We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Camper van or motels/hostels?

Level Contributor
17 posts
3 reviews
Save Topic
Camper van or motels/hostels?

I will be traveling the south island for the first two weeks of Feb 2013. I'm looking into a couple different options and would love any feedback. I am traveling from the U.S., so I've already spent a ton on airfare and need to save as much money possible with accommodations and car rental. For this time of the year, is it better to get a campervan and stay in different campgrounds, or just to rent a car and stay at hostels/hotels? And from looking online I've seen different options for camping - DOC vs holiday parks. I'm getting the sense that the DOC sites are cheaper, but with less amenities. It is very cheap to get a non-powered site, but then there will be no a/c and being from Florida this scares me! But looking at the temperature at night for this time of the year, it could be ok? It's looking like I might be able to get a campervan for not much more than an SUV and I'm assuming that I'd want an SUV or larger vehicle for driving the south island due to the terrain? Thanks ahead of time for any responses that I get! One last thing - if anyone has any recommendations for camp sites or hostels, here's my basic itinerary:

Flying into Christchurch for one night->

Franz Josef Glacier x 2 nights->

Lake Manapouri x 2 nights->

Queenstown x 2 nights->

Mount Cook x 2 nights and then back to Christchurch

Thanks again!

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for South Island
Level Contributor
7,487 posts
194 reviews
Save Reply
11. Re: Camper van or motels/hostels?

You are really going to have to hunt around for an automatic camper. Most are based on European vans and light trucks. (VW, Fiat. Mercedes or Transit) the auto models just dont seem to be imported. This could be an issue when you add driving on the left and its a tad bigger than a compact.

However, they are a particuarly nice "drive" with oodles of power and comfortable driving position. I would sooner drive the VW Crafter van over Arthurs Pass than mu i30.

14 posts
Save Reply
12. Re: Camper van or motels/hostels?

Walkabout only has manual transmission campers, FYI.

Level Contributor
7,152 posts
71 reviews
Save Reply
13. Re: Camper van or motels/hostels?

We booked with United Campervans for our trip starting November 30.


I specifically looked for automatic transmission so I could help with the driving. It's going to be an adjustment to drive the opposite side of the road and although I can drive a stick, didn't need to have to shift with my left hand and further hinder my abilities. My husband drove the entire time on our last trip to NZ because of the manual transmission. I wanted him to get some rest from driving.

South Pole
Level Contributor
243 posts
27 reviews
Save Reply
14. Re: Camper van or motels/hostels?

Having recently done something similar we decided on a small automatic car which meant we could share driving (auto) and choose accomodation based on wherever we ended up each night.

In an earlier trip driving around Europe we found we weren't familiar with the car makes and models on offer - so we found a local dealer for the imports and went and tested which one we felt comfortable in. It took out one major area of concern for us.

San Antonio, Texas
Level Contributor
219 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
15. Re: Camper van or motels/hostels?

The gas price can be almost triple what one pays in the states, so that's something to consider. I got a cheap Nissan Sunny rental (since it was good on gas) and it was fine driving through Arthur's Pass when it was snowing, through Milford Road when it was raining like crazy, through winding dirt roads on Otago Peninsula, and on the dirt road to the Routeburn Track. Diesel is significantly cheaper on the South Island if you can rent a diesel vehicle (are they available?). Funny in the US our diesel is always more expensive than regular petrol, but it seems like diesel was in the $1.50-$1.60 per liter range while regular-91 was always around $2.10-$2.20 per liter.

Food seemed a lot higher in NZ than in the US also, though you get 15% on the dollars exchange (at the banks; not at TravelEx though) and there is no tipping in restaurants. On the plus side I found the food to be of significantly higher quality... e.g., grass-fed beef, orange-yolk eggs, really flavorful bacon, etc.

San Antonio, Texas
Level Contributor
219 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
16. Re: Camper van or motels/hostels?

Also you'll save a few bucks by taking the Fox Glacier tour over Franz Josef Glacier, since you have to take a helicopter trip for Franz Josef (actually got something like 5.5 hours ice time on my full day Fox trip a couple of weeks ago! Check my review on the Fox Glacier Guiding page on the main site)

Edited: 17 November 2012, 23:36
17. Re: Camper van or motels/hostels?

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 30 November 2013, 10:17