Is there a highway in New Zealand that isn’t scenic? If there is, we’ve yet to find it, and with car rental locations in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown, we’ve driven more than a few of them. From north island to south island, mountains to sea, these are the roads to put on your driving itinerary.
The barren and otherworldly hills of Lindis Pass may be uniform in colour – muted olive green in summer, golden brown in autumn and snowy white through winter – but they don’t need more than one shade to provide an impressive view on a winding drive through the mountain pass. Taking travellers between Mt Cook Village and Queenstown, the road is best taken slow, with multiple stops for photos along the way. Make sure you stop at the summit viewpoint for a great view of the road snaking through the hills – bonus Instagram points if you can get your rental car in the shot and hashtag it with #EnterpriseANZ so we can share the journey.
You’ve no doubt seen endless angles of New Zealand’s most famous summit, its jagged peaks towering above the picturesque road below. The road you’ll want to take to get that perfect shot is Highway 80, which travels along the edge of Lake Pukaki all the way to the foothills of the iconic mountain, about three hours from Queenstown. Cross your fingers for a clear day when the peak is visible – but you can always extend your rental period with us if cloud cover gets in the way.
Norway, is that you? Nope, that’s the dramatic fjords of Milford Sound, situated on the west coast of the South Island, just outside of Queenstown. Adventure lovers can hop out of their hire car and try kayaking or diving amongst the glacier carved cliffs and tumbling waterfalls, while those who prefer to keep their feet nice and dry can board a scenic cruise and set sail across the fjord. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time for the drive – the four hour drive will quickly turn into five or six with all the photo stops you’ll want to make.
Less well known but no less breathtaking, the road along the edge of the Coromandel Peninsula isn’t for the faint-hearted, but if blind curves and narrow edges don’t phase you, the views you’ll find along highway 25 are worth the heart in your throat moments. A venture all the way up to the top of the peninsula from our branch at Auckland Airport is doable in a day, but we’d suggest a night in a cosy cabin in Coromandel to make the most of it and leave time for a lengthy stop at Cathedral Cove, where a natural archway under the cliffs leads to a pristine beach, perfect for a summer swim.
The drive through Haast Pass is one best done with plenty of stops, as the most picturesque points along this route aren’t visible from the road. Getting out of the car and setting off on the many short walks are well worth the effort though, with sights like the crystal clear Blue Pools, trickling Fantail Falls and several idyllic lakes awaiting you along the route. Find the start of the pass about two hours and 45 minutes outside of Queenstown, and just keep driving – the entire route stretches for some 140km through a diverse range of scenery.