New Zealand Road Trip

Abel Tasman Beach

Abel Tasman Beach

The car window’s rolled down, clean air tousles my hair, a favorite CD blares while majestic scenery’s revealed at every turn with nary a car in sight. Where am I? Road tripping on the wild, west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Travel along with me on a 5 stop itinerary:


Let’s start in the north and go south. The artsy town of Nelson makes a good beginning. We’ll take a day or two to explore the vineyards and artist enclaves. Don’t forget a hike on the beach combined with a walk in the rain forest on a day trip to Abel Tasman National Park.


On the way to the west coast town of Hokitika, we’ll stop by Paparoa National Park for a walk along the coastal path at Punakaikai Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. Later, we’ll arrive at Hokitika in time to tour the jade factory and browse the galleries of woodworkers, jewelry makers and glass blowers. Let’s stop for a fine French meal at Cafe du Paris before turning in for the night at Kapitea Ridge.

Franz Josef

It’s glacier time! The small alpine village of Franz Josef will be our headquarters for treks to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Our hikes will take us through the rain-forest to a glacier’s terminal moraine. A helicopter tour provides an aerial view. Of course we could don crampons to accompany a tour out onto the glacial ice.


After traveling over Haast Pass on a drive through Aspiring National Park, we’ll arrive in the lakeside town of Wanaka. A jet boat ride up the Matukituki River provides thrills combined with the scenic beauty of Mt. Aspiring. Our Maori guide and driver stops to lead us on a walk as he entertains us with Maori legends.


Today, our journey takes us on Crown Ridge Road. We’ll travel through gold country before dipping down into the Gibbston Valley for wine tasting. At our final destination, bungee jumpers, paragliders and speedy jet boat drivers prove that Queenstown really is the queen of New Zealand adventure.

With our road trip adventure at an end, what did you think of the one-lane bridges and round-abouts? How many cars did you count on our travels? Are you ready for another New Zealand road-trip?

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