Have you ever taken a campervan around New Zealand? You might also call this as an RV or a Motorhome…but in New Zealand, it’s called a Campervan.
And, if you want to stay overnight somewhere, you can stay in a Holiday Park. (Or see rules on freedom camping)
Holiday parks usually have electricity, water, dump stations, showers, laundry, kitchens and playgrounds.
Some are actually kind of fancy too. Maybe stellar views, hot tubs, cabins, a TV lounge, game room and cool amenities for the kids etc.
If you require electricity and are traveling during peak season, you need to make reservations at your desired destination. Otherwise, wing it. (The girls were completely shocked at my “wing it” approach as this is totally not my usual style!)
You can find holiday parks and their descriptions here:
We explored the North Island by Campervan several years ago and we loved it! We knew we wanted to come back and do the South Island as well.
Our first stop was Te Anau. This was about a 2-3 hour drive from Queenstown.
We stayed at the Top 10 Holiday Park there. It was very nice, clean and just a short walk to the beautiful lake and the center of town.
The next morning, we ate breakfast, did dishes, secured everything and headed to Milford Sound. This is about a 3-4 hour drive depending on stops.
We arrived at Milford Lodge-our home base for the next two nights. We had a nice spot in the trees and purchased the Campervan Package, which worked out great!
After Milford Sound, we decided to ditch the rain and cold and head to the east coast for warmer and sunnier temps! We did a power drive for about 6 hours to Dunedin.
The Holiday Park was older and not my favorite but it was good for a stunning one mike beach walk to St. Clair’s Beach. We ate Italian food for dinner at the Esplanade.
Staying in Dunedin can be a good choice. People love the fact that it’s a college town, it’s a larger town of over 100,000 and the downtown has great architecture. It’s also known for its beaches.
After Dunedin, we headed north towards Oamaru, which would be our home for the next two nights.
About 1/2 hour south of Oamaru were the Moeraki Boulders. These round rocks are concretions have been exposed from shoreline erosion. They are fascinating and worth a stop!
In Oamaru, we stayed at The Harborside Tourist Park by the harbor. We chose this small park for its proximity to awesome stuff. (Not to mention the fact that it was spotless!)
The Steampunk Playground -right next door might just be one of the coolest playgrounds ever!
The harbor is practically just out the door. One evening, we listened to the small blue penguins and their cute little noises but only saw part of one peeking out from under a boat. (Normally, when they aren’t molting, there are hundreds to see here).
We really loved the super cool Steampunk HQ. Definitely worth a trip and make sure you put in the $2 coin to “run the train” at the entrance.
Walking around downtown was charming!
Our last stop in the campervan was Christchurch. On the way, we stopped in Timaru to stretch our legs in the lovely botanical gardens and have lunch at Speights Alehouse.
While in Christchurch, we stayed at the Top 10 Holiday Park about 7 km from the airport. They really packed us in like sardines though and and it was kind of unpleasant. (But a speaker with our favorite bossa nova music playing, a game of cards and a nice glass of local sauvignon blanc made it all better!)
I will give the place kudos for the clean showers and tidy common kitchen areas. And-the main reason to stay there is if you are dropping off or have just picked up your campervan in Christchurch. Convenient location!
Taking a campervan around New Zealand is very different here than in the US. Lots of people take campervans, not just retired people! Campervans of all sizes are everywhere-especially the hot tourist spots of Queenstown and Milford Sound.
There are tons of places to stay, many well marked areas to just pull over and picnic and even designated campervan parking in towns. It’s so campervan friendly.
You just bring your clothes and food and you can get everything else included for you when you rent it. (Bedding, dishes, pots and pans, outdoor table and chairs etc.) So simple right?!
Tips– a few other handy items to bring are your toiletries, paper towels, paper plates, trash bags, cleaning wipes, deck of cards, Bluetooth speaker, air freshener, shower shoes, earplugs and coins/soap for doing laundry. Bring long underwear or something warm to sleep in and to wear for cold mornings if traveling outside of summer. Also, use easy to stow soft sided luggage or duffel bags-space is limited in a campervan!
Cons– you are sometimes in close quarters with other campervans. Some travelers are slobs and leave bathrooms and common areas a mess. You have a lack of privacy and if it rains a lot, well, I hope you like together time!
We originally were talking about 2 weeks in a campervan. Lola talked us out of it and said we would be sick of each other. She was kind of right! 8 days was good-more would have been too much close family time!
You can easily spend a few weeks in a campervan cruising the South Island. Or, you can do a combination of campervan, hotels and apartments like we did on our almost 3 weeks in the South Island.
Anyway you work it out, you won’t be disappointed in New Zealand. It’s really amazing!
Have fun and remember to keep left!