State Highway 38 in NZ

Road trip guide: Conquering State Highway 38 in NZ

State Highway 38 is a very scenic drive, a true wilderness experience, in the heart of the North Island of New Zealand.

How long is State Highway 38 in NZ?

Tucked away in the Te Urewera National Park, State Highway 38 (SH38) is 195 km (121miles) long. It starts near Waimangu at the intersection with SH 5, and ends at Wairoa, where it connects to SH 2.

How much of State Highway 38 is unsealed?

Running through the North Island's most remote places, the road is winding and most of it paved (64 kilometres of the road is unsealed). The road is curvy and narrow. There are some important rules for these kind of roads: Allow enough time for your trip. Drive slowly. Keep left at all times. Extend the normal braking distance between you and the car in front. Use your headlights - particularly when dusty or light conditions are poor. Brake on the straight not on the corner. Take frequent breaks. Pull over to allow vehicles behind you to pass. Watch out for wandering stock, particularly at night when they are hard to see. Ensure your tyres are in good condition, carry a good spare and tools for tyre changing. Fill up with fuel before you leave. Most rental companies allow their vehicles on well-maintained unsealed roads, including the unsealed section of Te Urewera Rainforest Route between Te Whaiti and Tuai. However, some have restrictions, and it is advisable to check the terms and conditions of their rental agreements. It is also in a very remote area, no townships etc just a couple of small "outposts".

How long does it take to drive State Highway 38 in NZ?

To drive the road without stopping will take most people between 3 and 4 hours. However, due its beauty, the drive will take longer. Don’t underestimate the drive times: driving speeds of only 30-50km/hr. The surroundings are spectacular, especially as it snakes past Lake Waikaremoana (Waikaremoana Road). It's best taken at a sedate pace - traffic is sparse, but it's narrow and twisting. Numbers of visitors to the area are mitigated by the unsealed road that must be taken to reach it.