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North or South Island

melbourne
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North or South Island

Looking at hiring a campervan in NZ over end of dec thru to jan. We're not sure if we should do north or South Island???

We will have our 2 children with us aged 9 and 7 who are quite experienced at long car trips (think nothing of doing 900kms for a weekend visit somewhere!!) so long distances are not an issue. Flights into and out of NZ are relatively similar wherever we fly into and out of so this is not a major consideration either.

We don't really have any ideas on what we'd particularly like to do so are open to all suggestions.

Many thanks in advance :-)

Jo

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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1. Re: North or South Island

What are your interests, budget and exact time frame? Of course you know that this is the peak of the peak season! Costs will be extra high for campervans and you cannot " free camp". If however you have considered all these factors, and the much slower driving times of a camper van ( 250-300 Km would be max for a day IMO) and you still want to go ahead CHC to CHC over 2-3 weeks would make a decent circular route.

Have a look at the many itineraries posted here. Use www.maps.aa.co.nz/ diretcions for your travel times and bring your draft itinerary back for us to tweak.

Happy planning!

melbourne
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2. Re: North or South Island

Ok, after posting this yesterday afternoon we have decided South Island as we would def like to do a day of wineries plus master 7 wants to see where lord of the rings was filmed!!

We will only have 8 days to travel around (not ideal I know but impossible to extend).

Husband is more keen on campervan, I'm open to options - bear in mind we're used to roughing it as we regularly camp so are used to cramped spaces, dirt and not much storage!!! Any ideas or opinions on this gratefully accepted :-)

Jo

Oz
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12,113 posts
51 reviews
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3. Re: North or South Island

Hi,

For some time I have been replying to those seeking information on a motor home holiday in OZ and NZ. I’ve taken the time to prepare my thoughts, beliefs and feelings on the subject. So here goes.

Motor home “holidays” are for those who enjoy the experience, in the same vein as there are those who enjoy self flagellation, solo round the world yachting and competing in ultra marathons. To each their own I say so long as they don’t interfere with me. Unfortunately driving a motor home does interfere with me if I’m amongst the unfortunates stuck behind one on a narrow twisty road and obviously their increased carbon footprint affects us all. The saving grace is when you see one stuck in the entry to a multilevel car park, broken down at the side of the road, broken into by the local crims when parked in a “free parking area”, or filling up at the servo.

Motor homes are more expensive than a rental car holiday and accommodation in motels/B&Bs/Hotels/on site cabins/hotels and even some resorts in Australia and NZ once the true costs are taken into account.

These direct costs include but are not limited to:

1. Rental.

2. Insurance.

3. Fuel (remember this is a truck with the aerodynamics of a house brick).

4. Site Fees.

5. Possible divorce proceeding for married or de-facto couples.

The human costs include but are not limited to:

1. The joy of truck driving, often in a foreign land on the “wrong side of the road”.

2. The wonders of living, travelling and sleeping in a space smaller than most kitchens.

3. The amenity of carrying your excrement with you.

4. The challenge of emptying the cassette containing the excrement.

5. The lottery of renting a motor home where not only the mechanicals are working (the bits that let you go, stop and steer) but also the peripherals such as heating, toilets, showers, cookers, fridges etc. The probability of having all of these disparate bits working at the same time fly in the face of both Murphy’s and Sod’s laws.

6. Point 5. from direct costs above.

7. The triumph of measuring the success of your trip by the length of the caterpillar train of happy motorists held up behind the mobile chicane you are driving.

8. In Alpine conditions fitting snow chains to dual wheels if you have a real behemoth.

Cheers,

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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4. Re: North or South Island

If you are campers, why not camp? Make sure your tent is clean, especially free of grass seeds & the tent pegs free of soil. If necessary stick them in a bucket with bleach.

NZ has great camping spots, esp in National Parks. In towns & tourist spots you can stay at Top 10 Holiday Parks and the like which have kitchens/TV rooms plus playgrounds for the kids.

Wanaka, New Zealand
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5. Re: North or South Island

Freedom Camping is possible in New Zealand, although camp grounds are often much nicer. The biggest issue with FC is having an onboard toilet. Many p[opular tourist spots have bylaws against freedom camping for this reason. There are still many places, esp on the West Coast, where you can pull in for the night. THere are many more DOC (department of conservation) campsites. These are often in very scenic places. They have basic facilities - running water and a longdrop style toilet. We have 'car camped' extensively around the South Island We find this gives us the flexibility of a car, but still allows us to stay in nice places and keep the cost down.

Whichever way you do it, you will need to do some booking ahead for popular camping spots/parks as it is peak season.

Other considerations are the weather - if you are on the West Coast, when it is wet, it is really wet! - and sandflies. A camper would be an advantage for both these reasons.

Bournemouth
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6. Re: North or South Island

My wife and I will be in NZ in April/May 2015 by which time I - as sole driver - will be pushing 70, my wife 63.

My wife does not like travel at the best of times and it seems that NZ roads can often be narrow / steep / knee deep in road works / littered with budding burglars at any stop and very slow. I had blithely thought that we would gently tootle around, probably in a motorhome, and take maybe two weeks to do both islands but, having started to investigate the options, it seems that I might be suffering from severe delusions regarding just about everything!

Maybe it is best to take the train or fly in a series of hops and explore maybe 5 or 6 different tourist regions, hopping from one to t'other? Not interested in adventure sports or hiking or family things, just enjoying a medley of what NZ has to offer eg the art deco of Napier, maybe some whale watching or similar plus sampling some of the more renowned scenery. Definitely no 'roughing it' though without spending a fortune (especially given the poor sterling / NZ dollar exchange rate).

Your opinions / advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

New Zealand
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for South Island
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7. Re: North or South Island

Come for a month or more and you can gently tootle around to your hearts content.

Two weeks by car is rushed for the South Island, far too short for both islands. And don't forget a campervan travels about 20% slower than a car.

Budding burglers at any stop? - The Hobbit is a film, not real life.

Bournemouth
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8. Re: North or South Island

Thanks - all information welcome.

Contributors on other sites have spoken about campervans in particular, whether in a town or an isolated location, having been broken in to. This is obviously a risk in any country but the fact that it was mentioned by more than one person rang alarm bells especially as I believe NZ has low levels of crime generally.

New Zealand
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for South Island
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9. Re: North or South Island

I think you will find a car easier - and if you can extend your time here, that will help considerably.

As two weeks for both islands is rushed, do you have a preference of one island over another?

Bournemouth
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10. Re: North or South Island

Probably South Island.

Finding it difficult to get an overall picture as our local libraries have lent out all their NZ books - obviously the place to go. As there seem to be about 15 regions overall, investigating each one on the 'net is a bit laborious.

The west of South Island seems to be the most spectacular (and windiest and coldest?) but probably also has the dodgiest roads (plus notorious timber trucks)?

Does NZ have mosquitoes in Autumn and presumably the sand flies that I read about are confined to coasts?

Thanks again.