There are many perfect places to pull over during your road trip, to admire the view and capture some Instagram-worthy #kiwitravelgoals content for your feed. Here are 11 ideas to get you started ...
Māngungu Mission House, Hōreke, Hokianga
Most Kiwis have been to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds at least once in their lives (and if you haven't, you really should), but far fewer have to been to another significant site for Te Tiriti/the Treaty of Waitangi on the opposite coast. Take a detour from State Highway 1 when travelling to Kaitāia and visit Māngungu. On the shore of the Hokianga Harbour, it was established in the 1820s as a Wesleyan Mission station, then in 1840 became the site of the largest signing of the Treaty. More than 70 chiefs signed, in front of a crowd of up to 3000 people. As well as a simple mission house open to visitors, the site offers wonderful views out across the Hokianga and is a peaceful place for moments of quiet reflection.
Manukau Heads Lighthouse, Auckland
The Āwhitu Peninsula, on Auckland's south-west, boasts vast panoramas, sweeping coastlines, and a historic lighthouse — one of only a few in the country open to the public. The views are spectacular and just down the road you'll find tranquil bays, rolling pasture, boutique vineyard Āwhitu Wines, and the historic Kentish Hotel.
Duder Regional Park, Auckland
On the other coast, there are three lovely regional parks well worth a detour — Duder, Waitawa and Tāpapakanga. All offer great walking tracks to stretch your legs, and inspiring views over the Hauraki Gulf islands and out to the Firth of Thames. From here, you're close to the beach town of Maraetai where you can grab fish and chips, an ice cream or just take some time out on the sand.
Te Toto Gorge, Waikato
South of Raglan (which has boast-worthy views of its own), Te Toto Gorge not only looks out to the rugged west coast, it also gives a glimpse of our country's pre-Colonial history. A short walk through the gorge takes you past remnants of traditional Māori garden plots, stonewalls and karaka groves which have been dated back as far as the 17 and 1800s.
Port Waikato, Waikato
This untouched slice of Kiwi coastline is where the Waikato River meets the ocean. As well as great look out points, you'll also find a great surf beach, a cafe, yachting, fishing and a holiday camp. The limestone outcrops in the surrounding hills were used as the setting for Weathertop Hollow in The Lord of the Rings — this is situated on private farmland, but you can view the formations and scenery from Waikāretu Rd.
Rainbow Mountain Summit Track, Rotorua
Take a detour from State Highway 5 about 15 minutes south of Rotorua's city centre to stretch your legs at the aptly named Rainbow Mountain. This is a free, public walking track where you can enjoy the crater lakes on this geothermal mountain. The 360-degree views make the climb truly worthwhile — you can gaze out to Mt Tarawera, three of the region's lakes (Tarawera, Rotomahana and Rerewhakaaitu), the Paeroa Range, Te Urewera Ranges, Kaimanawa Forest, Mt Tauhara, Lake Taupō and the volcanic peaks of Tongariro National Park.
The Crown Range Road, Wānaka
Not one for those prone to motion sickness, the Crown Range lies between Queenstown and Wānaka and the route over it is the highest main road in New Zealand. It twists and turns, and with a high point of 1121m your ears are likely to pop at least once, but the various lookout points will take your breath away. As well as enjoying those views, you'll certainly want to get a snap of the famous Cardrona Hotel — one of New Zealand's oldest and, according to its website, "rumoured to be the most photographed building in New Zealand". As well as making a great back drop for a selfie, it's also a good spot for a hearty feed before hitting the road again.
Port Chalmers lookout, Dunedin
A visit to Port Chalmers is a must when you're in and around Dunedin — you'll find brilliant vintage shops, a regional maritime museum, and the pretty Iona church, built in the 1870s from Oamaru stone. Head up to Flagstaff Lookout for views spanning the busy port, Taiaroa Head, Aramoana, and the Scott Memorial on the hill on the other side of town. You'll also be able to pop into the Hotere Sculpture Garden where you can see works from Hotere himself, Chris Booth, Shona Rapira Davies, and Russell Moses.
Te Āpiti Manawatū Gorge, Manawatū
When heading through the Manawatū, make time to visit Te Āpiti — Manawatū Gorge. The gorge, formed over thousands of years by the Manawatū River, has huge cultural significance to local iwi and is a beautiful slice of nature full of native bush and birds. Take the 4km Tawa Loop walk to get up close to the 6m tall sculpture of Whātonga, an ancient Māori Chief and legendary explorer. If you're pressed for time, the Manawatū Gorge Loop track is an easy 1.2km walk, suitable for pushchairs and young families.
Mt John Summit, Tekapo
If you're feeling fit, you can walk up to Mt John Summit from Tekapo town but, as this issue is all about road trips, we recommend you drive to the top, park near the cafe and walk the Summit Circuit Track which should take around 30 to 45 minutes. The views are outstanding in all directions — mountain peaks, the Mt John Observatory, and the striking blue waters of Lake Tekapo.
The road to Glenorchy, Queenstown
Even if you have never driven this road before, you'll most certainly have seen pictures as it's one of New Zealand's most famous views. That doesn't mean you shouldn't experience it in person — it's well worth the hype. The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy should take no more than 45 minutes, but you could easily double that as you'll want to stop regularly to admire the alpine scenery. A safe place to pullover is Bennetts Bluff, close to Mt Creighton, where there's a small layby and you can get that all-important photo of Lake Wakatipu, the Humboldt Ranges and Mt Earnslaw. When you get to Glenorchy, don't forget to get a snap outside the world famous red shed.
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com