Top tips for winter campervan travel in New Zealand | 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.

 

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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. 

 

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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...
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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. 

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Apollo Campervan branches

Christchurch

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. 

Queenstown

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.

Auckland

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

Auckland

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

 

Christchurch City, New Zealand

Christchurch

 One of the world’s most unique destinations.

 

Queenstown

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

Manawatu-Whanganui

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:

Manawatu-Whanganui

Taranaki

 

 

 

Alyssa Tresider
/ Categories: NZ blog

Top tips for winter campervan travel in New Zealand.

Heading out on a winter road trip in New Zealand in a campervan is an experience like no other. The country's stunning vistas take on a whole new character, offering adventures that are both unique and exhilarating. 

In this handy guide, we'll take you through some essential tips for making your New Zealand winter road trip not just comfortable but truly unforgettable. 

From the must-have items for your campervan checklist to the best winter destinations in NZ, we've got you covered. Whether you're planning a NZ ski holiday or seeking the best places to visit in winter NZ, your journey is about to get a lot more exciting. So, grab a cuppa, and let's take a look at how to make your camper hire adventure the highlight of your winter.

 

Why you should take a winter campervan trip in New Zealand

Taking a winter road trip in NZ in an Apollo campervan is an invitation to witness a side of New Zealand that not everyone gets to see. As the cooler months roll in, the landscapes undergo a magical transformation, presenting a spectacle that's both quiet and majestic. 

Here's why a winter journey through New Zealand should be on your radar:

  • New Zealand in winter reveals a landscape that's utterly breathtaking. The snow-capped mountains, frosty mornings, and crisp air bring out a different kind of beauty. It all adds up to a more intimate and reflective travel experience. It's a time when the country's natural wonders feel like they're there just for you.

  • The drop in tourist numbers is a significant bonus. Make the most of the freedom to explore iconic spots without the usual hustle and bustle. The roads are less crowded, making your drive through New Zealand's scenic routes more relaxed and enjoyable. It's the perfect setting for those who prefer a more laid-back holiday, with plenty of opportunities to take in the views at your own pace.

  • For the thrill-seekers and adventure lovers, winter in New Zealand is a playground. The season is synonymous with exhilarating activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and even glacier hiking. Resorts like Queenstown and Wānaka become bustling hubs for winter sports, offering some of the best slopes in the Southern Hemisphere. Whether you're an experienced skier or trying it for the first time, the New Zealand skiing holiday experience is unmatched.

 

Our top 10 tips for winter campervan travel in New Zealand

Venturing through New Zealand in a campervan during winter offers a unique blend of challenges and rewards. To help you navigate this chilly but charming season, here are our top tips for a safe and enjoyable journey.

 

Check the weather forecast

Staying updated on the weather is a must for any New Zealand road trip. Winter can bring sudden shifts in conditions, so it's wise to be prepared. Packing additional layers, blankets, and a hot water bottle will keep you cosy inside your camper. Being well-prepared allows you to embrace the stunning winter landscapes without the discomfort of the cold.

 

Drive cautiously

Navigating New Zealand's roads in winter requires a careful approach, especially when conditions turn icy. Lowering your speed and allowing more space for braking are good practices. 

Equipping your campervan with snow chains is important to help enhance traction and safety on snowy or icy roads. These can be hired with your Apollo campervan. It's also a good idea to get comfortable with using these chains before you hit the road. 

If your adventure includes the ski fields, remember that campervans may need to be parked at designated areas, as direct access via entry roads is often restricted from June to October. Additionally, be aware of specific locations where campervans might not be permitted during the winter months, and plan your route accordingly.

 

Choose the right campervan

When it's time to choose the best campervan for your winter road trip in NZ, it's all about matching your needs with the right set of wheels. Winter travel has its own set of demands, so here's how to make sure your campervan hire ticks all the boxes:

  • Storage for your gear: Winter trips often mean bringing along more stuff – think skis, snowboards, extra blankets, and all those warm layers. You'll want a campervan with plenty of storage space to keep everything organised and accessible. No one likes a cluttered living space, especially when it's your home on the road.

  • Self-contained comforts: There's a special kind of joy in having your own little bathroom and kitchen with you, especially when it's cold outside. An onboard shower and toilet not only make your winter travels more pleasant but are also essential for freedom camping. It's about having those home comforts, no matter where you park for the night.

  • Heating options: Different campervans can come with different heating systems – electric, gas, or diesel. Electric heaters will need a power hookup, which is fine for campsite stays but not ideal for off-grid adventures. Gas and diesel heaters can keep you warm anywhere, but it's good to know how they work and what they need. For example, diesel heaters are super-efficient and great for keeping the chill at bay, while gas heaters give you that cosy warmth without needing a power connection.

 

Stock up on essentials

Getting ready for a winter road trip in NZ means making sure you've got all the essentials packed in your campervan. It's not just about having enough snacks for the road (though we all know how important those are!), it's also about being prepared for anything the journey might throw at you. Here's a quick checklist to make sure you're all set:

  • Food and water: Stock up on enough food and water to last you a few days, just in case you find yourself in a remote spot or get held up by unexpected weather. Think non-perishable items that are easy to cook in your campervan kitchen.

  • Emergency supplies: A well-stocked first aid kit is a must, along with essentials like a flashlight, extra batteries, and a multi-tool. These can be lifesavers in unexpected situations.

  • Warmth and comfort: Extra layers of clothing, thermal wear, and waterproof outer layers will help keep you warm and dry, whether you're inside the campervan or out exploring. A good quality, warm sleeping bag is also a must-have for those frosty nights.

  • Navigation tools: While digital maps are great, having physical maps or pre-downloaded maps as backups can be a lifesaver, especially in remote areas where signals might be spotty. We recommend downloading the thl Roadtrip app before you begin your road trip. This handy app is packed full of everything you’ll need to prepare for and enjoy your campervan road trip. Download on the App Store or Google Play.  

  • Entertainment: Don't forget to pack some books, games, or even a portable speaker for those cosy evenings in. It's all about making your campervan feel like a home away from home.

 

Plan your route

Mapping out your journey is a crucial part of preparing for your winter road trip in NZ. The winter season can bring a few surprises, from road closures to unexpected weather changes, so it pays to be prepared. Here's how to ensure your route planning is on point:

  • Stay informed: Before you set off, check out the latest updates on road conditions, closures, and detours. Websites and local news channels are great resources for the most current information.

  • Backup plans: Having alternative routes in mind can save you a lot of hassle if you encounter any roadblocks or delays. It's always better to have a plan B (and even a plan C) just in case.

  • Local insights: Don't underestimate the value of local knowledge. Chatting with locals or other travellers can give you insights into the best routes and hidden gems that might not be on your map.

  • Flexible travel itinerary: While it's great to have a plan, being flexible can make your trip even more enjoyable. Sometimes, the best experiences come from those unplanned detours and spontaneous decisions.


Stay connected

Keeping in touch and ensuring you have a way to communicate is super important on your New Zealand road trip, especially when you're cruising around in your campervan. Here's how to stay connected, even when you're off the beaten path:

  • Power up: A fully charged cell phone is your lifeline. Pack a portable charger or power bank to keep your phone juiced up, especially on those long stretches between stops.

  • Share your plans: Let your friends or family know your travel itinerary. A quick message to share your daily plans or any changes can keep everyone at ease.

  • Regular check-ins: Especially if you're venturing into more remote areas with unreliable reception, make it a point to check in regularly. Find spots along your route where you can get a signal and touch base.

  • Emergency contacts: Have a list of emergency contacts, including local authorities and roadside assistance, saved in your phone. It's also a good idea to have them written down somewhere in your campervan, just in case.

 

Choose campsites wisely

Finding the right spot to park your campervan each night is a big part of the adventure. To make sure your nights are as comfy as your days are fun, here's what to look for in a winter campsite:

  • Creature comforts: After a day of exploring, there's nothing like a hot shower to warm up. Look for campsites with power hookups, hot showers, and maybe even laundry facilities to make your winter camping experience a bit more like home.

  • Winter availability: Not all campsites are open in the colder months, so it's a good idea to do a bit of research and planning ahead of time. Checking availability and booking your spots in advance can save you from the hassle of a last-minute scramble.

  • Strategic locations: Choosing campsites that are close to your planned activities or attractions can cut down on driving time and allow you to spend more time enjoying the sights and experiences.

  • Safety first: Especially in winter, make sure the campsites you choose are safe and well-maintained. A little research on reviews or asking for recommendations can go a long way.

 

Stay warm and dry

Staying snug and dry is key to enjoying your New Zealand winter road trip to the fullest. Here's how to keep the chill at bay and ensure your campervan remains a cosy retreat:

  • Layer up: Invest in some good-quality thermal clothing that'll keep you warm from the inside out. Topping these off with waterproof outer layers means you can face the elements without a shiver, whether you're out exploring or setting up camp.

  • Ventilation is vital: Keeping your campervan aired out might seem counterintuitive in the cold, but regular ventilation is crucial to prevent condensation and moisture buildup inside. A little fresh air circulating through can make the space more comfortable and prevent dampness from settling in.

 

Embrace winter activities

Getting stuck into some of the great winter activities that New Zealand offers can turn your campervan journey into an epic adventure. Here's how to make the most of the season:

  • Hit the slopes: Whether you're into skiing, snowboarding, or just a good old-fashioned snowball fight, New Zealand's winter wonderland is your playground. The country's renowned ski fields offer something for every level, from beginner to pro.

  • Scenic explorations: Don't miss out on the breathtaking winter trails. Whether it's a frosty morning walk or a guided tour, the landscapes are spectacular.

  • Warm-up: After a day in the cold, there's nothing like soaking in a soothing hot pool. It's the perfect way to relax and warm up.

  • Local flavours: Winter is also a great time to explore the local cuisine. Cosy up in cafes and restaurants and enjoy some hearty meals that'll warm you from the inside out. Even better, stock up on local produce and artisan goods and create some campervan cuisine. 

 

Be flexible and adaptable

Winter in New Zealand can be full of surprises, and a flexible approach to your campervan adventure can lead to some of the most memorable experiences. The weather might throw a curveball your way, or you might stumble upon a hidden gem that wasn't on your radar. Being prepared to adjust your plans on the fly allows you to embrace the unique spontaneity that winter travel offers. After all, it's the unexpected moments that often become the highlights of our travels.

 

Ready to explore New Zealand in a campervan this winter? 

A winter campervan road trip in New Zealand is simply unbeatable. And with a bit of smart planning – from selecting the ideal campervan to packing the right gear – it’s one you’ll never forget.

Feeling inspired to start planning your winter travel itinerary? Apollo Campervans has the perfect range of motorhomes and campervans to suit your needs. Book your cosy campervan online now and set off on a memorable trip through New Zealand's breathtaking winter scenery.

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