Do I Need a 4WD/AWD Rental Car in Queenstown?

Queenstown, celebrated as New Zealand's adventure capital, beckons travelers with its stunning landscapes and array of outdoor activities. From skiing and snowboarding in winter to hiking and off-roading in summer, Queenstown offers year-round excitement.

Choosing the right type of rental car, such as a 4WD or AWD, is crucial for navigating the diverse terrains and seasonal conditions of the area. This detailed guide will help you decide if a 4WD or AWD vehicle suits your Queenstown adventure needs.


Why Consider a 4WD/AWD in Queenstown?


  • Winter: Queenstown transforms into a winter wonderland, attracting ski enthusiasts from around the world. Roads to popular ski resorts like The Remarkables and Coronet Peak often become slippery and snow-packed. A 4WD or AWD vehicle, with its superior traction and stability, is almost indispensable for safely navigating these icy conditions.

  • Spring/Summer: The warmer months open up Queenstown’s lush landscapes for exploration. However, roads to scenic spots like Glenorchy or the route to Milford Sound can experience rapid weather changes, affecting driving conditions. With a 4WD or AWD, you are better equipped to handle sudden shifts in terrain and weather, ensuring a smooth and safe journey.

Queenstown serves as a portal to some of the South Island's most breathtaking off-road locations. Adventure spots such as Skippers Canyon require a vehicle that can handle rugged roads confidently. Renting a 4WD or AWD not only facilitates access to these remote areas but also enhances comfort during the ride, making your journey both safe and enjoyable.

Navigating mountainous and rural roads can be daunting, especially for those not accustomed to such conditions. Opting for a 4WD or AWD provides enhanced handling and stability, which is crucial for tackling steep inclines and uneven surfaces. This added security is invaluable, particularly for less experienced drivers, ensuring a stress-free driving experience.

Enhanced Experiences with 4WD/AWD

Scenic Drives

Queenstown and its surroundings boast some of the most scenic drives in New Zealand, such as the journey to Wanaka via the Crown Range Road. A 4WD or AWD vehicle assures that you can enjoy these routes, regardless of seasonal road conditions.

Family and Group Travel

These vehicles offer more space and comfort, making them ideal for families or groups traveling with gear and equipment for activities like skiing, mountain biking, or hiking.




Considerations for Renting a 4WD/AWD


Cost vs. Benefit

While 4WD or AWD vehicles are more expensive to rent than standard cars, the additional cost can be a worthwhile investment for the safety and capabilities they offer in challenging conditions.


Fuel Efficiency

Be prepared for lower fuel efficiency with these vehicles. It’s a small trade-off for the performance and assurance they provide, especially in remote or challenging environments.


Advance Booking

Given their popularity, especially during peak seasons like winter, it’s wise to book your 4WD or AWD rental well in advance to ensure availability.




Whether you need a 4WD or AWD rental car in Queenstown depends on the nature of your activities and the season of your visit. For those engaging in winter sports or seeking adventures that lead off the beaten path, such a vehicle is indispensable. It offers the necessary safety, power, and versatility to navigate the challenging terrains of Queenstown. Conversely, if your itinerary is restricted to urban areas and major highways during milder weather, a standard vehicle might suffice.

To truly enjoy all that Queenstown has to offer, without letting transportation challenges hinder you, consider renting a 4WD or AWD from Apolicar. Our fleet of luxury SUVs ensures that your visit to this breathtaking region is as comfortable and exciting as possible.