The first time I knew about the spectacular natural landscapes of New Zealand was watching the movie “Lord of the rings” in 2001. Since then, New Zealand has always been at the top of my wish list. After many times planned and then canceled for many reasons, until 2016, I was finally able to visit this beautiful country.
New Zealand is reasonable small island nation, famous for its wild picturesque sceneries, stretching from north island to south island. Its populations are little and scattered, while public transportation is concentrated in major cities. Therefore, the best way to fully discover the splendid beauty of New Zealand is self-driving. This was the first time I was the main and the only driver of the group, plus the car was right-hand wheel, hence I was either excited or nervous with this important mission.
14 days driving in the South Island of New Zealand was the first road trip that I was the main driver. We were continuously astounded by the pristine and magnificent nature of this small country. Charming and quaint cities and towns, the as-immense-as -the-sea freshwater lakes with uniquely remarkable blue, the towering limestone mountains huddled alongside with the massive white glaciers and the endless indescribable coastline. New Zealand is the showcase of all those spectacular landscapes.
- Day 1 & 2: Christchurch city
- Day 3: Castle Hill, Arthur’s Pass (149km)
- Day 4: Greymouth and Punakaiki (140km)
- Day 5: Franz Josef glacier (217km)
- Day 6: Wanaka (286km)
- Day 7: Te Anau (240km)
- Day 8: Milford Sound (118km)
- Day 9: Queentowns (288km)
- Day 10: Arrow town (20km) and neighborhood wineries
- Day 11: Glenorchy (46km)
- Day 12-13: Mount Cook (287km) and Tasman Glacier
- Day 14: Christchurch (307 km)
(* Distance is measured by google map)
Day 3-5: Strolling the west coast (Punakaiki and Franz Josef glacier)
After the trip, I felt more confident about my driving ability. Almost 2000km in 14 days was such a milestone for me who had never driven beyond 600km in Vietnam. Took the challenge with little worry, kept mistaken all the gears/ buttons in day 1 as they were in opposite position given right-hand driving, caught by the police once because of over speed (didn’t see any police along the way, when we first saw them, we got caught). But overall, it was safe & memorable.
The roads are in good condition and the sceneries are picturesque and indescribable. I have to thanks my friends for believing me, get into my car without hesitation (though i was not as confident as i had showed to them). Scenic roads with lovely crew made my first road trip successful more than expected.
Do you want to know all of my tips for a road trip in New Zealand?
Click here then you are all set to go.
Traveled in Feb, 2016