New Zealand distances and travel times.
Although New Zealand is a relatively compact nation (around the size of the United Kingdom), road journeys can often take longer than anticipated.
When you look at a map, what may look like a journey of say 1 hour, could actually be double that.
Why? Several reasons.
Fistly, many parts of New Zealand are mountainous, meaning that roads are often winding with frequent changes in elevation, particularly in the South Island.
Secondly, weather conditions in the colder months leave some roads affected by ice and snow, which can significantly increase travel times. Because of this, car rental companies sometimes insist on snow chains, so please be aware of this if you are traveling in winter.
And thirdly, because the scenery is so stunning, you will find yourself stopping frequently to take pictures (we speak from experience!).
The New Zealand road system is generally very good, and is well
maintained. However, you need to carefully plan your trip to ensure that
you don't drive when fatigued. Allow for plenty of rest stops, stopping
at least every two hours. The wonderful thing about traveling in New
Zealand, is that rest stops are usually accompanied by amazing views.
As an example of the increased driving times in New Zealand, consider this. Te Anau to Milford Sound is 121 kilometres. At an average speed of 80 kilometres per hour the trip should take around 1.5 hours. However, the suggested time for the trip is 2 and one quarter hours, meaning an average speed of only 54 kilometres per hour for the journey. This is fairly indicative of travel in New Zealand.
Before driving, please check road conditions, particularly in winter.
You can check driving times and distances below
Please use the links below for driving distances and driving times:
When planning your trip, please also make use of our free
New Zealand itineraries.