19 July, 2018
Last updated on 19 July, 2022
Posted by Spaceships Crew
We know you’re excited about your road trip in New Zealand, but before you start, check out the info below. We’ll about you about the road conditions in New Zealand in just one easy-to-read blog post.
New Zealand roads in general
To get to all those awesome sights and fun places in New Zealand, the country offers close to 100,000 kilometres of road: 11,000 km in the motorway (state highway) network and almost 83,000 km of local roads.
That’s a lot of kilometres of driving and a lot of different road types to explore in New Zealand. That’s why our little country is such an awesome road trip destination. Check out what it’s like to do a #spaceshipsroadtrip (photos from fellow travellers).
And as you want to see as much as possible, you'll be driving heaps of kilometres in New Zealand. Now you know why we highly recommend going for full insurance when hiring a Spaceships campervan. Our Stress-Free Insurance option is the only insurance option that will give you complete peace of mind! It has $0 bond/excess and covers heaps (from windscreen chips to the underbody of the vehicle).
Quality of the roads (road conditions) in New Zealand
Before you start your road trip it’s good to know a bit more about the road conditions in New Zealand. All these kilometres of road can be classified in three types of materials.
This type of road is easy to recognise as it’s used around the world. It’s that black, smooth material used for motorways and highways. The same in New Zealand, the busy motorways are almost always made of asphalt. That’s around 11,000 km of asphalt roads in New Zealand or 10% of the total kilometres of road.
Road trip tip: no matter the weather or road conditions, our Stress-Free insurance option is the ONLY option that will give you complete peace of mind when roadtripping in New Zealand.
Chipseal is the most common type of road surface in New Zealand. It’s created by a layer of stones (chips) set in tar (asphalt or bitumen). These chips are small, sharp-edged rocks. On the South Island, they come from rivers, while on the North Island they're mainly sourced from quarries.
A typical chipseal road in New Zealand (South Island)
It’s a durable way of creating safe roads but it also means that chips can come loose, especially if the surface is relatively new. Slowing down when approaching roadworks is best and safest for the road workers and your vehicle. Loose chips can hit your windscreen and crack or even break it.
Stone chips cost $150 each to repair... But our Stress-Free insurance option covers unlimited stone chips and even a windscreen replacement. That's what we call a no-worries-road-trip.
Fun fact about the chip-seal roads in New Zealand: North Island roads are darker (more blackish) than South Island chip-seal roads (more greyish) due to the natural materials used.
This is what we call gravel or “loose metal” roads. They consist of clay, pumice or gravel. As the surface of these roads is loose it can move under your wheels and loose stones or gravel may hit your campervan (underbody of the vehicle or even the windscreen. Luckily all these items are covered when you choose the Stress-Free insurance option when hiring a Spaceship. It’s our ‘no worries’ insurance option.
These unsealed roads are usually minor roads in rural areas… But they often lead to the most amazing places. It’s truly off-the-beaten-path travelling, as you can see in the free NZ Frenzy guidebooks we provide. You’ll get to places that are often only visited by locals as most tourists miss out on these gems. And yes, you’re allowed to drive on gravel roads with your Spaceship.
Gravel roads in New Zealand will take you to amazing places
Road conditions and weather forecast
Just as important to check before starting a new day on your road trip is checking the weather forecast and the road conditions. Especially a must-do before you drive off in certain months of the year, like winter in New Zealand.
And always keep in mind to drive to the conditions. If visibility is reduced, roads are wet or if it’s snowy, reduce your speed. See for more info and tips on our Safe Driving Tips.
Toll roads in New Zealand
Toll roads are roads where you have to pay to use them. In your home country you would call this:
Route à péage (French)
Strada a pedaggio (Italian)
Carretera de peaje (Spanish)
There are only a few toll roads in New Zealand. They're listed below.
North Island Toll Roads
Northern Gateway toll road: 7.5km motorway north of Auckland between Silverdale and Pūhoi, part of State Highway 1 (SH1).
Tauranga Eastern Link toll road: 15km tolled section of State Highway 2 (SH2) running between the Domain Road interchange, near Pāpāmoa, and the Paengaroa roundabout (SH2 and SH33 to Whakatāne and Rotorua).
Takitimu Drive toll road (Tauranga): 5km road that bypasses the Tauranga city centre and takes traffic from State Highway 29 (SH29) to State Highway 2 (SH2) in the direction of the Port of Tauranga and Mt Maunganui.