WOW! What a fabulous adventure.
After reading through the forums and asking questions, I have to say, I'm glad we didn't listen to the "doom sayers".
2 best friends, 3 young adult "kids" each, 2 motorhomes and 11 days touring around the beautiful South Island of NZ. Can't wait to do it again.
We left BNE Sunday evening with Virgin Australia (pretty disappointed with cabin crew attitudes and general presentation of flight, but we got there without drama, so all good). Arrived CHC 12.30am. Transition through airport and immigration an absolute breeze, even for my friend who didn't have Australian passport. Hotel shuttle picked us up and we were on our way for some sleep.
8am Monday arrived at Apollo motorhome depot to collect our vans. We'd each booked Euro Deluxe 6 berth motorhomes. Collection process was smooth, and within a couple of hours were on our way.
Our first overnight stop was planned for Lake Tekapo. What a beautiful place! Unfortunately we weren't able to stay there as the van sites were 2m under snow. Didn't get a chance to look around as we wanted to find camp before too dark. We ended up in Twizel. Beautiful lake, the most freezing place on earth.
Late morning Tuesday we headed down to Queenstown. Called ahead to Frankton Motorcamp. Great location, right on the lake. 6km from Queenstown itself. We had 3 nights here. We all went to The Remarkables on Wednesday (drove the vans up, in hindsight, probably not the best idea - lol) and the kids had a wonderful time skiing and snowboarding (a couple were first timers). Thursday the kids got the shuttle to Remarkables again and H and I took a drive to Glenorchy. Not much there apart from a small pub, café and possum fur shop, but lovely drive.
Friday lunch time we made our way to Wanaka ... again, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking! 2 nights at Aspiring motor camp - the best van park we'd ever seen! Bathroom floors were heated, spa baths for use and great communal area with massive kitchen and wood fire. Some of the kids (14, 17, 21, 23) went to Puzzling World for the afternoon. They really enjoyed it.
Sunday was a massive drive day. We drove up the West Coast to Greymouth. We had originally planned to do Franz Josef Glacier, but H had a bad foot and the walk to Terminal Face from carpark was impossible. Spent over night in Greymouth, didn't do any sightseeing though. Looks like a nice town, next time might visit the Brewery.
Monday lunchtime went over Lewis Pass to Hanmer Springs - what a gorgeous town! H and I had full body massages at The Spa while the kids soaked in the hot pools, then after massage we went next door for some soaking - BLISS! We stayed at the Caravan park near the Golf Course - very, very ordinary. Was one of the more expensive parks we stayed at. It had no communal room which is no fun when you've got a group of 8 who want to hang out together. Had to pay additional for showers. Laundry was the dearest we'd seen. Most of the crew made a snow man which was nice.
Tuesday lunchtime we left Hanmer Springs bound for Christchurch. Got the bearings a bit wrong when choosing a park (as we were opposite side of town to airport and motorhome drop off), but park was great - All Seasons at Linwood. 2 nights there, the first in our vans on powered sites, and the second night in Tourist Cabins (as we took the vans back in the afternoon, ready for pre-dawn flight home next day). Great value for money. Good set up. Very friendly staff and permanents. Flight home was with Air New Zealand (codeshare for Virgin). My first time flying with them and was extremely impressed.
Would I motorhome again? Yes definitely. Would I do it again in Winter? Sure, we stayed in parks with powered sites, so heating was no issue. In Summer would be great to do some freedom camping also.
A lot of negative nellies warned of the cost of van, fuel and parks far outweighing hotels. No way! One van with premium insurance package, fuel, park accommodation and motel (arrival night) for 11 nights totalled $ 2,000 AUD. There is no way we could have seen everything that we did (particularly with no packing and unpacking) with 4 people to a room for that whole time in a motel (or even budget accommodation) for even close to that.
For those who said we'd die of frost bite in the motorhome - yes, some nights were cold, but we had quilts on our beds a heater and none of us (all from QLD) had a problem.
Some commented that fellow road users would be upset by being stuck behind the motorhomes. I can think of only 2 occasions in the whole trip where I did below the speed limit and was unable to pull over to let cars pass (each occasion the cars may have been held up 10 mins).
To wrap it up, 2 solo travelling Mums with their kids had an awesome holiday in a truly beautiful country. As I said earlier, can't wait to do it again