New Zealand Driving Times You Need to Know
New Zealand Driving Times You Need to Know

New Zealand Driving Times You Need to Know

© Unsplash

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 for all you UK and US travellers.

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.©

North Island Driving Times

Auckland Central to:

Paihia – 240km, 149 miles, 3h35min
Gisborne – 480km, 298 miles, 6h30min
Waitomo – 200km, 124 miles, 3h10min
Rotorua – 233km, 145 miles, 3h35min
Napier – 422km, 262 miles, 5h05min
Tongariro National Park – 326km, 203 miles, 4h
Wellington – 658km, 409 miles, 9h15min

Rotorua to:

Paihia – 475km, 295 miles, 7h50min
Auckland Central – 233km, 145 miles, 3h35min
Gisborne – 274km, 170 miles, 3h45min
Waitomo – 166km, 103 miles, 1h55min
Napier – 224km, 139 miles, 3h20min
Tongariro National Park – 141km, 88 miles, 1h45min
Wellington – 460km, 286 miles, 6h30min

Napier to:

Paihia – 661km, 411 miles, 9h50min
Auckland Central – 422km, 262 miles, 6h35min
Gisborne – 214km, 133 miles, 3h
Waitomo – 306km, 190 miles, 5h
Rotorua – 224km, 139 miles, 3h50min
Tongariro National Park – 194km, 121 miles, 2h30min
Wellington – 323km, 201 miles, 4h50min

Wellington to:

Paihia – 898km, 558 miles, 13h30min
Auckland Central – 658km, 409 miles, 9h15min
Gisborne – 532km, 330 miles, 7h
Rotorua – 460km, 286 miles, 6h30min
Waitomo – 274km, 294 miles, 7h10min
Tongariro National Park – 287km, 178 miles, 3h35min

Don’t forget to check out The North Island Scenic State Highways.©

South Island Driving Times

Picton to:

Christchurch – 336km, 209 miles, 5h
Franz Josef – 522km, 324 miles, 6h40min
Mt Cook – 666km, 414 miles, 9h45min
Queenstown – 822km, 511 miles, 13h20min
Milford Sound – 1109km, 608 miles, 18h25min
Invercargill – 895km, 556 miles, 11h50min

Christchurch to:

Picton – 336km, 209 miles, 5h
Franz Josef – 383km, 387 miles, 5h
Mt Cook – 331km, 206 miles, 4h55min
Queenstown – 486km, 302 miles, 7h15min
Milford Sound – 772km, 480 miles, 10h40min
Invercargill – 566km, 352 miles, 7h20min

Franz Josef to:

Picton – 522km, 324 miles, 6h40min
Christchurch – 383km, 387 miles, 5h
Mt Cook – 480km, 298 miles, 5h55min
Queenstown – 350km, 217 miles, 4h40min
Milford Sound – 625km, 388 miles, 8h15min
Invercargill – 525km, 326 miles, 7h

Queenstown to:

Picton – 822km, 511 miles, 13h20min
Christchurch – 486km, 302 miles, 7h15min
Mt Cook – 262km, 163 miles, 3h50min
Franz Josef – 350km, 217 miles, 4h40min
Milford Sound – 219km, 181 miles, 5h05min
Invercargill – 187km, 116 miles, 2h24min

Don’t forget to check out The South Island Scenic Routes.


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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