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Travelling NZ in Oct would love some campervan advice

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific Travelling NZ in Oct would love some campervan advice

1. Posted by rachus (Budding Member 12 posts) 2y

rachus has indicated that this thread is about New Zealand

Hi there all.
I;m off to NZ shortly and was looking into getting a van for the first 2 weeks just to get me down to christchurch. Im a happy solo traveller been many places now but im ait anxious to have such a huge responsibility of a van weighing on me. And also just founf out the toll for a vechicle is $223! which is huge.( for one person to pay) Im also rather baffled at all the insurance and deposit and 'add-ons' to select when getting a van.

Just wondering if there is anyone out there that can shed some light on it. Pros and con's etc. Ive heard that driving in the best way to see the place but im also aware that going solo means I have to be the driver,navigator,sight seer and accomodation locator all in one....

How easy is it to find campsites in NZ? Is is safe to park up somewhere quiet and just crash for the night?

Any help or even anyone interested in coming with and splitting the cotst would be welcome :)

Many thanks!

2. Posted by Nancyfreya (Budding Member 2 posts) 2y

I hired a camper van with my partner for 12 days in NZ unfortunately that was no way near long enough and so a return trip is currently being planned to make up for what I missed first time round.

Those 12 days were some of the best of my trip though as having a camper made life so much easier. We found you can pretty much park anywhere and we managed to sleep by the sea almost every night and never once used a campsite although we did see them along the way. If you did want to use the campsites however, as perhaps being alone you might feel safer, I would suggest you do some planning as you could end up driving for hours before finding one, which late at night could be scary. The roads are so quiet too that driving is a breeze however that might mean you'd want to do your driving in the daytime, as occassionaly we drove for hours at night and never crossed another car. (This was all north island by the way)

Anyway hope that helps a little, let me know if you want to ask me anything else.

3. Posted by rabudman (Budding Member 27 posts) 2y

Hi Rachel, firstly I think you’ll love NZ. With the exchange rate being what it is…you’re only looking at about half of that amount in British pounds…even so…having another driver would allow you to be more of an observer, and help with the costs.
Campsites are easy to find. In my opinion, NZ is one of the easiest countries to travel. It seems to be geared toward the traveler. You’ll find every local from 6 yrs old to 106 very helpful in giving advice on where/when/what/what not etc…
Take advantage of the “I-Site” centres in almost every town. They’re the tourist information for NZ. Also, go to a few hostels and ask around about finding fellow travelers…look on the event boards there as well for other info. Hostels are everywhere in NZ.
I just re-visited Christchurch back in March of this year…first visit back in ’08-’09…before the quakes. Christchurch may not be all that it once was but there is plenty on the South Island to keep you busy.
For parties/nightlife/adventure sports Queenstown is the place to be. Lake Wanaka is a bit south of there if you’d like a few days of more relaxation…Cruise Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound on the West Coast of the South Island or ski any of the slopes on the Southern Alps.
In NZ you can snow ski after breakfast and swim in the ocean after dinner later in the same day. It’s a great country and I’m sure you’ll have a blast.
As a side note, if you’re interested in traveling to SE Asia, India, Africa, South America ext…and are short of cash, you could consider working your way through those countries. Jobs in pubs/bars/restaurants are usually easy to find and will pay enough for you to have a little fun and get you on your way. There’s always the “fruit picking/farm working” jobs to consider as well but in most of these places as a native English speaker you’re qualified to teach English at a language school. Teaching doesn’t pay as much without a teaching certificate but it’s still possible to land a teaching job without one…
Good Luck, have fun and never stop traveling…

4. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4429 posts) 2y

*scratch what I'd written here originally; I saw "shortly", so thought you were going in winter, but now see "October" in the thread title*

Personally I'm not a big fan of campervan travel. I'd recommend to just get a regular rental car (because yes, driving definitely gives you a lot of flexibility) and stay at B&Bs or (private rooms at) hostels.

Most (not all, so research!) rental car companies also have a setup where you drop off the car in Wellington, and pick up a new one in Picton, saving significantly on the cost of the ferry crossing.

[ Edit: Edited on 31-Jul-2012, at 12:37 by Sander ]

5. Posted by Dodger (Respected Member 860 posts) 2y

Jasons have a free book in all i sites and campgrounds that list all the campsites in NZ. I'd definitely recommend traveling in NZ by campervan.

parking up, or free camping as it's known has gone through some bad press in the last few years in NZ. Campers are blamed for the trash left at the roadside where they stopped. I think they may even have made it illegal now if your camper is not self contained, ie has toilet and gray water tanks. It's still possible to free camp, just choose your spot carefully.

Insurance is one of those things that you don't need, until you need it! There's no real easy answer. Insurance isn't even mandatory in NZ. I guess you could take it without and then if you don't feel comfortable call them and have them add it.

Guntree has a travel partners section, you might be able to either advertise a ride in your campervan to share costs, or find someone there. As much as i like traveling alone, i think seeing some of the sites and driving around are better shared with other people.

depending on the size of your campervan you can book your ferry ticket calling your van just a van, not a campervan. As a van it's much cheaper. i think they figure they can fleece tourists with campervans, but not locals that just drive vans! Not sure if thats still the case, but I paid close to what you quoted on the ferry down, then was told by the lady at the ferry office to class it as just a van and it only cost $60! That was low season though. You might definitely want to look into leaving the camper in wellington and picking up another in Picton to save on that fee though.

6. Posted by KellieBarnes (Admin 747 posts) 2y

I travelled NZ in a camper van a few years ago and overall it was a positive experience.

There was a lot of stress beforehand in looking at all of the options available (Hertz, Britz, Maui, Jucy, Wicked, etc) but NZ is one of the most camper-friendly places to travel. There are campsites and dump sites for grey water disposal everywhere. Free camping is no longer legal but if you're careful it is possible to park anywhere without a fine (I also had the pleasure of waking up next to a beach!).

Having said all of that the reason I travelled in a camper was because I was joined by my friend and her partner. The cost of the camper could be justified because the vehicle was our transport, accommodation, and self-catering facilities all in one. If I were to do the trip alone I would hire a car and stay in cheap B&Bs - come to think of it, that's exactly what happened on the next trip! lol

7. Posted by rachus (Budding Member 12 posts) 2y

Wow thank you all for your advice! Really out my mind at ease.

I've looked into dropping off the van in wellington but all the companies ive looked into charge a $400 location fee so it works out more expensive Ive also looked into hiring a car intead but they are all MORE expensive than van! (cant find a banger they are all young, shiny cars)
I've been living i australia for past year and half so exchange rate isnt that amazng but still is better than nothing!

I also emailed the people at the ferry crossing to work out if a toyoto hiace comes under van or campervan cos, as you say, its about 40 buck more expensive bu unfortuanately if 50% of the va is used for sleeping and kitchen then its classed a camper even if its shorter than the bog standard camper! Whcih i tink is crazy. Im just wondering if i can wangle my way outta it?? and get avan tix anyway... October isnt peal season is it?

Thank you all for your help, i appreaciate it :)

8. Posted by Dodger (Respected Member 860 posts) 2y

Quoting rachus

I also emailed the people at the ferry crossing to work out if a toyoto hiace comes under van or campervan cos, as you say, its about 40 buck more expensive bu unfortuanately if 50% of the va is used for sleeping and kitchen then its classed a camper even if its shorter than the bog standard camper! Whcih i tink is crazy. Im just wondering if i can wangle my way outta it?? and get avan tix anyway... October isnt peal season is it?

Thank you all for your help, i appreaciate it :)

yeah you can totally "wangle" it. if you buy your ticket online or at the office, no one sees the van until you pull up to load it. The guy taking your ticket doesn't care, as long as you have a ticket.

Try these guys. rentalcarvillage i met a guy driving one of their cars that said it was a really good deal and nice people to deal with.