Driving the terrifying coastal road to Port Jackson in NZ

Port Jackson is a beach town located on the North Island of New Zealand. The road to the town, renowned for its campsite, is remote, narrow, winding, and gravel, making it one of the most scenic drives in the world.

Port Jackson Road

Where is Port Jackson?

The town is situated at the northern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula, right next to the beach.

Can you drive to Port Jackson?

The road to the town is called Port Jackson Road. It is completely unpaved at the water's edge, with no corrugations. It stretches 25.8 km (16.03 miles) from Colville Road to Port Jackson.

Is the road to Port Jackson challenging?

Along the way, you’ll encounter some dangerous drop-offs, with hundreds of meters of sheer cliffs and no guardrail between your car and a free fall, which can cause severe cases of vertigo. The road has narrow sections, so proceed cautiously and hope no other vehicles come from the opposite direction. The road sustained significant damage during the 2022/23 summer storms. While repairs have been made, there are more one-way stretches, and it is compromised in places.

Can I drive a 2WD vehicle on the Port Jackson Road?

To complete the drive, it is recommended to use a reliable and well-maintained 4WD vehicle. Drive carefully at all times. If towing, you must be prepared to reverse sections of the road depending on encounters with oncoming traffic. There may be larger vehicles than yours on the road.

Is the road to Port Jackson worth it?

Running along the coast, the drive offers stunning coastal views. If you're afraid of heights, it's probably best to keep your eyes forward. On one side of the drive, you will enjoy the extensive hilly surroundings, while on the other side, you will have awesome views of the rough, wild ocean. Some highlights of this road are the stunning beaches and outdoor activities on offer.

How long does it take to drive to Port Jackson?

Plan about 1 hour to complete the drive without any stops. During winter, the road is relatively quiet, but during the summer months, especially from mid-December to mid-January, it is highly trafficked with campervans, trucks, and vehicles towing boats. Caution is advised at all times, but during the Christmas holiday season, it is recommended that beginner drivers avoid this road. Start your drive early to avoid the crowds.
Pic: thomas schmutz