New Zealand is stunningly beautiful, the type of place that seems to exist for the sole purpose of postcard sales. Visitors rave about the towering mountains, farmland, dramatic fjords and beautiful beaches, but there is more to this South Pacific nation than just spectacular scenery. The roads and infrastructure are well-maintained, locals are friendly and the country has some fascinating native flora and fauna.
A NZ campervan hire trip is the holiday of a lifetime. Pick up a motorhome or RV rental at any of the main centres (Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, Dunedin) and follow the highways and country roads to wherever your heart desires. Much of the nation consists of farmland and forests, but its small size means you are never too far away from a spot of civilisation with visitor facilities and supplies. The small towns are charming, the cities ever more cosmopolitan, and what is in-between will take your breath away. New Zealand has no big multi-lane highways which bypass towns and scenery, so you can see it all from the windscreen of your motorhome, campervan or RV rental.
If you haven't quite decided if New Zealand is the right place for you, maybe this video from Tourism New Zealand will capture your imagination and inspire you to come for a visit.
Compare and Book your Motorhome Rental New Zealand
Renting a motorhome, campervan or RV is a breeze with Motorhome Republic. The site can display all your options from many international and local rental suppliers. Everything is in one place for easy picking. Just enter your requirements into the simple search engine, compare and book! Looking for a cheap campervan hire in New Zealand? Filter by price and stick to your budget. Is size important? You can sort the results by number of beds. Are you set on a late model? There is even a vehicle age filter.
From the North to the South Island: NZ Camper Pick-up Points
Auckland, located on an isthmus near the top of the North Island, is the country’s biggest city. With a hugely multicultural population, growing arts and dining scenes, endless beaches and plenty of history, it is a fantastic and exciting place to begin a campervan holiday. It is also the primary international gateway to New Zealand.
North of Auckland is the Northland region, a wonderland of beaches and laid-back coastal towns. This is the perfect destination for a summer road trip - along with the Coromandel Peninsula to the south-east of the city. A campervan hire in New Zealand doesn’t get too much better than a relaxed week in either of these holiday hotspots, which are extremely well set up with campsites and holiday parks to rest with your motorhome hire.
The Coromandel is a peninsula directly east of Auckland, known for its blissful sunshine, crystal clear waters and gold-sand beaches. It’s a favourite weekend getaway location for Aucklanders as it’s just a few hours from the city by car or campervan. The Hahei Holiday Resort campground on the northeast coast of the peninsula is the ideal place to base your stay, as it’s right in the midst of the action by the extremely popular Hahei Beach, and only 10 minutes from two of the country’s top natural attractions; Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove.
Rotorua and Taupo are within an easy day’s drive of the city, both lakeside cities and centres for outdoor recreation and full of fun for road trippers in campervans. Hawke’s Bay and its beautiful wine country are not too far away and neither is the Central Plateau, home to Tongariro National Park. With three distinct and incredible peaks, this is a great spot to visit in the summer or winter for hiking or snowsports respectively. Heated motorhomes are good options for the chilly months! Lord of the Rings lovers will recognise Mount Ngauruhoe, better known as Mount Doom.
Wellington, the nation’s capital, is tucked away on the shore of a picturesque harbour at the bottom of the North Island. A very pretty and compact city, it houses the national museum and art gallery called Te Papa. This is a must-see for visitors and tells the tale of New Zealand’s natural and cultural history in a creative and interactive way. Mountain biking is popular in the hills surrounding the city, so add a bike rack onto your campervan rental!
From Wellington, you can head north to explore the North Island. Hawke’s Bay and the central Plateau are as easily reached from the capital as from Auckland. On the west coast lies the Taranaki Peninsula with awe-inspiring Mount Tarawera at its centre, another popular destination for nomadic tourists in campervans, motorhomes and RVs.
A vehicular ferry from Wellington crosses Cook Strait to the South Island where you can continue your New Zealand campervan hire holiday in the stunning south.
Picton is the landing point for the Interislander ferries and a gorgeous small town at the head of the Queen Charlotte Sound. It has a steady influx of foot passengers who come across and pick up a campervan hire to explore the amazing scenery of the South Island.
From Picton, the whole island stretches to the south and the highways beckon. The Blenheim wine region is close by, as is the beautiful wilderness of the Abel Tasman National Park where a motorhome makes it easy to explore at your own pace, stopping for the night in the many campsites. Head over the winding Takaka Hill to desolately beautiful Golden Bay, or go inland and explore the Nelson Lakes District.
Christchurch is the primary pick-up point for a South Island campervan rental adventure. Central to many highlights, it has the largest airport on the island with regular flights from Auckland and international ones from Australia. The city was devastated by earthquakes in recent years but is recovering, emerging from the destruction with creativity and spirit.
For those wanting to check out a place for animals that is more than just a zoo, Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch is a space where conservation, education, and the wellbeing of all animals is put at the forefront of its agenda. The site is New Zealand’s only open-range zoo, and it’s been a favourite for locals and visitors alike since it opened 40 years ago. Check out the only gorillas in the country, watch one of the many presentations held each day about different species, or try a special encounter to feed a lion, tiger, or cute lemur. There are also guided tours to help you make your way around the 80 hectares of this park to see everything and learn about the animals. Make your way out to Orana Park with your campervan rental, as it’s just 15 minutes away by road located at 743 Mcleans Island Rd, Mcleans Island, Christchurch 8051.
Any road from Christchurch will lead to some of that picture-perfect scenery for which the country is so well known. North lies Blenheim, the Marlborough Sounds and sunny Nelson region. South-west of the city is the famous Queenstown, Adventure Capital of the World and a beautiful place perched between lake and mountain range. Fiordland National Park is beyond that, where you can see the spectacular Milford and Dusky Sounds on foot or by boat. Cross the Southern Alps to get to the wild and windswept west coast. Motorhomes make it easy to visit any or all of these fantastic spots.
Rules of the Road: Stay Safe with your Motorhome Rental in New Zealand!
With many rural highways, relatively few urban areas and well-maintained roads, driving a hired campervan in New Zealand is on the whole a pleasant prospect. Keep these few things in mind when you begin your road trip:
Drive on the left! NZ is one of the 75 countries which keep left on the roads.
Research the road rules, especially those pertaining to alcohol, before driving. It is best to not drink at all if you’re getting behind the wheel as penalties can be harsh. Speed limits are also strongly enforced so keep an eye out for posted limits. Even in a motorhome, seatbelts must be worn by all passengers.
All distances are in kilometres, and speeds in kilometres per hour.
Some rural roads are unsealed. Drive slowly on these, and check the terms of your rental as some do not allow driving on gravel. Windy, mountainous roads should be approached with caution, especially for RVs, motorhomes and campervans.
Give yourself plenty of time to make any given journey - you will want to stop and admire the view along the way!
A dairy is a corner store with basic groceries, ice-creams, newspapers and the like. In a small town, the local dairy will have about as much information as a visitors’ centre.
For many people, the biggest thing to remember about New Zealand roads is that you drive on the left. Just remember that as the driver, you should be closer to the middle of the road - just like when you drive on the right.
To legally drive in New Zealand, you must have either an International Driving Permit (IDP) or a current driver’s licence from your home country. Both these options are good for up to 12 months. You must have this permit or licence on you at all times when driving, and they are only valid for the same vehicles as they are used for back home. Note that if your licence is not printed in English, you will need a translation or an IDP.
New Zealand roads can be a big surprise for international visitors. They are often hilly, windy, narrow, and slow, with sheer drops and small safety rails. That’s why, when you plot a drive between two points, it will usually take a lot longer than expected.
Driving in these conditions takes a lot of concentration in a campervan hire, which also means that driver fatigue sets in more quickly than usual. It’s important to take regular breaks and switch drivers whenever necessary.
Speed limits in city areas are usually 50 kilometres per hour, while open road speeds are usually 100 kilometres per hour maximum. However, weather conditions in New Zealand can change quickly, and you should always drive with the conditions in mind. If it’s raining heavily or foggy, you will need to slow down to accommodate for the weather. If you feel uncomfortable, pull over and stop until it passes.
To get an idea of the conditions before you arrive and have a quick practice of driving on New Zealand’s roads, try out the Visiting Driver Training Programme from the AA.
Stop and rest whenever you’re feeling drowsy behind the wheel
Avoid driving at night outside of the main cities
Allow for an extra hour on any drive
If you’ve just flown in long haul, take time to get over jet lag before driving
Major Brands Available With Motorhome Republic in New Zealand
Motorhome Republic has more than 30 top brands available for campervan hire. Here are a just a few of those available:
NZ campervan hire is a great way to holiday. Find a cheap New Zealand motorhome rental, stay safe on the roads and return home with a lifetime of memories!
Visiting Guide For An NZ Campervan Hire Roadtrip
Planning a motorhome holiday to a country you’ve never even seen is a much more involved process than turning up and getting behind the wheel. The more planning you can do, in fact, the more prepared you will be for the best possible road trip.
When you pick up a campervan hire in NZ at a cheap rate with Motorhome Republic, keep in mind that there are a few more details to cover before you hit the road.
Take a look through our planning guide for essential driving knowledge with your campervan hire in NZ.
Best times of the year to visit New Zealand
The best time of year to visit New Zealand depends a lot on what you’re looking to get out of your trip, as there are pros and cons to every month.
Summer in NZ is December, January and February. Thanks to both the warm weather throughout the country, the school holidays, Christmas, New Years, and a public holiday in early February, this time is by far the busiest on the roads and in campsites around the country. Naturally, the weather at this time of year is incredible, and for those who have never enjoyed a Christmas on the beach with a barbeque, it’s an unforgettable experience. That said, you will have to book campsites in advance due to their popularity throughout the season, and driving times will be slower with more traffic on the roads.
Autumn, through March, April and May, can be a fantastic time for travelling with a motorhome hire in NZ. Days throughout this season tend to stay warm between 18 and 25 degrees Celsius, and the nights only start showing their chill around mid-April. It’s important to note that the South Island cools down more quickly than the North, but both islands are capable of epic scenery as the weather changes. This time of year offers fewer crowds, although the Easter holidays will always be a busy time as local families take road trips of their own.
For some, winter will be the best time of year to visit New Zealand. The season runs through June, July and August. The North Island does see more rain and cold days, but it’s rare to see snow around the cities. The South Island is a lot colder, and it can snow down to ground level in the cities a few times per winter. That said, the cold brings out the best of New Zealand’s ski season, and some of the most stunning vistas with snow-laden mountains. There are fewer crowds in winter, and while you will almost certainly come across rainy days, cool sunshine is not unheard of by any means.
Spring in New Zealand in September, October and November is a special time for road trips. Thanks to the country’s endless livestock farms, road trips at this time of year are notable for the lambs and calves in fields up and down the country. September can still be quite cool, especially in the mornings and especially in the South Island, but the whole country starts feeling like summer by late October. This secondary shoulder season can be an ideal way to avoid the brisk winters and the busy summers in your NZ campervan hire.
How much time do you need to explore New Zealand?
One of the biggest mistakes travellers make when they come to New Zealand is to give themselves too little time. While the country may look small on a map, there is a lot of terrain to cover, countless attractions to experience and dozens of hidden gems that will make you not want to leave.
If you’re looking to cover all of New Zealand, you will need roughly six weeks to tick off all the major cities and attractions. You could skim over some and do it in four, and you could easily take your time and take two full months.
Of course, you might prefer to see New Zealand in several shorter trips, rather than one big one.
Public holidays in New Zealand
New Year’s Day - January 1
The day after New Year’s Day - January 2
Waitangi Day - February 6
Good Friday - varies
Easter Monday - varies
ANZAC Day - April 25
Queen’s Birthday - First Monday in June
Labour Day - Fourth Monday in October
Christmas Day - December 25
Boxing Day - December 26
Note that most New Zealand regions also have anniversary days, which are public holidays only in those areas.
Camping in New Zealand
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of campsites around New Zealand.
The most common spots are campgrounds and holiday parks. These areas are well equipped for travellers, as they have everything from kitchen and bathroom facilities to plug-in sites for motorhomes, and sometimes even small stores on site for basic goods. You can expect to pay from $10 to $40 per night in one of these areas, and you must respect the rules of the campground.
Another option for accommodation with a motorhome rental New Zealand is a Department of Conservation (DoC) campsite. There are more than 250 of these throughout the country, and they are often quite cheap or completely free. DoC sites tend to be a lot more basic than campgrounds, with minimal amenities and no site manager in most cases. Some sites will have toilets, laundries, kitchen facilities and more, but it changes from site to site.
Freedom camping is where you park your motorhome or pitch a tent in an undesignated area. Many travellers opt for this method as it saves on campground fees, but it does mean that they don’t have access to waste disposal or toilet facilities. Freedom campers have been a contentious issue in the country lately as some visitors end up leaving waste and rubbish out in the gorgeous countryside that New Zealand is known for. If you do end up freedom camping, make sure it’s in a safe place away from traffic, and don’t leave anything at all behind. Note that some councils have banned freedom camping, which means you can face fines for ignoring ‘No Camping’ signs, and it’s also important to avoid camping on private property.