Does the thought of travelling around New Zealand invoke images of relaxed hands on the wheel, wind in your hair, and ‘Born to Be Wild’ playing as your personal theme song? Or is it all white-knuckled terror and not going above bicycle speed? Or somewhere in between? If you’re undecided on whether to let someone else do the driving in New Zealand or to grab the keys and go yourself, this article and our list of questions to ask yourself might help.

 

 


 

1 | You can travel on your own schedule.

 

While your nightly destination is determined by your itinerary (we strongly recommend you don’t ‘wing’ that part of your trip), whether you hit the road early or hit the snooze button one more time is completely up to you. You can start, stop and detour when and where you want to. If you’re on a Black Sheep Self Drive trip, you’re provided with Trip Notes that include maps, worthwhile deviations, suggested activities, and favourite eateries on route, but you have full control to say, ‘Pffftt, I’m doing my own thing today,’ and throwing your day’s trip notes out the window (only metaphorically speaking, of course).

A roadside rest to soak up the Kaikoura sunshine. © Sara Orme
A roadside rest to soak up the Kaikoura sunshine. © Sara Orme

 

2 | It’s just you.

 

It’s your vehicle and your travel companions. You can sing at the top of your lungs or throw caution and clothes to the wind for a skinny dip in a wilderness stream if that’s your thing. It’s no surprise that our Self Drive trips are popular with honeymooners keen to explore New Zealand on their own without the hassle of pulling together yet another big thing.

Your playlist is all your own. © Graeme Murray
Your playlist is all your own. © Graeme Murray

 

3 | Driving yourself costs less.

 

Self Drive trips don’t necessarily mean ‘budget’ trips—they are often just a preferred way to travel. But if you’re comparing the same trip with or without a guide, having a New Zealand travel expert/driver/personal assistant on board is clearly going to come at a higher price. For some, the benefits of having a guide are more than worth it (see our blog on the 4 Top Benefits of a Guided Trip), for others who want to be masters of their destiny (or destination, at least), or who would rather put that money toward other priorities, the savings are a welcomed benefit.

Self Drive tours offer a range of rental-vehicle types from compact to premier. © Black Sheep Touring Co.
Self Drive tours offer a range of rental-vehicle types from compact to premier. © Black Sheep Touring Co.

 

4 | New Zealand roads are challenging.

 

OK, so we have also included this in our blog about why you might choose a Guided trip over a Self Drive trip (see link below), but we’ve put it here because, for some, driving is a passion. If you love to drive, New Zealand roads can definitely raise the adrenalin level and will provide you with plenty of opportunities to indulge your roadtripping lust. New Zealand roads are typically only two lanes—no superhighways here—and are full of twists and turns, mountain passes and one-lane bridges, especially in the South Island. Cruise control is essentially a useless feature here and for some, that’s a Self Drive trip’s very appeal.

The distance between two points is rarely a straight line in New Zealand © Robert Juhnke

 

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF IN CONSIDERING A SELF DRIVE TRIP
Take your time and don't be fooled by the designation 'State Highway'. © Tourism New Zealand
Take your time and don't be fooled by the designation 'State Highway'. © Tourism New Zealand

 

Do you have a lot of driving experience, and have you driven in different countries before?

 

Would you be comfortable driving on the lefthand side of the road (with the wheel on the righthand side of the car)?

 

Are you comfortable driving in adverse weather conditions?

 

Will you be travelling with others who can share the driving?

 

Are you happy with attending to the road and only taking in the scenery when you stop?

 

Are you satisfied learning about a place from guidebooks and online resources rather than firsthand?

 

Are you happy to confirm plans along the way and to deal with any logistical issues that might arise while travelling?

 

Do you prefer your own company (and that of people you know) while travelling? 

 

If you’ve answered ‘Yes’ to any of these, a Self Drive trip could be right for you.

 



 

DON’T MISS: 4 BENEFITS OF A NEW ZEALAND GUIDED TRIP

 



 

 

Keep in mind when considering Guided or Self Drive that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Many of our Black Sheep flock have combined travel styles, driving themselves for a portion of their tour and being led by a guide for another. Feel free to contact one of our Travel Shepherds if you want to explore this option more.

 

 

 

Header Image © Sara Orme