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Long-distance driving

Pass 1

New Zealand roads provide some spectacular driving routes to see the varied landscapes this country has to offer.

The roads are generally light in traffic and well-maintained, and provide drivers with views of some of the best sites and national landmarks while you’re on the go. For those long drives this summer, MTA has put together a list of helpful tips, from preparation to destination, to assist with making the most out of your journey.

Before taking off

  • Consider a pre-trip inspection; repairs can be more costly on the road. Ask your local MTA member to check things like the air conditioning, cooling system, drive belts, hoses and clamps, brakes – along with the fundamentals like fluids, oil and water. High temperatures can be hard on your battery – get it checked to ensure it will last the distance.
  • Ensure you have a car charger suitable for your phone. Smartphones are a useful tool when travelling – GPS navigation, taking photos, checking in with Mum and Dad. Nearing 10 percent battery life in the middle of nowhere creates unnecessary stress on the road - especially if you have an emergency. [And remember: If you do want to use your phone’s GPS function remember it still needs to be secured in a mounting fixed to the vehicle and doesn’t obscure your view of the road. You cannot hold your phone to use the GPS function.]
  • Make sure there is enough petrol in the tank to get you to the next stop. Although a little navigational spontaneity can add some excitement to the drive, ensure there are petrol stations along the way.
  • An icepack or two will help keep your favourite snacks and beverages chilled.
  • Bring wet wipes and hand sanitiser. Nothing will ruin your road trip like dropping your icecream in your lap with several hours of driving to go. Some rest stops along the way may be absent of hand soap, also.
  • Make a few playlists. Whether it’s Beyoncé or AC/DC, upbeat music can keep your mind active on those long stretches of roads. Audiobooks/podcasts are also a great way to keep your mind occupied.
  • Make sure you are well-rested for the journey ahead. A solid night’s sleep the night before travelling is worth it.

On the road

  • Take a break from driving every two-or-so hours. Other than stretching your legs and taking a bathroom break, it helps to give your eyes and mind a rest from staring at the road.
  • Get some fresh air flowing. Unless you’re stuck in a blizzard, crack open a window or two. Stuffy conditions aren’t conducive to long-distance driving.

Exploring the country

There are several routes to take throughout the country. New Zealand has several themed highways to navigate, which are signposted and highlight some of the top spots in both the North and South Islands.

  • Classic Wine Trail
  • Thermal Explorer Highway
  • Pacific Coast Highway
  • Twin Coast Discovery Highway
  • Alpine Pacific Triangle
  • Great Alpine Highway
  • Southern Scenic Route

Remember, it isn’t all about the destination. Half the fun is getting there! You can make the most out of your journey, if you are well prepared.