New Zealand is a long, narrow and mountainous country that’s best explored by road. The most cost-effective way to do this is to rent or purchase a campervan that acts as your all-in-one accommodation, packhorse and mode of transport. Read on to learn some of the core benefits of taking a campervan holiday around NZ.
Is freedom camping free?
Before you book your rental and hit the NZ tarmac with reckless abandonment, it’s important to note you can’t park overnight just anywhere you fancy. Parking at many of the hundreds of campsites around NZ is illegal if your campervan isn’t 'self-contained'. To qualify as self-contained (and earn the certification sticker) a vehicle must be able to contain water waste for up to three days – that’s water supply, grey water (sink and shower waste water) and toilet waste. The fines for not abiding by this law can put a real damper on your holiday, so a little research can go a long way.
Getting the most out of your trip
Because there’s so much to see in NZ and you will likely be restricted by time, we recommend you stay at a combination of free camp sites and Kiwi Holiday Parks and Accommodation (KHPA) venues. This will prevent you from missing things along the way due to your booked accommodation venues being too far apart. It also gives you the best of both worlds – ‘roughing it’ by cooking your meals, showering and answering nature’s call in your camper; and ‘treating yourself’ to the cooking, toilet, shower and laundry facilities at any of the 41 KHPA sites dotted around the country.
Forget public transport, but don’t forget to rest
Not having to depend on public transport to get from one stunning kiwi location to the next is potentially the biggest perk of campervan travel. You’re in charge of your own destiny, free to move on at the drop-of-a-hat or stay a while longer if you’re especially enjoying a spot.
But don’t forget that you’re also in charge of a very heavy automobile and that lapping up the sights, sounds and activities of Aotearoa will leave you feeling exhausted at times. Tired drivers are dangerous drivers, especially on NZ’s demanding winding roads, so if you’re feeling like you could do with a rest, pull over and take a nap.
Save large by preparing your own meals
Aside from your camper rental and fuel, food will have the biggest impact on your wallet during your expedition. Eating fast food or from restaurants and cafes everyday will quickly eat into your funds, so to speak. To cut down on this type of spending and preserve cash for fun activities, visit a supermarket like Pak’nSave or Countdown every few days to stock up on ingredients for meals you can prepare in your campervan or at a communal KHPA kitchen.
The best NZ region to visit is…
You could ask ten different people this question and get ten different answers. People who like winter holidays will say try Wanaka and Rotorua. Those who are led by their taste buds will tell you to follow this map, and sun-lovers will say follow the food and wine festival circuit.
We think all the above are brilliant ideas. You can’t really go wrong with the right insurance, a campervan that suits your needs, a map of powered and non-powered KHPA locations, and some research about driving in New Zealand. But perhaps look at Northland and the West Coast of the South Island to see some one-of-a-kind attractions.
Happy planning and safe travels!
- 3 Wise Men (with no plan) by Andrew – under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
- Motorhome, New Zealand by studio tdes under CC BY 2.0