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A Guide to Off-roading in New Zealand

a car going off-road

New Zealand is home to some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet. For many native Kiwis and visitors alike, outdoor activities such as surfing, sailing, hiking, and driving, will be a regular part of the local experience. Yet the often rugged terrain of the countryside presents a challenge; some of the most majestic scenes and locations aren’t easily accessible. Many people only get to view these from afar, maybe with drones or super-zoom lenses.

Getting into off-road driving is an excellent way to unlock the hidden wonders of our country’s pristine natural landscapes. If you’ve never tried it, here are some things you’ll need to start on a unique new journey:

Book a tour

If you’d like a taste of adventure in New Zealand without immediately committing to the pursuit of off-road driving as a hobby, then booking a tour will give you a great introduction to the many travel opportunities on offer.

With an experienced driver behind the wheels, you can focus purely on enjoying the various sights and scenic landscape views. If you’d like to test your skills with a dedicated vehicle, you’ll also have the option to try and self-drive a 4×4 along terrains such as dunes, forest trails, and mountain ridges.

Your own vehicle

Taking matters a step further, you should begin with a car of your own that is suitable for off-road driving. A heavy vehicle isn’t necessary. Although ATVs are specifically designed to take on different situations, keep in mind there may be restrictions on using public roads.

A medium-sized SUV such as the Holden Equinox can be the perfect starting point for your off-road adventures. It offers family-friendly features, conveniences, comfort, and space. You can enjoy off-road capabilities to take on many locations. Talk to local Holden dealers to find the best model for your purposes, and prepare to see New Zealand in different ways.

Proper training

off-road trail

Getting a vehicle that can handle rough terrain isn’t everything. If you haven’t got the experience yet, you must undergo some preparation first. Professional training facilities across the country will let you simulate a wide range of challenges to prepare you for actual off-road scenarios.

You’ll be able to practice ascent and descent techniques, hill climbs and vehicle recovery, and special situations such as snow and ice driving or river crossing. Along with the hands-on experience, you’ll learn more about choosing the right tires and accessories, general vehicle maintenance tips, and best practices for health and safety.

Equipment

Regardless of your destination, whenever you head out on an off-road adventure, you’ll need some stuff to go with the initial planning and research. Customization and accessories such as increased lift, shock absorption, bumpers, and tires will help protect your vehicle and increase the comfort of your ride.

Make sure you’re going out with a full tank of gas, water (for the radiator, but some for yourself as well), and maintenance essentials such as a winch and tow rope to get yourself out of the mud. Keep some fully charged communication and navigation tools as well; two-way radios let you communicate with road companions in case your mobile phone fails.

Going off-road lets you explore our beautiful country in ways that few people ever get to experience. Whether you start with a tour or do things your way, untold adventures lie in wait.

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