Skip Navigation

New Zealand by Motorhome, car and b&b or kiwi express???

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific New Zealand by Motorhome, car and b&b or kiwi express???

1. Posted by cocoland (Budding Member 4 posts) 10y

cocoland has indicated that this thread is about New Zealand

my husband and i are planning a 2-3 month trip to NZ. first our plan was to get a motorhome, now having looked at the prices travelling by car and b&b we're really not sure what would be the better choise. Anyone who has done one of it or even better travelled with both options through NZ.???? What did you loved more?And is it true that you can sleep anywhere you want with a motorhome or is it pretty districted??
For any advise i am very greatfull... thanks

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4817 posts) 10y

I was told (by the Department of Conservation) that camping is only allowed at dedicated campgrounds, not just by the side of the road. Apparently (from other reports I've read here) there's some areas of the country where that doesn't quite apply, but I personally wouldn't risk it.
I've travelled by car and stayed at hostels, as well as by (big) campervan staying at campgrounds, and I'd recommend the car option, just because it's way easier to get up the mountain passes in a car, and you don't have the anxiety of a long line of cars behind you, all waiting for the moment when they can pass. (Of course in return you get the frustration of being trapped behind a slow campervan at times, but that's definitely the better alternative.) :)
It can also get decidedly cold in a campervan at times, and personally I like my creature comforts accessible indoors.
The one advantage of campervans is that campgrounds don't need to be booked well in advance during the high season, while almost all other types of accommodation definitely do.

That said, you should have an absolutely fabulous time with either option: New Zealand is a truly gorgeous country, and there's no way you can not enjoy being there. :)

3. Posted by stevieh (Respected Member 612 posts) 10y

Hi Corina,
I disagree a little with Sander in that I prefer the motorhome option.

I did the car+hotel/motel/hostel thing in Australia. We didn't book ahead because you don't get to see what you're paying for, so it's better to arrive and look around at what's available, even in summer. But that is very time consuming and tiring, and I got sick of moving on every week or so and doing the same each time.
In New Zealand, we had a motorhome and it was a breeze (again in summer). You decide where to go, drive, arrive, plug-in and put the kettle on. Easy. Another big plus is that you unpack your stuff once - put it into cupboards and that's it. If you take a car, you're constantly packing/unpacking or living out of your bag.

I think it depends on how long you are going to stay in one place. If you're staying in each place for a couple of weeks, then the car option is fine. But New Zealand isn't that sort of country - it demands that you move around. Few places are worth a couple of weeks when there is so much else to see around the islands. A motorhome gives you incredible flexibility.

I wouldn't worry about causing queues either. In the south island, most of the other traffic is motorhomes too! Seriously, it is such a common solution, that motorhomes are everywhere. That's why they are so well catered for.

The two biggest companies are Maui and Britz (or were 3 years ago at least). We used Pacific Horizon, who had larger vans, but slightly cheaper. We were very happy with their service. But there are lots of others who seem to specialise in the 2/3-berth vans, which may suit you if you don't have kids with you.
Be aware of the crossing between north and south islands. If you take a van (or car) across, you will have to pay quite a fee. So you might need to ask how best to do this with the rental companies. Some have offices in Picton and Wellington either side.

It's probably wise that you take it easy in a van rather than a car, as the only bad thing about New Zealand is it's driving standards - truly apalling. And I've heard that from residents too. Whereas an Aussie driver will slow down to let you out or cross the road, a Kiwi will run you down! Even the old ladies! There is a very different mentality on the roads - particularly in the busier north. But don't let that put you off!