My husband and I are goig to be in NZ for 4 weeks on a very limited budget. People have recommended campervans as a budget option, but I'm not sure if this is cheaper than hiring a car and using hostels.
Could a campervans, working on the principle of free camping still work out more expensive. What are your experiences? Any advice would be appreciated.
Budgets are all very relative. Hitching and camping is cheapest!
You don't say what time of year you're going. If it's about now, then this is low season in NZ and campers are half the price they will be in December/January.
The real bonus of a camper is not having to spend time looking for somewhere to stay each time you arrive in a new town. You just pull up to a campsite and plug in. Arriving in a car means an hour or two spent looking around and you don't have time to do this.
I'd suggest you check out prices on the web and make comparisons. There are dozens of motorhome hire companies in NZ - Maui and Britz the biggest and most expensive. We used Pacific Horizon who were a good bit cheaper, but there are several others who seem to specialise in 2/3 berth vans.
Four weeks isn't a long time. You'd just about get around the south island in that time, or maybe a bit of both. The south is best for scenery (although the north is hardly bad!) but the north is best for Maori culture.
My partner and i did North & south islands in 4 weeks and found it to be just the right amount of time, of course a lot depends on what you want to see.
We also rented a camper for the duration and would highly recommend this option, this allows you so much more freedom. Are you looking for just a basic van, or a luxury camper? We used a company called 'Escape' which was nothing more than a commercial van that was converted (very cheap).
Hope this helps.