As I planned my first visit to the stunningly beautiful country of New Zealand, I knew that I wanted the freedom and flexibility to visit everything from the Franz Josef Glacier on the South Island to the vineyards in Hawkes Bay on the North Island. Because I did not want to waste a minute of my limited time waiting for buses or being constrained by a tour group's itinerary, I knew that I needed a New Zealand rental car to fully enjoy all that the country had to offer. What I quickly discovered was that the car rentals in New Zealand are not only affordable and convenient; they are ideal for exploring the vast array of sites on both of the country's islands.
With a few keystrokes on my computer, I was able to reserve an economic car rental in New Zealand prior to departing on my journey. Because I was flying into Auckland, the company offered to have a representative pick me up at the airport to take me to the rental car office. I was picked up curbside right on time in the car that I was going to rent. I was amazed by the efficiency and grateful that I was not going to have to transfer my bags from one car to another at the office. The paperwork process was equally as seamless, as I wasrely had to show my United States driver's license, passport, and credit card. In less than one hour after arriving in Auckland, I was handed the car keys and on my way. With maps in hand and a full tank of gas in my late model New Zealand rental car, I was starting my independent journey to experience all that the country had to offer.
My first destination was the thermal city of Rotorua, 234 kilometers (145 miles) from Auckland. I must admit that I was a bit nervous the first few minutes of driving on the left side of the road, but within a short time. I was navigating as confidently as the locals. It certainly helped that the highways and roads were well paved, mapped, and signed, and that the vast majority of drivers were courteous and law-abiding. I was thoroughly impressed with New Zealand so far and pleased that I had chosen to drive myself rather than hop aboard a tour bus. Along the way, I stopped in a small town for a quick rest and a meal. I was really beginning to appreciate the freedom that my New Zealand rental car was offering me. Unlike an organized tour, I was able to stop, eat, and rest when I felt like it in the locations that I chose. That first evening I picked up some takeout fish and chips, settled into my modest motel room along the highway, and charted on the map my route for the next following days.
After a week of touring the North Island and thoroughly enjoying my New Zealand car hire holiday that had everything from farm shows to wineries and museums, I was ready to tackle the rugged splendor of the South Island. I had coordinated with the rental car company to drive my car onto the Interislander ferry in the capital city of Wellington. The rental car representatives booked the ticket, and the entire process was amazingly easy. Three hours after boarding, I had arrived on the South Island, drve my car off the ship and began the next leg of my journey.
Driving the less traveled roads of the South Island, I journeyed to national parks, explored the coasts, and even had some time to enjoy the cosmopolitan cities of Christchurch and Dunedin. As my memorable trip came to a close, I returned to the North Island and headed back to Auckland to drop off the car and head to the airport. The return procedure was quick, and the New Zealand rental car representative kindly lowered me back to the airport.
My trip to New Zealand was the most memorable and wonderful vacation that I have ever experienced. I had the freedom to explore the country on my terms and time schedule. I was able to see more than just the main tourist attractions and had the pleasure of meeting many of the friendly and welcoming native New Zealanders. I honestly do not know if I would have appreciated as much of the unique culture, diversity, and stunning beauty of the country if I had spent my days on a tour bus. Thankfully, New Zealand is ideal for exploring by rental car and perfect for those travelers looking for a little adventure and a lot of fun. And, of course, I can hardly wait to return to New Zealand for another road trip!