From Taupo to Wellington: A New Zealand Road Trip

I can’t think of a better country to drive through than New Zealand. There’s so much surrounding you, from breath-taking landscapes to out of the ordinary wild life; there’s never a dull moment. The main roads are also well-paved, which allows for easy travel along the way.  However, if you brave it, the dirt roads winding along cliff sides are well-worth the adrenaline rush, plus, they make for a good story.  You can’t go wrong with a New Zealand road trip!

My cousin and I were in New Zealand for a week visiting our uncle, who graciously allowed us to use his car and encouraged us to explore the country-side. We jumped at the opportunity to explore the land.

We started our journey in Taupo, home of Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. The town, set along the side of the lake, had much to offer, however, it was low season making it quieter than usual. Still, we explored the local area, headed to Huka Falls and shopped in the center of town.

Early the next morning, we headed out on Route 1, down the Desert Road through the Rangipo Desert. Stretched out across the desert lie Mount Ruapehu, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Tongariro, three active volcanoes. The entire drive is spent in awe of how majestic these three landforms are in their setting across the desert. It’s peaceful, quiet, and, in many ways, a spiritual experience. Luckily, there are plenty of points to pull over to snap some photos and take in all nature has to offer.

After a long drive and multiple stops to photograph the scenery and marvel at the snow, we continued down Route 1 to Route 54 through Palmerston North and on to Route 2. This was out of the way on our journey to Wellington, but well-worth the trip to Martinborough, wine country of the North.

While not as well-known as Marlborough on the South Island, it was still worth the trek. The town is quaint, and you can grab a quick lunch, shop the boutiques, and, of course, head to the many wineries in the area. Even though many places were closed for winter, we stumbled upon Tir Hana. Here we relaxed, tasted wine, and had the chance to speak with the owners, since we were the only ones around. We then bought a bottle of our favorite wine, and headed back on the road towards the capital.

We met back up with Route 2 and headed to Wellington, the third largest city in New Zealand. We just planned on staying a night on the southern tip of the North Island, but enjoyed our time so much, we stayed another day. Here we spent our time exploring The Civic Center, along with the beautiful views of the harbor. We rode the cable car, shopped on Cuba Street, and even took a Lord of the Rings tour to get a feel for the areas surrounding the city, including Upper and Lower Hutt. At night, we explored the bars on Cuba Street and Courtenay Place. Even though it was rainy and windy during our entire stay, it was hard to leave this city and head back up North.

In New Zealand, the road is sure to lead to somewhere special. Whether you take the road traveled, or the one less taken, you are bound to stumble upon many memorable experiences.

This was a guest post by Erin Musich.  You can follow her adventures on her blog the The World Wanderer.