8 Best Scenic Drives in New Zealand (with Photos)
New Zealand is a country that is filled with natural wonders and stunning landscapes. One of the best ways to experience the beauty of this country is by taking a scenic drive.
With so many incredible routes to choose from, deciding which ones to prioritize can be challenging. Here are some of the best scenic drives in New Zealand that you won’t want to miss.
1. Milford Road
Milford Road is often referred to as one of the most beautiful drives in the world, and it’s easy to see why. This road takes you through the heart of the Fiordland National Park, where you’ll encounter breathtaking scenery at every turn.
The drive is 120km long and takes approximately two hours to complete. You’ll see stunning mountain ranges, crystal-clear lakes, and majestic waterfalls along the way. If you have time, be sure to stop at the Homer Tunnel, a remarkable engineering feat.
2. Coastal Pacific Highway
The Coastal Pacific Highway is a 353km drive that takes you along the northeastern coast of the South Island. This route is particularly popular during the summer months, as it offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. You’ll see a rugged coastline, vineyards, and charming seaside towns. You may even spot whales or dolphins in the distance if you’re lucky. The drive takes approximately five hours, but it’s well worth it.
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3. Arthur’s Pass
Arthur’s Pass is a mountain pass that crosses the Southern Alps of New Zealand. The drive takes you through the heart of Arthur’s Pass National Park, where you’ll see stunning mountain ranges, glaciers, and waterfalls.
The road is known for its narrow, winding sections, so taking your time and driving carefully is important. The drive is 153km long and takes approximately three hours to complete.
4. Forgotten World Highway
The Forgotten World Highway is a 155km drive that takes you through some of the most remote parts of the North Island. This route is known for its stunning scenery, including rugged mountains and deep gorges.
Along the way, you’ll pass through small towns and historic sites, including the Republic of Whangamomona, which is a self-proclaimed independent state.
The drive takes approximately four hours to complete, but it’s well worth it for the unique and unforgettable experience.
5. Crown Range Road
The Crown Range Road is the highest sealed road in New Zealand, reaching a maximum elevation of 1,121 meters above sea level. The drive takes you through the Southern Alps, where you’ll see stunning mountain ranges and deep valleys.
The road is known for its steep inclines and sharp turns, making it a thrilling drive for those who love a bit of adventure. The drive is only 21km long, but it takes approximately 45 minutes to complete.
6. Haast Pass
Haast Pass is a scenic drive that takes you through the Southern Alps’ heart, connecting the South Island’s east and west coasts. The drive is 140km long and takes approximately two and a half hours.
Along the way, you’ll see breathtaking landscapes, including majestic waterfalls, rugged mountains, and ancient forests. If you have time, be sure to stop at the Blue Pools, which are known for their crystal-clear waters.
7. Lindis Pass
The Lindis Pass is a scenic drive that takes you through the heart of the Southern Alps, connecting the Mackenzie Basin with Central Otago. The drive is 63km long and takes approximately one hour to complete. You’ll see stunning landscapes, including snow-capped mountains and tussock-covered hills along the way.
The road is known for its winding sections and steep inclines, making it a challenging but rewarding drive.
8. Queen Charlotte Drive
The Queen Charlotte Drive is a scenic drive that takes you along the northern coast of the South Island, between the towns of Picton and Havelock.
The drive is 40km long and takes approximately one hour to complete. You’ll see stunning views of the Marlborough Sounds, deep blue waters, and forest-covered hills along the way. The road is known for its narrow, winding sections, so taking your time and driving carefully is important.
New Zealand offers the world’s most beautiful and unforgettable scenic drives. From the stunning mountains of Milford Road to the rugged coastline of the Coastal Pacific Highway, there’s something for everyone.
Whether you’re a seasoned road tripper or just looking for a memorable way to experience the beauty of this incredible country, these drives won’t disappoint.
So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready for an adventure you’ll never forget!