Tripping in New-Zealand by public transport is a hard thing to do, so you’d better rent a car for optimal experiences. Lot of the beauty is situated across the roads. It’s fun to be able to stop here and there for a lookout, dipping in a (very cold) lake or go hiking somewhere you didn’t planned to. A lot of top activities are located on places which you can reach very easily by car, but the buss doesn’t stop there.
Here are some winter driving tips and experiences we had:
1) You can drive up to 80 km/hour on average. In the Northern island it goes easier. Don’t forget to count in some extra time for stops.
2) The government takes very good care to keep the roads ice-free. During our 3-week-trip, we had just 1 snowy condition during 5 minutes.
3) The weather can change very quick, it is always safe to rent some snow chains by the car rental company. You probably don’t need them, unless you want to drive to ski-areas. But better safe then sorry.
4) When you leave in the morning, check the website if there are any roads closed.
5) Bigger car rental companies are very expensive. In NZ you can choose for a smaller, local one : Omega Car Rentals.
Here you don’t have to pay a translocation fee and the car-cost is way cheaper.
We need to say : the car was not as clean as we used to with the bigger companies, but it still was clean enough and a bit of sand here and there … It has its charms.
They also arrange the interisland ferry if you want to. You can choose to take the car with you for 180 NZD extra, or you can also do a car change in Picton or Wellington. The company is located very close to the ferry.
Overall : don’t let the wintery conditions scare you, but be always prepared. Rent a car and enjoy the freedom!
Written by Lien Smet & Cody De Meersman