At the end of the Kiwi winter motorists are already planning that time-honoured national pastime: the great Kiwi road trip.

But travellers returning to the roads might not remember it being so expensive to take four wheels for a spin.

This morning the Herald revealed Kiwi motorists are being fleeced of $400,000,000 a year in excess returns.

Particularly those filling up in Auckland feel an extra pinch at the petrol pump with the regional fuel tax.

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What used to be the most economical way of seeing Aotearoa is making Kiwis reconsider their travel options.

Here are our top tips for a planning a road trip that won't cost the earth:

1. Pick your route

There are much better reasons for visiting Ōpōtiki than 'Fuel Tourism', but it was recently identified by Herald readers as New Zealand's cheapest pump. The Bay of Plenty town could be a bit out of your way, but picking a route based on fuel prices could save you in the long run.

Apps such as GaSpy (gaspy.nz) can help drivers find the cheapest fuel prices on route and explore the road less travelled.

2. Bring spares

Empty seats are a waste of space. Filling a car with passengers can help offset the price of filling it with fuel. Even if you can't split the costs, it's a chance to cut your carbon footprint. It seems unreasonable to expect kids to chip in for fuel, but you can't really leave them behind.

The polar bears will thank you.

Kiwis are into roadtrips, in a big way: The giant Lemon Paeroa bottle in Paeroa. Photo / Getty Images
Kiwis are into roadtrips, in a big way: The giant Lemon Paeroa bottle in Paeroa. Photo / Getty Images

3. Hitch

It used to be the reserve of backpackers and sociopaths, however hitch hiking is having a resurgence on New Zealand roads. This is partially thanks to the mobile revolution. Apps like Chariot (getchariot.com) help drivers and hitchers find spare seats going in their direction. Beyond just 'thumbing it' apps can be a cheaper, fairer, often safer way of getting a lift to where you're going.

But of course that's not always an option for families or a group of travellers, unless you flag down a passing minibus.

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4. Ditch the car and fly

Auckland to Taranaki is the classic Kiwi road trip. The six-hour car journey leads to the beaches round New Plymouth or simply to bathe in the majesty of Mt Egmont.

But sometimes you just want to get there. It might surprise road users to know you can do far quicker and more cheaply by air. The 400km will cost around $90 in fuel one way, and the best part of half a day.

With a 50-minute flight with Air NZ for under $80 return, flying seems a more viable option if not the greenest.

Greta Thunberg might protest, but with petrol prices this high Kiwis have little choice but to take to the skies.