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Motorhome Travel in Winter

A New Zealand winter road trip in a motorhome rental can be a memorable and rewarding experience. Motorhome rental rates are usually very cheap so your travel budget can go a long way. The roads and camping sites are quiet so you’ll often have the best tourist spots to yourself. But just like the weather, your dream holiday can quickly turn into an uncomfortable and even traumatic experience if you haven’t thought about the right motorhome rental. 

Most motorhome rentals are designed for three season travel ie you’ll find most motorhome rental fleets parked up over the winter.  They have little in the way of heating or you can only operate the heater when hooked up to mains power at a holiday park.  Most are not insulated and have inadequate windows for cold weather.

If you are planning a quick getaway, you may be comfortable enough in a typical three season motorhome rental as long as you ask the motorhome rental operator for extra blankets and you stay at a holiday park each night and plug in to mains power. You can operate the heater as soon as you plug in. Since the motorhome rental won’t have insulation or good curtains you may need to keep the heater running all night.

If you are planning a longer road trip and fancy some wild camping then you’ll need to choose a four season motorhome rental.  Here at Wilderness we specialise in four season motorhome rentals.  In fact, we've gone out of our way to create the ultimate winterised motorhomes. 

To help you understand some of the common pitfalls you may get with other motorhome rentals through winter, we've made a list of winter scares and fears.

Cold at night due to an ineffective motorhome heating system


If you're cold at night, you won't get a good night's sleep and if you don't sleep well, you won't have any fun the next day – it’s that simple. What you need is a thermostatically controlled heater, high-grade insulation and double-glazed windows to provide extra warmth. All our Wilderness motorhomes have these so you can keep the cold air out and warm air in. With a duvet (doona) and fleecy blanket to add to the mix your toes won't be numb for long.  

Pulling on Damp, Smelly Clothes or Drying Yourself with a Wet Towel

It rains a lot in New Zealand, whatever the season. After an unexpected downpour the last thing you want is wet clothes and no way to dry them - like your shower towel. If, after the third day, your clothes finally do dry, think about where all that moisture has gone. If your motorhome rental starts to smell damp and musty at least you'll know exactly where it’s coming from! Several of our motorhomes have a unique drying room feature. The heating system in the bathroom allows it to pump in hot air to dry any clothes or towels hanging. Damp air escapes through the roof vent leaving the motorhome rental feeling dry and smelling fresh day after day.

Slipping off an unfamiliar, wet and icy road

SnowIf you’re travelling in winter you want to explore New Zealand’s unique wilderness landscapes without worrying whether you’ll be safe. Our motorhomes are front wheel drive, have excellent traction, a superb ABS braking system and a low centre of gravity which will see you firmly grounded to the roads. Front wheel drive vehicles outperform and are much safer than rear wheel drive vehicles in snowy conditions.

What’s more, you can fit snow chains to all of these models to keep you going after an unexpected snow fall. Snow chains attached to the front wheels will significantly improve traction on snow covered roads. That’s because the weight of the motor is over the front wheels. Braking and steering performance is also better on front wheel drive vehicles with snow chains on. With snow chains on the back of a rear wheel drive vehicle, you risk losing traction on the corners and potentially having an accident.

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