Hi, My friend and I are thinking of renting a campervan for 2 weeks whilst in the South Island of NZ. Do you think we will be warm enough in it at night considering it is their winter there?!! (only doing 2 weeks cos then my friend leaves and I'll be getting on the bus!)
My instinctive reaction would be to say it'd be too cold for comfort (especially in the mountains it'll be freezing), but I just happened to speak to an english girl this evening who'd done this exact same thing from May through July, and she told me that it wasn't as cold as you might expect, and that the little space heater that came with the campervan worked quite well.
(That said, she was very negative about the campervan itself, as it kept breaking down, but I assume that was bad luck, and not something all campervans will suffer from.)
Still, I personally would recommend renting a regular car and staying in hostels instead. That time of the year, lots of smaller hostels have deals (stay two nights, get the third free), and they often have cozy fires in the lounge and just generally good atmosphere, and although the cheaper rent of a car over a campervan won't completely offset the cost of the hostel, it should go a long way.
Agree with previous post, the cold is not as bad as you would think. We did it and the main problem we had was getting the 3 year old to keep the window wound up to keep the snow out!
If you want to be able to use the heater in the van - you'll need to be camped at a powered site. This is where you might find the finance situ a bit tricky. I'm not sure about costs of sites now - but guess a typical site will cost you between $20-$45 a nite - so when you factor in the fuel to run the van, the higher cost of rental of the van than normal car, you might find it's cheaper and warmer to do the rentacar/hostel/hotel thing.
To stay warm and avoid the necessity of staying at a powered (pay) site, a group of mates of mine would use the gas stove to cook in the van and leave it running for a bit of the night while playing cards etc. Then fire it up in the morning to take the chill off a bit.
Also consider when was the last time you had to walk 50m across icy grass to the toilet in the middle of night at a caravan park in 0-5C temps (as opposed to down the hallway in the hostel).
Whatever you choose - you'll love it - but take some warm clothes.