Articles posted in the "Renting a campervan in New Zealand" category
March 13, 2014
If you are pondering a visit to New Zealand, consider a visit during the off-season. Not only will you be rewarded by quiet beaches and walking tracks, campgrounds will be blissfully serene, and highway travel will be (almost) worry-free.
Although New Zealand has a relatively small population, international visitors boost the population to nearly 5 million (that’s and extra 20%) during the peak summer period. And, although the summer is warmer than other times of the year, competing with locals (not to mention other international visitors) for space at the country’s hot-spots can be a bit unnerving.
Autumn and spring both have their advantages, particularly for those interested in the outdoors.
- Daytime temperatures are more forgiving, allowing for comfortable long-distance tramping and mountain biking. Some campervan companies have bikes and gear available for hire (no need to find another provider), so make sure you ask when researching your campervan rental.
- Bookings for popular walking tracks, huts and backcountry campgrounds are less likely to be full. Most Department of Conservation (DOC) campsites and walking tracks (with overnight facilities) require booking. This is to manage demand over peak periods, as well as a visitor register for emergencies. Always remember to to sign in and sign out of walking tracks in New Zealand.
- Discounts on activities and accommodation are often available during the quieter visitor seasons. When reserving your campervan, ask the company what ‘extra value’ components are included if you hire over the shoulder and off seasons: you might be surprised at what is available.
How much time do you need to visit New Zealand?
When visiting any country, allowing plenty of time to ‘get to know ‘ the place is always better than rushing around.
Here are a few pointers in your New Zealand trip planning:
- 10 days – 2 weeks: Visit One Island (North or South), unless you have plans to fly between them
- 3 weeks: Just enough time to do a quick tour of both islands
- 4 weeks: Allows enough time for a break of a couple of days at your favourite spots on a two island tour
- 5-6 weeks: Enough time to experience the hidden gems New Zealand has to offer
Planning a visit outside normal peak season is an excellent option for those able to do it. Not only will you get to see more of the country, you’ll be able to meet more of the locals and experience more of what “real life” in New Zealand is really like.
October 27, 2013
In recent months, New Zealand has been experiencing some extremely high winds and unpredictable storm conditions. Although we’re used to exciting weather, some of the storms and wind gusts have been very unusual, and for the unprepared, very scary.
Many New Zealand visitors are surprised at the extreme weather variations they experience when touring. “Four Seasons in One Day” is becoming more the norm than the exception. Regardless of the length of your stay, you are likely to experience a little bit of “weather” when in Aotearoa.
For those driving campervans, extra care needs to be taken. While driving a car in gusty winds can be a bit challenging, driving a large vehicle (especially if you aren’t accustomed to one) can be down-right scary.
Here are a quick few pointers to keep you safe and well on your journey.
- Take your time. If you do not have to drive anywhere, stay put and wait it out. Most storms fluctuate in intensity, so waiting for an hour might see wind speeds drop considerably.
- Talk to the locals. Residents of the area will have previously experienced some extreme weather conditions and will be able to give you a gauge of the severity of this weather event. They may reassure you that the wind is ” just a stiff breeze” or the rain you are witnessing is the “heaviest rain on record”. Take their advice.
- Watch out for falling trees and rocks. Wind and rain mean falling rocks and broken tree branches. Keep and eye out for falling debris. Driving through narrow river gorges (New Zealand has alot of these) is not recommended during storm conditions, so it is best to plan an alternative route if you need to travel during or immediately after a period of heavy rain.
Most of all, use common sense. Don’t park under trees in strong winds, and don’t sleep next to a river bank during heavy rain . . . it sounds obvious, but many a visitor has come unstuck in situations just like these.
Enjoy your trip, and don’t forget, take is easy!
February 26, 2013
Last week I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Tiritiri Matangi. Tiri (as the locals call it) is a wildlife sanctuary located on an island of the same name, just 30 kilometres north-east of the Auckland CBD, in New Zealand’s North Island.
Tiri is a small island with no proper roads, so you can’t take your rental campervan there – but you can do the next-best thing. You reach the island by ferry from Gulf Harbour, located at the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, north of Auckland. There are two good things about Gulf Harbour (apart from the fact that it’s your gateway to Tiri!): 1) it boasts fabulous views across the Hauraki Gulf all the way to Auckland City, and 2) if you’re travelling in a self-contained campervan or motorhome you can freedom camp there. So, I highly recommend you arrive in the afternoon (beat the peak hour traffic as it does get quite heavy heading north out of Auckland CBD in the afternoons), find a suitably scenic spot in the carpark for your rental motorhome (hopefully you’ll hire one of the big motorhomes with the huge panoramic windows in the back, from which to enjoy the splendid city vista), and enjoy dinner in your motorhome or alternatively go for a wander to nearby Gulf Harbour village where you’ll find a couple of eating and drinking establishments. The following morning, you can enjoy a walk on the rocks or marina and a leisurely breakfast overlooking the water before meandering off to the ferry just a short distance away.
A tip about the ferry: I recommend you book the ferry in advance as it leaves from Auckland before stopping at Gulf Harbour, and I did speak to a couple of campervan travellers who had missed out on going to Tiri the day before because the ferry from Auckland couldn’t fit them on! Also, do check with the ferry company (360 Discovery) as they only travel some days of the week at certain times of the year.
The ferry trip over to the island was relaxing – I enjoyed the views and fresh sea air from the top deck. Tiri is completely pest-free and there are strict biosecurity measures in place to ensure it stays that way. On arrival all new visitors receive a briefing about the island from a Department of Conservation ranger. If you’re lucky and the guided tours aren’t fully booked, you can join one (to make extra sure, book a guided tour at the ticket office before you depart Gulf Harbour). The guided walks are ridiculously cheap and well worth doing.
Our guide was very knowledgeable and took us all over the island, pointing out lots of interesting flora and fauna. The forest (bush) here is really fascinating. Thanks to a combination of pests and farming, the island was pretty much bare until the 1980’s when it was replanted with native trees by a group of dedicated volunteers. The forest is now starting to flourish and it is interesting to see the ecosystem emerging. A number of unique New Zealand native species have made Tiri their home, most notably the kokako, famous for its beautiful song, the flightless takahe and the tuatara. Sadly we didn’t see any kokako but we saw plenty of other amazing birds including many tui, bellbirds, hihi, kereru and most notably the takahe, which were very friendly and willing to pose for photos!
I should also mention the amazing gift shop on the island. If you are planning to buy New Zealand souvenirs as mementoes of your New Zealand campervan holiday, this is the place to do it! The shop has lots of really unique and beautiful New Zealand-made merchandise and there is something for everyone. I’m going back there to do all my Christmas shopping!
We spent all day on the island and I would have gladly stayed longer. As well as the wildlife, there’s an interesting lighthouse and a lovely beach, perfect for taking a dip after tackling all the bushwalks.
Tiri is a great day out and I thoroughly recommend it for anyone travelling New Zealand by campervan. It’s really great value for money – you only pay for the ferry trip and a little extra for a guided walk, leaving you plenty of money to spend at the shop and/or as a donation to this wonderful project.
February 18, 2013
New Zealand wineries are celebrated around the world for the quality of their wines. New Zealand’s unique shape means our country stretches 1,600 km from Northland’s subtropical climate to Central Otago, the world’s southernmost wine region. Combine that with long hours of summer sunshine followed by cooler temperatures and you get a long ripening period which gives New Zealand wines a special blend of fresh acidity and flavour.
You’ll find wine-growing regions scattered throughout New Zealand, from well-known areas like the Hawkes Bay in the North Island and the South Island’s Marlborough and Central Otago, to lesser-known areas such as Martinborough, Gisborne and Waiheke, and many boutique regions. Countless very pleasurable and entertaining hours could be spent exploring all these wineries in your rental campervan, if you’re lucky enough to have unlimited time! For those of us, however, who have a more restricted timeframe for a New Zealand rental campervan holiday but still want to experience the best New Zealand wineries have to offer, as well as see some of the best sights, try our 16-day sample itinerary.
I must point out that while the sample itinerary includes the most popular New Zealand wine regions as well as New Zealand sightseeing activities, it is a lot of travel. Days can be added as necessary in order to extend the tour and I recommend you do this to cut down your travel time, particularly if you’re travelling with kids.