All you need to know about the roads in New Zealand

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 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 Zealad. Now you know why we highly recommend going for full insurance when hiring a Spaceships campervan. Our All-Inclusive 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). See the full list of items covered by the All-Inclusive option.

And to answer your question about toll roads... Yes there are some toll roads in New Zealand.

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.

Asphalt

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 All-Inclusive insurance option is the ONLY option that will give you complete peace of mind when roadtripping in New Zealand. More details!

Chipseal

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. In the South Island they come from rivers, while in the North Island they're mainly sourced from quarries.

Dream Sleeper Mini on chipseal road

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 $75 each to repair... But our All-Inclusive 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 chipseal 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.

Road trip tip: make it a worry-free road trip! Upgrade to All-Inclusive (Full) Insurance as it has the most extensive cover. You can upgrade online (Manage Your Booking) or when picking up your vehicle. More info about the insurance options

Unsealed surfaces

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 All-Inclusive insurance option when hiring a Spaceship. It’s our ‘no worries’ insurance option.

These unsealed roads are usually minor road 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.

Beta campervan on gravel road

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 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:

  • Tolweg (Dutch)
  • Mautstraße (German)
  • Route à péage (French)
  • Toldvej (Danish)
  • Strada a pedaggio (Italian)
  • Carretera de peaje (Spanish)
  • 收费路 (Chinese)

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.

More & detailed info about these toll roads can be found on NZ Transport Agency's website.

Paying for toll roads as Spaceships customer: please pay for any toll roads used upon return. We accept payment in cash or by credit card.