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A road along the sea in Kaikoura

Weekend Road-Tripping in New Zealand

We've put together a helpful guide for making the most of your weekends in 2021! All of our tip-top advice, a few things to keep in mind and even some possible route ideas, all in one place!

South Island
North Island

1. Make a Plan

If you want it to be "one for the books" you need to start with a solid plan.

    • Pick your key locations you'll stay in overnight Friday, Saturday
    • You want to ensure the drive home Sunday isn't ridiculously long
    • A few musts that you definitely want to see or do along the way
    • Always estimate routes to take longer than expected to avoid rushing
    • Let someone else know what your plan is and when you expect to be home

2. Book Ahead

Keep in mind that beds tend to sell out pretty quickly! It pays to be organised.

    • Count the troops to see how many beds you'll need
    • Decide if you are staying in either dorm or private rooms
    • Finalise your destinations and book your hostels!

A $25 Membership saves you 10% per bed, per night and gives you a couple thousand other discounts. After all the exploring you'll be doing in 2020, it'll add up quick! Members get 10% off Interislander bookings too!

Private rooms: You can book your entire group into a dorm filling all the beds, making it private or there is the option when booking to privatise a whole room even if you don't fill all the beds.

3. Prep the Vehicle

Waiting for roadside assistance isn't where you want to be on a Friday night. Remember to:

    • Clean out your car not forgetting the windscreen
    • Check under the hood for oil and water levels
    • Fill that tank!
    • Pump up those tyres!
    • Grab a spare key (you'll thank us later...)

4. Grab the Essentials

The most crucial list on here! We'll leave you to rank these in importance...

    • Good friends
    • Good playlist
    • Good snacks
    • Plenty of water
    • Portable battery packs
    • Updates on road conditions from NZTA
    • YHA Travel App (preload the offline map with wifi at home)

5. Go Forth and Explore!

This is the part where you put the key in the ignition and start your adventure!

    • Grab a FREE YHA Map and a pen to mark out your journey!
    • Talk to other travellers in our hostels and share travel tips
    • Ask reception staff where to eat or what deals you score on local activities!
    • Enjoy Aotearoa and remember to be a responsible traveller!

Weekend Route Ideas:

South Island ex Christchurch

City to Alps
Christchurch (3h) - Lake Tekapo (1.5h) - Aoraki Mt Cook (4.5h return)
Leave the city lights in the dust and head over to the serene Aoraki National Park for some of nature's eye-candy!

Adrenaline Adventure
Christchurch (3h) - Lake Tekapo (3h) - Queenstown (6h return)
They don't call it the Adventure Capital of the world for nothing! You can squeeze a lot of thrills into a single weekend!

Southern Lakes
Christchurch (3h) - Lake Tekapo (2.5h) - Wanaka (5.5h return)
Remove those camera lenses and have those cheeky smiles ready for all the lakeside pictures you'll take for Instagram!

Alpine Pathway
Christchurch (2h) - Arthur's Pass (3h) - Franz Josef (5h return)
On the road again! This time it's East to the wild West!

North Island ex Auckland

Island Time
Auckland (2.5h) - Whangarei (1h) - Paihia (3.25h return)
Fancy an island holiday without having to leave on a jet plane?

Northern Lakes
Auckland (3h) - Rotorua (1h) - Taupo (3.5h return)
A tour of the two biggest lakes in the North Island, both formed thousands of years ago from geothermal powers.

Tongariro Trek
Auckland (4h) - National Park (0.5h) - Ohakune (4h return)
What'd you do in the weekend? "Oh not too much just the Tongariro Crossing."

Mighty Waikato
(2h) - Raglan (1.5h) - Waitomo (2.5h return)
Throw that surfboard on the roof for a weekend of natural wonders from the West Coast waves to the Waitomo glowworm caves.

Matt Foubister

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