One Month Road Trip in New Zealand

Monday, February 05, 2018
Kia Ora! The Kiwi Land is one of the best places in the world to have the road trip of your life. But before we throw ourselves in the carpool, let's get ready for the trip!

1. Visa
Before entering ANY country you'll have to do a check-up on the latest visa conditions for your residency. New Zealand also has a pretty strict customs check at the airport as they don't want foreign soil, food, plants etc. brought to their country. An international driver's licence is required too.

2. Know The Season
What is the best time to visit New Zealand? The NZ summer stretches from December to February, but bring clothes for any weather situation as it's not uncommon to experiences all four seasons - within the same day. If you intend to visit NZ during the winter (June to August) be prepared for heavy snow driving and closed roads. My visit was in January/February and temperatures varied from 37 degrees celsius during daytime to 2 degrees celsius at night.

3. Book A Rental Car
Rental cars tend to sell out especially during peak season, so booking a campervan in advance is most recommendable. Getting one last-minute might cost you a lot extra money. Some of the major rental companies includes Wicked Campers, Hippecampers and Jucy.

4. Download the Camping App
Camping NZ by Rankers is the ultimate road trip app for your NZ trip. Freedom camping in random places is not allowed in NZ. The app provides approved camp sites sorted into different price ranges. You can also find camp sites for self-contained (with toilet) and non-self contained (without toilet) vehicles. Make sure you download all of NZ as an offline map before you arrive.

5. Internet Access
There are travel sim-cards in NZ, but they are expensive. Getting one though, can come in quite handy. Throughout most of NZ there's not many places which offers free wifi. Most of the time you'll have to buy a voucher to get even then smallest amount of data connection. The company Spark delivers the best sim-card deals for travelers and can be bought in the airport.

6. Road Rules and Conditions
In NZ your steering wheel will be in the right side and your car in the left. If you're not used to that or haven't tried it before, allow a few days to adjust. Bringing a co-driver is a good idea and makes the trip more fun. The speed limit in the towns and cities are 50 km/h, while almost everywhere else is 100 km/h. NZ isn't the easiest country to driver around, as steep mountain roads or narrow and sharp turns aren't uncommon sights. Allow extra time whenever you're calculating a route.

Alright. That's it! You're all set to go. Here follows how me and my travel buddy Lasse did our road trip around the two main islands of New Zealand. Good luck and have fun!

Day 1: Auckland

Sky Tree in Auckland, New Zealand
Arrive in Auckland. R-E-L-A-X. Shake the jet lag off and get accustomed to the currency and don't do much. Auckland is not the most interesting place you'll visit in NZ (might actually be the opposite), so take a stroll past the Sky Tree or to Queens Wharf on the waterfront if you feel like, but save your energy for the upcoming days.

Day 2: Cape Reinga

Pick up your rental car in the morning. Prepare some food in advance like long-term expiry canned food, bottled water, snacks etc.. You'll figure it out, I'm sure. Then hit the road!

Whangarei Falls
Whangarei Falls, New Zealand
First stop is a waterfall (which is not gonna be the last). New Zealand is full of them and Whangarei Falls is one of the most easily reached ones. You basically drive straight up to the fall. You can however make a short trek (about 5 min) to the bottom of the falls. Your road trip has officially been kicked-off. Enjoy!

Matapouri Bay
Matapouri Bay, New Zealand
Matapouri Bay is a small semi-closed off bay. Excellent for surfing or bodyboarding or simply just enjoying the view from the beach. Parking lot right on the beach.

Paihia (Bay of Islands)
Paihai, New Zealand
Paihai is a place with a lot of activity. Small shops, cafés and restaurants are packed side-by-side in this bay town. It's a great place to see the Bay of Islands from or even take a boat trip if you feel like it.

Hauru Falls

Hauru Falls, New Zealand
Another waterfall located just outside of Paihai. Hauru Falls has a shorter drop, but a lot of waterflow. It's right on the way, so why not stretch your legs here?

Cape Reinga
Cape Reinga Lighthouse, New Zealand
Cape Reinga is the most northern point of New Zealand. There's a lighthouse stationed at the cape and a sign telling you how far you are from home (about 18000 km in my case). The cliff scenery and the oceans clashing together is worth the whole trip up there. Don't miss it.

Tapotupotu Camp Site

Stay overnight in Tapotupotu Bay at the most northern camp site in New Zealand and obviously located very close to Cape Reinga. Not many facilities, but a friendly camp manager. 8 NZD per person.

Day 3: Colors of the Sand

Giant Sand Dunes
Giant Sand Dunes, New Zealand
As you begin your drive back to more southern lands make a stop at the Giant Sand Dunes. There are many locals renting out sandboards if you're feeling adventurous. Else, it's worth a short stop just to see the desert-like landscape of yellow/orange colored sand.

90 Mile Beach
90 Mile Beach, New Zealand
90 miles of white sand beach? That's a whooooole lot of beach. There are two ways to reach it on the drive down from Giant Sand Dunes. Pass by the first sign saying (10 km to 90 Mile Beach), further down there's another road heading west. The sign there says "3 km to 90 Mile Beach".

Karekare Beach
Karekare Beach, New Zealand
This black sand beach was made famous as it featured in Jane Campion's "The Piano" from 1993. Karekare Beach itself is quite rough and has a special atmosphere to it. A great place for a stroll or a hike in the nearby hills.

Karekare Falls
Karekare Beach, New Zealand
Just a short walk from Karekare Beach there's a path leading to Karekare Falls. A beautiful waterfall which drops in a small pool. Worth the 10 min walk for sure.

Piha Beach
Piha Beach seen from above, New Zealand
One of the more equipped campground and what a location. Right on Piha Beach! The price reflect the excellence of this campsite 20 NZD per person, but it's worth the view and hot shower.

Day 4: Coromandel

Hot Water Beach
Hot Water Beach, New Zealand
At Hot Water Beach you can rent a shovel, dig a hole in the beach and sit around in your own little natural hot tub. There's also a few nice little cafés, which served excellent lunch.

Hahei Beach + Cathedral Cove
Cathedral Cove, New Zealand
Cathedral Cove has gained a lot of attention since it starred in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. There are no trains running through, but there are a lot of people during the high summer season. To reach Cathedral Cove park your car at Hahei Beach and hike forth and back (about 45-60 min each way).

Te Kauwhata Domain

Te Kauwhata is a small town with just one supermarket and a war memorial. But the freedom camping ground around here is the perfect spot to spend the night. Located on a rugby training ground, makes it a great place to put your ass on the grass.

Day 5: Waitomo Glowworm Caves

The first thing to do today is driving to Pirongia. In this small town, next to Persimmon Tree Cafe, you'll find a nice little camping ground with hot showers. For only 6 NZD per person, this is the optimal place to sleep after visiting Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Go there, make a booking and head on to next stop.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

We visited the Waitomo Glowworm Caves on the very first tour in the morning at 8.00 am. There are several ways to visit the caves, but common for all of them; you're gonna have to join a group and you're gonna have to pay. The cheapest is doing the Waitomo Cave only, which (with a 10% discount) comes at a price of 30 NZD. Normally a group tour drags 30 people through the caves at a time, but at 8.00 am in the morning we were only 7 people, which made our experience so much more enjoyable. No photos allowed however, which would be just fine if it weren't served with a "it's because of safety...".

Marokopa Falls
Marokopa Falls, New Zealand
Marokopa Falls is located on the same road as the famous glowworm caves, just 30 km further down the road. Between all the waterfalls we visited in NZ, I reckon Marokopa was the most stunning. Most definitely worth a stop.
After your visit head back to Pirongia and enjoy the rest of your day.

Day 6: Hobbiton

Hobbiton Movie Set
Bilbo's home in Hobbiton, New Zealand
Is it worth the money? Probably not. Is it a must? Definitely. The price is a wooping 79 NZD for a single adult. That price buys you a spot in a group of 30-35 people cramped up in between two other groups of the same amount. Basically you're walking 5 meters at a time while somebody is stepping on your shoes, as you struggle to hear the guide and can't see the details for selfie-sticks and silly poses. But hey, it's Hobbiton. At the end of the tour you'll be served a locally brewed beer at "The Green Dragon" and that's almost worth the entire 79 NZD. Bookings are sometimes required in advance, but the organizers doesn't seem to care if there's a couple of extra people joining a tour.

Blue Springs
Blue Springs, New Zealand
Blue Springs has to be some of the clearest freshwater I've ever seen. A short 20 min walk will take you to the riverbed. Swimming is unfortunately prohibited, which was the only thing keeping us from taking a dive.

McLaren Falls
McLaren Falls, New Zealand
McLaren Falls is a great and popular place for a swim or a cliff jump in the naturally created pools. At times it can be super crowded during high summer season, as bus-loads of people are being brought out here by tour operators.

Pin Oak Flat
Pin Oak Flat, New Zealand
One of the most idyllic camp site we visited. You're basically surrounded by nature. Sheep, ducks and bunnies will get up close and personal as you're preparing your dinner at Pin Oak Flat. Staying overnight here is a must. A local ranger collects the cheap overnight fee of 10 NZD per person.

Day 7: Wai-O-Tapu

Mt. Maungarui

Mt. Maungarui, New Zealand
Mt. Maungarui is both a coastal town and an actual mountain. This town is a popular holiday location for locals. On the white sand beach you'll spot sunbathers, surfers, volleyball practice and hikers heading for the mountain peak. We enjoyed a short walk on the beach, but left the mountain alone.

Okere Falls
Okere Falls, New Zealand
Okere Falls actually consist of several waterfalls. Popular for kayaking/rafting but also for the views of the hidden away falls. There's a small stone path leading to a cave, which the maoris used to hide their women and children during war. The falls aren't suitable for swimming as the current is too strong.

Kuirau Park in Rotorua, New Zealand
Rotorua is know to be the city which smells like rotten eggs. The smell comes from the geothermal activity in the area. Head to Kuirau Park for a free walk among the boiling water and bubbling mud.

Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu, New Zealand
When you leave Rotorua you'll pass Te Puia, an expensive geothermal preserve. Keep going and pay a lot less at Wai-O-Tapu (28,50 NZ$ per person with a 10% discount). The different colored lakes and especially the Champagne Pool is worth the ticket value itself.
Last stop of the day will be Reid Park Farm Freedom Campgound, north of Taupo. A popular place among backpackers and travelers, right next to the riverbed an

Day 8: Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park
Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand
Probably New Zealand's most hyped hike. And with good reason. Due to the extensive masses for hikers heading for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing trek, there has been put up a parking limit for 4 hours at the main parking lot Mangatepopo. Instead hikers are advised to park at Tongariro Mountain Shuttle (north of the park) and grab a shuttle bus to Mangatepopo (30 NZ$ per person if booking online). The shuttle runs at 6.30, 7.30, 8.30 and 9.30 am. Take the 6.30 one to avoid the masses and the midday heat. The hike itself is 19,4 km and takes about 6-8 hours. We finished in about 5,5 hours without rushing. You'll pass by Mt. Ngauruhoe also known as Mt. Doom since the filthy little hobbit threw a ring into it. The volcano is still active and has most recently erupted in 2007.

Tawhai Falls (Gollum's Pool)
Posing like Gollum at Tawhai Falls (Gollum's Pool), New Zealand
I know, your legs are sore after hiking the Alpine Crossing, but head for Tawhai Falls. Perfect for a quick dip. This is where Frodo approached Gollum as he was eating a fish at the Forbidden Pool. Hence the new nickname; Gollum's Pool, which seems to stick even among locals. Free entrance.
Turangi Tavern is a great place to stop for food on the way back to the campground. Else just enjoy the drive along the massive Lake Taupo.

Reids Park Farm Freedom Campground
Waikato River at Reids Park Farm Freedom Campground north of Taupo, New Zealand
If you didn't get a chance to take a dip in Gollum's Pool, there's plenty of clear freshwater at Reids Park Farm Freedom Campground. The Waikato River runs right next to the campground, but beware of the heavy force of the water flow.

Day 9: The Longest Place Name

Huka Falls
Huka Falls, New Zealand
The color of Huka Falls is absolutely incredible. Located within walking distance from Reids Farm Park Freedom Campground, this fall is a must. The untamed powers of nature are both terrifying and breathtaking at the same time.

Napier/Cape Kidnappers
Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand
They call Napier "The Art Deco Capital of New Zealand". In my reality it's just a place you pass by in your car. The scenic drive from Taupo to Napier is worth more than Napier itself. Cape Kidnappers itself is actually on privately owned land. There is operated tours, but we drove as far as possible and there was not really much do, except take a photo and move on.

Longest Name Place
Longest Name Place in the World, New Zealand
Taumatawhakatangihangakoauaotamateaturipkakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu. That's right. This 85-letter word is the name of an actual place. It's a road trip! Of course you're gonna take a 2 hour detour to visit the place in the world with the longest name.

Stay overnight at Dannevirke Holiday Park. A very nice place for 8 NZ$ per person. Besides the hot showers, you can enjoy the small deer park on the camp site.

Day 10: Dannevirke + Norsewood

Copenhagen Square in Dannevirke, New Zealand
On October 15, 1872, Scandinavian settlers arrived on the island. 21 of those families were from Denmark and together they founded the town of Dannevirke. Visit the local museum or take a photo at Copenhagen Square or the city sign, which has a viking on it(!). As Danes we signed into the guestbook at the information centre and enjoyed a short visit to something familiar.

Norsewood Pioneer Museum in Norsewood, New Zealand
Not all the Scandinavians who arrived were Danish. The Norwegians settled very close by and named their town; Norsewood. A museum holds Norwegian artifacts from the settlers, a troll garden and a viking boat is also on display in this town.

Bucks Road Campsite

View of the landscape near Bucks Road Campsite in Featherston, New Zealand
Bucks Road Campsite is located at the end of a gravel road close to Featherston. The setting is absolutely stunning and a freshwater river perfectly designed for a swim is reachable from the campsite. Oh, and it's free!

Day 11: Cape Palliser

Cape Palliser
A seal resting on the beach in front of Cape Palliser Lighthouse, New Zealand
The drive to Cape Palliser is long, but so beautiful that you won't mind. You can hike to the lighthouse by some steep wooden stairs and right below on the beach there's a seal colony. If you get too close, the seals will growl at you. Take photos with precaution.

Putangirua Pinnacles (Paths of the Dead)
Putangirua Pinnacles (Paths of the Dead), New Zealand
Putangirua Pinnacles were formed from being under water for millions of years. Today they form the southern coast of New Zealand's north island. This location is so spectacular that film director Peter Jackson had the NZ Army carry his equipment to the pinnacles for filming Paths of the Dead in Lord of the Rings.
The hike took us almost an hour one-way, but the view of the pinnacles was impeccable and worth the struggle. I was glad I didn't have to carry Hollywood equipment though.

We headed back to the lovely Bucks Road Campsite, near Featherston, to spend the night.

Day 12: Wellington (LOTR Tour)

A lot of the filming locations used for Lord of the Rings are scattered around the Wellington area. We had planned a full day of "Lord of the Ringsing"(yes, that's an actual term down here), to take us around some of the more prominent locations.

Rivendell (Kaitoke Regional Park)
Rivendell in Kaitoke Regional Park, New Zealand
First stop; Kaitoke Regional Park, or more specifically; Rivendell. In the movies this was home to the Elves. There are no physical reminders of filming, but several signs pointing out the exact locations have been put up. A replica archway has also been built by one of the tour operators in the area.

Isengard (Harcourt Park)
Harcourt Park (or "Isengard"), New Zealand
A lesser known filming location is Harcourt Park, which was dressed up as Isengard in the movies. This is were Gandalf visits Saruman as they go for a walk. You won't find many tourists here, but some helpful locals guided us to the right spot.

Weta Caves Workshop
Troll outside Weta Caves in Wellington, New Zealand
The Weta Caves Workshop Tour costs 28 NZ$ per person and takes you around some the workshop where many of the movie props for Lord of the Rings were made. And many other movies for that matter. It's an interesting look behind the curtain of perfectionist-detailed movies like LOTR.

Hobbit's Hideout (Mt. Victoria)

Hobbit's Hideout at Mt. Victoria in Wellington, New Zealand
Remember when Frodo and the his three best friends hid under a tree? You can find that place on Mt. Victoria in Wellington. There's no large tree root to hide under, as the tree was added digitally after filming, but there's a sign saying; "Hobbit's Hideout" and even a couple of benches with LOTR-quotes.

Helm's Deep (Dry Creek Quarry)
Helm's Deep (Dry Creek Quarry) north of Wellington, New Zealand
Less recognizable is the filming location for Helm's Deep in the LOTR-movies. Dry Creek Quarry is a - still active - quarry north of Wellington. Closed off for the public, but as there's a nice campsite right next to it, why not take a photo?

Dry Creek Campsite costs 6 NZ$ per person. A lovely hidden campground, with an interesting hike to a small waterfall. You won't feel like you're camping close to the highway, even though you in fact are right next to it.

Day 13: Nelson

Picton Ferry
Bluebridge Ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand
The cheapest ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton is by Bluebridge. Booking in advance is a necessity, atleast a week before you plan to cross from the north island to the south island. The ferry takes about three and a half hours, has free wifi and a small kiosk serving food. Make sure you hit deck and enjoy the scenic and narrow ride between Arapawa Island and the mainland.

Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve
Pelorus River (or "The Barrel River"), New Zealand
Remember when Bilbo and the Dwarfs rafted down a river in barrels, while Legolas and the other elves played total badasses? That river is an actual river in New Zealand and you can even kayak your way down if you feel like. Or just stop at Pelorus Bridge to snap a photo.

Jens Hansen: The Ringmaker
Jens Hansen: The Ringmaker shop in Nelson, New Zealand
Nelson has a lot to offer, but my favorite spot here was the shop of Jens Hansen. A Danish-born who moved to Auckland in 1952 to complete his traditional jewellers apprenticeship. In 1968, Jens settled in Nelson, where he (among many other jewellery) created the rings used in LOTR. Unfortunately he passed away in 1999, but the shop still runs and produces jewellery from Jens' old designs.

Drive to Ruby Bay and stay overnight at McKee Memorial Reserve. 6 NZ$ per person. Nothing much there, except a large stony beach.

Day 14: Takaka

Janie Seddon Shipwreck
Janie Seddon Shipwreck in Motueka, New Zealand
The Janie Seddon Shipwreck in Motueka is accessable by foot during low tide. She sank as a fishing ship and has been lying on shore for years. But she is also the last surviving (barely) government military ship to have served in both world wars. How about that?

The Dangerous Kitchen
Dangerous Breakfast at The Dangerous Kitchen in Takaka, New Zealand
Takaka is one of those small cozy towns that have these secret hidden gems. One of them being a café by the name of The Dangerous Kitchen. I don't know about the dangers going on the in kitchen, but the food coming out of there is amazing. We enjoyed a heavy breakfast, which kept us full for the most of the day.

The Village Theatre
The Village Theatre in Takaka, New Zealand
Time to "leave" your travels for short awhile and step into a fantasy world. The Village Theatre in Takaka is the most local movie theatre I've ever visited. It's basically just a barn with second-hand couches, but the experience was awesome. We watched the 2018 reboot of "Jumanji" for 14 NZ$ per ticket as the rain was hammering on the thin roof of the theater.

Waitapu River Campervan Park / Telegraph Hotel
Telegraph Hotel and Bar in Takaka, New Zealand
As the rains kept pouring down our intended free camp spot near Waitapu River went down the drain, so to speak. The riverbed was rising and the local firefighters had us "evacuated" from the area. We ended up at a local tavern; Telegraph Hotel and Bar. A hot shower and a warm bed for 35 NZ$ per person, which was most welcomed anyway. The weather in New Zealand is just unpredictable and things like this are gonna happen, one way or another.

Day 15: Farewell Spit

Farewell Spit
Farewell Spit, New Zealand
We drove up to the carpark near Farewell Spit. From there, it's still a 12 km walk to the very tip, where only 4 km are public. To reach the tip of the south island you're gonna need to join a guided tour. We felt like we had enough just seeing "the spit" and headed back down.

Split Apple Rock
Split Apple Rock, New Zealand
On the way we trekked to Split Apple Rock (about 30 min return). This very unique rock seems to have fallen from the sky, landed in the sea and split in two perfect halfs. Picture perfect. You can swim to the rock if you feel like, but I'd keep my swimpants dry for the next stop.

Kaiteriteri Beach
Kaiteriteri Beach, New Zealand
Kaiteriteri is a well-visited beach area. Located right next to the main road and making a stop here is easy and alluring. Get your hair wet and your skin salty in the chilly waters of this bay.

Te Waikoropupu Springs
Te Waikoropupu Springs near Takaka, New Zealand
Tested to be some of the naturally cleanest freshwater in the world, Te Waikoropupu Springs provides some outstanding sights as the lake-bottom is visible through the clear water. Located just outside Takaka, it's a naturally stop.

Drive back and stay another night at McKee Memorial Reserve near Ruby Bay.

Day 16: Drive to Franz Josef Glacier

Day 15 of our trip was dedicated to "putting some kilometers on it". We drove all the way to Franz Josef Glacier, picked up a few hitchhikers along the way and only made a short stop for lunch in Greymouth and a few leg-stretching breaks.

We checked in to Glacier Country Campervan Park. 15 NZ$ per person, very central location and with free wifi (a rarity here in NZ).

Day 17: Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand
You can fly in a helicopter over the Franz Josef Glacier. Even land on it! But the prices have been blown through the roof due to the over-branding of this (let's call it what it is) ice block on a mountain. Really, if you've seen snowy mountains before (or if you come from a place with a lot of snow like me), don't even bother to pay the crazy prices. We took the free trek to the valley of the glacier (about 1 hour return) and snapped a few photos. It's clear that the glacier is on retreat and the attraction will not last forever.

We stayed overnight at Glacier Country Campervan Park once again. The campground is located right across from the hot pools (which also has a quite expensive price tag).

Day 18: Fox Glacier + Lake Matheron

Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier, New Zealand
Another glacier which has been marketed to the skies, but really it's just what it is; ice on a mountain. Again we took the free "Glacier View Walk" (about 20 min return) to Fox Glacier and enjoyed the view, well, for free.

Lake Matheson
Lake Matheson near Fox Glacier, New Zealand
From Lake Matheson you can spot Mt. Cook, if the skies are clear. Supposedly the reflection of the mountain in the lake is outstanding. We weren't fortunate enough to see it. Maybe next time.

Blue Pools
Blue Pools, New Zealand
Blue Pools are, well, very blue. And very very cold! A 40 min return trek will take you to these clear pools of water inside the forrest. A suspension bridge hangs over a small gorge.

Lake Wanaka
Lake Wanaka lookout on the way to Wanaka, New Zealand
One of the most scenic drives we had in NZ was the one from Franz Josef Glacier to Wanaka. The huge blue lakes and the different colored mountains are worthy of a painting. Wanaka city itself is a cozy lake town, with a lot of younger travelers hanging around.

We headed all the way to Omakau Campground and enjoyed the afternoon in the sun.

Day 19: Omakau/Alexandra (off-day)

Any road trip calls for an off-day. A lazy-day on the grass in the sun, drinking beer, doing the laundry, having a game of tennis and enjoying some well-cooked food. Omakau Campsite is the perfect place to do so. They have large grass areas, a huge kitchen/living room, tennis courts etc.

Alexandra Historic Bridge
Alexandra Historic Bridge, New Zealand
Alexandra is a short drive from Omakau and is the only larger town in the area. If you head there for shopping groceries go have a look at the remains of Alexandra Historic Bridge. Don't spend too much energy, trust me. You're gonna need it for tomorrow.

Day 20: Otago Central Rail Trail

Otago Central Rail Trail
Poolburn Viaduct on the Otago Central Rail Trail, New Zealand
In the small town of Omakau you can visit the shop; Shebikeshebikes and rent mountain bikes for a full day. We took our bikes for a ride down the Otago Central Rail Trail, where the old railway used to run. The viaducts and tunnels going from Omakau across Lauder to Ida Valley and back are quite the trail. 45 km back and forth. Bring sunscreen, snacks, a well-rested body and water!

Day 21: Dunedin

Moeraki Boulders
Planking on the Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand
Rocks. In odd shapes. On a beach. That's basically it. Moeraki Boulders is interesting nonetheless, but with no information whatsoever you're left guessing whether these large "dragon eggs" washed up on shore from the ocean or fell out of the sky from space.

Katiki Point
Seal resting at Katiki Point Lighthouse, New Zealand
Katiki Point is full of life. A huge seal colony has settled down here and several birds and penguins can also be spotted in the area. If you're into wildlife, there's no way you can skip this stop.

Dunedin Railway Station, New Zealand
The most prominent building in Dunedin is the Old Railway Station, which still runs a railway line, as a tourist attraction. The building itself is very photogenic, especially with the beautiful gardens in front.
Hillview Camping Ground
Sunset at Hillview Campsite near Nugget Point, New Zealand
We stayed overnight at the lovely Hillview Campsite. NZ is one of the best places on the planet for stargazing. The sky is even more beautiful after the sun has set. Don't forget to look up!

Day 22: The Catlins

Nugget Point
Nugget Point Lighthouse, New Zealand
The loose rocks scattered in the ocean at Nugget Point is quite surreal. This lighthouse spot was definitely my favorite among the many "cape" and "point" destinations in NZ.

Purakaunui Falls
Purakaunui Falls, New Zealand
Further sound you can trek to Purakaunui Falls with a short 5 min walk. The solid rock steps of this waterfall makes it seem man-made somehow. Like some lost civilization once lived here.

Florence Hill Lookout
Tautuku Bay seen from Florence Hill Lookout, New Zealand
Florence Hill Lookout is located on the way to Niagara Falls. The perfectly curved Tautuku Bay and the layers of waves rolling in on the shore combined creates the a great photo opportunity.

Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls, New Zealand
The Niagara Falls in NZ is actually nothing but a practical joke. And a damn good one. Named by a surveyor who had seen the large North American falls. A perfect "Road Trip Stop" to add to your list. A good laugh and something entirely different and out-of-the-ordinary.

Petrified Forest/Curio Bay
Petrified Forest at Curio Bay, New Zealand
170 million old forest turned to stone? Yep, it's not a lie. And you can even walk on the Petrified Forest at Curio Bay. The tree logs are still easily recognizable and supposedly there's yellow-eyed penguins roaming the area - we didn't spot any.

Slope Point
Slope Point, New Zealand
One of my top 3 favorite places in NZ. There's not much to see really, but as a European this is pretty much as far as you can't get from home (unless you have the time and money to make it to remote islands like Antipode Island). Slope Point has a sign indicating distances to Equator and the South Pole. The wind is almost always strong here and some of the trees around the area have been completely windswept.

After Slope Point we drove to Fortrose Freedom Campsite and stayed overnight.

Day 23: Invercargill + Bluff

Fortrose Cliffs
Fortrose Cliffs, New Zealand
After a good night's sleep head to the Cliffs of Fortrose. There are no fence, so watch your step as the vertical drop is pretty scary. On the way you can stop at Ino Shipwreck, which is only visable during low tide.

Stirling Point in Bluff, New Zealand
Begin your day by driving all the way to Stirling Point in Bluff. A place far far from home, unless you're from around here. In town there's a tavern called Anchorage Café, which served us the best burger I've ever had. Not to be missed!
Bluff is also famous for Shark Cage Diving with great white sharks. I don't recommend anyone to support an activity like that. Leave the sharks alone and watch some Animal Planet instead.

Demolition World in Invercargill, New Zealand
Let's be honest; Invercargill isn't exactly the cultural hub of the Southern Hemisphere. BUT there are a few places to visit. Most interesting to me was Demolition World. A place, as the name prevails, where you step into a broken world. A complete town built from scrap items and junk. Visit the hospital, the bar, the toy store or even the church. I warn you though, it's a creepy place, so bring a friend. Cost: Free.
To shake off the creeps afterwards head to the city centre and snap a photo at Victoria Railway Hotel and Invercargill Water Tower.

Dive into your sleeping bag at Alex McKenzie Memorial Arboretum. A free campsite under some massive trees. A perfect spot on the way to Fiordland National Park.

Day 24: Manapouri

Clifden Suspension Bridge
Clifden Suspension Brigde, New Zealand
Clifden Suspension Bridge was built in 1899 and spans 111,5 m over the Waiau River. A great stop on the way to Manapouri. There's a small coffee caravan next to the bridge.

Lake Manapouri, New Zealand
Manapouri town is the proud owner of Lake Manapouri. A beautiful clear mountain lake, perfect for swimming during the summer.

Besides the lake, Manapouri also has The Church, which isn't actually a church. But quite the opposite; a bar. The only place in town with evening activities. Enjoy a beer, a good meal, a game of pool or watch some live sports on television. A great place to spend a few hours.

Once you're ready to sleep head back to Possum Lodge (which is within walking distance) and dream the night away.

Day 25: Te Anau

This day was actually dedicated to Milford Sound, but half way there we had a flat tyre, which forced us to turn around and drive back on a spare wheel. Things like this is just bound to happen at some point, so here's a buffer-day for unforeseen event.

We enjoyed the town of Te Anau, had a pie and an ice cream.

Day 26: Milford Sound

Eglinton Valley
Eglinton Valley, New Zealand
An endless field stretching in between the rising mountains. Even if you don't stop here for a photo, your eyes will almost pop out of your skull, while driving past Eglinton Valley.

Mirror Lakes
Mirrored sign at Mirror Lakes, New Zealand
Mirror Lakes is everything the name says it is. Just 2 min walk from the main road, the snow-topped mountains reflects in the crystal clear waters. One of the cooler features is a mirrored sign, which is only readable from its reflection in the water.

Lake Gunn
Lake Gunn, New Zealand
Near Lake Gunn is the last free camping site on the way to Milford Sound. Originally we planned to stay here, but due to our flat tyre we never got to. The hike to Lake Gunn takes about 30 min return through the forrest.

Pop's View Lookout
Pop's View Lookout, New Zealand
Pop's View Lookout is a small stop just off the road to Milford Sound. The perks of having a car in NZ is you can stop anywhere really. There's no space for tour operated busses here, so no larger crowds.

The Chasm
The Chasm near Milford Sound, New Zealand
The Chasm is a powerful waterfall which runs under a walk-bridge. The trek itself takes no more than 15 mins. What's even more impressive is the sound the water creates as it rushes through the gorge.

Milford Sound
Milford Sounds, New Zealand
Milford Sound, one of the main spots to visit in NZ. And of course commercialized through the roof. The possibilities are many here; boat trips, kayaking, skydiving. We chose to just take a photo, suck in the view and head on back.

Lumsden Freedom Camping
Lumsden Freedom Camping, New Zealand
One of the few free campsite in the centre of a town. Lumsden Freedom Camping attracts a lot of travelers. Located on an old train platform the setting is out of the ordinary.

Day 27: Earnslaw Burn

Earnslaw Burn
Diamond Lake at Earnslaw Burn, New Zealand
The drive past Queenstown and all the way to Earnslaw Burn is a bumpy one. The last 5 kilometers are pure gravel road. Once you reach the end of the road you can hike several different hikes. Some which takes 8-10 hours. Our energy only lasted for a short walk to Diamond Lake.

After yet another flat tyre (can you believe that?), we headed back for Queenstown and returned our rental vehicle. We stayed at Qbox, which is basically just a container with beds. Nothing good about that place except the price.

Day 28 + 29: Queenstown

The Fergburger
The Famous Fergburger in Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown is THE backpacking hot spot of NZ. This town's growth and popularity is driven purely by travelers looking for the great escape. Party hostels, flagship clothing stores, restaurants, pubs, and night clubs fill the streetscape. But most of all, it seems like every other shop you pass is a tour operator. Bungee jumping, skydiving, kayaking, fishing, boat rides, hikes, paddle boarding, an endless amount of opportunities to spend your money. After a 26 day long road trip, we mostly enjoyed to relax. One of the things we did do was to wait in line for the famous Fergburger. You can't really miss the spot, as people are waiting in line down the sidewalk. The big question is; is it worth the wait? The price of 11 NZ$ is nothing to complain about. The burger itself is... just a burger. Not even the best burger I had in NZ. Branding is the keyword here I guess.

Day 30: Lake Poaka

From Queenstown to Christchurch we had managed to get our hands on a so-called relocation van. A rental vehicle which the rental company needs moved to a different location to rent it out again. The cost for such a vehicle is just 1 NZ$ a day (+ the gasoline you'll be using).

Kawarau Gorge
Kawarau Gorge outside Queenstown, New Zealand
Kawarau Gorge is the place famous for the world's first commercialized bungee jump. However, in recent years, it's become more and more famous for itself starring in The Lord of the Rings. This is where Frodo and Sam escape in a boat between two massive statues on each side of the gorge. The statues aren't there obviously, but the gorge is quite beautiful.

Cluden Hill Summit
Landscape at Cluden Hill Summit, New Zealand
Located just next to the road, Cluden Hill Summit requires no hiking to reach. The landscape here has a moon-like appearance. A great place for a photo.

Right next to Lake Poaka there's a freedom camping ground. As you close in on the location, enjoy the scenic snow-capped mountain range.

Day 31: Mt. Cook

Twizel town centre, New Zealand
Twizel is a small cozy town, where we enjoyed a delicious breakfast. Everything is close as the town centre takes only minutes to walk through.

Lake Pukaki
Gazing over Lake Pukaki towards Mt. Cook, New Zealand
Further up north is the perfect blue Lake Pukaki. If the mountains wasn't there to break up the fight, lake and sky would simply melt together.
Mt. Cook is visable at Lake Pukaki from certain view point and in certain weather conditions. Being the tallest mountain of the country, it's a must to have a look at this giant with your own eyes.

Lake Tekapo
Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
Church of the Good Shepherd probably has one of the best views from any church in the world. Behind the alter is a large panorama window showcasing the blue Lake Tekapo and the mountain range. What a view!

Afterwards we had a lunch break in the town of Geraldine, before heading to our final destination of the day.

Mt. Potts Lodge
Me, Fernanda and Lasse enjoying the sun at Mt. Potts Lodge, New Zealand
Without a doubt my favorite campsite throughout NZ. Mt. Potts Lodge is off the beaten track, like an old farmhouse turned lodge. A very competent kitchen, a bar, green grass worthy of a golfing course, goats, cows and impeccable views are just some of reasons to stay here. Don't miss out!

Day 32: Mt. Sunday

Mt. Sunday
Handstanding on Mt. Sunday, New Zealand
Mt. Sunday was my favorite spot in all of NZ. In popularity it's not as discovered or commercial as places like Milford Sound or Tongariro (which was also amazing). It means fewer people and more escape of the crowds. Mt. Sunday is not the highest mountain you'll ever hike (about 30 min), but the small hill is surrounded by the most amazing landscape you can imagine. Mt. Sunday is becoming more and more popular among travelers after it featured in Lord of the Rings, but operated tours are not allowed as part of the hike is located on private land. I hope it stays that way.

As you head for the next destination enjoyed the drive past Rakaia Gorge, a road where you'll be twisting and turning your head frequently.

Springfield Donut, New Zealand
For anyone who have watched The Simpson's, the name Springfield instantly rings a bell. The small town in NZ knows about Simpsons too, as they have put up a giant pink sprinkled donut. What can I say? It's the perfect road trip stop.

Chamberlains Ford
Sunset at Chamberlains Ford outside Christchurch, New Zealand
Near Christchurch there's only a few free campsite, one of them being the popular Chamberlains Ford. A lot of people come and go here and there's nothing much, except a place to crash for the night.

Day 33: Christchurch

Christchurch Tramways, New Zealand
In February 2011, Christchurch was hit by a massive earthquake demolishing most of the city's buildings. Among them was Christchurch Cathedral, which to this day (7 years later) is still fighting to live. Local authorities are trying to save the remains of the cathedral from collapsing. All around the city you'll see half broken buildings and new buildings being put up. Truly scary, what nature can do. A reminder who little control we actually have on this planet.

That's a wrap! I hope you enjoyed reading (or driving this epic itinerary yourself), lastly I'll put down a price list of the money spent per person during our 33 day stay.

Money Spent (per person):
Car rental: 1700
Gas: 1012
Food: 988
Accommodation: 454
Activities: 346

Total: 4.500 NZ$ per person

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