How to plan the perfect campervan hire New Zealand tour

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Gareth Meade
16 Aug, 2022
8 minutes to read

Everything you need to know for New Zealand campervan rental

Exploring New Zealand in a campervan is somewhat of a rite of passage. It’s something everyone needs to do at least once in their lifetime. Why? Because there’s so much to explore in Aotearoa (the Māori name for New Zealand) thanks to two distinct islands that have long stretches of road surrounded by stunning scenery. And a campervan won’t just get you from A to B, it will also provide you some of the creature comforts of home, right behind the driver’s seat.

That’s why we’ve put together some tips and suggested some tools to help you plan the perfect campervan hire tour in this magnificent country. While some things may depend on where you plan to visit and the type of campervan you travel in, you should still be well prepped for an amazing holiday that will give you memories that last.

Know what you need before you go

There are lots of options to choose from when it comes to campervan hire, so it pays to know what you want out of your New Zealand campervan adventure. But you also have to think about what you need. Start simple with these questions:

  • How many people will you be travelling with?
  • How big a vehicle are you comfortable driving?
  • Do you need a toilet and shower in the vehicle?
  • What season are you travelling in?
  • Do you want to take your pet?
  • Do you plan on heading to the snow?

Answering these questions will narrow done the type of vehicle you should be looking for from rental companies. For example, the number of berths (beds), whether it's self-contained or not and what kind of heating or cooling you need. It will also give you an idea of whether you need to include any extras, such as snow chains, furniture or even a barbeque.

A Jucy campervan driving on a snow covered road.
Scenic highway through Arthur's Pass, South Island of New Zealand

Plan your campervan hire New Zealand journey

One of the reasons New Zealand is so beautiful is because of its diverse landscape. In some areas, like a stretch of State Highway 7 in the South Island, the roads are flat and straight for miles. While in many other cases, whether it be heading through Arthur's Pass, or travelling around the East Cape of the North Island, the roads are very windy and undulating.

You don't have to know exactly what you're in for each day (leave some room for the unknown!), but it's good to have an idea of the terrain you'll encounter along the way. This might help you decide on the type of vehicle you need, as going up hills can be slow going with some of the bigger campers.

Don't forget to check with your campervan rental supplier to see if there are any roads or areas you're not allowed to travel. If an area is exempt, but you travel there anyway, you may not be able to claim your insurance if something goes wrong.

Where can you stay in your campervan rental?

One of the advantages of hiring a campervan instead of a car is that you combine your transport and accommodation. Of course, this means you need to find somewhere to park for the night. Luckily, New Zealand is well set up for campervan travellers, with campsites and holiday parks galore. If these don't suit, or you don't need the facilities these sites offer, you also have the option of freedom camping (more on that below).

Here are some ways to find places to stay:

  • Search for campsites along your route: If you have an idea of where you're going to be at the end of each day, do a search ahead of time to see what campsites are available. If there isn't anything nearby, you'll be glad you found that out before arriving!
  • Download an app: There really is an app for everything, including finding campervan camping locations throughout New Zealand. The Rankers Camping NZ app gives you access to reviews and locations of over 1,000 camping sites and holiday parks. The Campermate app will also help you find somewhere to bed down, as well as somewhere to dump your waste responsibly.
  • Ask fellow campers: Campervaners pride themselves on being part of a friendly community. Having a chat with others along your journey can give you some helpful insight into where to stay. You may also end up with some places to visit you hadn't thought of.
  • Join the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA): If you're willing to pay to join, the NZMCA has many perks, including a members-only app, special rates and access to a thriving camper community.
A person reading on the bed above the cab in a motorhome.
A campervan parked in a field under blue sky.

Freedom camping in New Zealand

It's a question a lot of people ask; can I sleep anywhere in my campervan? Like most other countries, the answer in New Zealand is no. But, you do have access to over 500 freedom camping locations to choose from. The Department of Conservation website has some helpful information on freedom camping in New Zealand, including the ability to search for sites.

It's important to note that some campsites will only allow self-contained vehicles. There will be signs that make this clear. Whatever type of campervan rental you have, remember to be responsible and protect the environment. Take rubbish with you, use public toilets or the toilet in your camper and dump wastewater at designated stations.

The good news is that most camping grounds will have dump stations you can use before you head off to your next destination.

Dumping waste

It's not the most pleasant thing about hiring a campervan, but if you have a self-contained campervan rental, you'll need to dispose of your toilet and wastewater. To do this, you'll need to find a dumping station. The good news is that most camping grounds will have dump stations you can use before you head off to your next destination. If your campground doesn't offer this, there are also public dump stations throughout the country. To find one, you can use the Automobile Association (AA) website, or one of the apps mentioned above. Make sure you always dispose of waste responsibly and follow the Tiaki Promise, which is a commitment to care for New Zealand, for now and for future generations.

A person removing waste water from their campervan
Rotorua city with Lake Rotorua in the backdrop invites everyone to enjoy this part of NZ.

New Zealand campervan rental - where to go and what to explore

If this is your first time travelling in New Zealand, or you’re not sure where you want to go, we definitely have some suggestions. Very generally speaking, sightseeing in the North Island is for those looking to travel short distances between towns and attractions or those who want the experience exuberant major cities. From Auckland, it is only about 3 hours to Rotorua, New Zealand’s thermal wonderland (just prepare yourself for the smell) and then another hour to Taupo, a hugely popular adventure and cultural destination. Unless you’re trying to get from one major centre to another, you generally won’t need to travel with your NZ motorhome rentals more than 3-4 hours for something exciting to see.

New Zealand’s South Island is unquestionably the place you should travel if you are interested in breath-taking scenery. From the Marlborough Sounds to the Southern Alps, Queenstown to Fiordland, you’ll be astonished by the incredible vistas that await. There is also the best skiing in the country, with Cardrona Alpine Resort, Coronet Peak and Treble Cone all available for those ready to shred some fresh powder.

No matter which part of the country you explore, it’s sure to be a unique experience in your New Zealand campervan hire.

Hit the road in your New Zealand motorhome hire

So, you've chosen the right vehicle, you know where you're going and where you can stay. Now what? Well, now it's time for the best part! Taking a New Zealand road trip is an adventure, so treat it like one. Don't stick to a rigid schedule if you can help it. Set aside time for some of the tips that other travellers you meet along the way will give you. If you can, secure a New Zealand driver licence as much as possible to lessen the worries on traffic laws. Keep a night or two free in case you're enjoying a particular location too much. Get off the beaten path (if your rental supplier allows it!). This is your chance to see New Zealand in a way you'll never forget.

An Apollo campervan parked on the beach with two people beside it.

Ready to book?

GoSee Car Rental Motorhome Hire

Search, compare and save on New Zealand campervan hire

Use the search above to find awesome deals on campervan hire in New Zealand. GoSee partners with lots of different rental companies, including Happy Campers, Spaceships NZ, Jucy Rentals, Cheapa Camper and more, to bring you the best prices. Whether you start you trip with campervan hire Christchurch or Queenstown campervan hire, we'll always try our best to get you into the perfect vehicle for your road trip.


Done exploring NZ? Why not go to another nearby country like Australia? GoSee also offers vehicle rentals in various destinations in Australia. You can check out Brisbane, Melbourne, Gold Coast, or Sydney in a motorhome hire.