Travelling in New Zealand with a motorhome

 

  Traveling around New Zealand with a motorhome 

 

 

New Zealand is undeniably a perfect country to explore with a motorhome. With spectacular scenery around every corner, and camping a fantastic way to enjoy all of this beauty, hiring a motorhome provides the best option to get around New Zealand. Below are some tips you may find useful to plan your motorhome holiday of New Zealand.

  Which motorhome or campervan to choose 

There is a whole range of different styles of campers available, from converted cars with a tent on the roof, to small campervans and more comfortable and luxurious motorhomes, so we can offer something suitable for everyone really!

The 2 to 4 berth campervans are a popular choice among travelers, and are a good budget option. They are generally fairly basic, with a fold out table that converts into a bed at night, and a small sink and cooking utilities at the back of the campervan. If you like, they come painted in all colors and with different artwork.

If you intend to freedom camp quite a bit, do ensure the campervan is fully certified self contained. A motorhome or camper with a larger water tank might also be desirable in this case. Should you travel with kids or in a small group, then a more comfortable motorhome would probably suit you better.

Not sure yet what the right option is for you. Just let us know, or complete the form on this page to inquire about a motorhome or to request a booking.

Many of the motorhome suppliers only have depots in either Auckland, Christchurch or Queenstown, so picking up or dropping off from other locations might not always be possible. Generally motorhome suppliers also charge a small one way fee if you drop off the camper in a different location than where you picked it up upon arrival. 

 

  Where to go camping in New Zealand 

DOC (Department of Conservation) campsites 

The DOC campsites are located in National Parks and nature reserves, generally with stunning views as well! They are more basic than holiday parks, bust most of them have shower and toilet facilities. You may also find DOC campsites with powered sites to charge your batteries.

Prices are also generally cheaper than holiday parks and range from anywhere between being totally FREE, up to about NZ$20. DOC campsite passes are available for purchase, but be aware that they are not available for use in campsites which have powered sites as well as serviced campsites.

For a complete list of campsites in both North and South Islands, download the PDFs below:

North Island DOC Campsites

South Island DOC Campsites

Holiday Parks 

There are a number of holiday park chains in New Zealand, the most known and popular ones are Kiwi Holiday Parks and Top 10 Holiday Parks. The top 10 parks are of very high quality and generally are 4 to 5 star rated. You can find a whole range of amenities such as playgrounds, laundry facilities, etc...Prices start from NZ$40 for a powered site.

The Kiwi Holiday Parks are a little less high end, but still comfortable and well equipped. Prices range between NZ$17 and $22 per person for a powered site, but may vary a little.

When you are travelling with a fully equipped motorhome, you probably need to stay at a holiday park from time to time (depending on the motorhome and hot water/fridge usage, this may be every 2 or 3 days)

Freedom Camping 

The law has become more strict on freedom camping. New Zealand's fragile environment has become under increased pressure from the higher number of overseas visitors each year, which impacts the environment. New Zealand is a very clean and green place still, and it is the intention that it stays that way. 

It is therefore not permitted anymore to freedom camp anywhere with campervans and fines are increasingly issued.

However, there is still good news! If you are travelling with a fully certified self contained campervan or motorhome, then you may still freedom camp! So no worries, you can still get out there and find that gazillion star hotel for yourself... All you have to do is look up into the sky at night!  Do ensure that you take all rubbish and leave no trace when you leave again. The next people parking up there and the environment will love you for it, and you avoid risking a hefty fine.

 

  Equipment and optional extras 

While traveling around in a camper is more comfortable than with a tent, and you have all cooking and sleeping equipment readily available in your camper (you are after all driving around in a mobile home), there are still some things common to the camping in general which you might want to take into consideration.

In several regions of New Zealand, and in some more than others, you'll meet some locals who'll like you an awful lot : sandflies!  So stock up on some insect repellent such as DEET, to keep them at bay. If you do get bitten, try not to scratch immediately, or the itch might stay around for a little longer.

The sun in New Zealand is extremely strong, even on sunny days in winter you can easily get burned, so ensure you have plenty with you, as you'll be spending a lot of time outside. Sunscreen with high SPF is highly recommended. 

If you intend to go hiking, ensure you have the appropriate equipment with you. More information regarding this can be found here

Every vehicle also comes with a first aid kit, which if used, you must pay for when you return the motorhome.

Every motorhome supplier offers some additional extras you may hire at an additional cost, though the charge is generally not very high. These may include items such as additional chairs and outside folding table, a GPS navigation system, Wifi, an exchange of linen among other things.

 

  Driving a motorhome in New Zealand 

Many motorhomes are pretty easy to drive these days with their power steering and automatic transmissions, but it is still quite a bit different than driving a car, so here are some tips for driving with your motorhome in New Zealand:

  • Number 1 rule in New Zealand : stay on the LEFT hand side of the road! 
  • Be aware of the size of the motorhome, especially when turning or parking. Look for designated camper parking areas and signs.
  • Always ensure that things exterior to the motorhome such as awnings, power cables, etc...are stowed away safely when driving
  • Have a rest in one of those comfortable beds if you get tired
  • Remember that motorhomes don't accelerate the same as cars, so take this into consideration when overtaking, as it will take you more distance. However, why overtake at all..most likely you will be overtaken instead by faster cars
  • Pull over safely when you can to allow cars to pass
  • Take extra caution when it's very windy. These vehicles are tall and catch a lot more wind than a passenger car.
  • You might have to pay attention a little more to position the camper in the middle of the road. Your wing mirrors are your friends, use them...looking in the rear mirror will only give you views of the interior.
  • Familiarize yourself with the motorhome dimensions which will be good to know if you come across any height or width restrictions on the road

For more tips about driving in New Zealand in general, continue reading here

  Wastewater Treatment 

Make sure you follow the appropriate guidelines for treating wastewater when travelling in a motorhome and always ensure you use the WWPT (Wastewater Treatment Plant) for this purpose. Wastewater treatment stations can be found in most campsites and holiday parks in most of the main cities and towns. 

To find the nearest WWPT, check out the following list

  Insurance 

One question you may be asking is if you should take insurance or not. If you want a completely trouble free motorhome holiday then the answer is an easy YES! 

All of our motorhome suppliers offer standard insurance with the hire, which is pretty much the third party insurance. With standard insurance the motorhome suppliers will secure a bond by charging your credit card before departure (freezing an amount on the card). Depending on the type of camper, this can be between NZD$5000 and $10000, which is expensive. It is reimbursed when you return the vehicle without any damage. So if you have an accident, the motorhome company will charge you for this.

You have the option to reduce this liability to NZD $0 by taking additional all inclusive insurance which ranges from anywhere between NZD$25 and $55 per day, depending on the vehicle. We recommend you do take the additional insurance, just for your own peace of mind.

The motorhome supplier will still take a copy of your credit card details, in case there's any other damage to the motorhome upon your return.

Each motorhome company has slightly different policies and insurance options, so we do recommend you read the terms and conditions for a specific supplier that comes with the quote we provide you, so that you won't have any unexpected surprises.

  Saving resources 

One aspect that makes travelling with a motorhome so appealing is obviously the freedom to go where you want, park where you want, and have that ultimate independence. That means you probably don't always want to stay in campsites to ensure all your devices and appliances are fully charged.

Following a few steps and make then part of your daily routine will help you a lot to stay away from campsites as long as possible:

  • Limit the amount of showers you take, and when you do, take "military showers", turning off the water while soaping or shampooing.
  • Live with the daylight, which means get up when the sun comes up, and go to sleep when the sun has set, using less electricity at night
  • Don't drink water from your tank. Take some extra jugs.
  • Focus on meals that don't require many dishes to wash
  • Carry hand sanitizer
  • Use public toilets where possible..You won't have a problem finding them in New Zealand. There are loads, and all very well maintained and clean
  • Keep the engine running for a little while when parked, to charge the battery systems that power your fridge. This will be the main source draining your batteries.
  • Stay in free DOC campsites which sometimes have showers and toilets. 

 

 

 


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Top reasons for hiring a motorhome in New Zealand

 

  • Clean and cheap camping grounds with good facilities and most of all spectacular scenery!
  • Chance to be social whenever you want, or just disappear in the wilderness
  • Empty roads in comparison with other parts of the world, making driving an absolute joy 
  •  Comfortable and reliable vehicles with unlimited kilometers and 24/7 roadside assistance 
  • Enjoy the most increbible sunrises and sunsets from your mobile bed 
  • Ultimate freedom and independence : Go where and when you want to go 
  • ...and finally...which hotel can beat millions of stars at night!? 
 

 

 

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Taranaki

 

 

Taranaki might be a slightly less known region in New Zealand, unless you're a keen surfer or windsurfer. The landscape is dominated by the perfectly shaped volcanic cone which is Mt Taranaki, or Mt Egmont. At 2500m not only does it entirely dominate the landscape, but it also creates its own climate. On any given day, the winds may be reaching gale force on one side of the mountain, while on the other side you may be relaxing on the beach without a sigh of wind, such is the impact of the mountain.

In winter you may ski down the mountain in the morning, and in summer there are a number of excellent hiking opportunities, including hikes to the summit or right around the mountain.

Surf Highway 45 offers word class surf and windsurfing conditions and the black iron sandy beaches are wild and beautiful and aplenty.

 

Marlborough

 

When travelling from the North Island to the South Island on the Interislander ferry, the sheltered waterways of the Marlborough Sounds are the first sight. Picton is the destination port, and a good base to go walking, fishing, sailing, kayaking and exploring the many secluded bays in the Sounds. 

The Marlborough region is internationally recognized for its world class wine, most notably its Sauvignon Blanc, and there are many different ways to sample these wines as their are many wineries offering excellent wine tours. By bike, or by luxury old timer cars, the creativity with which these tours are organized is brilliant. The seafood in this region is also sumptuous, great to combine with a glass of the local wines.

Those put off by the large crowds on the Abel Tasman Track will love the Queen Charlotte Track. The beaches are a little less exquisite, but the coastal scenery is still stunning and there are many accommodation options aolong the track.

Nelson - Tasman

 

 

The Nelson-Tasman region is blessed with an incredibly diverse natural beauty, offering no less than three of the finest National Parks in the country. From the golden beaches of Abel Tasman National Park, dramatic and lush rainforests in Kahurangi National Park, to the alpine environment of Nelson Lakes National Park, this region has it all. The area around Nelson is also one of the sunniest in the country, due to the protecting surrounding hills, so it's a popular region with travelers.

Nelson is the South Island's second largest city, noted for its fruit-growing industry in the Motueka Valley, wineries and micro-breweries. It also has an energetic local arts and crafts community with local artists exhibiting their products on the famed Nelson market every Saturday. Nearby Rabbit Island boasts great swimming beaches, boating fishing and forest walks. 

Further west, Motueka is the centre of a green tea, hops and fruit-growing area, and is a good base to explore the nearby parks. The drive over Takaka Hill takes you into Golden Bay, whre you may find the biggest cave in the Southern Hemisphere as well as New Zealand's largest freshwater spring, the Waikoropupu Springs, simply called "Pupu Springs", with reputedly the clearest water in the world.

Kaikoura

 

Kaikoura is a unique place by the sea where marine wildlife lives in abundance, against the backdrop of the impressive Kaikoura mountain ranges. It is well known for its range of eco-tourism activities and getting up close with the main inhabitant along its shores, the giant Sperm Whale.

Whale watching in Kaikoura is simply a must-do as you're guaranteed to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, and along the way you're most likely to see a pod of bottlenose or duksy dolphins play in the water, be impressed by the take-off and water landing of the Royal Albatross, and see a bunch of sea lions lazing about on a rock, suc is the diversity.

The ocean here also provides some spectacular seafood, and a stay in Kaikoura may not go by without having tried the crayfish

Aoraki - Mt Cook

 

 

The approach to new Zealand's tallest mountain, Mt Cook, via the blue lake of Lake Pukaki is something you will remember for a lifetime. At 3754m Mt Cook entirely dominates the landscape and as you draw ever closer, its imperious glaze on you only gets more and more impressive.

Mt Cook National Park, along with Aspiring and Westland National Parks, have been incorporated into a World Heritage Area extending from the Cook River in Westland down to the base of Fiordland. Of the 27 mountains in New Zealand which are over 300om, 22 of them are in Mt Cook National Park. The park also boasts New Zealand's longest glacier, the Tasman Glacier.

The park offer numerous hikes to get up close with Mt Cook, but also offer many other exciting adventure activities, such as mountaineering, helicopter flights, heli-skiing and sea-kayaking on glacial waters.

West Coast - Glaciers

 

 

The West Coast or Westland is a rugged and wild land with rocky beaches, deep river gorges,  bush-clad hills and towering icy-peaks. Extending across a 600km long stretch on the western side of the Southern Alps, a visit here takes you through a myriad of five National Parks, yes five!!, including the World Heritage Area - Te Wahipounamu. Each of the national parks - Kahurangi, Paparoa, Arthur's Pass, Westland and Mt Aspiring National Parks - have their their own unique and distinct features. You'll find New Zealand's highest mountains, most dense and lush rainforests, natural rivers, glacial lakes, deepest gorges,  and of course the two phenomenal Glaciers themselves, Fox and Franz Josef.

Wanaka

 

 

Wanaka receives slightly less attention than it's more famous neighbour Queenstown, only about an hour away, but one may argue which of the two towns is nestled in the most impressive scenery. While that may be a very difficult question to answer, Wanaka boasts a similar range of adrenaline activities, but with some more serenity about it all.  The town offers fine dining and living and is the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park and the Treble Cone, Cardrona, Harris Mountains and Pisa Range ski areas. Every second Easter, Wanaka hosts the incredibly popular Warbirds over Lake Wanaka, a huge international air show that sees the town swell with visitors.

The central feature of the region is Mt Aspiring, surrounded by the national park with the same name. The alpine scenery does not get any more dramatic than this in New Zealand, and offers some of the best hiking in the country. The park has wide valleys, secluded flats, more than 100 glaciers and towering mountains. The southern end of the park around Glenorchy receives most visitors and includes popular hikes such as the Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand's great walks, but there are also excellent shorter walks and more demanding hikes in the Matukituki Valley close to Wanaka. 


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Millenniumm Queenstown

 Image result for millennium queenstown

Right in the heart of the action, Millennium Hotel Queenstown is just minutes from Queenstown central shopping, entertainment and outdoor activities such as bungy jumping, white water rafting and jet boating. The popular ski destinations of Coronet Peak, Remakables, and Cardrona are also close by. 

This luxury hotel also offers accessible rooms for special needs guests with their friendly staff on hand to assist you anytime. Most of this accommodation also offers scenic views of Queenstown city and mountains, providing the perfect backdrop to your trip. Millennium Hotel Queenstown is a 4-star plus and Enviro-Gold Qualmark rated hotel, with an Environmental Sustainability Plan for the future. 

Citylife Wellington (Heritage)

 Image result for citylife wellington

Wellington prides itself on being not only the country’s capital, but also its cultural capital – and there’s no better place to soak up the atmosphere than CityLife Wellington, with hotel accommodation located right in the heart of the city. Situated on Lambton Quay, you’ll find the best shopping, tourist attractions and cultural landmarks all within easy walking distance.

When you want a breather, the hotel offers plenty of ways to make the most of your downtime. Enjoy a hotel experience unlike other Wellington hotels.

Whether you’re seeking Wellington accommodation for work, rest or play, our spacious rooms offer you the comforts of home - with the added benefits of housekeeping and room service.

Offering a range of one and two bedroom serviced apartments, After an exciting day of sightseeing or business, you can now enjoy an even better night's sleep with extra comfy beds in all rooms.

 

Rutherford Nelson (Heritage)

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Whether you’re visiting our incredible region for business or pleasure, Rutherford Hotel Nelson is the obvious choice for luxury accommodation in Nelson.

Rutherford Hotel Nelson is Nelson’s only 24-hour fully-serviced hotel, offering luxurious rooms and suites – ideal for corporate travelers, families and conference delegates. The central location means Nelson’s many galleries and City attractions are just a stone’s throw away. All rooms have a view of the harbour, city, historic South Street or Nelson’s beautiful cathedral.

The stylish accommodation will suit anyone looking for a great place to stay in Nelson, whether you’re here on holiday, in town for a wedding or visiting Nelson for a conference. 

 

Distinction Hotel Lake Te Anau

 

Get away from it all, and escape into the serene surroundings of Distinction Luxmore Hotel, Lake Te Anau before heading out to explore the world-famous beauty of Fiordland including Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. With its range of modern hotel accommodation options, 2 on-site restaurants, FREE unlimited WiFi, complimentary guest car parking and an excellent standard of service, the team at Distinction Luxmore Hotel will make your stay in Te Anau comfortable and enjoyable.
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Conveniently located in the heart of Te Anau's town shopping centre and a short stroll from Lake Te Anau, the South Island's largest lake and launching pad for many water based activities. The 180 room Distinction Luxmore Hotel offers guests a wide range of modern, refurbished hotel accommodation.

Alpine Resort Wanaka (Distinction)

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Distinction Wanaka Alpine Resort is nestled in a quiet Lake Wanaka location and guests can enjoy access to the resort facilities whilst staying in the serviced apartments. The stylish, self-contained, serviced apartments each provide a high level of personal comfort and convenience, perfect for all seasons.

They offer a fully equipped kitchen, televisions with 50+ channels of SKY channels, free WiFi, under-floor heating in the bathrooms, private & secure car garages, perfect for storing additional equipment such as skis and bikes. Enquire about daily, weekly and longer term servicing options..

Scenic Hotel Napier

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We invite you to enjoy quality 4-star hotel accommodation of an international standard. From the moment you step into our spacious, light-filled lobby, you will experience our commitment to quality and customer service. If you fancy waking up to serene ocean views, Scenic Hotel Te Pania is the perfect place to start your day in Hawke’s Bay. Simply leave the curtains open, roll over in bed, and soak it all in. 

Hawke's Bay is one of the first places in the world to see the light each day, with Napier hotel enjoying a premium waterfront location on Napier's Marine Parade. The hotel’s slender curved form echoes the shape of the bay and guests are treated to sweeping views out over the water. A fresh, contemporary style hotel, Scenic Hotel Te Pania is just a short stroll from Napier’s main art deco style street and is located in close proximity to many of Napier's attractions..

 

Scenic Franz Josef

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In the heart of the village and edge of the Westland World Heritage Park, the Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier is only a breath away from the spectacular Franz Josef Glacier. 

This hotel offers everything you need to be able to explore this dramatic region in style and comfort. With an exceptional restaurant, serving hearty, West Coast fare, and the Moa Bar with its open fireplace, you are never without choice. Plus, with the private hot pools and our Amaia Luxury Spa close by, you can enjoy time out to rejuvenate after a day taking in the many walking tracks and other outdoor pursuits. 

Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel, plus a guest information and booking service will ensure that you can make the most of every minute you spend in the Westland region.

 

Funyaks + Jet Boat

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This day in and around Queenstown takes you deep into "Paradise", near Glenorchy in Mt Aspiring National Park.

An unmissable experience with the exhilaration of a wilderness jet boat ride combined with a leisurely downstream float on easy to use Funyaks (inflatable kayaks) awaits you. This trip is a must-do to explore the truly unique Dart River. Your amazing journey begins with an exhilarating jet boat ride up the Dart River deep into the heart of the world-renowned Mt Aspiring National Park. From here you’ll then travel back down river at your own pace in our unique Funyaks exploring pristine waters as they flow from the Southern Alps to Lake Wakatipu, hidden side streams with amazing rock pools and dramatic chasms.
Just when you think your Funyaks adventure is over, you will enjoy a gourmet buffet lunch before heading via 4 wheel drive coach to locations used in the movies to illustrate Middle Earth from ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’.

Milford Sound Cruise

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Description: A spectacular two-hour cruise to the mouth of the fiord on a spacious, classic vessel with excellent viewing opportunities. The Haven has large windows, spacious decks and beanbag lounges which offer uninterrupted views of towering peaks and surging waterfalls. Keep a look out for seals basking on the rocks, dolphins and penguins. Enjoy scenic highlights such as Mitre Peak and Stirling Falls. Informative commentary from the captain explains the history and highlights points of interest during the cruise. Suitable for all ages.

Departure Point: Milford Sound Visitor Terminal, Milford Sound.

Peppers Bluewater Resort - Lake Tekapo

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Near the shores of Lake Tekapo, in the heart of Mackenzie Country in New Zealand’s central South Island, is Peppers Bluewater Resort. Overlooking Lake Tekapo this resort is located in an intensely beautiful part of the world.

Peppers Bluewater Resort is set amongst the purest natural landscape. Romantic and secluded, your accommodation in Lake Tekapo reflects the beautiful landscape surrounding you.

You can explore the natural wonders of Mount Cook and the Mackenzie region from here. Marvel at an International Dark Sky Reserve with millions of stars. Ride horses through the mountains, catch a scenic flight to Franz Josef glacier, go skiing, or immerse yourself in the Tekapo Springs Day Spa and Hot Pools.