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Road Trips

13 Tips to Handle Long Distance Driving

New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand with their spectacular scenery and good roads are a holiday driving dream. There are periods when you are driving long distances (from 300 km in a single day). Here are safety tips to assist you while behind the wheel and in holiday mode ‘down under’.

1. FORWARD PLANNING

 

  • Know where you are going, fortunately google maps is very useful, unfortunately google maps is not always correct. TIP: Check out a local town and where it is on a map, then you’ve got a landmark to aim for.
  • Know where the toilet stops, cafes and resting spots are. Lookout vantage points are a great reason to pull over and breathe.
  • Know what the weather forecast is for the area you are driving through.
Lake Pukaki, road New Zealand
Lake Pukaki
Lake Pukaki, motorhome, New Zealand
Lake Pukaki

2. YOUR VEHICLE PREPARATION FOR A LONG DRIVE

 

  • Check the fuel level 
  • Check your vehicle is road-worthy and in tip top condition
  • Check you have a road service kit for a burst tyre and/or a spare type

3. REST THE NIGHT BEFORE A LONG DISTANCE DRIVE

 

  • Fatigue is dangerous and coffee adrenaline spikes is not the answer.
  • Do not consume alcohol the day before a long drive.
  • Know your own limits on the numbers of hours you can safely drive and do not push yourself over the limit.
Motorhome, Matamata, Waikato, New Zealand @firthtower
Motorhome, Matamata, Waikato @firthtower
Lake Wakatipu drive from Queenstown, Wanaka, New Zealand
Lake Wakatipu drive from Queenstown, Wanaka

4. LONG DISTANCE DRIVING – TAKE A BREAK

 

  • Take a break every two hours or 200 km.
  • During your break have a snack, stretch the legs and relax. Taking a break will give you a boost until the next stop. 
  • A break helps you stay alert and focused while driving.
  • Share the driving responsibilities on a long distance journey.

5. LONG DISTANCE DRIVING ALLOW PLENTY OF TIME TO GET TO YOUR DESTINATION

 

  • Why rush, you are on holiday
  • Allow ½ hour extra for every 100 km of the journey
Viewpoint along Tuatapere-Orepuki road, at McCracken's Rest Lookout, New Zealand
Viewpoint along Tuatapere-Orepuki road, at McCracken's Rest Lookout
Te Paki stream entrance to Ninety Mile Beach, Northland, New Zealand
A vehicle heads along 90-Mile Beach in Northland

6. LONG DISTANCE DRIVING DOES NOT HAVE A DRESS CODE – BE COMFORTABLE

 

  • Wear comfortable clothes and closed footwear. Don’t drive in flip flops (jandals). Get support for your back with a support pillow if required.
  • In summer make sure you have sunscreen on exposed arms and your face.
  • Make sure your sunglasses are easily accessible to avoid glare.

7. CRUISE CONTROL CAN LEAD TO DRIVER INATTENTION

 

  • Cruise control can lead to a loss of concentration behind the wheel. If you have cruise control, use it for short periods only. Deliberately turn cruise control off and exercise your focus.
Hawthorne Dean farmhouse cafe, rural gravel drive in the middle of suburban, Auckland, New Zealand
Hawthorne Dean farmhouse cafe, rural gravel drive in the middle of suburban, Auckland
@Little Dynamite Food and Coffee
@Little Dynamite Food and Coffee

8. FOOD, EATING AND HYDRATION WHILE ON A LONG DISTANCE DRIVE

 

  • Eat small portions and snacks at regular intervals to give your body energy boosts. Food high in fibre and protein, not loaded with lots of sugar.
  • Snacking on junk food is part of the fun, balance between the foodie treats and the good stuff.
  • In summer, plan on enjoying an ice cream or two.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Try to stop, rest, revive and survive while snacking.

9. CIRCULATE FRESH AIR WHILE LONG DISTANCE DRIVING

 

  • Open the windows intermittently to let blasts of fresh air into the car.
View of blurry Mount Cook with women sitting on the roof of her car, Southern Alps, New Zealand, Aoraki National park
View of blurry Mount Cook
Road conditions, steep sharp narrow rural roads, New Zealand
Road conditions, steep sharp narrow rural roads

10. OBEY THE ROAD RULES WHILE DRIVING

 

  • Driving requires your full attention and don’t be distracted by the mobile, kids having an argument in the back seat or where did that sweet packet go to.

11. NIGHT DRIVING ON LONG DISTANCE TRIPS

 

  • Night driving requires additional concentration. Avoid if possible.
  • You are not as alert at night. Your body is used to relaxing and sleeping, so staying up to drive is no easy task.
@underthestarsnz
@underthestarsnz
Whangamata in summer, with pohutukawa trees blooming on Port Road, Coromandel, New Zealand
Whangamata in summer, with pohutukawa trees blooming on Port Road, Coromandel

12. BOREDOM IS A HAZARD WHEN LONG DISTANCE DRIVING

 

  • Podcasts, music and entertainment are tried and true methods to keep boredom from chilling out the brain.

13. AND THE BEST TIP FOR LONG DISTANCE DRIVING

 

THIS IS WEIRD – EXTENT THE DRIVE BY FEW KMS

It makes the drive a little easier by breaking up those long stretches on the highway, and two, it adds some excitement by taking you down roads less explored. Become a roadie adventurer.

 

Some of the best road trip memories happen when you get off the beaten path and discover something new and unusual. You have permission to turn left and take the exit to the ‘World’s largest xx’. 

 

The destination is part of the holiday, getting there is half of the fun. Getting there on an Australian or New Zealand road trip is its own adventure.

The Forgotten World Highway in the town of Whangamomona, New Zealand
The Forgotten World Highway in the town of Whangamomona

Just to make your holiday easier we’ve compiled a few guides to…

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