Campervan Tips ~ Traveling New Zealand By Campervan

Campervan Tips ~ Traveling New Zealand By Campervan

Travelers are seeing New Zealand through campervan windows. It’s a culture around here really, with multiple companies renting out vans and car markets catering specifically to foreign visitors.  With a few simple campervan tips your sure to have an amazing time. 

Hitch-hikers weighed down by backpacks wait for travelers with wheels to take them to the next small town, and to any given destination, there will be more vans on the road than cars. Just as unique and rewarding as any of the world’s great road trips, a campervan journey around New Zealand is worthy of the bucket list. If you want in on the action, here are some campervan tips for traveling around New Zealand.


Buy Or Rent? How To Decide

The first step to any road trip is to get your hands on a vehicle. There are plenty of companies that will rent you a campervan for your journey and also plenty of people that will sell you one, no strings attached. It’s important to ask yourself some of these questions before making a decision.

Will you be traveling for under three months or longer?

Renting a campervan for a short term trip can be quite affordable. However, if you plan on traveling around New Zealand for 4 months to a year, it may be more cost effective to purchase a campervan and sell it when you are finished.

Do you know your way around a motor?

If you aren’t very confident in your vehicle knowledge and can’t fix a flat tire to save your life, renting from a company may be the best option. You can trust that their vehicles have been fine tuned and up to safety standards. Plus, if you do break down, they typically offer assistance to get you back up and running. If you purchase a campervan yourself, it’s important that you can take an educated look at what’s going on under the hood before purchasing and be able to make small repairs if you end up stuck on the side of the road.

Are You Willing To Take A Financial Risk?

If renting a campervan, the transaction is simple; rent, pay, return. When buying a campervan, you will be under pressure to make sure it gets sold when your trip ends. If you have a plane ticket out of the country or the market for buyers is low, you may need to take less money than you paid for it in order to get rid of it quickly.

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Where To Find A Campervan

If you plan on renting a campervan, check out some of these campervan companies to decide which one sounds best for your trip:

  • Escape
  • Spaceships
  • Apollo
  • Wicked
  • Hippie Camper

Hannah & Adam rented their campervan with Escape rentals, picked up and returned their campervan in Christchurch.

NZ - Kiwi Krawl Day 5-11

If you want to purchase a campervan vehicle, check out some of these resources to get you started:

  • The Backpackers Cars/Vans Sales Auckland: A Facebook group where other travelers buy and sell vehicles.
  • Trade Me: A New Zealand website for selling items, services and posting jobs.
  • Hostel Notice Boards: Most hostels will have a board in their lobby where other travelers will post For Sale signs.
  • The Backpacker Car Markets: There are two markets that run on the weekends in Auckland, City Car Fair and Auckland City Car Fair.

What To Keep In The Campervan

Everyone’s preferences are different but some useful campervan tips on gear to have:

  • Large Tupperware containers to separate food items, cooking utensils, clothing and shower products.
  • A stove and propane tank
  • Basic kitchenware (pots, pans, utensils, bowls, cups, plates)
  • Foldable chairs
  • A flashlight or headlamp
  • A cooler to keep perishable items fresh for short periods of time
  • Multiple towels for showering and the beach
  • Cleaning supplies (wet wipes, paper towels, dish soap, sponge)
  • Books and magazines for downtime
  • Large water jug

NZ - Kiwi Krawl Day 9-6

Click here for Hannah & Adams campervan tips on what to pack for a campervan trip to New Zealand.

Useful Resources

Knowing where to get the right resources can help you have a smoother trip and cut down on planning.

  • Camper Mate App: If you have a smartphone, download this app for your trip. It was made in collaboration with the tourism board and works offline to help travelers find places to camp. It offers a map labeling campgrounds, their prices, facilities and extremely helpful reviews left by other campers. With this app, travelers have the freedom to drive around without much planning in advance.
  • Information Centers: Most towns and national parks around New Zealand will have information centers full of knowledgeable staff, maps and pamphlets for things to do in the area. Many of these places have free WIFI and offer services to book tours for you right from the center.
  • Public Libraries: Even the smallest towns around New Zealand tend to have at least one public library. They typically offer free WIFI and can be used as a resource in case you need to do some planning, fill up your water bottle in the sink or use the bathroom.

Long expanses of uncrowded roads, hills of farmland views and a sprinkling of antiquated towns there’s a reason why this country is so popular for road tripping. What do you think? Are you ready to make the trip?


About The Author

Shannon is an American travel blogger and writer who has been traveling the world for 10 years. She has taught English in China and Thailand, backpacked around Europe, road tripped around the U.S and is currently living out of a van in New Zealand. You can follow her adventures at Lives Abroad or visit her on Facebook.

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Have you campervanned in New Zealand? What are your campervan tips?

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7 Comments
  • Agness
    Posted at 03:18h, 19 March Reply

    Awesome idea for budget travels!! 🙂 How much do you guys think I may need per day for a campervan trip in USA?

  • Jennifer Cooper
    Posted at 03:08h, 20 March Reply

    Yes – I have been on two big camper trips around NZ , one of the North Island and one of the South Island. I am actually living here permanently now! My biggest tip would be to go to a tourist office / DOC office and get yourself a booklet of all the DOC campsites. They are excellent value for money – normally only $6NZD per person (sometimes more if they are in a particularly beautiful/popular location) and you’ll get running water, a toilet, outside BBQs and even sometimes somewhere to prepare food.

    I’d warn you against freedom camping – there is a big movement against it in NZ at the moment as locals don’t like it. There are issues with people going to the toilet on the side of a road / river / in a field and leaving toilet paper there, not to mention the contamination to rivers/lakes. I tried freedom camping once, but to be honest I’d rather just pay $6 for a toilet and running water (and the safety of other campers) – its not a lot to pay for basic amenities!

  • Earl Burgess
    Posted at 23:45h, 21 August Reply

    During our visit to Christchurch, we made it a point to Tour the Antarctic site.. Excellent! The glass bathrooms were unusual.

  • Pilot Mark
    Posted at 09:03h, 19 February Reply

    This is an incredibly useful article! Excellent information and very detailed! I was blown away by the beauty of New Zealand. The landscape was so diverse and so stunning no matter which direction I looked! To self-drive yourself through this beautiful country is one of the very best ways to discover and experience the marvellous terrain. Personally, I enjoyed seeing the North Island from the seat of the Northern Explorer railway line. To sit back and watch the landscape move past the window was a fascinating experience to say the least!

    • Hannah Lukaszewicz
      Posted at 15:48h, 07 March Reply

      Glad you think so! You are right everywhere you look is another stunning view. We missed the north island so we have to go back.

  • saim malik
    Posted at 00:17h, 25 October Reply

    wow beautiful images and your post thanks for sharing with us

    • Hannah Lukaszewicz
      Posted at 17:37h, 28 October Reply

      New Zealand is a gorgeous country and every corner was a picture waiting to be taken.

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