Campervan travel in New Zealand South in winter

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific Campervan travel in New Zealand South in winter

1. Posted by KTayzNZ (Budding Member 2 posts) 2w Star this if you like it!

Hi

We are planning to visit New Zealand June/July. Christchurch to Queenstown in a campervan with kids in 10 days.

We would like to explore as much as possible, yet not feel as though we are rushing to get from one place to another and understanding that weather and road conditions are a big factor.

After any tips, advice and recommendations on weather, road conditions, places to visit, things to do, campervan tips (our first time), must do's and must Not do's.

Any input welcomed, and thanks in advance.

2. Posted by MarkPerkins (First Time Poster 1 posts) 2w Star this if you like it!

Hi,

Beautiful time of year to travel that area, but as you have mentioned there could be a good chance of weather affecting your travel plans.

10 days is a good amount of time. Even though Christchurch is still on the mend after the Earthquakes of 2010 2011, Christchurch is really starting to take form.
Some of the places to visit there would be:-
Quake City, The Antartic Centre, The Botanic Gardens, the Museum, The Transitional Catherederal and the Chairs of rememberance (A memorial to those lost).

Depending on which way you intend getting to Queenstown, Via the West Coast (Franz Fosef Glacier) or via Geraldine, Lake Tekapo etc would depend on things to see and do along the way. Perhaps come back to me and I will give you some recommendations.

Queenstown and surrounding districts have plenty to offer, June/July is usually the Winter festival in Queenstown and little towns like Arrowtown are well worth a look. Of course there is a miriad of activaties to do in Queenstown from Sking to Jet Boating to of course Bungy Jumping.

My One word of advise is NOT to drive to Milford Sound but take an organised, bus, day tour. I drive this road regulary and I can assure you it is best left to the experienced drivers, also if you drive yourself, you will miss a lot of the scenery and there is very few places to stop along the way to take photos. It is my favourite touring day I must admit.

I hope this helps and come back to me for more info if interested.

Mark

3. Posted by KTayzNZ (Budding Member 2 posts) 2w Star this if you like it!

Hi Mark and thanks for your reply.
We are undecided about which way to go to Queenstown (mainly due to lack of knowledge on the weather and road conditions. We cant decide whether to go down the western side - through the middle, the eastern side or snake our way down through the eastern and centre.
We haven't done a campervan trip before and although we are looking to have an adventure I would rather not take any silly risks by driving roads that are deemed too dangerous or beyond our experience and just enjoy our trip.
So far we have thought the following places if accessible would be on our to do list:-
Queenstown - overnight - get the van and leave next day - hopefully catch a few sites as you listed before we go.
Lake Tekapo
Franz Joseph
Wanaka
Milford Sound - by coach definately

Happy for anymore recommendations.

Look forward to your reply.

Kerryn

4. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1325 posts) 2w Star this if you like it!

Hi Kerryn

Winter in a campervan sounds cold to me. You may want to price up motels instead - the cost of camper van hire always looks high to me and I think once you factor in some site fees (freedom camping is banned in more places every time I visit) it may be as cheap to do car+motels.

The big draw to the west coast is the glaciers. I prefer Fox over Franz Josef but either way they're impressive. You can walk up to view them from below but they're far more impressive from the air - the Helihike trip is the best activity I've done anywhere. Whether this suits your kids and budget is a different question.

If that doesn't sound like your thing I wouldn't bother with the west coast. If you want to see mountains and glaciers from the air there are various plane and helicopter trips from the Tekapo / MtCook area.

Queenstown is in a lovely setting on the lake, with lots of lovely things around it, but the town is busy and touristy and not to everyone's taste. You may prefer to stay further out - eg I recently stayed at the Top 10 park a few miles out at Arthur's Point, which I'd recommend. The drive down to Glenorchy is pretty. The Dart river jet there is a better value jetboat ride than the more famous Shotover Jet at Arthur's Point. The gondola cablecar ride is good in Queenstown, as is the steamship trip on the lake.

I personally wouldn't try to daytrip Milford Sound from Queenstown. That's a long day doing hundreds of miles on a bus with kids - awful. I'd say stay a couple of nights in Te Anau, see the area in a leisurely manner. Drive yourselves and you can stop at whichever you want of the many viewpoints. Ta Anau is also a nicer place to stay than Queenstown. An alternative to the Milford trip is Doubtful Sound via Lake Manapouri. Just as pretty but less busy.

I'd second the suggestion of the Antarctic Centre at Christchurch Airport - particularly the Hagglund ride.

Wanaka is a nice town if you go the west coast route. I wouldn't much bother with the east coast route. For me the appeal is all around Ta Anau / Queenstown / Wanaka / Tekapo and I'd maximise my time there unless going onto Fox Glacier. With ten days you have time to go down the west coast then explore the lakes area properly without rushing.

5. Posted by ToddP (Budding Member 96 posts) 2w Star this if you like it!

Just back from NZ and we had a camper van. The best thing ever! There are few apps that you would need to have as we could not had as a good trip without them. You would need them for dump stations, LPG refills, Free camping locations, etc. Some of the locations only can be find by using an app as they are not on your usual tourist street/ road. :)

I've used Rankers Campervan. Really liked it!