New Zealand is honestly one of the most beautiful countries in the World. The mountains of the Southern Alps are breathtaking at every turn, there are thousands of waterfalls falling from soaring cliffs, it has some of the worlds most accessible glaciers, hundreds of kilometres of hiking tracks, the Sounds and Fjords are some of the most stunning on the planet and it’s forests, rivers, islands, bays and coastline are simply amazing. If New Zealand isn’t already on your Bucket List, it’s time to add it on.
Recently I took off on an epic 3 week adventure driving around the South Island of New Zealand in a Wilderness NZ Motorhome with my partner. Just the two of us and the open road… plus some mountains, fjords, glaciers and Keas.
When I was planning this trip I was trying to decide whether to get a motorhome or just get a hire car and stay in hotels and Bed n Breakfasts along the way. I am so glad I chose the motorhome option and here are my 5 reasons why traveling in a fully self contained motorhome, especially a Wilderness NZ motorhome, is a must.
1. YOU CAN SLEEP JUST ABOUT ANYWHERE
One of the best things about traveling New Zealand in a motorhome is that you can camp just about anywhere (within reason). New Zealand is very campervan friendly, they have hundreds of Free Camp locations, which is where you can pull up for the night and not have to pay any camp fees. These sites are pretty basic and for the majority of them you will need to be in a fully self contained van - which I would highly recommend. Hiring a fully self contained van gives you a lot more freedom as to where you can camp and also you have your own toilet with you wherever you go.. winning! Apart from free camps there are a variety of DOC (Department of Conservation) campsites available, these range from Basic, Backcountry, Standard, Scenic and Serviced campsites, and can range from $6 pp/pn to $18pp/pn, which works out a lot cheaper than a hotel. The facilities differ depending on the cost, some have cooking facilities, hot or cold showers and toilets. Then there are also privately owned Motorhome and Holiday Parks which usually start at $15-$25 pp/pn for a powered site.
Traveling in a motorhome gives you the freedom to be able to explore all day without a set plan or itinerary, so you can decide in the afternoon or that day where you will pull up for the night. This is how we traveled and it worked out perfectly, especially when you decide to stop at a few extra places on the way that weren’t originally on your list of ‘to see’ places.. and believe me, there are a lot of these.
One of the many things i loved about traveling in a Wilderness NZ Motorhome is not only are they super comfortable (ours had a king sized bed in the back), you can drive on any road in New Zealand, they are equipped to go days without the need to plug into power, which means you can spend longer out in the wilderness and less time in powered sites or in civilization. Out of the 21 nights that we were in our Motorhome, we only spent 4 of those nights in a powered site. They also provide you with an Ap which tells you the locations of all of the campsites, dump stations and more. As well as a book with locations of free camps (some of which no one else seems to know about, as we stayed in quite a few and always had the place to ourselves!) and a book with all these out of the way spots to explore. Remember when choosing a Motorhome company that not all Motorhomes are made equal! Some, like the Wilderness vans, are equipped to last days without the need to plug into power. They have good batteries, large water tanks and toilet tanks, so more time out enjoying the wilderness instead of being in holiday parks.
* Make sure you always obey the no camping signs, only camp in designated free camp or camping areas.
2. ALL YOUR GEAR, FOOD & CLOTHING IS ALWAYS WITH YOU
Being able to goto the toilet whenever you want (as long as the van is pulled over and at a stop – obviously!), having your fridge full of food for readily available snacks and lunch, being able to boil the kettle for a cuppa wherever you are and having all of your clothes with you so you don’t forget anything and leave it back at the hotel is the best!! Your motorhome really is your home on wheels, you have everything you need with you. One of the best things I found was after a long hike, being able to come back to the van for a hot shower and a warm cuppa. Wilderness NZ Vans have over 12 different vans to choose from, sleeping from 2-5 people, all motorhomes are self contained with comfy seating, toilet, shower, fridge, gas stove, heating and power.
3. WAKING UP TO THE BEST VIEWS AT SUNRISE
A lot of the free camps and DOC campsites have some of the best views you will see in New Zealand and the World for that matter. Being able to pull up and watch the sun go down over the snowcapped mountains, towering cliffs, thundering waterfalls or coastal views all from the comfort of your cosy van – or whilst sitting outside in the camp chairs – is just the best.
Have you ever been out on a day trip and gone to leave and thought… I wish I could wake up to this view in the morning? Well that’s what most of these campsites are like. A lot of the hotels and resorts are based in the towns and regional areas, so you don’t get the kind of views that you get from staying in these campsites. Plus the serenity is amazing! There are so many campsites and locations where you will be the only ones there, now that’s what I call a Wilderness holiday.
4. SLEEP UNDER A BLANKET OF STARS
There are a lot of campsites which are located out in the wilderness, in the middle of nowhere, so there is no glow from nearby towns, no streetlights and no interfering light, which means you will see some of the most beautiful night skies your eyes have ever seen. If you’re lucky enough you could also see the Aurora, which when it is going off, is visible from most parts of the South Island.
5. SEE AND EXPERIENCE MORE
When you’re traveling in a motorhome you tend to see alot more because you have the freedom to not be stuck at one place or be at a certain town on a certain night. You take that side road, visit that unexpected sight, take a hike on one of the thousands of walking tracks that the South Island of New Zealand has to offer or stay that extra night or two. When you’re staying in a hotel you tend to get back before dark so you can be back in time for dinner. Whereas when you’re in a van you can just pull up or hop inside your van after a long day exploring (or relaxing) and dinners ready in 20 minutes!
When we set off we had a rough itinerary of where we wanted to stay and what we wanted to see, but we found that we stopped more often, spent an extra night here or there and took that extra hike. The freedom of having everything at your fingertips really does make traveling in a fully self contained motorhome the best choice.
I’ll be writing another Blog Post soon on my must see locations on the South Island of New Zealand, see keep your eyes peeled.
If you're interested in booking your own adventure in a Wilderness NZ Motorhome, click on on the website below. If you have any questions about the Motorhome or my experience feel free to ask a question in the comments below, or send me an email.
Disclaimer - All photos in this Blog Post were taken and edited by myself. This road trip was in partnership with Wilderness NZ. All opinions are my own, honest and unbiased.