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!

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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
south

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!
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Now go out and enjoy your NZ adventures!

Want to hear more about NZ? Read here!

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