I love to reminisce sometimes about the many road trips I used to go on when living in New Zealand. Most weekends began by heading off from home in Christchurch on a new adventure as soon as work finished on a Friday. I really loved the feeling of peace, and freedom, travelling along the empty highways.
New Zealand has a well-connected, well-paved road network with little traffic on the roads. It has to be one of the best countries in the world for a road trip and driving is extremely enjoyable (on the left-side, as in in the UK). Once on the road it is possible to travel for miles without seeing another car. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful, with giant glaciers, gushing waterfalls, majestic mountains, dramatic fjords and miles upon miles of rugged coastline and deserted beaches.
The road trips I enjoyed most were the ones over several hours, or longer once you added on time for numerous photo stops and allowed for the many different driving conditions – so in the end driving times were often greater than they appeared on maps.
It wasn’t uncommon on a trip to experience four seasons in one day, perhaps starting with blue sky and bright sunshine and arriving to thick grey cloud and snow! The roads had varying conditions and would pass through various terrain such as deep river valleys or twist up and over steep mountains, so driving required a lot of concentration.
From a road safety perspective this meant keeping focused on the road ahead at all times, adapting my speed to the conditions, and not allowing the stunning scenery to distract me whilst driving. Regular breaks to stay refreshed were also important and provided a great opportunity to enjoy the views.
The drive from Christchurch to Queenstown was always one of my favourites and would take most of the day, passing by snowy mountains, alongside icy blue alpine lakes, such as Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki, and through the dramatic landscape of the Lindis Pass. Finally I’d arrive at Queenstown, from where the adventure would continue on.
So if you love road trips – and long to see surreal landscapes which will truly take your breath away, consider putting a visit to the land of the long white cloud on your bucket list. In my view it’s an incredible country – and exploring it by road can be the experience of a lifetime.
By Anjuli Cooper, part of IAM RoadSmart’s marketing team