Summer is the perfect time for a road trip – that is until you remember New Zealand has four season in one day, and sometimes even in one minute. You probably already know that New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and prime for road trip expeditions. However, if you’re not familiar with the terrain, you should know that almost all the places worth exploring involve some hefty driving. The roads are incredibly windy and in some places narrow with steep drop offs – this plus touchy weather can make for some tricky situations!

But you’ve planned a fairly big road trip, and as such you can’t let weather douse your travel fire! We’ve got some tips to keep you safe, and keep the good times rolling even if you run into stormy weather – check them out.

Know how to handle wet conditions 

Ever notice how it seems like just one drop of rain makes everyone forget how to operate their vehicles appropriately? Rain doesn’t have to be scary, you simply have to know how to handle it! So here are a couple of tips you need to keep in mind while you’re behind the wheel and the sky opens up.

  • Check the forecast: Before you head out, check the weather along your route. You can be best prepared when you aren’t caught off guard.
  • Come prepared: Like we said, the weather can change quite quickly in New Zealand, so even if the forecast says clear blue skies, you still want to make sure your headlights are working and the car’s windshield wipers remove water adequately.
  • Put on your hazards: If the rain is coming down in sheets and you’ve decided to keep driving, flip on your hazard lights so others on the road can see you better.
  • Just slow down: Rain makes conditions tough, but they’re usually still very manageable if you just slow down. You give yourself more time to react mentally and physically so you reduce the chance of an accident. Also slow down for fog – believe it or not, but drivers subconsciously speed up when it’s foggy out! Keep an eye on your speedometer so you don’t fall into this dangerous psychological trap!
  • Keep a safe distance from others: When roads are wet your tyres can’t grip as well. As such, your reduced speed and remaining two to three car lengths back will help keep you safe from an accident.
  • Master steering out of a hydroplane: One of the scariest parts of driving (not to mention life) is losing control. If you hit a big puddle, and your tyres can lose contact with the ground making it feel as if you’ve lost control of the steering. Rule number one in this situation is don’t panic and most importantly, do not break as this causes the car to skid. Keep the wheel as steady as possible and ease off the gas – the wheels will come back down and you’ll be back in control. If the road is flooded however, it’s likely your best option to pull over.
  • Pack spare supplies: Just in case you do need to find a place to pull over for a bit, you’ll want snacks and an activity to keep you occupied. If you do pull over, make sure you are safely off the road and your hazards are turned on so other drivers can see you.
Storm clouds ahead? Time to evaluate how to adjust your driving.
Storm clouds ahead? Time to evaluate how to adjust your driving.

Have a reliable shotgun

And by shotgun, we mean front seat partner! When things get tough, you don’t want to distract yourself while driving. This means should it randomly start to downpour and you need to turn the music down to focus, then you don’t have to take your eyes off the road, nor your hands off the steering wheel. They can also give you all the directions as opposed to you constantly looking at your phone and keep you generally entertained as you drive.

If you’re embarking on a solo road trip, ensure your directions are on loud and your music is at a reasonable level – and consider throwing on some podcasts for extra entertainment.

Get a car that can handle the elements 

If you’re visiting from out of town you’re going to need a reliable car – heck, even if you’re from New Zealand you should think about getting a rented vehicle as these receive more frequent inspections and care than your ride likely does. Fortunately, you don’t have to look further than East Coast Car Rentals – we’ve got all the cars you need for your trip.

Just give us a call, let us know your plans and number of passengers and we will figure out the best, safest ride for you!