Advice and Tips on how to Have a Fantastic Trip in a Land of Sheep
Open, modern, sparse roads. High quality holiday parks in every town. Relaxed laws allowing ‘freedom’ camping. New Zealand feels like a country designed for a campervan.
Dozens of campervan rental companies are scattered throughout New Zealand, many of which allow a van to be rented in one city, and left in another. This is particularly useful as many visitors explore both the north and south islands of the country, and take the vehicle between the two on a ferry.
The ferry crossing is very straight-forward. It should be booked several days in advance over the summer months, but once done, campervans can be driven onboard and left while passengers enjoy food and entertainment during the 3 hour crossing.
Type of Campervan
The choice of vehicle is typically determined by budget constraints, the size of the group, and the desired level of luxury. For a young couple, a small and simple campervan with basic facilities may suffice. For an older couple with children, a larger vehicle with built in shower and TV may be more appropriate. Also, larger vans consume more petrol, further increasing the cost.
Driving Conditions in New Zealand
Driving in New Zealand is far easier than in most other countries. This is due to a modern road system and low population. Driving is done on the left side of the road.
The main difficulties come from the terrain and the weather. The entire country straddles the edge of two tectonic plates, resulting in a land dominated by vast mountain ranges. A heavy campervan can often struggle up a steep incline, and pick up considerable speed on the other side!
The weather in New Zealand can change in a matter of minutes. This can quickly put a driver in hazardous road conditions, which is particularly scary if high in the mountains. A mobile phone and snow chains are often recommended in the winter months of June – September.
Expenses and Costs
Hiring a campervan in New Zealand is not particularly cheap, but money is saved overall as it provides both transport and accommodation. Petrol prices are lower than in some countries, but most travellers cover large distances, resulting in sizeable fuel costs.
A campervan can be parked and slept in anywhere, although this raises obvious safety issues. Government maintained parks are the next cheapest option, offering very basic facilities for a moderate fee of around $5 – $10 (New Zealand dollars) per van per night.
For more comfort, $15 – $25 will give warm showers, kitchen facilities, and secure parking at any of the high-end holiday parks.
Where to Go
New Zealand offers many different types of holiday, ranging from relaxing breaks with tranquil environments and good food, to extreme sports trips involving week after week of pure adrenaline. Any well researched guidebook, such as Lonely Planet, will explain where to head for each type of holiday.
The south island is far less populated than the north, and tends to offer more wild and remote landscapes. Most of the southern cities feel like towns, where-as the top of the north island is heavily populated, with 2 million people living in Auckland. This area offers a wide range of city attractions, as well as restaurants, pubs, cinemas, etc.
In short, New Zealand has something for everyone, and seeing it by campervan is an exciting and cost effective way to have an amazing holiday.