NZ Camper Van Hire - North or South Island??

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific NZ Camper Van Hire - North or South Island??

1. Posted by sofe1978 (Full Member 126 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!


We are planning to hire a campervan as part of our 2 month trip to NZ during October & November. We're not sure exactly how much time we will spend in each island at the moment but planning to hire a camper for up to 1 month, we don't really want to hire it for the full 2 months for various reasons...

Can someone advise on whether it is 'best' to hire a camper in the North or South Island?
Which is most accessible in a camper?
Which has the best(cheapest) places to park up?
Is it better/easier to do the bus/hostel route in one island rather than the other?

Thanks for any help to make up our mind!


2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5985 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

I'd recommend campervanning the North Island, as that has fewer winding mountain passes where long trails of cars will gather behind you without any chance to pass, and warmer temperatures, while October at least can still have quite a few cold nights where you'd be grateful for warm hostels lounges.
Camp grounds on both islands are equally plenty. Perhaps on the south island they're slightly more conveniently located in relation to the cities (because of the cities being smaller), but this should be a major barrier. Busses on both islands go daily. The north island has a few busier routes with more then one bus a day, but since you don't have to be anywhere at any particular time, I don't think that'll matter much to you.

3. Posted by aimsuk (Full Member 112 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

I am also planning on going to NZ, and thinking bout getting a camper van. Thinking about your query...surely the answer would be whichever island has poorer buses/trains/ public transport to the places you wanna go should be the island you hire a van on? I dont know the answer to this though as I haven't been there yet.

4. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5985 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

The bus network on both islands is equally excellent, and will go anywhere people ever want to go.

5. Posted by Arcturus (First Time Poster 1 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

"Can someone advise on whether it is 'best' to hire a camper in the North or South Island?"

As someone mentioned, camper sites are far better situated in the South Island than on the North. You can camp near the downtown areas of both Christchurch and Queenstown, the same can't even be remotely said of Auckland or Wellington. It's easier to freecamp on the South Island.


"Which is most accessible in a camper?"

They're both pretty accessible. The North Island's an easier, flatter drive, but you'll be holding up traffic on both.


"Which has the best(cheapest) places to park up?"

You won't find much, if any, difference in prices between the two islands.


"Is it better/easier to do the bus/hostel route in one island rather than the other?"

Frankly, I wouldn't want to be stuck in a bus on either island; and particularly not the South Island where there are countless scenic lookouts and other interesting little places that the bus won't stop for. However, the car rental/hostel route could work quite nicely.

6. Posted by Jogilroy (Budding Member 17 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

Its pretty easy to camp on both islands... I would probably recommend the South Island as there is SO much to see and having a van gives you so much freedom to go whereever you want whenever. If you need recommendations about campervan company feel free to message me. There are loads of DOC (dept of conservation) campsites on both islands which are cheap and are usually in really spectacular places. Have fun.... we had a ball.

Posts 7 & 8 were removed by moderators
9. Posted by masonbradley89 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 9w Star this if you like it!

Hello Sophie,

It's fantastic to hear that you're planning a 2-month trip to NZ! Having traveled around NZ myself, I can share some insights based on my experience.

Both the North and South Islands have their unique charms. The North Island is known for its geothermal wonders, beautiful beaches, and vibrant cities like Auckland and Wellington. On the other hand, the South Island boasts breathtaking landscapes, fjords, and the Southern Alps.

In terms of accessibility with a campervan, both islands are camper-friendly. However, the South Island might offer a more scenic drive, especially if you're keen on exploring places like Queenstown, Milford Sound, and the West Coast.

For parking, there are numerous holiday parks and DOC (Department of Conservation) campsites across both islands. From my experience, the South Island has more freedom camping spots, which can be cheaper or even free, but do check the local regulations as they can vary.

Now, about hiring a campervan, -snip-

If you're considering the bus/hostel route, it might be more convenient in the North Island, especially if you're looking to spend more time in cities and towns. The South Island, with its vast landscapes, might be better experienced with the flexibility of a campervan.

Whatever you decide, I'm sure you'll have an unforgettable journey. NZ is truly a gem!

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