5 weeks in a campervan: revisiting New Zealand

I’m excited to say that a friend and her husband, as well as my brother are all off to New Zealand later in the year. Their planning has prompted me to revisit our trip last year and encouraged me to share more advice on campervanning in New Zealand.


Enjoying dinner in the DOC campground north of Kaikora, South Island by Ian Carvell

Our campervan

We used a company called Lucky and got the crib van because it was the cheapest we could find. We booked it through Camper Travel.

The company – the people were friendly and helpful. The office in Auckland was not far from the airport and easy to find. The vans they rent out are basically older, repurposed Jucy vans. The Jucy vans seem to be the newer, cooler vans around but they were out of our budget. As they are older, the Lucky vans definitely look and feel “used”. They were not horrible but you certainly know that they have been occupied before. We brought our own sheets for the bed and did a clean over in the van when we got it just because we knew we’d be spending a lot of time in it and we wanted it to be homely.

The driving – the crib van is like a soccer mom minivan so it’s pretty easy to drive. It has automatic gears and is not too slow. But our van was pretty old so it seemed to guzzle fuel. We felt like we were filling up every day and at $70-80 NZ each time it soon added up. Out of all the things we did on the trip the unexpected fuel costs on the van really meant we spent a lot of money in New Zealand. Yet it was all worth it!

The bed – the whole van is basically a bed on wheels. It wasn’t a proper mattress but the foam was comfortable enough for the few weeks we were in it.

The other facilities – there was also a wash basin, a small cool box for food, a stove, plates and utensils. We didn’t really use the wash basin as most of the campgrounds had better facilities for washing. The cool box was great and really helped keep the food cool and edible. We found that the stove was very hard to use in the wind and so we often used our own camping stove instead. This van does not have a toilet onboard. This means that it is not considered self contained and can limit the amount of freedom camping one can do. It’s not very hard to manage this as there are plenty of campgrounds with facilities but we just had to make sure we looked for them.

The tip – we were told by someone before we went that picking up a van in Christchurch and dropping in Auckland was the most cost effective way to do NZ. Often the van hire companies will pay you to drive the van in that direction up the islands as many people don’t go that way round. Unfortunately we were not able to find any of those deals but it seems if you can then that’s great.

Where to stay

Banks Peninsula

Dinner in the Banks Peninsula, South Island by Ian Carvell

We loved staying at the DOC campgrounds. They were the most unique, scenic and the cheapest. They are often remote and very quiet. When we wanted a nice hot shower and to do laundry we headed to a “Top Ten” campground. The one in Queenstown and the one in Te Anau were both new, clean and well placed, close to town.

We would highly recommend downloading this app as it has many campgrounds on it and was really helpful to find places to stay. If you download the maps when you are at home it will really help you out when you’re in the middle of nowhere and need somewhere to stay.

Enjoy your campvanning trip in New Zealand!



  1. maleksiuk

    It amuses me when you use the word ‘homely’ because the North American version means something very different than the British version. I hadn’t heard the word used your way until I read your blog.

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