New Zealand: Guide to Campervan Holidays

There are few places on earth that lend themselves to campervan holidays like New Zealand. A unique country that is positively bursting with natural wonders and geographical features that will blow your mind, there’s no better way to get around than setting out on the open roads.

If you’re planning to travel around New Zealand in a camper, hopefully this guide will provide you with all the information you need for a fantastic trip!

Where to stay: what are motorhome parks like and where can you park up?

New Zealand is a popular holiday destination for outdoor adventurers and many people choose to hire cars and campervans.

If you’ve got a motorhome, you should find it easy to find spots to pull over and park up and to locate motorhome parks. This is a country that is geared up for travelers on the move, and the facilities are excellent. Use the designated parking areas, which are abundant in towns and cities, but when it comes to overnight parking, there’s a lot more flexibility. Lay-bys filled with campervans and motorhomes are a common sight, especially during the busy peak periods, and many people choose to visit Department of Conservation camps, which are well-organised and provide access to amenities and facilities you may benefit from after a few days on the road.

Here, there’s a great chance to meet fellow travellers to share tales and exchange recommendations. Generally speaking, motorhome parks are well-equipped: they’re modern, and staff are usually very friendly. As you travel around New Zealand, you’ll learn that the locals are incredibly hospitable, too, and if you’re passing a guest house or a hotel, you’ll often find that the owners will be more than happy to offer you a shower for a small fee. You’ll usually be provided with a guide to sites and parks as part of your hire package so you can plan when and where to stop.

Trailer caravan in Kaikoura beach,New Zealand.

What does campervan hire include?

When you hire a campervan, you’ll be shown around and you’ll get some instructions to help you work out all the gadgets and ensure you’re comfortable with the controls.

There’s a wide variety of campers available, from basic models, which are incredibly affordable, to more high-tech, fancier options that come with bathrooms, hot water and compact kitchens: essentially, they are homes on wheels. Indeed, even though they are more expensive, they may help to save money in the long-term: cook for yourself as you go and there’s no need to stop off to use the loo or take a shower.

Campervan hire usually includes bed linen, fully-equipped kitchens and maps. Even in these technology-filled days, it’s still useful to have a map close by as a sat nav may lose you on the wild, winding roads.

If you do happen to get lost and you can’t make head nor tail of the map, don’t hesitate to ask a local for directions. You’ll also receive a guide to campsites and motorhome parks that will help you plan your trip.

Which route to take?

There are countless options when it comes to touring New Zealand. Whether you start your journey on North or South Island, you should find it fairly easy to navigate your way around.

One of the most popular routes in the South Island takes you from the thriving city of Christchurch in the northeast around the island in a clockwise direction. On your travels, you’ll come across deserted beaches, mountain ranges, glaciers, lakes and quaint towns, as well as incredible destinations like Milford Sound as well as the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers.

In focus: The almost unworldly landscape of Milford Sound

Campervan holiday tips

The roads in New Zealand are often quiet. They are well-maintained and it’s very rare to encounter any problems. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the weather can often be unpredictable here, so if you’re visiting in winter, it may be wise to carry snow chains with you.

Often, your drive will take you along very narrow routes and you may encounter undulating terrain. This is a hilly country, and there may be some breathtaking experiences along the way. Drive slowly, give vehicles around you plenty of time and space, and try and plan your route in advance.

Traffic isn’t usually an issue until you reach major cities and tourist hot spots: the roads leading to Milford Sound and Lake Wanaka, for example, can get busy, so it’s best to travel early in the morning if possible.

If you’re gearing up for a campervan holiday in New Zealand, you won’t be disappointed! This is a wonderful spot to drive around, see the sights and enjoy life on the open roads!