The Best Apps to use on your New Zealand Roadtrip
Travel smarter with these handy apps in your pocket
Does anyone remember the old days when getting lost on a road trip meant pulling out your trusty AA roadmap, and still not being sure where you were going?
When you’d get up early and drive to the beach for sunrise, only to find it was pouring with rain and the tide was out?
When you’d arrive in a new town at the end of the day, only to find there were no vacancies, or the campsite had been washed away in a flood months earlier?
With your favourite cassette tapes and a handwritten list of all the places you wanted to go, you’d warn your friends you’d be off grid for a few weeks while you went exploring Aotearoa.
As lovely as nostalgia is, we, for one, are thankful that road trips these days are much simpler than they used to be. Now, everything you need is in your pocket.
These apps can save you time, money, and frustration, and help you to understand not only where you are, but what to do in each place you visit.
Wherever you’re going on your New Zealand road trip, you can spend more time enjoying the journey when you travel smarter with this selection of apps for your iPhone or Android.
Here are our top picks and must-have apps for your next New Zealand road trip:
Navigation & Weather
One of the most popular mobile mapping apps, Maps.Me is primarily loved for its ability to download and view maps offline, so you don’t need an internet connection to know where you are. Make sure you download the maps for the places you want to visit before you go, so you can continue using the app for navigation once you’re out of cellphone reception. iOS | Android
The world’s favourite navigation app, you probably already have Google Maps on your phone. It’s reliable, it’s accurate, and it’s perfect for NZ because you can download maps before you go, ready for offline use in all those out-of-the-way places. Once you’ve downloaded a map, you can continue to use the app seamlessly whether you’re online or offline, or just in shaky reception.
New Zealand’s #1 weather app lets you plan your adventures according to the weather forecast. It also includes sunrise and sunset, humidity, pollen counts, UV index, wind speed, and high and low tide forecasts, so you know what to expect before you venture out.
New Zealand is well known for its dark sky reserves and regions, where stargazing is perfectly unhindered by light pollution from nearby towns. Star Chart can help you to understand what you’re looking at, with real-time identification of every star and planet within your field of vision – simply point your phone at the sky, and you’ll be feeling like Galileo in no time. Handy hint: the app also has a Night Mode function, which switches the colours of your screen from bright white and blue to red and black, allowing you to preserve your night vision outside in the dark for better stargazing.
Safety & Essentials
Make sharing costs on a group road trip easy, with this app that lets you input and track expenses as you go, including who’s paid for what and who owes who money. Manage your budget, split costs how you like, and make sure you get paid back for petrol so you all stay friends by the end of the trip.
Compass & Torch Apps
Both Android and iPhones come with built-in Compass and Torch apps – make sure you know where these are, or move them to your home screen for easier access. Aside from basic navigation, the compass app can be helpful for figuring out which direction the sun will rise or set (for the perfect sunset selfie). Meanwhile the torch is handy not only for late night toilet visits, but also for inspecting issues in your vehicle’s engine or undercarriage.
Want a WiFi connection that travels with you? With Wireless Nation’s Lifestyle or NZMCA plans, you can use a portable wireless modem that plugs into your vehicle or any regular outlet, so you can stay connected on your next road trip. Read more here about the differences between using a portable WiFi connection, vs using data on the road.
Freedom Camping, Campsites & Accommodation
NZMCA Travel App
The NZMCA (NZ Motorhome and Campervan Association) app takes content from their web-based Travel Directory, and is a must-have for NZMCA members. Here you’ll find a comprehensive list including NZMCA Parks, camping grounds, dump stations, motorhome friendly locations, and more. You can also pay your park fees via the app. iOS | Android
Rankers Camping NZ
Rankers Camping offers information on every New Zealand camping location that’s approved by local and regional councils. You can book sites through the app, filter by nearby attractions or location, and access maps offline so you don’t need data to find your next destination. iOS | Android
An alternative to Rankers, Campable is great for finding slightly more alternative places to stay – it gives you access to vineyards, farms, private properties and beaches where you can park up and stay for the night. It also allows you to interact with local people, delivering a unique experience that you won’t find at a standard campsite. iOS | Android
A popular road trip app, CamperMate is an up-to-date guide that features locations and details of campsites, public toilets, rubbish bins, free WiFi, showers, and supermarkets all across the country. It’s constantly being updated by other travellers and is also available offline. iOS | Android
Entertainment & Eating Out
We all know and love Spotify, and it’s become a must-have on road trips. With Spotify Premium, you can download your favourite playlists to listen to offline, so you don’t have to worry about that one friend who insists on singing show tunes whenever you’re out of reception. Create a road trip playlist before you go, or choose from one of the many already made by listeners. iOS | Android
Apple Podcasts & Podcast Addict
Not in the mood for music? How about a true-crime podcast, or the laugh-a-minute “My Dad Wrote A Porno”? iPhones come with their own Apple Podcast app, but for Android you’ll want to download Podcast Addict to get the best shows. You can browse by title, genre, network, or get recommendations based on your listening history. Make sure you download several episodes before you go, so you can keep listening as you weave in and out of signal. Apple Podcast on iOS | Podcast Addict on Android
Where else would you go to find the latest restaurant rankings and reviews? Search by location, rating, cuisine type, dietary restrictions, and more to choose the perfect place for your next meal. iOS | Android
Whatever make your camera is, if it’s got bluetooth or WiFi functionality you can connect it to your phone via your camera’s dedicated app. This can be useful for controlling your camera with your phone remotely, taking selfies from a distance, or loading the day’s images onto your device for instant IG boasting. Search for your camera brand on the App Store or Google Play.
For on-the-go touch ups to make your photos shine, you need Snapseed. This professional-grade photo editor features a wide range of tools and filters for bringing out the best in your photos, without the need for a computer (or experience). Use it to edit both RAW and JPG files, save your personal looks to apply to new photos later, and finetune with precision so you get exactly the look you want. As an alternative, Adobe Lightroom offers a free lite version of their well-known photography editing software, so you can edit like a pro wherever you go. Snapseed: iOS | Android Adobe Lightroom: iOS | Android
Sightseeing & Activities
If the mountains are more your thing, you’ll need this app which is dedicated to NZ’s Great Walks, featuring tons of content from the Department of Conservation. This app includes track history, details, routes, photos, and more, so you can prepare properly before you set off. iOS | Android
Featuring all the best cycle adventures around New Zealand, from gentle flat journeys to rugged mountain range, and official NZ Cycle Trail routes. Plot your trip, access maps offline, and plan your adventure on two wheels. iOS | Android
The perfect place to buy discounted vouchers for activities, accommodation, and restaurants. Either plan your trip in advance around these deals, or get a last minute discount on the road! iOS | Android
Keep the internet at your fingertips with a wireless modem
With all these apps in your pocket, the only other thing you need to think about is data. When you’ve got a portable WiFi modem and a plan from Wireless Nation, you don’t have to worry about data – you can keep in touch, download music and maps, find secret spots and track down an emergency repair shop when you need it. If you’re not sure what you need for your trip, you can find out more here about the differences between using your mobile data vs buying a portable router for the road. Wherever you’re going in Aotearoa, Wireless Nation has you covered. Find out more about our NZMCA and our Lifestyle plans now.