New Zealand Driving Times You Need to Know

(c) Tourism NZ Graeme Murray

Driving times in New Zealand

New Zealand is the ultimate road-tripping country! Although it’s a small country, New Zealand is packed with things to see and do which can only be a good thing considering the driving times in New Zealand can be pretty long. Varied landscape from flat highways to mountain roads makes the New Zealand driving times a bit all over the place. With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of New Zealand driving times.As you’ll see from the driving times below, the main hubs and attractions in New Zealand are a long drive away from each other. It’s recommended that you break up the drive or even days by stopping off at the many smaller towns and attractions along the way. For inspiration on where to visit, see our North Island itinerary and South Island itinerary.Note that New Zealand driving distances are measured in kilometres (km). We have also included the distance in miles (m) for all you UK and US travellers.

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3 Things You Need to Know about the New Zealand Driving Times

  • Check and double-check your GPS route! Some GPS’ will propose the fastest route to your destination but not necessarily the best route. For instance, a narrow and winding logging road might be the fastest route to your destination in kilometres, but the road might not be ideal for your rental car or campervan. Check with a paper map or on the satellite view of your GPS that you will be following a main road.
  • Allow extra time onto your estimated travel time. The New Zealand roads are winding and are sometimes gravel roads, which means you’ll be driving slower. Always add a bit of contingency time to your estimated travel times.
  • Use the rest stops! Along New Zealand roads, rest stops on the side of the highways are clearly signposted with a picnic table icon. These are a safe place to pull over, stretch your legs and have a break from the long drive.

For more driving tips and road safety in New Zealand, see 12 Safe Driving Tips for New Zealand.

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North Island Driving Times

Auckland Central to:

Paihia – 240km, 149m, 3h35minGisborne – 480km, 298m, 6h30minWaitomo – 200km, 124m, 3h10minRotorua – 233km, 145m, 3h35minNapier – 422km, 262m, 5h05minTongariro National Park – 326km, 203m, 4hWellington – 658km, 409m, 9h15min

Rotorua to:

Paihia – 475km, 295m, 7h50minAuckland Central – 233km, 145m, 3h35minGisborne – 274km, 170m, 3h45minWaitomo – 166km, 103m, 1h55minNapier – 224km, 139m, 3h20minTongariro National Park – 141km, 88m, 1h45minWellington – 460km, 286m, 6h30min

Napier to:

Paihia – 661km, 411m, 9h50minAuckland Central – 422km, 262m, 6h35minGisborne – 214km, 133m, 3hWaitomo – 306km, 190m, 5hRotorua – 224km, 139m, 3h50minTongariro National Park – 194km, 121m, 2h30minWellington – 323km, 201m, 4h50min

Wellington to:

Paihia – 898km, 558m, 13h30minAuckland Central – 658km, 409m, 9h15minGisborne – 532km, 330m, 7hRotorua – 460km, 286m, 6h30minWaitomo – 274km, 294m, 7h10minTongariro National Park – 287km, 178m, 3h35minDon’t forget to check out The North Island Scenic State Highways.

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South Island driving Times

Picton to:

Christchurch – 336km, 209m, 5hFranz Josef – 522km, 324m, 6h40minMt Cook – 666km, 414m, 9h45minQueenstown – 822km, 511m, 13h20minMilford Sound – 1109km, 608m, 18h25minInvercargill – 895km, 556m, 11h50min

Christchurch to:

Picton – 336km, 209m, 5hFranz Josef – 383km, 387m, 5hMt Cook – 331km, 206m, 4h55minQueenstown – 486km, 302m, 7h15minMilford Sound – 772km, 480m, 10h40minInvercargill – 566km, 352m, 7h20min

Franz Josef to:

Picton – 522km, 324m, 6h40minChristchurch – 383km, 387m, 5hMt Cook – 480km, 298m, 5h55minQueenstown – 350km, 217m, 4h40minMilford Sound – 625km, 388m, 8h15minInvercargill – 525km, 326m, 7h

Queenstown to:

Picton – 822km, 511m, 13h20minChristchurch – 486km, 302m, 7h15minMt Cook – 262km, 163m, 3h50minFranz Josef – 350km, 217m, 4h40minMilford Sound – 219km, 181m, 5h05minInvercargill – 187km, 116m, 2h24minDon’t forget to check out The South Island Scenic Routes.

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