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Routes for Road Trip Heaven

Don’t just dream it, drive it!

The South Island regularly features as one of THE top scenic driving destinations in the world, indeed the London Evening Standard recently featured it in their top 5 scenic road trips worldwide, right up there alongside the big name leading lights of coastal roads in Australia, California and Almafi, Italy. Stunning film set scenery is frequently in the frame right from the roadside in the South Island… why not feel like film stars yourselves and take a classic sports convertible on a road trip you’ll want to rerun again and again? Imagine driving a sports car full of celebrity character and red carpet panache, a real joyous head turning rarity on the roads, yet reliable and sensible enough to deal with all that everyday stuff like luggage. Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, MG, Alfa Romeo, premium quality luxury marques with stylish modern classics on offer alongside iconic older ones, that you’ve always had a yearning to drive…..and now you can fulfil that dream on uncrowded, open roads that make for road trip heaven….

Hey snap out of it, this is just all marketing fluff and guff? We beg to differ. There aren’t many places in the world where you can actually hire classic sports and convertibles, combined with some of the best driving roads, (sweeping curves, mountain passes, long straights….), that pass by forests, rivers, mountains, lakes, valleys, cliffs, oceans, dingly dells, the odd sheep…and some very unique cafe food stops with not a banal motorway service station, (or motorway come to think of it), in sight. Roof down, you have a constantly changing panorama with wondrous spectacular views open to few others, and unlike many popular destinations elsewhere, you don’t have to share it surrounded nose to tail by other drivers. I mean cruising the French Riviera is all very fine but a shopping trolley can get into a higher gear there. Forget stop start queues, tailbacks, umpteen traffic light junctions, on the South Island roads the car can enjoy the open road trip almost as much as you.

So where to go?

So much of the South Island to be seen but these are our personal favourate tried and tested, (and tested again just to make sure), stretches of the black stuff that should be on your Road Trip essentials list. They feature not only wonderful vistas and interesting destinations but really great roads to enliven your driving senses. And with RentClassic bases in Nelson at the top of the South Island and Christchurch in the middle, we’re ideally positionned to get you going straight into most of them.

  • Nelson to Motueka in Tasman via Mapua (eat fresh fish and chips by the wharf and then come back via the rolling Moutere Hills and a vineyard or too)
  • From Kaiteriteri on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park to just about anywhere in Golden Bay via Takaka Hill
  • Havelock to Picton alongside the Marlborough Sounds via the Queen Charlotte Drive (you’ll know what your steering wheel is for by the end of it, definitely not one to rush)
  • The Lewis Pass between Hanmer Springs, (especially the bits just before the Hanmer turn off….) and Maruia, (home to the excellent Reids Cafe)
  • From Seddon in Marlborough to Kaikoura and upto Hundalee on the east coast, (and stop off at The Store, Kekerengu for some great sea views with your lunch)
  • Following the Buller River between Murchison and Westport
  • Arthurs Pass between Christchurch and Greymouth
  • Christchurch to Akaroa via Banks Peninsula
  • Almost any road around Queenstown, (except perhaps the busy airport car park and the town centre. The traffic does.give passers by a decent opportunity to admire your car though…oh and not Skippers Canyon….not for the rental driver or the faint hearted…or actually even the fairly stout hearted….)

For a great appetite whetting resource to plan your Road Trip we recommend getting Bruce Ansleys book Wild Roads. Just bear in mind driving on unsealed ones aren’t allowed for our cars, you’ll have to leave those for another time!

When’s the best time for touring?

We recommend October to mid December or February right through to end April which sees more consistently sunny weather, certainly in the top half of the South Island, which is ideal for maximising that roof down time. Late December and January are good too but they’re peak holiday periods, hence everywhere will be that fair bit busier..But hey all the cars have good heaters, any time of year is good for enjoying a sports car, all the more dramatic against a backdrop of snow caked mountains.

And what car to drive?

A bog standard family ‘now which one in the car park is mine…?’ saloon or…..a gorgeous, one of a kind sports or convertible car?! Mmm tough choice…… manual or automatic, two seats or four, convertible or hard top, (or even both in one car with our Mercedes SLK), RentAClassic has got something for everyone.

All our cars can take the long distances comfortably in their stride, with engines ranging from a peppy 1.8 litre twin carb right up to a growling 4 litre V8, so there’s no wheezing or whining up the more challenging mountain passes in a weedy Gandalf the Grey (“You shall not pass….!”) hatchback. And don’t under estimate those driving times between destinations by the way. Check out the itineraries and driving times calculator sections on to ensure you leave enough time and take in the best places for relaxed ,enjoyable touring.

What to take?

Music – there’s nothing quite like driving to your favourate sounds. Check out our website for what are without doubt the best road trip driving tracks, although you are allowed to disagree and bring your own if you must. But how do you know you can get to hear them? Easy, hire one of our UE Roll BlueTooth Portable Speakers, rated 5 stars by What HiFi magazine, pair in seconds with your SmartPhone or iPod, get that roof down and crank it up!

Sat Nav – it’s not too hard to find your way on New Zealand roads but it’s a big country and taking the wrong road can add hours to your journey. Our Sat Nav systems will ensure you stay on course and not run up any roaming mobile data bills.

Camera – you’ll take more frames than Peter Jackson but make sure you pull well off the road for the many likely photo stops. Or why not go one step better and hire our Sat Nav combined with HD Video DashCam to safely record and re-live that stunning drive?

Peace of mind – driving a classic sports car for more than half an hour surely sounds a bit risky? Not at all, all our cars come with unlimited km plus comprehensive insurance and roadside assistance package for both islands. So far in over 3 years none of our customers have had to call on their services though, and all our cars are maintained to a high standard. Our 1972 MG BGT recently went on a grand tour from Nelson to Queenstown and back with no issues whatsoever.

A sense of adventure – there’s so much to see, with plenty of gems off the beaten tourist track as well. Friendly locals, great cuisine, characterful spots to stay, delightful bush walks, endless photo stops, there’s no need to rush…here the journey is just as enthralling as the destinations…..especially when you’re renting a classic……

And finally….just to prove it’s not all marketing make believe, here are a few reviews from our customer ‘critics’ who’ve seen and experienced the real thing from the best seats in the house….

“Mountains were higher, valleys deeper, skies bluer – all because of the wonderful Saab convertible.”

“A master GT, what a great way to see the country, we had an awesome trip and the Jag was amazing.”

“What a fantastic car for our South Island Road Trip! It has made the long drives more fun and being able to drive some of the coastal roads with the top down will be an unforgettable experience.”

So why not put yourself in the picture, with RentAClassic?!

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