10 Reasons to Plan a Winter Campervan Road Trip in NZ | Apollo NZ
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Northland & Bay of Islands

Located at the northern tip of New Zealand's North Island, Northland is a land of contrasts, with ancient kauri forests, pristine beaches, and charming coastal towns. This region is not only the birthplace of the nation, with significant historical sites like the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, but it also boasts some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the country, including the famous Bay of Islands.

Northland's climate, known for being subtropical, means warm, humid summers and mild winters, making it a perfect destination year-round. The Northland weather encourages outdoor activities and exploration, whether you're soaking up the sun on the golden sands of Paihia, sailing through the turquoise waters of the Bay of Islands, or driving up to the iconic lighthouse at Cape Reinga.

Travelling by campervan offers the freedom to explore Northland's diverse attractions at your own pace. From the historic charm of Kerikeri to the Tutukaka Coast, known for its world-class diving spots, there’s something for everyone. Take your pick of great Northland holiday parks and campgrounds along the way, ensuring comfort and convenience as you discover the stunning landscapes of this captivating region. Whether you’re interested in Māori culture, keen on adventure sports, or simply in need of a peaceful retreat amidst stunning natural beauty, Northland provides an unforgettable backdrop for a memorable campervan journey.


Why explore Northland & Bay of Islands by campervan

Exploring Northland by campervan is the ideal way to truly connect with the region's abundant natural beauty and rich history. With the freedom of the open road, you can navigate the diverse landscapes at your leisure. Start your day with a sunrise at Paihia, have lunch in an ancient kauri forest, and end with a sunset at Ninety Mile Beach. 

The ability to spontaneously choose your destinations each day, without the need to stick to a fixed itinerary or check-in times, means you can immerse yourself fully in whatever captures your interest. Travelling by campervan not only offers all the comforts of home, including your kitchen and bed but also supports a self-sufficient way to travel. This is a big plus in Northland, where you might want to spend several days exploring more remote areas. Plus, having your own facilities means you're never too far from a hot meal or a comfortable night's sleep, no matter where your adventures in Northland take you.


Things to do in Northland & Bay of Islands

You certainly won’t be short of things to do in Northland and the Bay of Islands. This popular region is bursting with activities that cater to every interest and age group. Discover Kerikeri’s historic sites, including the oldest stone building in New Zealand. Relax in the laidback setting of Russell, a charming town with a rich history. Adventure seekers can enjoy kayaking along the coast or exploring the underwater world at Poor Knights Islands. For a more leisurely pace, indulge in wine tasting at local vineyards or simply unwind on the pristine beaches of the Bay of Islands. Every corner of Northland promises memorable experiences for all.

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Apollo Campervan branches


Departing from Apollo Auckland, you’re perfectly positioned for a half-day drive to Northland & the Bay of Islands. This route ensures a seamless blend of scenic beauty and local culture, culminating in the stunning landscapes of Northland.


The drive from Apollo Christchurch to Northland & the Bay of Islands sets you up for a scenic multi-day journey across the South Island, including the picturesque ferry crossing at the Cook Strait, and into the North Island. 


Keen to make the most of your road trip and explore as much of New Zealand as possible? Book your camper with our Queenstown branch and take your time heading northward over an epic 10-14 days taking in some of the great southern highlights along the way. 

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 Northland & the Bay of Islands


Climate and seasons in Northland & the Bay of Islands

Northland and the Bay of Islands are renowned for their mild, subtropical climate, making them inviting destinations throughout the year. The warm Northland weather is perfect for enjoying the region's stunning coastal areas and rich cultural heritage.

  • Summer (December to February) in Northland are warm and humid, with temperatures usually ranging from 22°C to 26°C. This season is ideal for exploring the beautiful beaches, engaging in water sports, or simply enjoying the vibrant outdoor lifestyle with alfresco dining along the waterfront. Summer is also a popular time for tourists, so expect a lively atmosphere, especially in beach towns.

  • Autumn (March to May) sees slightly cooler temperatures and less humidity, making it a perfect time for hiking and outdoor activities without the intense heat of summer. The scenery remains lush, and the less crowded attractions allow for a more relaxed exploration of the region.

  • Winter (June to August) brings cooler weather, with daytime temperatures typically between 15°C and 18°C. The cooler days are ideal for visiting historical sites and museums or enjoying some of Northland’s renowned cultural festivals. Winter in Northland is generally mild, allowing for year-round outdoor activities.

  • Spring (September to November) revitalises the region with early blooms and warmer weather, gradually heating up towards summer. This is an excellent time to witness the vibrant flora and fauna as the landscapes burst into life, making it ideal for photography and nature walks.




What to pack?

Preparing for your campervan road trip in Northland and the Bay of Islands means packing smartly to fully enjoy the region's mild, subtropical climate and rich outdoor and cultural offerings. From sunbathing on pristine beaches to exploring historic sites and sailing in the bay, here’s what to bring:

  • Outdoor gear: The diverse environments, from the sandy beaches of the Bay of Islands to the forested walks of Cape Reinga, call for versatile outdoor apparel. Opt for lightweight, breathable clothing that will keep you comfortable during the warm days, and don’t forget a few layers for cooler evenings — perfect for cosy nights under the stars. Durable walking shoes are essential, whether you're planning to trek through the forests or stroll around the historic towns.

  • Campervan add-ons: Enhancing your campervan setup can significantly improve your travel experience. Consider packing a portable barbecue for enjoyable seaside grills. You may also like to hire extra camping chairs and a table when you book your Apollo campervan to create a comfortable outdoor living space wherever you park. These additions are perfect for relaxing after a day of adventure or for enjoying a meal with a view.

  • Sun protection: The Northland and Bay of Islands region enjoy plenty of sunshine, making thorough sun protection crucial. Include a high-SPF sunscreen, UV-protection sunglasses, and a broad-brimmed hat in your packing list. This will ensure you can safely indulge in the outdoor activities that the region is famous for, from kayaking across clear waters to lounging on the beach.

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



Attractions and day trips in Northland


Waitangi Treaty Grounds

The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are a must-visit for anyone interested in New Zealand's history. As the site of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, it offers a deep dive into the nation's past through engaging exhibits, guided tours, and cultural performances. The beautifully maintained grounds overlooking the Bay of Islands also provide a peaceful setting to reflect on New Zealand's foundational document.


Paihia is the vibrant heart of the Bay of Islands, known for its lively waterfront filled with cafes, shops, and galleries. It's the perfect base for exploring the surrounding islands by ferry or enjoying water sports like kayaking and parasailing. The town's relaxed atmosphere and scenic beauty make it a favourite spot for both locals and tourists.


Once known as a rowdy 19th-century whaling port, Russell has transformed into a charming seaside town. It's rich with historic buildings like New Zealand’s oldest church, and its quaint streets, waterfront promenades, and excellent restaurants offer a picturesque step back in time.

Cape Reinga

At the northern tip of New Zealand, Cape Reinga offers breathtaking views where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. This spiritually significant site for Māori is accessible via a scenic drive, with opportunities to see the iconic lighthouse and the famous pohutukawa tree that marks the 'leaping-off' point of spirits into the afterlife.

Ninety Mile Beach

Despite its name, Ninety Mile Beach is actually about 55 miles long and serves as one of the country’s most stunning natural highways. It’s perfect for a day of adventure, offering activities like sandboarding down massive dunes or just enjoying a leisurely drive along its vast, sandy stretch.


Kerikeri is known for its fertile soils and beautiful orchards, but it's also rich in history. Highlights include the Stone Store and Kemp House, the oldest stone and wood buildings in New Zealand. The town also hosts vibrant markets and has a thriving arts scene, making it a delightful destination for culture and cuisine.


Mangonui is primarily known for its historic waterfront lined with heritage buildings that now house charming cafes and shops. This small fishing village is famous for its fish and chips, offering fresh seafood with a view. It’s an ideal spot for a relaxed day soaking up local flavours and sea breezes.


Whangarei, the northernmost city in New Zealand, offers a mix of cultural and natural attractions, including the acclaimed Whangarei Falls and the Town Basin marina filled with galleries and cafes. It's a great starting point for trips to the nearby beaches and lush native forests.


Known as the gateway to the Poor Knights Islands, Tutukaka offers some of New Zealand’s best diving and snorkelling experiences. The marine reserve's clear waters are teeming with colourful sea life and are perfect for underwater adventures. Above water, Tutukaka’s coast is dotted with secluded bays and pristine beaches to explore.


Where to stay in Northland & The Bay of Islands with a campervan

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


Bay of Islands



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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