New Zealand Campervan Holiday

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NZ campervan holiday

How exciting - you're off on your New Zealand campervan holiday

If you haven't got a campervan yet for your roadtrip adventure, then you should consider renting one - to read about how to choose the best camper van for your holiday, click here.

Choosing your itinerary - Duration of Holiday

Your itinerary will depend on how much time you have and where you are starting from.

One Week: If you have only a week, we think trying to see both the North and South Islands would be a bit much, unless you are picking up your camper van in Auckland and dropping off in Christchurch, or vice versa.

If you have only a week, you are likely to be driving every day and it's best not to make the distances you drive each day too long as you won't get to enjoy your New Zealand campervan holiday as much as if you have a more leisurely itinerary. We would advise choosing a region to explore but not trying to see everything in one island.

Examples of leisurely week-long tours include exploring

  • Northland and the Bay of Islands - starting and finishing in Auckland
  • Coromandel Peninsula, Central Plateau, Hawkes Bay and East Cape - starting and finishing in Auckland
  • South Island West Coast and Southern Lakes - starting Christchurch and finishing in Christchurch or Queenstown
  • Marlborough Sounds and Nelson - starting and finishing in Christchurch
  • Christchurch to Auckland - via Wellington, Taupo and Hamilton

Two Weeks: A 2 week New Zealand campervan holiday will give you enough time to explore either the North or South Island or to see a bit of both islands - just pick the best bits or places you haven't visited before. Depending on how much you intend to cram into your holiday, you will be able to have some travel-free days to just enjoy where you are.

Three Weeks or more: Lucky you!!! You will really be able to explore New Zealand with lots of travel-free days and plenty of time to take detours and explore out of the way places.

To view more detailed 1, 2, 3 and 4 week New Zealand campervan holiday itineraries, click here.

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Daily Driving Plan

We make a plan for our day, but we are always prepared to change it depending what comes up. What sometimes seems a great place to stay on paper is not that inviting when we arrive so we keep looking. We have found great places like this and sometimes our itinerary has changed considerably but we think this is just part and parcel of our roadtrip adventures in our campervan.

We try to plan for no more than 4 hours driving per day, unless it's the end of our holiday or we know exactly where we are going and we are not going to be taking any detours. If we plan for 4 hours and then decide to take detours, the extra driving is still manageable and we don't feel exhausted by it at the end of the day. Taking those detours when we see what looks like an interesting road often leads us to discover little gems.

We always plan to arrive at our destination at least 2 hours before the sun goes down. That way, if we do take detours, we still have light to find a good place to stop for the night. We love freedom camping so it's important to be able to see what the ground is like (flat or not), what the view is like and to make sure the area is safe. If you are staying in a campground and have a booking, then getting to your destination before sunset may not be so important, and you can take longer on the drive.

So, in summary when planning a driving day on our New Zealand campervan holiday, we:

  • Make a plan but are flexible with it
  • Avoid planning for long distances - it reduces your ability to stop when you see something interesting
  • Plan to arrive before dark

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Off the Beaten Track

One of the great things about a New Zealand campervan holiday is that you can go off the beaten track. We don't mean going off road as most campervans and motorhomes are not 4WD and so couldn't handle that. But there are many unsealed roads in New Zealand that lead to interesting spots. It is worth exploring these if you can.

If you are driving near a river, look for tracks that leave the main road that head to the river. If you are not sure if your campervan will manage, then park on the road and walk the track first to make sure you're not going to be driving into a mud bath or that you won't have space to turn around.

If you are driving near the coast (and let's face it, there are a lot of New Zealand roads near the coast), take the roads that lead out to the beach - you may be surprised at what you find.

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Destinations and Routes

To view some sample itineraries for a 1,2, 3 and 4 week New Zealand campervan holiday, click here

To read about destinations and routes that have been part of our NZ roadtrip adventures, click here

To share your campervan roadtrip adventures, click here

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Dumping Stations

Self-contained motorhomes will need to dump waste. We always check where the dump stations are along the way and use them as necessary. To find out where the dump stations are in New Zealand by region, click here

For a list of New Zealand's official information network in the North and South Island - click here.

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What to Take

To read about what to pack to enjoy your New Zealand campervan holiday, click here.

Be sure you stock up with food and other provisions in the larger towns when you are there as many small towns have limited services and some will not even have any shop let alone a supermarket. Just because you see a place on the map, doesn't mean you will find a town. Sometimes there is a sign on the road indicating a place and there may be 2 or 3 houses and then it's back to the wilderness.

The same goes for fuel and gas. Make sure you are filled up before you leave a large town. It can be a long way between service stations.

Make sure your water tanks have enough water to last until you next reach a large town. Most water will need to be boiled. Don't assume the water tap at the public dumping station can be used to fill your tanks - look for a tap with a sign that indicates the water is potable.

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