New Zealand Road Trip FAQs
Where are the best places to visit in New Zealand?
New Zealand is divided into two main islands: the North Island and the South Island. The North Island is home to the country’s largest city, Auckland, and experiences more of a warmer climate so you can enjoy activities such as relaxing on the beach and sailing. The South Island is generally colder with glaciers and dramatic mountain ranges that are perfect for snow activities such as skiing and snowboarding.
Here are some must-see destinations across both islands to help you decide where you want to visit on your New Zealand campervan trip.
Auckland is New Zealand’s most populous city and the ideal starting point for your North Island adventure. If you're a fan of the outdoors, you are never too far from beautiful landscapes that include sparkling harbours, volcanic islands, lush forests and sandy beaches. For those who prefer the city life, Auckland offers world-class museums and galleries, luxury shopping, fine dining and lively bars. Whether you crave adrenaline or just want to take it easy and soak up the scenery, Auckland is the perfect mix of natural playgrounds and urban sophistication.
Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands showcases the best of everything New Zealand has to offer. This North Island region is renowned for its stunning natural beauty with hundreds of islands, quaint villages, and secret waterfalls hidden in lush, native forests. Among the highlights are a Hole in the Rock cruise in search of dolphins and other marine life, a tour to picturesque Cape Reinga and a Maori cultural experience at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds – a historical site that marks the origins of the nation.
Rotorua is a North Island hotspot filled with cultural experiences, geothermal wonders and bubbling Hells Gate mud pools. Marvel at thousands of glowing critters on a Waitomo Glowworm Cave Tour or discover the mystical landscape of Middle Earth on a Hobbiton Movie Set Tour. By night, visit an authentic Maori cultural village and enjoy a traditional Hangi meal. Rotorua is also a popular destination for adventure activities such as zorbing, bungee jumping and whitewater rafting. If you’re looking for family fun, Maori culture or outdoor activities, you can find it all in Rotorua.
Milford Sound is a genuinely breathtaking destination on New Zealand's South Island. Carved out by glaciers during the ice ages, it is a fiord known for cascading waterfalls flowing from sheer cliffs and lush green rainforests that cling to soaring mountains. Travellers who make the journey here will be greeted by an abundance of native wildlife including seals, penguins and dolphins. Take a cruise, embark on a scenic flight, or walk the Hollyford Track - no matter how you choose to experience the incredible Milford Sound, it is sure to leave you with lasting memories.
Located on the shores of the crystal-clear Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the majestic Southern Alps, Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world. With four distinct seasons each bringing new experiences, this iconic South Island destination offers something for everyone. Feeling adventurous? Winter is all about skiing and snowboarding while the summer months are perfect for jet boating and bungee jumping. Just want to relax? Enjoy a tranquil lake cruise as you take in the incredible alpine views. Downtown Queenstown is also home to some of the best restaurants in New Zealand, offering fresh energy and atmosphere all year-round.
New Zealand's West Coast is a rugged, unspoilt wilderness brimming with natural wonders. It's where the Southern Alps meet the wild Tasman Sea, with beautiful rivers, glaciers, and ancient rainforests framing the coastline. The West Coast is also home to many unique and endangered species, including Kiwi birds and Tuatara lizards. This beautiful and remote landscape on the South Island is a favourite of hikers, nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. You may find yourself taking on the Franz Josef Glacier on a quad bike, darting around Mt Cook in a propeller plane, or ambling along serene nature tracks and devouring local produce and smooth wines.
How long do you need for a New Zealand campervan trip?
One of the biggest mistakes travellers make when they come to New Zealand is not giving themselves enough time to fully appreciate everything this beautiful country has to offer. While it may look small on a map, New Zealand is a diverse landscape with a vast range of experiences waiting for you to discover. From majestic natural terrain and lively cities to thrill-seeking activities and traditional Maori culture, how long you need for your NZ road trip depends on what you want to see.
If you only have a few days then you might want to stick to one island so you can enjoy the journey without feeling rushed. If you’re looking to cover all of New Zealand in your campervan then you will need at least a few weeks. Of course, you could always skip some attractions and do a cross-island route in a week or just as easily spend a few months exploring every corner of the Land of the Long White Cloud.
The best thing about campervan hire is that you have the freedom to travel at your own pace. You might prefer to explore the country with several shorter road trips rather than one big holiday. Our New Zealand campervan itineraries have been tried and tested by us to help you see as much as possible in the time you have available.
When is the best time to visit New Zealand?
Timing is everything when it comes to planning the perfect New Zealand campervan road trip. A popular holiday destination at any time of the year, New Zealand has four distinct seasons and each one has its own unique charms and attractions.
If you're looking to experience some of the country's world-famous adventure activities and wine regions then the best time to visit would be during the spring (September to November) or autumn (March to May). These months offer moderate temperatures and lovely weather for spending time outdoors on a campervan trip. Cool off in one of New Zealand’s many pristine beaches and lakes or take advantage of the long, sunny days with hiking, cycling or kayaking.
If you're more interested in hitting the slopes at one of New Zealand's iconic ski resorts, then you'll want to visit during the winter months (June to August). Winter is a magical time to visit as the snow-capped mountains and frozen lakes are truly a sight to behold. Just be sure to pack plenty of warm clothes as temperatures can dip below freezing in some parts of the country during this time of year.
There's no bad time to visit New Zealand, but keep in mind that summer is the busiest time of year for both local holiday makers and international tourists. Attractions and campsites will fill up quickly so you’ll need to plan your trip carefully to avoid missing out. While the ski fields will be busier in winter, it’s traditionally the low season for tourism in New Zealand which could be perfect for a campervan road trip through the breathtaking scenery. Whether you're looking for a summer beach vacation or a winter wonderland getaway, you'll find what you're looking for in New Zealand.
Where can I stay on a campervan road trip?
There’s no shortage of places to stay when exploring New Zealand on a campervan adventure with hundreds of campsites dotted throughout the country.
If you're looking for flexibility then freedom camping is the way to go. You can stay anywhere within the designated free camping areas, as long as you're respectful of others and the environment. Free camping is a great way to save money, but it is only allowed for certified self-contained vehicles (that means you need to have your own toilet, shower and waste disposal facilities on board) and won’t be for everyone.
Some travellers prefer the amenities of a holiday park. These areas are well equipped for travellers, as they have everything from kitchen and bathroom facilities to powered sites specifically for campervan rentals. Some holiday parks even have playgrounds and small stores on-site for basic goods. This is a great option for families or those who want a little more comfort and security during their road trip.
Wherever you choose to stay with your campervan, make sure you do your research ahead of time so you know what to expect. And then all that's left is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride! New Zealand is an absolutely stunning country, and there's no better way to see it than from the freedom of an Apollo rental campervan.