RV Camping in New Zealand
RV camping in New Zealand is an excellent way to experience one of the most beautiful locations in the world. With a little basic knowledge and some planning, you can choose which island to visit, select the ideal RV rental for your needs and plot out the places you can stay to make your dream trip come true!
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New Zealand is one the world's premier RV vacation destinations. With nearly one third of the landscape dedicated to National Parks, New Zealand is an idyllic place of untouched landscapes, wilderness, and breathtaking scenery.
One of the best ways to experience all New Zealand has to offer is by camping. You have the option to find a secluded paradise for an extended stay or travel from place to place to see all of the attractions that interest you. The popularity of RVing as a travel choice means rental RVs in New Zealand are readily available and easy to obtain. Before venturing out however, there are several things that you’ll need to know in order to get the most out of your New Zealand RV adventure.
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Where to RV Camp in New Zealand
Choosing an Island: North Island or South Island?
The question of where to RV may be a little harder to answer because there are so many exciting opportunities! The choice basically boils down to deciding between the North or South Islands, or doing both. Both islands have major city hubs to start and end your journey. On the North Island, Auckland and Wellington are the main points of entry. On the South Island, Christchurch is the most popular starting point, with Queenstown following up second.
The South Island is larger and is known for its mountains and fjords along the coast.
The North Island is better known for its geothermal features (hot springs and geysers) and has more traditional white sand beaches.
Either island is large enough for a week or two adventure without running out of things to do or places to see. However, to do both islands you’ll need a minimum of two weeks for your visit, preferably more. So, if your time is limited it’ll be much better spent touring a single island.
New Zealand RV Campsites
In New Zealand there are a variety of RV campsite choices, from high-end resorts with ample amenities, to simpler and more wild (rustic) campsites. The higher end holiday parks can cost between $30-$50 NZD per night. The cost can be worthwhile since many of them have stunning views and offer games and activities for all ages to enjoy. From a pool or spa, to a clubhouse, playground and more, there’s something for everyone!
There are dozens of full-service holiday RV parks on the two main islands of New Zealand, so you can easily find something along your planned route and budget.
Speaking of budget, if yours is limited you can still find great spots to park for the night. Freedom camping is a great option as it allows you to stay for free in designated areas as long as you’re in a self-contained RV. Freedom camping is allowed in many locations on public land, unless a sign indicates it is prohibited in that area. Of course, be sure to thoroughly research and ask questions if you have a particular spot in mind.
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Unique and Fun Destinations in New Zealand
Head to Jackson’s Retreat on the edge of the rainforest where you can view glow worms on a night walk in the forest!
If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, a visit to New Zealand wouldn’t be complete without experiencing life in the shire near Hobbiton. And of course, be sure to visit many of the filming locations!
For the ocean lovers there are plenty of options along the coast where you can camp on the beach and enjoy the surf!
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What to Bring when RV Camping in New Zealand
New Zealand may be a unique destination, but RV camping only requires the same basic gear as any other great outdoor adventure. This is where RV rentals shine, since often basic necessities are included. So be sure to check ahead of time on what’s included in your rental.
Here’s a packing list you’ll want to check-off when getting everything in order:
Chairs and Outdoor Equipment
You’ll want to make the most of your camping trip, so make sure you have outdoor camping chairs to stay comfortable. And of course, don’t forget the essentials for your favorite camping activities!
When packing be sure to keep the season in mind. However, the weather can vary and change suddenly in New Zealand, so you’ll want to plan for all types of weather, within reason.
The advantage of traveling by RV is that it’s easy to have multiple options available to adapt to the weather of the day. Make sure you have proper rain gear, as well as sandals, shorts and some warmer clothes. So, layers are key!
Remember that if you didn’t pack something, you can always purchase it along the way!
First Aid Kit and Bug Spray
Be sure to have a well-stocked first aid kit with all of the essentials. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, mosquitoes may be one of your biggest concerns in New Zealand, so be sure to pack a good bug spray!
GPS, Maps, and Cellular Data
Rural roads can be tricky in New Zealand and it’s always best to be over prepared. Have your route pre-planned and use a GPS system (often available as part of an RV rental agreement). Also, have a data plan for your cell phone. Consider asking your current provider to add international service to your plan, purchase a local SIM once you arrive, or get the best of both worlds with Google FI.
Choosing the Best RV Rental for Your New Zealand Adventure
If you’re ready to explore the stunning islands of New Zealand, one of the most flexible options is to rent an RV! Once you arrive in New Zealand, you can pick up an RV that suits your needs and prepares you for your trip.
Many of the best destinations in New Zealand are reached by narrow and curvy roads. For this reason, the most popular RVs in New Zealand tend to be of the smaller variety. So, while they may be a bit more cramped, campervans and small caravans will give you the maneuverability to safely navigate the roads and give you the flexibility to get where you want to go. Also, since the campervans and caravans are smaller, the camping/parking spots at RV parks tend to be sized to fit.
You’re Ready to Experience New Zealand!
Once you have your RV you’ll want to stock up on food, snacks, and supplies before hitting the road (did someone say s’mores?!). Now that you’re all set with transportation and accommodation, you’re free to explore and ready to roll!
Shelley Trupert works for Outdoorsy, an RV marketplace for consumers and pros. She has been camping for almost 20 years and is always looking to find the next hike, off the beaten path. While she used to enjoy tenting in the wilderness, she prefers to camp in an RV now—whether it is a Class C or a teardrop trailer—to enjoy a little comfort after a long day outdoors and the ease of travel it provides. Her goal is to hike in all of the national parks in North America.