Travel isn’t limited to those entering their golden years; indeed, now may be an ideal opportunity to experience New Zealand road travel!
Here are our favorite scenic drives for senior travellers in New Zealand, from fjord cruises to volcanic hikes – these will surely offer adventure while showing you all that New Zealand has to offer!
1. Milford Sound Road
Senior travelers looking to explore New Zealand should prioritize a trip along Milford Sound Road as an icon of their trip. From campervan adventures, driving your own car or booking tours or scenic flights – Milford Sound Road stands as one of New Zealand’s premier drives, worthy of any senior’s bucket list.
From Te Anau to Milford Sound, your journey will take you through Fiordland National Park and Te Wahipounamu Wilderness Area – two incredible national parks located within New Zealand’s South Island. One highlight is entering Homer Tunnel – an 1200 meter-long tunnel cut through sheer rock cliffs with panoramic views. Additionally, Eglington Valley with its lowland beech forests as well as Mirror Lakes which perfectly reflect Earl Mountains when calm weather prevails are sure to leave an indelible mark on visitors’ minds!
Once at Milford Sound, take an unforgettable cruise for up to two hours on this world-famous fjord while admiring towering cliffs and cascading waterfalls carved by glaciers. Its incredible blue water is truly spectacular. To experience nature up close and personal, hike along Milford Track; most people complete it within three to four hours on dry days; alternatively stretch your legs on Hollyford Valley Walk which offers spectacular sweeping views of this picturesque valley below.
2. Great Ocean Road
As you drive New Zealand’s Great Ocean Road, you will encounter stunning landscapes that beg to be explored slowly and slowly. Don’t be alarmed if your GPS says there’s still two hours ahead; chances are good you will stop to admire the sceneries and take photos frequently along your journey.
Your journey begins in Christchurch and winds its way along the South Island’s coastal roads all the way down to Greymouth, passing through Canterbury plains and Southern Alps that divide this island in half. From here you can board the TranzAlpine train that will transport you directly to Queenstown or Milford Sound.
Visit Abel Tasman National Park in the north of the island for easy one-hour walks to five-day treks through stunning beaches, forests and thermal activity of volcanic origin.
Though you might not expect it, New Zealand boasts a truly remarkable forest of Californian redwood trees in Otway Forest near Apollo Bay – making for an unexpectedly atmospheric visit and one of the highlights of Great Ocean Road.
After your tour is over, Apollo Bay offers a tranquil seaside town experience filled with sandy beaches and artist studios. Additionally, there are some fantastic seafood restaurants here such as Anglesea Surf Lifesaving Club’s Captain Moonlite restaurant or Skenes Creek on top of Apollo Bay with breathtaking ocean views through towering gum trees.
3. Pacific Coast Highway
New Zealand boasts an abundance of natural beauty that makes for an incredible road trip vacation experience. Rent a car or campervan and explore its beautiful coastline, lush rainforests, and friendly people that make this country so remarkable.
Start in Christchurch and drive along the picturesque Canterbury countryside until reaching the Pacific Coast Highway which follows Kaikoura’s coast, then onward to Coromandel where you’ll discover beautiful beaches and natural hideaways framed by spectacular rainforests, such as Cathedral Cove or Hot Water Beach where you can dig your own geothermal hot pool!
Road travelers then head inland through Lake Waikaremoana National Park where wildlife such as native bird species and whales can be seen on your 3-day Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk. From there, it leads over Homer Tunnel which affords breathtaking views of Coromandel Harbor and rugged coastlines.
Punakaiki, situated on the edge of Paparoa National Park, features the popular Pancake Rocks which have become iconic landmarks over time. You can take a leisurely walk around its loop trail before visiting some nearby blowholes for some spectacular sights!
At Picton, the last leg of your journey takes you across Cook Strait on a leisurely ferry ride offering gorgeous seascapes and comfortable lounge chairs – not forgetting snacks from Picton’s cafe car!
4. Surf Highway 45
New Zealand is an ideal country for road trips due to its small size, easy accessibility by car or campervan and diverse experiences and landscapes. New Zealand coach tours for seniors offer scenic drives, cultural encounters and gourmet dining – making the journey all the more worthwhile!
Day 11 – Wanaka to Aoraki/Mount Cook
New Zealand’s southern lakes region is an adventure playground, offering skiing, white-water rafting and bungee jumping activities galore. However, driving from Arrowtown to Wanaka over Cardrona Pass can also be breathtaking; winding its way through mountainous scenery on an impressive road with dramatic rocky outcrops like Cardrona Pass. Stop at Hot Water Beach (during low tide you can dig your own hot tub), or walk alongside Karangaheke Gorge where old mining railway tracks still run parallel with each other – then trek Roy’s Peak for incredible panoramic views over Lake Wanaka and beyond!
State Highway 45 – known by many as Surf Highway 45 – winds from New Plymouth to Hawera on the western edge of North Island and makes for a breathtaking journey. Its volcanically formed coastline boasts black sand beaches backed by rugged mountains, punctuated by Tasman Sea waves. Mount Taranaki (Egmont) stands tall while quiet side roads provide ample opportunity to view seal colonies or see remnants from 1903 shipwreck SS Gairloch wreckage.