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Campervan Trip: The Ultimate New Zealand Holiday

There is nothing quite like coming around the corner in a campervan to find a hidden lake nestled beside a primeval rainforest or losing your breath as you crest the brow of a steep hill and take in the sweeping beaches that seem to last forever.  Getting off the beaten track in a Wilderness motorhome is one of the best ways to explore on your New Zealand holiday.

The Freedom of a Self-Drive New Zealand Holiday

Because everything is relatively accessible and packed into a land area a little larger than Britain, it’s ideally suited to the self-drive New Zealand holiday.  Forget about being loaded into a train or tour coach with other travellers, once you’ve got the keys to your campervan, you’re on your own.  When you leave the major city you arrived in, you’ll also notice there aren’t many people around.  New Zealand has a population of just over four million so you can expect to travel for miles through rolling hills and not see a soul on your New Zealand holiday.

On the whole, the roads are well maintained and easily navigable giving you access to craggy coastlines, expansive beaches, ancient forests, snow-capped mountains, bubbling volcanic pools, fast-flowing rivers and glacier fed lakes.  Stretch your legs on a windswept beach or take a more adventurous hike up a mountain pass during your New Zealand holiday.  Try your luck at catching a trout on the edge of a forgotten river or jump off a bridge into the river (with bungy cord tied around your legs of course) – New Zealand holidays provide endless opportunities to interact with the landscape. 

Where to Stay Overnight on Your New Zealand Holiday

New Zealand campervan holidays

When you’re ready for a rest, there are campsites dotted all over the country. Most of these were originally setup to cater for the large number of locals who love to camp. Camping is the typical New Zealand holiday.  In fact, New Zealanders have been camping in caravans (camping trailers) or motor caravans (campervans) since these were first invented. Thousands of New Zealanders have bought or built their own campervans and many spend months each year touring the country. In fact, the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association has the largest membership of any recreational organisation. The first campsites were setup to cater for this popular activity. As many international tourists have discovered the freedom of campervan touring for their New Zealand holiday the number campsites has multiplied. From the 5-star holiday resort to the basic wild camping site, the places to camp are as numerous as the breath taking views. 

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Slow Down and Enjoy Your New Zealand Holiday

Although it is only 2050km (1274 miles) in length, New Zealand is a very big small country.  You could tour for years without seeing everything.  It’s tempting to look at the map and assume you can see the whole country in a couple of weeks during your New Zealand holiday.  While it may be humanly possible, it’s not advisable.  Because we have arguably the most diverse landscape in the world packed into a land area about two thirds the size of California, there is so much to see.  As Disneyland is to a young child, New Zealand is to the adventurous traveller. 

Then there’s the terrain.  Unlike California, we have very few long straight roads - most are winding, hilly, and narrow.  But that’s what you get with stupendous vistas around every corner. 

The secret to getting the most out of your New Zealand holiday is to not bite off too much.  Our motto is “drive less, see more”.  Whether you’re planning a mini break, relaxing getaway, or lengthy sojourn, we recommend travelling no more than 200km/day on average.  If you are bringing children with you on your New Zealand holiday, you should do less (if you want happy children that is). 

A Return or One Way Trip?

New Zealand motorhome holidays Rent campervan new zealand

For a quick getaway of ten days or less, we recommend a return trip from Auckland or Christchurch.  Check out our suggested itineraries for some ideas of where to go and what to do on your New Zealand holiday.

If you’ve got a bit more time to explore during your New Zealand holiday, you should consider a one way trip between Auckland and Christchurch. New Zealand’s geography is perfectly suited to one way travel as the country is long and relatively narrow. You don’t need to back track and therefore you spend less time driving and have more time to stop, experience the wonders of our country and meet a few Kiwis on your New Zealand holiday. If you have some flexibility with your pick up or drop off location, you may be able to save money on your New Zealand holiday if you head in the opposite direction of other tourists. You’ll need to budget on ferry tickets for getting yourself and your campervan across Cook Strait, the passage of water between the North and South Islands. If you do a one way trip, you can save by purchasing one way ferry tickets only.

Our New Zealand travel guru Scott Cook is adamant that the return trip covering both North and South Islands should be saved for the 24 days or longer epic New Zealand holiday - and we'd agree.  You’ll have plenty of time to explore the more remote locations like Taranaki and the East Cape – the places you usually only see locals touring.

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Swimming with Wild Dusky Dolphins in Kaikoura

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