New Zealand Camping Roadtrip
New Zealand is THE country for a Camping Roadtrip. A New Zealand roundtrip with a campervan is MORE than “just looking at one country”.
With your own vehicle you are flexible and free, you can sleep in the most beautiful places in the middle of New Zealand’s nature and enjoy your coffee the next morning.
A camping roadtrip through New Zealand is a unique experience or a very special way to travel. One where you can experience a feeling of freedom. And that’s why so many New Zealand travellers get that shine in their eyes long after their return when they think back to their road tip at the “other end of the world”.
You notice: I’ve been totally hit. No wonder, because I spent three months in New Zealand. My campervan Justus has always been a faithful companion on my road trip without getting complicated even once.
How to start? Basic considerations and tips for planning your camping road trip through New Zealand.
For the planning of your road trip, there are a few basic considerations or tips that should make it easier for you to get started in the organization.
When should you start planning? How long in advance you plan your New Zealand Roadtrip is up to you and cannot be answered in general. You basically need a flight and a ride – both can be organized spontaneously. I myself was in New Zealand during my trip around the world. I booked the flight from Chile to New Zealand about half a year in advance. I bought my campervan Justus on the spot – it took me five days. I used this first week in New Zealand to roughly plan the next days of my travel route on the South Island and to research where I have to book organized tours, ferry crossings or hikes. As you can see, you don’t necessarily need a lot of time for planning – but as the saying goes: “Anticipation is the best pleasure” and there is definitely something to it.
As your New Zealand road trip is likely to be part of your regular or hopefully extended annual holiday, you will probably know well in advance when you are travelling to New Zealand and how much time you are bringing with you. Once you know the exact dates and duration of your trip, you should start planning.
Think of a rough itinerary. For this you can buy a New Zealand travel guide, read magazines or get tips or inspiration from other travel blogs. The following three posts on my blog are also helpful for planning your itinerary: My personal highlights on the North Island, my highlights on the South Island of New Zealand, as well as the detailed summary of my camping road trip on the South Island.
Check for suitable flights as soon as possible. As a general rule, the earlier you book a flight, the cheaper it will usually be. I search and book my flights myself almost always with Momondo or Opodo.
Think about whether you want to rent or buy a campervan and start researching and comparing rental offers for campervans. Once you have booked your flight to New Zealand, you should also book your campervan. Especially during the peak price period between mid December and mid January and during Chinese New Year the campervans for a road trip are often quickly booked out.
ORGANIZED TOURS & HIKES
Think about which organized tours and which hikes you would like to do in New Zealand. For example, the popular Great Walks like the Routeburn, the Milford or the Kepler Track in Fiordland are often booked well over half a year in advance. If you want to hike one of these Great Walks, book it early.
BE SURE TO STAY FLEXIBLE!
If you would like to book a tour, a hike and, if necessary, the ferry between the North and South Islands, then that’s fine. But please don’t be too determined and plan or plan your camping road trip every day. With this you take all the flexibility and therefore also THAT what a roadtrip actually constitutes.
Some tour operators – e.g. STA Travel – often have offers where flight and campervan can be booked as a package. You may get cheaper than booking flight and rental car separately. It’s definitely worth comparing a country as expensive as New Zealand.
Book flights to New Zealand: Auckland or Christchurch?
Before you book your flight you should consider your itinerary and ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want to travel both the North Island and the South Island?
- Do you want to make a complete round trip – i.e. end where you started your road trip?
- Do you want to start on the South Island and finish your camping roadtrip on the North Island? Or vice versa?
- Do you only want to visit the North Island or only the South Island?
These considerations are important when booking your flight, so that you know which destination airport (Auckland = AKL or Christchurch = CHC) and which departure airport you have to choose for your flight booking to or from New Zealand.
I myself changed planes directly in Auckland when I arrived in New Zealand and flew on to Christchurch on the South Island, where I started my road trip. My return flight was at the end of my round trip from Auckland.
How much time should you bring with you?
The answer to this question can only be: as much time as possible. It should be at least three weeks. Without the arrival and departure days to and from Germany. In this case, I recommend that you choose an island. If you have more time, then I think that six weeks is a good time to explore both islands more or less in peace.
I myself had 12 weeks, about 6 weeks per island – for which I am very grateful. I have summarized my complete travel route on the South Island here for you.
When is the best travel time for New Zealand?
The main travel time for a New Zealand trip is from October to March. New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere and during this time it is summer – New Zealand summer. This means that there is no guarantee of good weather and sitting outside in flip-flops, shorts and t-shirts in the evening is not the rule.
I recommend you, if you can arrange it, not to travel from mid-December to mid-January. During this time New Zealanders have holidays and this time span is also very popular with tourists. Also check when Chinese New Year is and try not to put your trip in that time. Even then it gets full in the small country of New Zealand.
Buy a campervan or rent a campervan?
Before you travel to New Zealand, consider whether you want to buy or rent a campervan for your road trip. Whether it is worth buying a campervan depends on how long you are in New Zealand. Remember that you have to plan time for the purchase and for the later sale. As a rule, the longer you stay, the more rewarding it is to buy your own campervan compared to a rented vehicle.
Are you travelling through New Zealand for more than ten weeks? In this case it is usually worth buying your own vehicle.
Do you have less than six weeks? Then take advantage of one of the many car rental companies.
Do you stay between six and ten weeks? Set a time limit for your purchase. For example, five days. If you notice that you can’t find a suitable vehicle during this time or that your (German) security needs are getting in your way when you buy a camper van, then change your plans and rent one. It would be a shame if you spent too much time searching. Note: In the high season – especially in December and January and during Chinese New Year – it is not always possible to rent a campervan spontaneously.
I myself have decided to buy my own car (Justus). How you buy a campervan in New Zealand, I have summarized here in detail. How much my campervan or my entire New Zealand trip cost, I have summarized for you on my blog in the post: How much do 3 months cost in New Zealand?