22 people found this article useful

New Zealand Driving Times You Need to Know

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.

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.

Base Hostels


North Island Driving Times

Auckland Central to:

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

Rotorua to:

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

Napier to:

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

Wellington to:

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

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


South Island driving Times

Picton to:

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

Christchurch to:

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

Franz Josef to:

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

Queenstown to:

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

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

Videos About Driving in New Zealand

If you liked this article, then you might like…

Haka Tours
Was this article useful? Useful Useless
Help other travellers, share this article now:
Nomads Hostels
Useful Tips

9 Tips to Prepare for a Multi-Day Hike in New Zealand

Prepare for the New Zealand wilderness. True wilderness is only discovered by [...]

Nataliej44 on Wikipedia

5 Fun Things to Do in Pukekohe

Pukekohe Activities and attractions you can’t miss! Every traveller road tripping around [...]

XE - Money Transfer
Hot on Backpacker Guide
Water Activities
Tourism NZ - Adam Bryce

10 Damn Relaxing Hot Pools in New Zealand

What are the best hot pools in New Zealand? New Zealand has […]

Airport Tips

Arriving at Auckland Airport, New Zealand

Welcome to New Zealand! After a long gruelling flight, you have finally […]

Work Tips & Essentials

How to Open a New Zealand Bank Account

Opening a New Zealand bank account. For many backpackers and working holidaymakers, […]

We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. This includes personalizing content and advertising. To learn more, click here. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, revised Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.
I accept