Top 10 Motorhome Rest Stops on New Zealand Roads

Rest stop sign


The classic New Zealand rest stop is often taken for granted — particularly by local travellers who regularly drive straight past them. But these relaxing, idyllic locations on the side-of-the-road should be treasured.

Ideal spaces to stretch your legs and take in the views, there are more than 360 formally designated rest areas across New Zealand and many hundreds more scenic viewpoints.

Navigating from the north of the North Island to the south of the South Island, we highlight our top ten. While you’re cruising along in your motorhome rental, take a pause at magic stops like Pakia Hill, Strathmore Saddle Point, Paparoa Point Rest Area and Bennett’s Bluff Lookout.

The New Zealand rest stop

Motorhome stops for a rest stop


Rest stops have become a greater part of the New Zealand roading network as its infrastructure has grown and the awareness around road safety has increased.

They’re designed to provide a safe place for you as a driver to take a break, stretch, nap or simply refresh on your journey. Rest areas are provided and maintained jointly by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) Waka Kotahi.

You’ll sometimes find amenities such as toilets, rubbish bins and picnic tables — and even information boards detailing the history or geography of the location.

Drive less yet see more by taking breaks at roadside rest stops in your campervan rental.


1. Pakia Hill Lookout

The changing light and wide expanse of Hokianga Harbour make it a truly memorable place to visit. Add in a rest stop with incredible panoramic views overlooking the sand dunes and State Highway 12 (the Twin Coast Discovery Highway) will soon be on your bucket list.

Take a break at Pakia Hill and you’ll be rewarded with:

  • Sweeping vistas — of the tranquil harbour, coastline and sandhills
  • Benches — for relaxing and enjoying the views, or eating lunch
  • Wildlife — you may see various birds and even dolphins from this vantage point.

Pakia Hill Lookout
is near Ōmāpere and only a few kilometres from the God of the Forest Tāne Mahuta.

Discover what you can see and do while exploring the Far North.


Sunset spot

The changing colours of the evening sky over Hokianga Harbour make Pakia Hill Lookout a great spot for taking in the sunset.

2. Manaia Road Saddle and Lookout

Manaia Road Saddle and Lookout


For a quick break to admire the surrounding Coromandel landscape and views across the Firth of Thames to Auckland, pull over at Manaia Road Saddle.

Stop at Manaia Road Saddle and Lookout to:

  • Soak up the breathtaking view of the Coromandel Peninsula from above — including the Hauraki Gulf and rolling farmland hills
  • Eat ice cream or drink coffee — when these pop-up businesses are here and open
  • View the lights of Auckland City — if you’re passing by at night.


Manaia Road Saddle and Lookout
is between the towns of Thames and Coromandel Town.

Check out our Auckland to Waitomo Caves road trip itinerary which includes a drive around The Coromandel Peninsula.


Travel north

This rest area is small and right on the coastal side of a winding road. It’s therefore a lot easier to pull over while you’re driving north towards Coromandel Town, rather than south.



3. Full Moon View

Lake Taupo is the country’s biggest lake so why wouldn’t you want to pull up beside it and take the whole thing in? You can, at Full Moon View rest stop right beside the lake.

Pull over to take a break at Full Moon View for:

  • Calm and peaceful lake water — also worth a swim if the weather’s good
  • Picnic tables — for enjoying a bite to eat
  • Plenty of shady parking — which is handy because it’s right next to State Highway 1.

Full Moon View
is about 30km south of Taupo.

4. Strathmore Saddle Point

Strathmore Saddle Point


Sometimes the most isolated place is the best spot to pull over and rest. That’s certainly the feeling at Strathmore Saddle Point — where you can take in the surreal panoramic views of the Forgotten World Highway.

Park up at Strathmore Saddle Point and you’ll:

  • See Mount Taranaki, Mount Ruapehu and Mount Ngauruhoe on a clear day — plus the rolling hills and valleys in between
  • Be able to listen to nature — without much traffic noise going past.

Strathmore Saddle Point
is the first of three saddle viewing spots on the Forgotten World Highway.

Read about one of our top five epic road trips from Auckland to the Forgotten World Highway.

The Republic of Whangamōmona

Only 40km northeast of the saddle is the Republic of Whangamōmona, a self-declared state that celebrates its independence biannually in January.



5. Paekakariki Hill Road Lookout

This popular stopping point on Paekakariki Hill Road offers a completely different perspective of the Kapiti Coast just north of Wellington.

Rest at Paekakariki Hill Road Lookout to enjoy:

  • Immense panoramic vistas of the Kapiti Coast and Kapiti Island — particularly on a calm fine morning
  • The Pacific Ocean — in all it’s vast expansiveness
  • The charming coastal town of Paekakariki below.

Paekakariki Hill Road Lookout
is located on an alternative mountain road between the west coast and Wellington.

6. Takaka Hill Lookout

Takaka Hill Lookout


Takaka Hill has one of the longest mountain roads in New Zealand — twisting and turning its way from sunny Motueka over to alternative Golden Bay. This lookout, located not far from the summit, is an essential stop.

Pause at Takaka Hill Walkway Carpark and:

  • Wander the short trail to Takaka Hill Lookout
  • Savour the sweeping scenery of Tasman Bay — with Nelson in the distance
  • See the mountains and native forest of Kahurangi National Park.


Takaka Hill Lookout
will give you an appreciation for one of the country’s natural summer playgrounds.

Marble Mountain

Takaka Hill is also known as Marble Mountain due to the limestone rock in the area. Be sure to keep to the marked track as sinkholes are prominent in the area — often hidden by vegetation.



7. Paparoa Point Rest Area

Blending culture and scenery into a highly worthwhile roadside stop is Paparoa Point Rest Area just north of Kaikoura. This general area is well known for seals but Paparoa Point also offers a Māori carving as its centrepiece.

Take a moment to reflect at Paparoa Point Rest Area and:

  • Watch the seals and any seal pups — but only from a distance as they can get overly-protective if you invade their space
  • Observe the sculpture of a Māori chief, Tūteurutira — while each step up to the viewing platform shows a name from his ancestry
  • Look out across the Hikurangi Trench — a much changed landscape following a significant earthquake here in 2016.

Paparoa Point Rest Area
is a place of cultural significance where you can breathe in the sea air and think about the past.


Māori god of earthquakes

Paparoa Point’s viewing platform features an internal face — that of Rūaumoko, the Māori god of earthquakes. It honours the coastline and sea bed changes following the Kaikoura earthquake.



8. Lake Pukaki Viewpoint

Lake Pukaki Viewpoint


A jewel in the South Island’s crown is the rich turquoise water of Lake Pukaki — and its majestic location in the eyeline of the country’s tallest peak, Aoraki Mount Cook. Although the Lake Pukaki car park is a very popular rest stop, this viewing point sees a lot less traffic.

Take a break at Lake Pukaki Viewpoint to:

  • Admire the colours — from the snow-capped Southern Alps to the blue turquoise lake to the multi-coloured pebbles on the shore
  • Swim in the lake — though it is fed by a glacier so can be a little nippy
  • Skim stones — bringing back those fond memories of childhood
  • Aoraki Mount Cook — this is one of the best locations to view the mountain which has a name that translates to Cloud Piercer.


Lake Pukaki Viewpoint is located right where the road meets the lake, if you’re driving in your campervan hire from the north.

9. Crown Range Road Scenic Lookout

Crown Range Road Scenic Lookout


The Crown Range Road is a tricky drive and one that is probably best avoided in winter due to its reputation for ice, road closures and accidents. However, this rest stop isn’t far from the main State Highway 6 that leads to Queenstown.

The best thing? Most people stop at the summit rather than at this location.

Take a breather at Crown Range Road Scenic Lookout to see:

  • Lake Wakatipu — New Zealand’s third largest lake is visible in the distance
  • Coronet Peak — considered the country’s premier ski field in winter and a mountain biking mecca in summer
  • Queenstown — the vibrant resort town nicknamed the adventure capital of the world.


Crown Range Road Scenic Lookout is less than 10km from Arrow Junction on State Highway 6.

See our Christchurch to Queenstown road trip itinerary which passes by several South Island lakes.

10. Bennett’s Bluff Lookout

Bennett’s Bluff Lookout


One of the great stretches of road to drive in New Zealand is the Glenorchy Queenstown Road. It’s an absolute joy to drive and occasionally feels like you’re flying along beside Lake Wakatipu.

Along this road are a few lookout points, with arguably the best of them being Bennett’s Bluff Lookout.

Stop to catch your breath at Bennett’s Bluff Lookout where you can:

  • Find out about the history of building the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road
  • Take panoramic photos — of the majestic mountain lake scenery
  • View a third of Lake Wakatipu — from this one spot.



Bennett’s Bluff Lookout is a remarkable location to take a break from driving your motorhome hire.


Glenorchy and LOTR

Glenorchy has a strong connection to The Lord of the Rings movies that were partly filmed in this area in the early 2000s. You can see several film locations without joining a tour, including Lothlórien, Amon Hen and the River Anduin.

Check out our South Island Lord of the Rings road trip itinerary to find other film locations.


These top ten rest stops are only a minor proportion of the incredible number of places you can take a roadside break in New Zealand. To discover more lookout points, plus many great places to stay for the night, have a look at our best campervan spots to park up blog.



motorhoming in NZ motorhome driving