you’ll be ready in no time!


Lake Wanaka, South Island NZ

Step 1: Plan your dates and buy those tickets!

  • How long do you want your trip to be? Which dates have the cheapest flights?
  • Are there seasonal events/activities you are travelling to see?
  • How will the weather be?
  • Buy your plane tickets, and book your transport method. We rented a Jucy Campervan

Step 2: Do some research 

  • Start doing some research online– although printed travel books/guides are popular, chances are you will get the most up to date info online
  • Ask around– friends and coworkers make the best resources!
  • Go on Instagram. No joke- look up some hashtags or start following accounts relating to your place of interest. There is a whole community of travelers and bloggers whose entire career is to share experiences!
  • Start making a list of your favorites. Organize by geography and try to estimate how long you would want to spend in each location.
island plan

Here’s a list of some of the sights we wanted to see

Step 3: Map it out

  • Using ye good ole Google Maps, map all the locations you’re looking at visiting, and move them around until your route makes sense.
  • Think about how much driving you will want to do each day, and how you can break up the legs

Here’s the route we took in the South Island

Step 4: Plan out your days

  • Start planning which activities you want to do each day
  • Color coding makes it easy to tell where you’re sleeping each night, and how much time you spend in each location
  • Including driving time helps set expectations for the day ahead
cal nz

Here is the full 16- day trip mapped out

Step 5: Finalize logistics

  • Once you’ve locked down which days you’re doing what, time to plan where you’ll sleep each night. Freedom Camping is a great way to find a parking spot for the night- free of charge. I think we alternated RV campsites and Freedom Camping. (No water/electricity hookups, or sewage dumps when freedom camping)
  • Book any other transport if necessary (we took flights from South to North island and vice versa)
  • Reserve tours if necessary – sometimes during peak season, attractions get busy. Hobbiton especially is good to buy ahead of time as it seems to be busy year-round!

Now go out and enjoy your NZ adventures!

Want to hear more about NZ? Read here!


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