Explore New Zealand by Campervan

Written By: The Planet D

If you travel around New Zealand, you will see an abundant of tourists driving themselves through the country in campervans. That is because New Zealand is set up perfectly for campervan travel.

Explore New Zealand by Campervan

We picked up our AllWays Rental Campervan in Christchurch for two fun filled weeks of freedom driving around the South Island.

Equipped with a bed, stove, cookware, utensils and bedding, we had everything we needed including the kitchen sink! Caravanning in New Zealand makes for an affordable vacation in the country and offers you the freedom to go off the beaten path and take in the sights at your own pace.

new zealand by campervan sheep
Renting a campervan allows you to stop and take photos like these on the side of the road

Easy Driving

The driving in New Zealand is effortless and the automatic transmission on the AllWays van made driving on the other side of the road an easy transition.

The roads aren’t overly busy and traffic is minimal. AllWays is located right by the Christchurch airport, so you are already on the outskirts of town when you start your vacation.

All you have to do is fly into the country, have them pick you up when your flight arrives and you are on your way to a very reasonable vacation in the most exciting adventure destination on earth.

new zealand by campervan road trip
It’s easy to find somewhere to stay with a campervan

What we found amazing about New Zealand was the amount of campsites in the country.

Every village, town, national park, beach and tourist attraction has a campsite nearby. You won’t have a problem finding accommodation if you have a campervan to stay in.

There are even certain areas where you can camp for free! If at times you find yourself tired of staying in the van, you can book a room at the campsite as nearly all sites rent out cabins.

The campsites are well equipped, clean and reasonably priced.

We never used our stove once in our van.

Instead, we took our cookware into the impeccable kitchens at the Holiday Parks and Top 10 Holiday Resorts to cook our meals.

We used their stoves and spread our food out on the large countertops. We bought our groceries at the local Four Square or Countdown supermarkets and chose a nice bottle of New Zealand wine to go with our dinner.

Cooking at Night

We cooked in warmth and comfort each night and then sat down in the common area to relax, talk to fellow caravaners or catch up on a little T.V. We lived well beyond our budged camping our way around the island.

Typical facilities at New Zealand Campgrounds

  • Hot Showers – some resorts had a $2 NZ fee to shower but most were free.
  • Laundry facilities – $2 per wash $2 per dry
  • Satellite TV
  • Internet – $10 for 100 mb
  • Kitchen equipped with refrigerator, stove, sinks, tables, chairs
  • picnic tables

Sometimes found at campsites:

  • Swimming pools
  • Hot tubs
  • games room
  • playground
  • trampoline

While some of the parks definitely had a resort feel equipped with swimming pools and media rooms, we also stayed in more remote campgrounds run by the department of conservation.

These locations were some of the most pristine and beautiful settings we have ever witnessed.

Clean Toilets

We were in awe of new Zealand’s toilet.

Nowhere else on earth have we seen such pristine public restrooms.

Unlike anywhere else we have travelled, the toilets are not only clean, but they are also free!

We never had to worry about being stuck without facilities. Every town had well stocked and very clean public restrooms that we took full advantage of during our epic road trip.

public toilets
Typical public toilets in New Zealand

You don’t need to have a full size motorhome to travel New Zealand. A basic campervan will do just fine. That is because the campsites have everything you need.

Even if it rained, we could sit comfortably inside the van. Our bench seat folded down into a bed but when it was also comfortable and roomy enough when not in sleeping mode to put up the table and eat, play games and watch a movie on it.

Besides, with the high price of gasoline in New Zealand, you don’t want to be driving a giant motorhome around the country watching your adventure budget be guzzled up by every kilometre you travel.

You can go to bed with a view like this

What to Know About Campervans

Tip: I would recommend asking for a van equipped with an electrical outlet when booking your campervan. It helps to have some heat on those cold New Zealand nights and if you don’t feel like hanging out in the common area all the time, it is nice to have your computer to use the wifi or to watch a movie.

We thoroughly enjoyed driving a campervan through New Zealand and now that we have a taste of what it is like to RV our way around a country, we look forward to taking more trips just like this.

For more information on renting a campervan or car during your trip to New Zealand visit AllwaysRentals.co.nz
Vans can be picked up in Christchurch and Auckland.

All rentals come with Free:

  • Itinerary planning
  • Basic Insurance
  • Roadside Assistance

Read More things to do in New Zealand

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

19 thoughts on “Explore New Zealand by Campervan”

  1. I really enjoyed this blog. I’ve got a camper I use in the United States right now, but I’ve always wanted to go explore other countries. I could easy get a van or something and equip it with all my necessities such as RV air conditioners, a smaller shower, a toilet, and all my plumbing so that it’d be like a camper and just explore the world. I get a lot of my parts from rvparts by right now so I feel like I could build one fairly easy with a little help. I just wander how someone could ship my custom van across the ocean though?

  2. we booked a camper van from wilderness campervans which we will be renting in March 2014. did you have to pay road user charges and take out full coverage insurance.

    • We have insurance on our credit card, American Express, it goes a long way baby. And I don’t recall Road User charges. Hmm, it’s been a while since we were there.

  3. Hello my friend! I want to say that this post is amazing, great written and include approximately all important infos. I’d like to look more posts like this .

  4. Nicely written article with some great photographs. Thanks for the contribution and inspiration.
    For anyone else considering driving in New Zealand and wanting to learn and prepare themselves BEFORE they arrive, search for TURAGUIDES and checkout our free interactive driver guides for overseas visitors.

  5. This is so helpful! Kali and I are 90% sure we’re heading to New Zealand in the next year, and if we do we’re definitely getting a little campervan. The only hesitation we have about NZ is its notoriously bad internet… not so good when you work on the road. 🙂

    • Christy, you are so right. The internet is bad. But we bought and Internet stick for the time we were there and used a vodophone card to tether to our iPhone. Many times we were in dead areas, but a lot of the times they worked very well and were less expensive than paying for wifi.

  6. I think campervan is the best way to travel around NZ. You shouldn’t worry about campsites as you can camp almost anywhere. Even on the empty beach if you are not afraid your camper will stuck in the sand 🙂

    • So true, you can camp anywhere in New Zealand. There are several places that are organized campsites, and many off the beaten path. And yes, even on the beach. thanks for the info.

  7. I wholeheartedly agree with you. I’ve travelled up and down both islands a few times, and driving a car or van is the best option. Just like you my partner and I stayed on various types of campsites, commercial ones with all sorts of facilites and the very basic but super scenic DOC campsites. Either way, facilities have always been good – clean, well-maintained, and even the long drop toilets in the most remote DOC location always had toilet paper!

    • Christina, you are so right, I forgot to mention that we always had toilet paper. One thing we were never worried about was the facilities in each park. Traveling around New Zealand by campervan, made us want to do Canada this way as well!

  8. Our family of four, including 2 kids then age 8 and 11, spent two months traveling all around NZ as part of our 2009-10 RTW journey, and while I share your enthusiasm for RV’ing (we spent a week in one), I do have some warnings and suggestions. First, be aware that one downside to having an RV is once you’re there, parked and hooked up, you’re sort of stuck. It’s a lot of work to pack and secure everything to drive around again, so if you’re planning to drive into town from the campground, it’s challenging. Also, it’s quite expensive and difficult in our experience to find an automatic transmission. That said, we did get the hang of using a stick shift with the left hand! See our video and this post if you’d like to see what it was like: http://away-together.com/2009/12/08/north-new-zealand/.
    However, you’re totally right that NZ’s campgrounds are a great place to stay, especially for families. We found our favorite option was to car camp, because most of those places have very cheap, one- or two-room “cottages” (some like a plastic storage shed, but perfectly comfortable) so that we could enjoy the family camp scene and amenities of cooking spaces, trampolines & ziplines for the kids, etc but still have a car.
    Thanks for the post!

    • Hi Sarah, great points. A car is an excellent option as well and Allways rents those also. You have a perfect point of being able to use the facilities. It’s the best of both worlds. Most campgrounds rent out rooms at an affordable rate.
      We didn’t experience your problems because we had a much smaller campervan. It wasn’t difficult to unhook and pack up. Traveling with a family is definitely different. However, it is a far more reasonable option than staying in hotels which are quite expensive in new Zealand. Allways gave us an automatic transmission as well so you do have the option of driving automatic with them. However we have driven around the world with a standard transmission most often, it is almost impossible to go automatic in Europe without breaking the bank. . We drive a stick at home, so it is an easy transition for us.

  9. I am so ready to cruise around NZ in a campervan. Love the photos as well as the tips, especially the one about getting the electrical outlet.

  10. It’s good to know the campsites are reasonably priced in New Zealand. The average price we paid in Australia was $40, although we stayed on the coast almost the whole time. But when you consider how much you are already paying for the campervan, it gets expensive. I love love love that last sunset photo!