Driving in NZ: A Checklist for Your Next Long Drive

Date Aug 12, 2020
Blog category car insurance
Blog category Insurance
By Staff Writer

Going on long excursions might seem a little taboo right now, given that most of the world is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, long drives are not only meant for simple leisure and recreation; sometimes you have family you need to visit to make sure they’re okay. Others may do so for work-related reasons, especially if it involves regular domestic travel. In any case, following the guides in this checklist before driving in NZ can help the ride become more efficient, allowing you to get the most out of your vehicle.

Change your oil and filter

Changing your oil is an important aspect of car maintenance, as it helps keep the engine’s parts well lubricated in order to avoid damage. Frequent driving in NZ with its well-known weather extremes, diverse terrain, sharp corners, and the occasional gravel roads, could easily accelerate the buildup of dust and debris in your oil, leaving it unable to do its job properly.

Thus, changing the oil and the oil filter before going on long drives gives your car a clean slate to work with, ensuring that you won’t find yourself in need of a replacement in the middle of a trip. After all, driving distances in NZ can be a bit spread out in-between destinations. 

Make sure your tools are all in order in the car

These would be items like your tire iron and jack, as you never know just when you might have a mechanical breakdown. Some car insurance companies offer 24/7 roadside assistance with their policies should this happen, but having the right tools allows you to do some repairs yourself. It helps save you time and money in the long run. This will allow you to save your insurance for really serious damage and maintenance. insurance for really serious damage and maintenance.

Keep a spare key ready

Having a spare car key can be useful in avoiding the unfortunate incident that is accidentally locking your keys in your own car. To avoid ruining your trip, always keep this copy on your person. After all, you don’t want to accidentally lock both of your keys in the car!

Clean out your car before driving in NZ

Conduct some simple housekeeping inside your vehicle. Do simple things such as vacuuming your carpet and clearing out the clutter inside the car. This allows you to better recall where you might keep other important things like maps, keys, etc. While you’re at it, try to reduce the amount of luggage you are bringing in, and avoid putting it on top of your car as much as possible. Wind speeds can really pick up when driving long distances in NZ and excessive luggage on top of the car introduces more air friction, making you consume more gas. So travel light, bringing only the essentials with you.

Don’t wait too long to fill up on gas

Many factors can impact driving times in NZ. From roadworks to extreme weather, you wouldn’t want to run out of fuel in the middle of a long drive. Some car insurance providers can help you with refueling and towing at these times but, as they always say, it’s better to be safe than sorry. So always check to see if your tank is full prior to your trip.

With the essentials kept in mind, let’s move on to some of the more “fun” recommendations while driving in NZ:

Remember your cables

Don’t forget your important cables: car charger for your mobile device, and USB cables. You don’t want to drive all the way back home if you forget it, or worse, splurge on a new one while you still have a perfectly functional one back home. Keep them in a bag and use cable ties to keep them in order if necessary, to save the trouble of fumbling around and trying to get them untangled.

Memory cards

There are a lot of great sights to see while driving in NZ. From beautiful lakes such as Lakes Tekapo to stunning roads and pathways like the Crown Range Road to beautiful fjords like Milford Sound, there are lots of places that would make you want to stop every 15 minutes or so just to snap pictures and preserve it in memory.

Lots of pictures mean you might need a spare memory card later on. After all, you wouldn’t want to catch a beautiful sight only to find out that you’re all out of space and you now have to delete another beautiful photo just to take it. So always keep enough space on your cards.


Driving distances in NZ can be very taxing, so always keep some refreshments ready to give yourself an energy boost should you find yourself wearing out while behind the wheel. Keep things light and healthy, avoid littering in your car, and any strong smells that might make your drive uncomfortable.

Music and podcasts

Long driving times in NZ can feel monotonous, especially if you have nothing to elevate the mood a bit. So ready your favorite tunes and podcasts to help you feel less bored inside your vehicle. Of course, try to keep them in USB or a CD if you’re feeling a little old-fashioned. You never know when you may lose service!

Keep some plastic bags on hand

There are a lot of majestic, natural sights to see while driving in NZ. Keep in mind that a lot of these are protected and even if they aren’t, no one wants to ruin the environment with litter. So always keep some bags to put your litter in to throw away later. You can help preserve the beauty of these places with this simple tip!

Driving to your destination may not feel as efficient as air travel, but it’s a good way to reach and discover new destinations you may otherwise pass while flying. Also, having the ability to take your car to explore your new destination is a pretty good advantage to have. 

Having the right car insurance can help provide you with the peace of mind on the road, but most of it will still fall on you, the driver’s, responsibility. So set aside the time for planning and preparation before long-distance driving in NZ, and you make your trip safer, more memorable, and hassle-free!