9 New Zealand Road Trip Essentials
Two long weekends in a row. What more could you ask for! With a Monday off work for Auckland Anniversary this week, and another day off Waitangi Day next week, the roads out of Auckland have been chaos! It’s funny how most JAFA’s (Aucklanders) use this public holiday dedicated celebrating our city as an excuse to get out of it! But I guess there’s nothing more Kiwi than a summer road trip, right?
When it comes to seeing New Zealand, a roadie is definitely the way to do it, because sometimes the destination is just as beautiful as the journey. From mountains to pastures to rugged coastlines, you can't drive for two hours in New Zealand without the scenery around you completely changing. So whether you’re a local who’s escaping the big smoke, or here from overseas, here are some of my New Zealand road trip essentials that I’m pretty certain you’ll love too:
1. A KIWI MUSIC PLAYLIST
No road trip is complete without good music. Why not create the ultimate playlist, with songs by New Zealand artists to enjoy as you explore their home? There’s nothing quite like driving through our pretty little country listening to Six60, Katchafire, Split Enz, Lorde and some good old Dave Dobbyn!
2. SPONTANEOUS SWIMMING STOPS
In New Zealand, you’re never far from water. We’ve got an abundance of lakes, rivers, beaches and waterfalls for you to cool off in. Pulling over for a quick dip makes driving on a hot summers day a whole lot more bearable! One of my favourite memories is stopping at a certain spot in the Karangahake Gorge to jump off a bridge into the water to cool off on the midsummer's drives between Auckland and Tauranga. Always make sure that where you’re swimming is safe before you jump in!
3. TAKEAWAY FISH AND CHIPS
You just can’t go on an NZ roadie without stopping for “fush and chups”. Stop at shanty local takeaway stores in the middle of nowhere, order a fresh batch of the deep fried goodness and take your paper-wrapped parcel and some Wattie's tomato sauce down to the nearest beach, park or paddock.
Sure, wherever you’re going will be awesome but so is the rest of New Zealand! Why not schedule some extra holiday time to take a little detour. You never know what local gems and hidden wonders you’ll stumble upon.
5. ICE-CREAM BY THE SCOOP
Nowhere does ice-cream like New Zealand does. While ice-cream parlours, supermarket and even the petrol station are perfectly acceptable places to buy ice-cream, there's nothing more Kiwi than getting a big scoop of ice-cream from a dairy (the Kiwi word for corner store). Pokeno Takeaways, just south of Auckland, is renowned for MASSIVE scooped ice creams. You can get up to twelve scoops! What a great way to try every amazingly unusual Kiwi flavour of ice-cream! From Hokey Pokey to Goody Goody Gumdrops to Phish Food - it's no wonder we're the biggest ice-cream consuming nation in the world!
** Disclaimer - This is an old photo taken in winter, I promise the NZ summer doesn't get this cold!
6. HIDDEN HOT POOLS ALL MAPPED OUT
Active fault lines below New Zealand make it a geothermal paradise and there are there are naturally heated thermal pools dotted all over the country. Before you leave on your journey, why not do a quick Google to see if there’s any on the way to where you’re going? It’s the perfect way to relax your muscles when they’re all tensed up from holding the steering wheel for so long.
7. A CLASSIC KIWI MEAT PIE
Whether you prefer steak and pepper or mince and cheese, or even a vegetarian one - you can't pass on a pie! New Zealand's pies aren't like the sugar-laden pastries you find in America. They're hearty, piping hot, filled with savoury fillings and just plain delicious! You'll find them at local bakeries, cafés, service stations and convenience stores all over NZ. The best pie in the country is a disputed matter though. Taupo residents swear by their local Paetiki bakery, Cantabrians love tucking into a pie at Fairlie Bakehouse and people in Otago can't go past one of Jimmy's. I'd say why not just try them all? But just remember - always blow on the pie!
8. SHEEP SPOTTING
In a country of 4.6 million people and 30 million sheep, New Zealanders cop every sheep joke under the sun. You’re sure to spot some sheep on your roadie and I dare you to jump a paddock fence to take a selfie with one!
With wide open spaces and clear skies, stargazing is a must when it comes to breaking up long nights of driving. As the sun sinks below the horizon and the stars come out, stop at a paddock, jump out of the car and stare into the heavens. See if you can point out the Southern Cross constellation that’s on the New Zealand flag. If you're lucky, in the right conditions and far enough south, you may even see the auroras of the Southern Lights. My favourite spot for stargazing is Lake Tekapo, in the South Island. It has the clearest skies in the Southern Hemisphere.