Getting around New Zealand is both hard and easy. It is hard, because the roads are not well made and there are a lot of hills in the way. On the other hand it is easy, because everything is so close together. New Zealand is very strange, and it is one of the only places in the world where you can literally see a volcano, the beach and a snowy mountain in a single day. The thing about New Zealand is that while everything is close together, it takes twice the time as it would in other countries to get to it. Our small population means we haven’t had the money to invest in massive travel infrastructure (such as high ways and freeways) so as a consequence, it takes longer.
Firstly, while travelling, I highly suggest that you stick to the main routes and bring a map with you. If you have a GPS that is great, but you should always have a map just in case something happens. A lot of people get lost, because they go off the main highways and end up in some remote field. There is a lot of rural areas in New Zealand and it is very easy to get lost in them. I don’t care if your Uncle Joe swears that there is a shortcut – don’t listen to him. Stick to the main routes.
Secondly, be aware of your petrol. There are long stretches in New Zealand where there are no petrol stations available for over an hour. If you enter one of these stretches low on petrol, then you could very well get stuck. Be sure to stay topped up. You need to stay on top of this yourself, because the areas where there are no petrol stations or self-serve gas pumps are not signposted, and there are no signs warning you of this. The best advice I can give you is to try and never go below a quarter of a tank of gas while outside of a city: otherwise you could regret it.
As long as you abide by these tips, and drive safely (so wear your seatbelt, don’t drive while sleep and things like this) you should be absolutely fine.