Otago – Central Touring Route
Over 335km, the Central Otago Touring Route travels through some of New Zealand’s most stunning landscapes, from Ōtepoti/Dunedin to Queenstown following scenic highways from the Pacific Ocean to the foot of the Southern Alps via the beautiful Strath Taieri and Maniototo Plains. Leaving Scarfie central in Dunedin on SH87, the route winds through the best of Central Otago, starting with the deep south’s Art Deco capital, Ranfurly.
At the end, SH6 will take you through the Kawarau Gorge and Arrowtown, before bringing you to Queenstown, its array of natural – and adrenaline-filled – wonders, and even more dramatic landscapes.
Ruapehu – Forgotten World Highway
As its name suggests, the Forgotten World Highway is a little remote and kind of mysterious. Built on bridle paths formed late in the 19th century, the route, which runs 155km from Taumarunui to Stratford along SH43, passes through historic settlements, lush native bush and the type of natural scenery for which Aotearoa is best known.
Before hitting the road, there are two things to remember. Firstly, fill up with fuel before you start – there are no petrol stations on the route. And secondly, the Forgotten Highway is the kind of drive where the road hugs the rugged land – a bit like a natural rollercoaster.
Northland – Twin Coast Discovery
This one can take you all the way from Auckland, deep into the Hokianga, around the Bay of Islands and back again, discovering an area rich in history, culture and natural beauty.
On the return leg, relish the scenic Whangārei Heads and trail the coastal roads to soak up the ocean views. Be sure to stop by at least a couple of the beaches you come across – Waipū, Ruakaka, Mangawhai, the list goes on – before returning to real life.
East Coast – Pacific Coast Highway
This one might take a while. The epic route from Auckland to Napier takes you to some of the North Island’s most beautiful beaches and fun stops along the way – making it the perfect summer getaway.
The drive around the East Cape is the longest stretch – more than 370km. And it’s not the easiest – but it is gorgeous. As you travel along SH35, at the tip of the East Coast is the town of Te Araroa, which makes for a picturesque pit stop, with uninterrupted beaches for swimming and the country’s easternmost lighthouse nearby.
Fiordland – The Milford Road
Climbing through the Southern Alps, SH94, or the Milford Road, is one of the highest and most scenic state highways in New Zealand and the only road access to Piopiotahi/Milford Sound. This is more of an adventure than a drive, according to those in the know.
Just before you reach the exquisite beauty of your final destination, make a short stop and stretch your legs with a 20-minute walk to The Chasm and dramatic views of a series of powerful waterfalls. It makes you appreciate how much rain really falls in this part of the country and just what natural beauty you will experience in Milford Sound itself.