10 Reasons to Plan a Winter Campervan Road Trip in NZ | Apollo NZ
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Manawatu-Whanganui & Taranaki

A New Zealand campervan holiday through the Manawatu-Whanganui & Taranaki region offers an unforgettable experience. Rich in natural beauty and cultural significance, this special part of New Zealand offers travellers a unique blend of urban charm and rugged wilderness. If you love exploring arts and culture, you’ll be spoilt for choice in this region. You may even like to follow the Coastal Arts Trail which spans 300 km between New Plymouth to Palmerston North. The trail is peppered with galleries, sculptures, studios and more. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the mystical Bridge to Nowhere, accessible through the verdant Whanganui National Park, offering an unforgettable journey into New Zealand's remote backcountry. 

Transitioning westward, the landscape dramatically changes as you enter Taranaki, dominated by the iconic, conical shape of Mount Taranaki. This region is a magnet for adventurers and nature lovers alike, with New Plymouth at its heart – a coastal city known for its sunny climate, thriving arts community, and surf-friendly beaches. The coastal walkway stretching from Bell Block to Port Taranaki offers spectacular sea views, perfectly complementing the city’s dynamic cultural venues and eateries.


Why explore Manawatu-Whanganui & Taranaki by campervan

Exploring Manawatu-Whanganui and Taranaki by campervan offers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the heartland of New Zealand's North Island. It also makes it easy to change your itinerary on the fly. Whether it's spending an extra day enjoying the surf in New Plymouth, exploring the hiking trails around Mount Taranaki, or parking beside the scenic Whanganui River for a spontaneous picnic, the choice is yours. The ability to set your own pace and schedule makes a campervan ideal for discovering the hidden gems of these regions.

Travelling by campervan not only brings the comforts of home on the road, such as your own bed, kitchen, and living space, but also eliminates the hassles of constant packing and unpacking. This is especially valuable in regions like Manawatu-Whanganui and Taranaki, where attractions are spread out. Having your necessities with you means you're always ready for the next adventure. 


Things to do in Manawatu-Whanganui & Taranaki

Manawatu-Whanganui and Taranaki offer activities for all ages, from nature excursions to authentic cultural experiences. Explore Palmerston North's gardens and arts scene, Whanganui's historic riverboat cruise, or brave the surf at New Plymouth's beaches. Immerse yourself in the local culture with visits to museums, galleries, and artist studios. Whether it's outdoor excitement or cultural enrichment, this fascinating region provides something for everyone.



Popular Manawatu-Whanganui & Taranaki road trips & itineraries

Stretching down the lower west coast of New Zealand’s North Island, Manawatu-Whanganui and Taranaki are prime destinations for road trippers seeking a mix of culture, nature, and adventure. Easily accessible from major urban centres like Wellington and Auckland, the drive itself showcases the dramatic shift from urban landscapes to the lush, green countryside of Manawatu and the striking volcanic features of Taranaki. These routes not only offer breathtaking views but are dotted with a variety of attractions, making every stop an opportunity for discovery. 


Ultimate 7-day South Island campervan itinerary Ultimate 7-day South Island campervan itinerary

Ultimate 7-day South Island campervan itinerary

Thinking of hitting the top of the South Island on a campervan road trip? Great idea! From the lively vibe of Christchurch to the stunning beauty...

Great savings on your New Zealand road trip

Apollo offers a fantastic selection of deals and specials for those looking to explore Manawatu-Whanganui & Taranaki by campervan. From hot deals and last-minute discounts to long-term hire benefits, you’re sure to find a deal designed to help you make the most of your campervan road trip. 

Long Hire Offer Long Hire Offer

Long Hire Offer

Do you love road trips across Australia & New Zealand as much as we do? You're in luck with our Long Hire Offer! If you are travelling for more than 21 days, you will receive 5% off daily vehicle...
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The drive from Apollo Christchurch to the Manawatu-Whanganui and Taranaki region sets you up for a scenic journey across the South Island, including the picturesque ferry crossing at the Cook Strait, and onto the North Island. 


Keen to make the most of your road trip and explore the South Island before heading north? Book your camper with our Queenstown branch and spend a few days taking in some of the great southern highlights before crossing the Cook Strait by ferry.


Set off from Apollo Auckland and kick off your exploration of this region in New Plymouth – just a few hours drive away. Make your way down the west coast taking in the charming townships, rolling rural landscapes, and rugged coastline as you venture south.  

Auckland City Skyline


New Zealand’s multi-cultural hub of food, music, arts and culture.


Christchurch City, New Zealand


 One of the world’s most unique destinations.



Breathtaking scenery and adrenaline-pumping adventure activities.


Helpful tips for visiting Manawatu-Whanganui & Taranaki


Climate and seasons in Manawatu-Whanganui & Taranaki

Stretching hundreds of kilometres, this expansive region offers distinct seasonal experiences, making it an attractive destination year-round for visitors looking to enjoy a variety of landscapes and activities.

Manawatu-Whanganui enjoys a mild, temperate climate with moderate rainfall, making it pleasant for travel most of the year.

  • Summers (December to February) are warm with temperatures averaging around 22°C, ideal for exploring the great outdoors and the region's rivers and parks.
  • Autumn (March to May) brings cooler temperatures and a beautiful change in foliage, particularly in the bush-clad hills, providing perfect conditions for hiking and photography.
  • Winter (June to August) can be cooler, with temperatures dropping to around 10°C, but it is generally mild compared to other regions, with occasional frost in sheltered areas.
  • Spring (September to November) sees the landscape rejuvenate with bursts of flowers and greenery, making it a lovely time for visiting the many gardens and reserves.

Taranaki is known for its more dynamic weather patterns, due to the presence of Mount Taranaki, which can attract clouds and cause quick changes in weather.

  • Summers here are pleasant with temperatures similar to Manawatu-Whanganui but expect more frequent rain showers that keep the surroundings lush.
  • Autumn sees stable weather, ideal for outdoor activities as the forests display a vivid array of autumn colours.
  • Winter in Taranaki can be wet, with more pronounced rainfall, and the mountain often receives snowfall, offering spectacular views and winter sports.
  • Spring brings a rapid growth of new foliage and is particularly spectacular as rhododendrons and other blooms erupt around the mountain's base.




What to pack?

Preparing for your campervan journey through Manawatu-Whanganui and Taranaki requires thoughtful packing to make the most of the diverse climates and activities available in these regions. Here’s what you should consider bringing along:

  • Outdoor gear: given the varied terrain from river valleys to volcanic mountains, pack versatile outdoor gear. Lightweight, breathable clothing will serve you well during warmer months, while waterproof and windproof layers are essential for the unpredictable weather near Mount Taranaki. Sturdy hiking boots are a must for exploring the rugged landscapes and numerous walking trails. With the stunning natural beauty and wildlife in both regions, a good camera can help you capture memorable landscapes and native birds. Binoculars will also enhance your experience, especially when visiting coastal areas and bird sanctuaries.
  • Campervan add-ons: Enhancing your campervan experience can significantly improve your comfort during the trip. Consider including a portable heater for the cooler evenings, especially during winter months in Taranaki. A reliable GPS and physical maps can help navigate the more remote areas. Additional camping chairs and a table can also be handy for scenic stops along the coast or in forest parks.
  • Sun protection and rain gear: The regions' varying weather conditions call for both sun protection and rain gear. Pack a high-SPF sunscreen, UV-protection sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to shield against the strong New Zealand sun. Also, include a durable rain jacket and waterproof trousers to stay dry during sudden rain showers, particularly prevalent in Taranaki. For more helpful ideas, check out our guide to what to pack for your campervan road trip.

For more helpful ideas, check out our guide to what to pack for your campervan road trip.



Nearby attractions and day trips from Manawatu-Whanganui & Taranaki


Whanganui River cruise or kayak

Experience the tranquil beauty of the Whanganui River by taking a leisurely cruise or paddling a kayak. This historic river offers stunning views of lush landscapes and provides a quiet escape into nature, perfect for a relaxing day on the water.

Whanganui National Park

Home to native forests and scenic waterways, Whanganui National Park is popular with hikers and walkers. The park is also home to the Bridge to Nowhere Walk, a 3 km return (around 1.5 hours) easy walk popular with visitors to the area.

Forgotten World Highway

The Forgotten World Highway, running through remote, mystic landscapes, offers a journey back in time. This historic route passes through rugged terrain, dense forests, and small forgotten towns, making it a unique adventure for road-trippers.

Bushy Park

Bushy Park Ecological Sanctuary, near Whanganui, is known for its rich biodiversity and protected native forest. The 100-hectare reserve is home to some of the tallest and oldest trees in the region, including a 500-year-old rata. The park's predator-free status allows visitors to encounter rare and endangered birds such as the hihi and saddleback in their natural habitat.

Nearby attractions and day trips from Taranaki

Mount Taranaki

Dominating the landscape, Mount Taranaki offers challenging hikes and spectacular views from its summit. The symmetrical volcano is a striking feature of Egmont National Park, drawing climbers and photographers alike.

New Plymouth Coastal Walk

The New Plymouth Coastal Walkway is a spectacular 13-kilometre path that stretches from Ngamotu Beach to Bell Block, offering panoramic views of the Tasman Sea. This award-winning walkway is ideal for walking, jogging, or cycling featuring iconic landmarks like the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, which resembles a breaking wave or whale skeleton.

Pukekura Park

New Plymouth’s Pukekura Park is a beautifully landscaped garden featuring lakes, waterfalls, and exotic plants. It hosts the famous Festival of Lights, transforming into an enchanted evening wonderland.

Dawson Falls in Egmont National Park

Dawson Falls is a spectacular 18-metre waterfall located within Egmont National Park. The area around the falls offers picturesque walking tracks that wind through lush native bush, ideal for a short, scenic hike.


Where to stay in Manawatu-Whanganui & Taranaki with a campervan

When it comes to finding the perfect spot to park and rest in Manawatu-Whanganui & Taranaki, there's no shortage of picturesque, comfy campgrounds. Here are a few worth checking out:






Alyssa Tresider
/ Categories: NZ blog

10 Reasons to Plan a Winter Campervan Road Trip in NZ.

Planning to hire a camper for a winter road trip in NZ? Exploring New Zealand's diverse landscapes in a campervan during the cooler months is a truly special experience. There’s something magical about rugging up under the stars before bed, and then waking up to crispy mornings with a hot coffee and a cooked breakfast. If you’re looking for NZ winter holiday ideas, then you simply can’t go past a campervan road trip. 

To help inspire the ultimate travel itinerary, we’ll share ten reasons why booking an Apollo campervan hire this winter could be your most memorable adventure yet. 


Our top 10 reasons you should explore New Zealand in a campervan this winter

Travelling in a campervan during winter offers a unique perspective of Aotearoa, offering a blend of adventure and breathtaking beauty. Here are our top picks for why a campervan hire should be your go-to choice for a New Zealand winter road trip.


Spectacular scenery

There's nothing quite like the sight of New Zealand's landscapes as they transform in winter. The mountains, parks, and forests take on a new life, adorned with snow and frost in many areas, offering scenes straight out of a postcard. And when you drive New Zealand by campervan, these captivating views aren't just a part of your journey; they're the first thing you see when you wake up, your backdrop for lunch, and your sunset scene. Imagine sipping your morning brew surrounded by the snow-dusted Southern Alps or listening to the dawn chorus of native birds in one of New Zealand’s national parks. That's the beauty of campervan travel in winter.


Tranquillity and serenity

If you're seeking a getaway from the crowds, winter is your season. The usual buzz of tourist spots simmers down, leaving behind quieter roads and peaceful campsites. This shift allows you to experience New Zealand's natural wonders and attractions without the usual hustle and bustle. As an added bonus, some attractions and campgrounds provide off-peak pricing during winter making your campervan hire holiday even more appealing (this may not apply during the school holiday period). It's a win-win: fewer people and potentially lower costs, all while you're wrapped up in the stunning winter scenery.


Unique outdoor activities

A New Zealand road trip in winter isn't just about enjoying the scenery, it’s also an opportunity to add some unique outdoor activities to your travel itinerary. Whether you're carving down the slopes of renowned ski resorts like Cardrona and Treble Cone, or taking a glacier hike across the majestic Franz Josef Glacier, winter offers an exhilarating playground for adventure seekers. With a campervan, you have the ultimate flexibility to hop from one winter wonderland to the next.


The Southern Lights

Winter in New Zealand brings with it the chance to witness one of the most enchanting natural phenomena: the Southern Lights, or Aurora Australis. These lights weave a tapestry of vibrant colours across the night sky, creating a spectacle that's both surreal and captivating. For the best views, venture to the remote areas of the South Island, where the darkness and clarity of the skies serve as the perfect backdrop for this celestial dance. With your Apollo campervan hire, you're equipped to chase these lights at their most brilliant, turning an ordinary night into an extraordinary experience.


Cosy campervan living

The charm of a winter adventure in New Zealand is perfectly complemented by the cosy living a modern campervan offers. Apollo's campervan and motorhome fleet comes with all the home comforts, from snug bedding to fully equipped kitchens. For unbeatable cosiness, pack a hot water bottle and your favourite warm socks. And if you’d like an extra touch of warmth, you can also hire a fan heater when you book your Apollo campervan hire. After a day of exploring New Zealand’s wintery landscapes, you'll love returning to your own warm and welcoming sanctuary.


Culinary delights

Winter is the ideal season to dive into the hearty comfort foods that New Zealand is celebrated for. With an abundance of local delicacies – from fresh seafood to artisan cheeses, your taste buds are in for a treat. Local farmers markets are a great place to pick up something tasty that showcases fresh, locally sourced ingredients. And what better way to enjoy these culinary delights than by preparing them in your campervan's well-equipped kitchen? Embrace the joy of cooking on the road, turning each meal into a cosy and memorable dining experience amidst the stunning winter landscapes of New Zealand.


Hot springs and thermal pools

New Zealand's geothermal wonders come to life in winter, offering the perfect escape into the warmth of natural hot springs and thermal pools. From the geothermal heartland of Rotorua to the hidden gems in the South Island, these warm waters provide a sanctuary against the winter chill. Places like the Miranda Holiday Park or the Waikite Valley Thermal Pools not only offer a rejuvenating soak but also overnight campervan parking. This means you can enjoy a soothing dip under the stars and retreat to the comfort of your campervan, parked just a stone's throw away. It's an experience that blends the rustic charm of outdoor living with the indulgent pleasure of a spa retreat, all within the backdrop of New Zealand's stunning winter landscapes.


Captivating wildlife

New Zealand’s winters offer the opportunity to experience some unique wildlife encounters. The cooler months mark the migration of majestic whales along the coastlines, making it a great time for a whale watching cruise. The shores also become playgrounds for playful seals, basking in the winter sun or frolicking in the waters. Not to be outdone, adorable penguins make their appearance, waddling along beaches and nesting in coastal areas, providing heartwarming sights for nature lovers. 

For bird enthusiasts, winter is an excellent time to observe native species in their natural habitats. Guided tours are available, taking you through dense forests and protected reserves where the chorus of native birds fills the air. From the melodious calls of the Tūī to the elusive sight of the Kiwi under the cover of dusk, these experiences bring you closer to the heart of New Zealand's wildlife. 


Fun winter festivals

Winter in New Zealand is not just about picturesque landscapes and cosy nights; it's also a time for vibrant celebrations and community spirit. Embrace the festive atmosphere by diving into some of the country's most invigorating winter festivals. Queenstown's Winter Festival is a highlight, transforming the adventure capital into a hub of excitement with street parties, fireworks, and a wide array of events that celebrate the chilly season in style.

Another significant winter event is Matariki, marking the Māori New Year. This cultural festival is a time of reflection, remembrance, and renewal, observed with various events across the country, including art exhibitions, traditional performances, and community gatherings. 


Stargazing under winter skies

Winter's clear nights in New Zealand offer some of the best stargazing opportunities in the world. The crisp, cool air reduces atmospheric distortion, making the stars appear brighter and more numerous. With your Apollo campervan hire, you can venture out to some of the most remote and dark locations, far from city lights, to gaze up at the celestial wonders overhead.

Aotearoa is home to the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, one of the largest dark sky reserves in the world, located in the Mackenzie Basin of the South Island. Here, the Milky Way stretches across the sky in a dazzling display, with constellations, planets, and shooting stars visible to the naked eye. Whether you're an avid astronomer or simply wish to enjoy the natural beauty of a starlit sky, winter provides the perfect backdrop for unforgettable nights under the stars. So, grab a blanket, step outside your campervan, and look up to be mesmerised by the universe's vast beauty.


Ready to explore New Zealand in a campervan this winter?

From the warmth of thermal pools to the thrill of winter festivals and the awe of natural wonders, your Apollo campervan hire is your ticket to experiencing the best of New Zealand's winter. With state-of-the-art features, cosy interiors, and the flexibility to take you from snow-capped mountains to starlit skies, Apollo ensures your winter adventure is nothing short of magical.

Ready to kick off your unforgettable winter journey? Book your Apollo campervan online today and unlock the wonders of New Zealand's winter landscape at your own pace.

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