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Campervan North island, South island or both?

Glasgow, United...
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Campervan North island, South island or both?

Hi Myself and my sister are wanting to travel round NZ Oct 2013 and just enquiring what is the best way to explore? We are there for 21 days but unsure of time usage.

We really want to go to the LOTR sights and do a few adventurous activities whilst we are out there but are unsure on the way to do it?

Our budget after flights is 2000 GBP

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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1. Re: Campervan North island, South island or both?

Is that 2000 each or between you? Best way to calculate a budget is to put aside money for the big adventures - which are expensive - like Bungy; heli-hikes; jet-boat ride; coach-cruise to Milford or LOTR tour and then divide by the number of days. Camper vans are not cheap, unless you get a really good deal for the shoulder season. They are also slower-moving than a car and could be a bit lonely. Renting a car & staying in hostels ensures that you'll stay warm & more importantly meet other travellers!!

21 days is probably the bare minimum for a look at both islands eg 7-8 days NI and 12-14 days SI so you could travel from AKL to Wellington, via Rotorua & Taupo (don't miss Mt Doom - aka Mt Ngaruahoe) then do a circular route around the SI finishing in Christchurch to fly home.

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2. Re: Campervan North island, South island or both?

zhuhai2007 - do you know how campervan vs rental car + hostels works out price wise? Are they comparable?

New Zealand
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for South Island
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3. Re: Campervan North island, South island or both?

Compared to a car -

a campervan costs more to hire, to fuel, to insure. It can cost $50 per night for campground fees, the campervan drives about 20% slower than a car and can be more tiring to drive on our sometimes narrow roads.

If travelling on a budget a car and hostels will save you money.

Ballina, Australia
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4. Re: Campervan North island, South island or both?

Motorhome hire does work out to be a bit more expensive than car/hostel. Campervan hire, not necessarily so. You can pay up to $50 per night for a site but you don't have to. You can pay less than half that with an unpowered or DOCS site.

And I'm not too sure why you would be more likely to meet people whilst driving a car as opposed to driving a camper!!

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5. Re: Campervan North island, South island or both?

Thanks for this. I hired a campervan for the South Island last time, and did a bit of free camping, and took a few unpowered sites. It was fine for my needs!

For my next trip, if I was to do that 50% of the time (free camping or unpowered sites), the tiny, basic campervan should work out cheaper than car + hostel I think. Do you agree?

Rarotonga, Cook...
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for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland
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6. Re: Campervan North island, South island or both?

Hi Keidre,

You aren't going to get many of the regular posters agreeable to freedom camping. NZ has a beautiful environment and its residents interests to protect and wishes to keep it that way. But also, DOC has established affordable camping sites to protect national conservation interests and the integrity of the tourism industry as a whole. Many of the regional authorities have bylaws to fine freedom-campers on the spot as a means of discouraging the practice.

Happy camping.

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7. Re: Campervan North island, South island or both?

Thanks for the info. I was under the impression that freedom camping was acceptable in NZ? Have policies changed recently or have I always been wrong?

Rarotonga, Cook...
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for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland
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8. Re: Campervan North island, South island or both?

In the past couple of years, a number of district/regional councils who administer local government activities have moved to prevent freedom-camping within their respective boundaries. Much of this has stemmed from a few people spoiling things for others and leaving an environmental mess behind. Hence the bylaws being passed to impose instant fines.

If you hire a fully self-contained camper with full ensuite this is not as bad as those without a toilet on board. Would pay to do some thorough research to see whether freedom-camping is still OK for the areas you are visiting. In the North Island there were still a couple of regions where you could camp out, including Poverty Bay/East Cape and Coromandel. Check that this still applies however.

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9. Re: Campervan North island, South island or both?

Thanks very much for the info. I'll probably stick to campsites then :-)

Jervis Bay...
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10. Re: Campervan North island, South island or both?

There are a lot of freedom camp areas on the north island - roadside rest areas etc. you need a freedom campervan which is self contained and costs more. This has a ports loo not necessarily a shower.

Holiday parks are less expensive if you use unpowered sites. It is nice to stop in a holiday park to have a shower. Incredible the number of travellers who do not bother with showers - pity they don't consider others they come in contact with. Each to their own I guess.