How To Prepare For A New Zealand Campervan Road Trip
PHOTO: Campervan approaching Lindis Pass, New Zealand. (photo courtesy of Thinkstock)
Road tripping around New Zealand is a traveler’s rite of passage. The highways are crawling with more motor homes and backpacker vans than cars and the roadside attractions and stops are well advertised. New Zealand may be a small country but with national parks, interesting cities and miles of coastline, there is plenty to see. If you’re planning to take a full on New Zealand road trip, here is how to get prepared.
Design Your Best Route
Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown are all typical starting points for a NZ road trip. Since the main international airport is located in Auckland, road trippers tend to start there, work their way south and loop back to finish off the journey and fly back home.
When planning out a route, it’s important to take weather into consideration. The south island gets quite cold and also closes many of its primary roads during the winter months from June-September. While many try to avoid the cold, others try to make it there for the snow in order to hit the world famous slopes. Alternatively, the north island gets quite hot and sunny, making it perfect weather to hang on the beaches. Decide what kind of trip you’re looking for and design your ideal route with this in mind.
READ MORE: Tips for Driving in New Zealand
Rent or Buy the Campervan?
In order to make this vital decision, you must determine a couple essential factors of your trip.
Renting a campervan may be the best idea if:
• You are traveling for three months or less (as it’s more affordable).
• If you want to ensure assistance with breakdowns or mechanical issues.
• If you don’t want to take a financial risk (you don’t have to worry about selling it or losing money).
• If you want a more comfortable and equipped vehicle (many of these have standing room and cooking facilities).
Popular rental companies include Escape, Spaceship, Jucy and Wicked
Consider buying a campervan if:
• You know your way around under the hood (you can keep up with the maintenance and know what to do if it breaks down)
• You are traveling for a longer period of time (You will spend less money if you buy it outright).
• You don’t want to be liable for damages or required to buy insurance.
Popular places to purchase a campervan are at the Auckland Backpackers Car Market, via the Trademe website or through various New Zealand backpacker Facebook groups.
Download the Campermate App
Developed in conjunction with the NZ tourism board, this free app serves as a guideline for thousands of travelers in New Zealand. It works offline and provides a map and GPS to destinations all over the country. Via the app, travelers can locate campsites and their prices, free Wi-Fi locations, public toilets and water sources, interesting attractions and gas stations. There are reviews, comments and plenty of resources to keep the road trip going smoothly.
Determine the Activities You Want to Do
NZ has options for activities across the spectrum. Take some time to research what’s available and what you’re interested in to serve as a guideline — this will help fend off feeling overwhelmed. Choose between nature excursions, various hiking levels, animal encounters, bar hopping in the cities and cultural events and shows. By sifting through everything on offer and picking out the activities that best suit your travel and personal style, you are far less likely to miss out or embark on adventures that you wish you hadn’t.
Pack a Variety of Clothes
The weather in New Zealand is extremely changeable with some days seeing a bit of all four seasons. If you want to be prepared for changing weather and a variety of activities, here are some clothing items worth packing:
• Warm jacket
• Sun dress
• Long pants
• Warm hat
• Bathing suit
• Hiking boots
Pack a Variety of Gear
With so many national parks and hiking opportunities, you may need take along a bit of gear. While shorter treks don’t require much, you don’t want to miss out on the opportunities for multi-day adventures within the parks. If you are planning to spend some serious time outdoors, consider packing:
• Reusable water bottle
• Backpacking-style backpack
• First aid kit
• Sleeping map
• Sleeping bags
• Water purifier
• Camping stove/propane
• Waterproof clothes
• Bug spray
READ MORE: New Zealand’s Best Animal Encounters
Stock Your Vehicle
Once you have acquired a vehicle, it’s important to get it stocked up before the road trip. If you are renting, the campervan may already have many of these items. Likewise, many campervans that are purchased will come with necessary gear too. With a bed being a given, here are some other items you should have.
• Sheets, pillows, blankets
• A cooking stove and propane
• Cooking and eating utensils
• Large storage containers for clothes, food and supplies
• Soap, sponge, towels and spray for cleaning
• A stock of non-perishable food
• A cooler
• A foldable table and chairs
While it may seem like a lot, the travel friendly culture of New Zealand will have you stocked up and on your way in no time!
More by Shannon Ullman
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