Touring New Zealand on wheels is by far the best way to get to know the country. A lot of people do it this way and it gives you the freedom to stop where you want, stay as long as you want and enjoy everything much more. The infrastructure is designed for touring New Zealand by car, campervan or motorhome and it is much simpler than it seems.
You need to be 18 or older
You need a driver’s license in English or if you are in another language you need a certified translation. The international driver’s license also works.
Types of campervan
There are many types of campervan and thanks to the huge demand there are many companies that rent them.
The most important thing to know is that there are two types of vehicles “self-” contained “or” not self-contained “which is basically translated as” with bathroom “or” without bathroom “. The camper vans with their own bathroom give you more freedom of places to spend the night without having to pay since many free camping sites only allow doing it to vehicles with these characteristics. However, this means that they are larger and more equipped, therefore more expensive and heavy to handle. They are ideal for couples, couples with children and some can accommodate up to four adults.
This type of campervans or motorhomes are the most common in New Zealand, so it is advisable to compare prices and check the amenities of the vehicle, as well as its dimensions. The roads of New Zealand can be a challenge and if they do not have experience driving large vehicles, more.
The “not self-contained” option is more economical and compact. There are vans to cars like the one you can rent with all kinds of accessories.
You should know that gasoline in New Zealand is expensive, approximately NZD 2.21 per liter (less than 2 USD).
All campervans include:
- A bed, usually that arms.
- A small kitchen or gas grill.
- Kitchen items
- Lava frets (the water comes directly to the floor so it must be used only to wash the dishes)
Of course, each model is different and each company offers different options and amenities.
If your car is not “self-contained” you must spend the night in a Holiday Park. Of course, there are people who do not respect this rule, but you are a responsible and smart traveler.
The vast majority of Holiday Park has these options:
- Cabins: For those who travel by car and need somewhere to sleep. They usually cost around 100 NZD (80 USD) per night for two people and some include a private bathroom.
- Powered site: This is a site with an electrical connection, necessary if your camper has an outlet to charge. They are usually the best located camping sites.
- Non-powered site. This is a site without an electrical connection and is usually slightly cheaper than the one that has a connection. In many cases, the site has enough space for your car and a tent.
It is basically a place to put your tent. They are the most economical. In all cases you can make use of the following amenities:
- Communal kitchen: Which usually vary in size and quality according to the category of Holiday Park. In some cases the kitchens have pans, pots and more to use, others must use yours and in others, you have the option of renting them.
- Bathrooms and showers: This also varies enormously depending on the quality of the Holiday Park, in some cases the hot water has a cost and works with a coin system.
- Laundry: All Holiday Parks have laundry that works with a coin system; the most common are 4 NZD for the washing machine and 2 or 3 NZD for the dryer. In most cases, the detergent is purchased separately (1 NZD).
- Childish games: Many people travel with children and in most of the Holiday Parks there are basic playgrounds, like swings, slides and sometimes even jumpers and pools.
The Rankers Camping or Camper Mate apps help you to know the location of the Holiday Parks as well as the sites where camping is allowed, in case you have sun “self-contained”. They are very useful because you can also check the reviews of the sites, prices and know the phone to make a reservation.
In the case of the cabins it is advisable to book in summer, and for spaces for campervan, you only need to book in the most popular or when you intend to arrive late.
Tips to save
The prices in the summer are the highest of the year. During the spring and autumn, you can find prices up to 60% cheaper than in summer.
Most people make the trip from Auckland to the South Island. The leasing companies usually have offices in Auckland, Wellington, Picton, Christchurch, and Queenstown. On many occasions, companies need to transport cars from the South Island to Auckland offering very good offers such as free rental days or significant discounts, although also the time you have to deliver the car in Auckland may be limited.
To save money, a lot of people avoid the ferry crossing of the car and deliver the unit in Wellington or Picton, cross the ferry as a passenger (much cheaper than crossing with the car) and pick up a new unit in Wellington or Picton upon arrival.
There are many people who also travel in a normal car and carry the tent in the trunk. This is perfectly possible and much cheaper than renting a camper van, although you should know that you must sleep every night in a Holiday Park, it is illegal to camp in an unauthorized place if you do not have a bath.
If you want to cross the islands with the car or campervan in Ferry, it is recommended to book in advance (at least three days in summer) and do it through the landlord, who usually give them a special price.