Camping Tips for New Zealand
I spent 15 wonderful days camping in the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Set out below are some helpful camping tips for New Zealand.
Camping Tips for New Zealand: Choosing your Campervan
New Zealand is infamous for its campervans and so many travellers use this method of transport when visiting the country. Given their popularity, there are many different companies to choose from.
When choosing your campervan, you need to think of practicalities. The most important factors for us were to be able to stand up in the van but also not be too afraid to drive it! Oh, and we didn’t want to spend a fortune…
This was a good medium size! The majority of their campervans are a rascal purple and green colour with a large ‘Jucy’ sign on the side and a girl blowing a kiss. So if you want to be inconspicuous, this might not be the van for you…! The Jucy camvervan is an automatic using petrol and it cost around $100 to fill the tank. You can read more about the Jucy condo we chose here.
The campervan was cleverly designed to save space. We kept our luggage in the top rack and our bed at the bottom could be folded away each evening. The back of the van had a fridge, hob, toaster and cutlery. One of the nicest things about Jucy is the fact that other drivers tend to bib, wave or flash as you drive past! We had one small issue with our gas canister compartment coming open but the Jucy representatives were quick to reply and gave us a goodwill gesture for the inconvenience.
The cost for 15 days was $3545.20. This included:
- Daily rate
- Daily GPS
- Upgraded package to include an additional driver, no excess on the insurance, camping chairs / table, breakdown cover
- One way fee – pick up in Auckland and drop off in Queenstown
- High season fees (January)
If you want more space and a larger vehicle, the best brand of campervan is a Maui or a Mighty van but this will put you back $5,000-6,000. If you are on a budget and don’t mind less space there is Autobarn, Madcampers and Spaceship which are under $3,000.
Camping Tips for New Zealand: Choosing your campsite
We used the ‘Campermate’ app to search for suitable campsites. The app is easy to use with a map identifying all campsite with filters to show which are free and which are paid and what facilities each one has. They also include reviews which is always helpful.
You can purchase a DOC (deprtment of conservation) pass for $60 for 2 adults for a week. We didn’t opt for this as we didn’t want to be tied down plus not all DOC campsites accepted the pass!
Some of the most beautiful campsites we stayed in were either free of charge or just $8-10 which you can pay online or in person. The privately owned campsites tended to be $40 for a power site and 2 people per night with some charging an extra $1 for 5 minutes hot water. One campsite that we avoided was the Top 10 Holiday Parks as they were too expensive and seemed more ‘chain’ and ‘resort’ like.
You can read about our campsites on our full itinerary HERE.
Camping Tips for New Zealand: Planning your route
Obviously your planned route depends on how long you have to travel. One thing we were told before we arrived was to allow for more time than the map says. That certainly was true! The roads are in good condition and generally safe BUT they are sometimes steep and windy and therefore take longer than anticipated. Make sure you use the pull in bays to allow other cars to pass. Also, always look out on a map or do a general google search for when there isn’t a petrol station for a while. You don’t want to get caught out!! Major brands including BP and Mobil are available in New Zealand.
Camping Tips for New Zealand: What to pack camping
New Zealand’s weather is similar to the UK weather – unpredictable. Don’t get caught out and make sure you have packed enough layers even in the summer. We visited in December (summer) and experienced temperatures of 3-4 degrees near the Tongario Alpine Crossing.
Other key items we packed were:
- Torch (you will need this in the campsites)
- Bug spray (some areas have sandflies)
- Snacks (see below!)
- Toiletires (the campsites don’t have any to use)
- Hand sanitizer
Camping Tips for New Zealand: Stocking up in Supermarkets
Supermarkets are pretty accessible throughout New Zealand but you should always have some snacks readily available. The largest supermarkets in New Zealand are Countdown, Four Square and Pac n Save. Food isn’t particularly cheap so choose wisely. Some of the campsites have BBQ’s so bear that in mind when shopping!
East London Girl: Camping Tips in NZ
You may also be interested in the following blog posts on New Zealand: