The Best Campervan Journey Through New Zealand

The Best Campervan Journey Through New Zealand

Traversing New Zealand is best done with a campervan. Make it the trip of a lifetime.

Hiring a campervan is the best way to see New Zealand. You can travel at your own pace, see as much as you like, and stop whenever you want to appreciate the country’s breathtaking scenery. Before you proceed with hiring a campervan in New Zealand, there are a couple of things you should be aware of to make your trip as easy as possible. Here are some useful tips for campervan hires in New Zealand.

Also read: How to Do An 8-Day Campervan Road Trip in New Zealand South Island for NZD900

Know what kind of campervan you need

new zealand campervan

Image credit: Hanson Lu

Campervans come with a range of amenities and features, each of them contributing to the final cost of renting them. To make the right choice, you need to understand what you want. If you will park at a camping ground with amenities like flushing toilets, showers, kitchenettes, and power supply, a campervan without related amenities will work out cheaper.

However, if you would rather go the freedom camping way or camping for free (and this comes with certain restrictions on things like littering, waste disposal), then you will need a campervan with fitted toilets (or make use of chemical toilets) and have a second battery to ensure power supply.

If you are hiring a campervan during the winter, it needs to be spacious as you will be spending a long time indoors and will need to come with heating. Make a list of the amenities you require and narrow down on a campervan that includes it all. All this will be needed in a vehicle that can accommodate the number of people on the trip.

Plan your booking in advance

Remember that campervans are an extremely popular way of seeing New Zealand. They can be booked out months in advance, and if you don’t plan well you can miss your chance. The peak tourist season is during the summer, December to February. If you plan to be in a campervan during these months, make sure to book a few months ahead.
The campervan market is quite competitive and campervan brands try to outdo themselves with quality amenities and offerings. Look for discounts, upgrades, and some extras that you can negotiate into your deal. A tip – book your campervans before you book your flights – you will be able to secure a flight at the last minute, but not a good campervan.

Know your campervan

Always look at the finer details of your campervan. How much do you need to pay upfront to book the vehicle? Where are the pick-up/drop-off points and how far are they from the airport? Is free pick-up and drop-off to the airport available? What is the cancellation fee like? Is there anything about insurance, local or international that you should be aware of? What do you do and whom do you contact if the vehicle breaks down?

Once you have the vehicle with you, check it for all the amenities and facilities you needed and make sure they all work. Nothing short of a disaster if you find that your toilet doesn’t flush when you are three hours into your trip. Make a note of all the instructions and never hesitate to ask a question.

Also read: New Zealand on A Campervan: Our One-Week Itinerary for South Island

Pointers on driving in New Zealand

new zealand campervan

Mount Cook | Image credit: Sébastien Goldberg

To begin with, make sure your license is in order or you may not be able to rent a campervan. Familiarise yourself with navigating on New Zealand terrain and driving rules. Note that exploring many remote sites in the South Island requires a 4X4 wheel drive, are you allowed to take your RV on a gravelled road?

Calculate distances if you want to make the most of your itinerary. Read up about the local road etiquette and what to expect. There are chances you may end up on the wrong side of the road, don’t panic, pull over and chart out the next course of action. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. And if you have flown into the country on a long flight, make sure to rest before driving in order not to be jet-lagged before you drive.

What to include in your planning

A smart thing to do along with planning your road trip is noting down where you will find important facilities — medical, pharmaceutical, vehicle-related, and groceries. A lot of this information may be charted out for you by your service provider, but it helps to be well prepared with your list.

Also read: 15 Useful Māori Phrases & Basic Greetings for Your Future Trip to New Zealand + Fun Facts!

Be mindful of your surroundings, whether you are in a campervan ground or freedom camping. Respect the people around you and the environment. And of course, take time out to enjoy New Zealand and its pristine beauty. Don’t hesitate to spend a little bit more time at a place or take a detour to truly immerse yourself in Aotearoa.

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