The Australasian by

  • Written by Chloe Taylor

Each year, many New Zealanders are looking forward to the magical holiday season, mainly because they plan on taking a well-deserved vacation during those couple of weeks. That being said, a lot of things have changed with the start of the new decade, and the global health crisis our world is currently experiencing has made travelling much more challenging if not impossible (in case of international travel).

While many international trips had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions, there is still a way to enjoy the holiday season and travel the map as a NZ citizen, and it involves taking a road trip through New Zealand. Below, our top Christmas road trip tips for experiencing the amazing country that is New Zealand.

Go on a backpacking adventure through New Zealand

If you plan to backpack your way through New Zealand, your budget may be one of your biggest concerns when planning your trip. While it may seem expensive, the fact of the matter is, you do not need deep pockets to be able to indulge in such an adventure. In fact, New Zealand is one of the best destinations for vagabonds on a shoestring budget, and the perfect choice for those aspiring to try out the popular #vanlife.

New Zealand is abundant in gorgeous natural scenery and breathtaking views which makes it ideal for any outdoor enthusiast looking to enjoy Nature’s wonders during the holiday season, regardless of whether you are headed to New Zealand’s North or South Island.

When it comes to activities, there are so many things you can do on your backpacking adventure, from celebrating Christmas on the beach with a delicious Christmas BBQ to spending the holiday season at a hostel socializing and making new friends. The choice is up to you.

Hop on a bus and start exploring the wonderful island country

While backpacking certainly has its perks, some individuals may prefer the convenience of travelling by a bus. This flexible mode of transportation comes with its own list of benefits, and the buses stop in every town so you have the option to explore any city you like. Even if you decide to visit a rather small city, you can rest assured knowing there are frequent departures from these small places as well.

Thanks to the large public bus networks in New Zealand, you can get around New Zealand in a cheap and easy way regardless of your route while also having an opportunity to meet new people and possibly make friends on your journey across the country.

If you are looking for something even more flexible and convenient, consider travelling by backpacker buses. These services are quite popular among New Zealanders as the bus companies take on the task of organizing the accommodation and the activities for the travellers while giving them a chance to explore the country at their own pace, thus ensuring a more enjoyable, convenient, stress-free travel experience during the holiday season.

Rely on car rentals to check out all the local must-dos

Regardless of where you are headed to this holiday season, you want to check out all the local must-dos, and travelling by car is one of the most convenient ways to do it. When getting around North Island of New Zealand and its large metropolitan cities, your safest bet would be to choose car rental at Auckland airport and select a vehicle from their large fleet that best suits your taste and budget. By arranging a rental service, you have the freedom to make your own itinerary, visit all the places you want, and take part in various activities while also saving a significant amount of money. And if there happen to be any changes to your plans, you can simply go with the flow and make spontaneous decisions on a whim since you are the one who is in charge.

When in Auckland during the holiday season, consider heading to some of Auckland’s most popular Christmas events such as the annual Santa Parade, festive farmers’ markets, the annual Christmas Concert held by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

Also, be sure to check out the traditional Christmas decorations set up by Franklin Road’s residents every year as a way to showcase their creative spirit during the holidays. While you’re at it, make sure to check out MOTAT’s Christmas Lights as they are another must-see when visiting the North Island of New Zealand.

Discovering the country’s natural beauty by train

Depending on the type of traveller you are, you may prefer to travel slowly and really get the chance to see superb scenery, and scenic train rides may be your best option in this case. For starters, they are much more convenient compared to buses, and they are also more practical when you are travelling between Wellington, Auckland, and Christchurch, the three main cities of New Zealand.

Furthermore, the viewing platforms these trains come with allow the passengers to fully immerse themselves in this holiday travel experience, while the audio commentary and information packets they are accompanied by really help take things to the next level. There are also big windows so you can take the best photographs you can share on your Instagram and Facebook and at the same time create lasting memories you will cherish long after your holiday trip.

From lively green farmlands to breathtaking mountains and rivers, these scenic train rides are one of the best ways to travel through New Zealand’s South Island and discover everything this beautiful country has to offer in a peaceful and mindful way. Although the rides can last longer depending on the tour you select for your train journey, the longest ones being around 11 hours (Auckland-Wellington), the scenic rides are sure to result in an unforgettable holiday travel experience that will definitely be worth every penny.

Wrapping up

While the COVID-19 restrictions have definitely made past couple of years a lot more challenging and practically cancelled any travelling plans people had for Christmas, there are finally ways to have an amazing holiday travel experience as a born-and-bred New Zealander. Whichever mode of transportation you select, if you stick to the public health guidelines and travel-related measures, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable Christmas road trip through New Zealand and manage to end this year on a high note.



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