Top tips for winter campervan travel in New Zealand | Apollo NZ
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Top tips for winter campervan travel in New Zealand

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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