Exploring the Essentials of Camper Van Travel in New Zealand
Understanding Camper Vans Types: There are various types of camper vans, ranging from basic sleeper vans with minimal facilities, to fully-equipped motorhomes with a kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping areas. A key distinction in New Zealand is between ‘self-contained’ and ‘non self-contained’ camper vans. Self-contained camper vans are equipped with toilet, water, and waste facilities, allowing them to meet national standards for freedom camping. Non self-contained vans do not have these facilities.
1. License Requirements:
A full driver’s license in English or an International Driving Permit is required to rent a camper van in New Zealand.
2. Choosing the Right Rental Provider:
From large, internationally recognized companies to smaller local outfits, New Zealand offers a variety of camper van rental providers. Do thorough research to find a provider that matches your budget, needs, and reliability criteria.
3. Understanding Rental Insurance:
Check what insurance coverage is included with your camper van rental and understand your liabilities in case of accidents or damages. It also pays to check you Travel Insurance before you buy insurance you already have cover for.
4. Freedom Camping Rules:
‘Freedom camping’, or camping in public places outside of campgrounds, is a popular way to experience New Zealand’s natural beauty. However, rules for freedom camping vary and are stricter for non self-contained vans due to environmental considerations. Self-contained camper vans, meeting the NZS 5465 standard for a minimum of three days’ waste storage, are allowed to camp in more locations.
5. Road Safety and Rules:
Be aware of New Zealand’s road rules, and be prepared for diverse driving conditions. Remember, driving is on the left side of the road in New Zealand.
6. Equipment and Supplies:
Plan for what supplies you’ll need for your journey. This could include kitchen equipment, bedding, camping gear, and more, depending on the facilities provided in your rented camper van.
7. Booking and Pricing:
Prices for camper van rentals vary based on the season, type of van, and the rental company. It’s advisable to book in advance, especially during peak season.
8. Environmental Stewardship:
As a camper van traveller, respect New Zealand’s beautiful natural environment. This includes proper waste disposal, respecting local wildlife, and abiding by fire safety rules.
When travelling through New Zealand in a camper van, freedom and flexibility are yours to enjoy, but it’s crucial to remember the associated responsibilities. Your actions can significantly impact the very landscapes that make New Zealand such an appealing destination.
Self-contained camper vans, capable of managing waste for a minimum of three days, present broader camping possibilities. Yet, ‘freedom camping’—the practice of camping anywhere you choose—is not advocated due to the potential environmental harm. Neglecting proper waste management can have detrimental effects on the environment and can lead to penalties exceeding NZ$200.
New Zealand provides numerous designated camping sites to encourage responsible travel. With thousands of campsites across the country, including hundreds managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC), travellers have many options. DOC sites offer affordable alternatives to ‘freedom camping’, often costing less than $12 a night, and ensure environmentally conscious camping practices.
Ultimately, while renting a self-contained camper van provides extraordinary opportunities to explore New Zealand, it’s vital to consider the responsibilities that accompany this freedom. Respect the environment, the local communities, and fellow travellers to ensure the ongoing preservation of New Zealand’s remarkable landscapes for generations to come.
Booking the Ferry for your Camper Van
For camper van travellers aiming to experience both the North and South Islands of New Zealand, scheduling a ferry crossing is a crucial part of the adventure. The voyage across the Cook Strait, a scenic channel separating the two islands, is a captivating experience, providing a unique perspective on the stunning landscapes of Wellington Harbour and the Marlborough Sounds.
With a journey time of approximately 3.5 hours, two primary ferry operators, Bluebridge and Inter-Islander, facilitate this crucial inter-island connection. Bluebridge conducts three daily sailings each way, seven days a week, while the Inter-Islander provides four daily crossings in each direction.
Both operators pride themselves on offering more than just transportation. During the crossing, passengers can enjoy a range of dining options with meals prepared onboard, access high-speed WiFi, and watch movies, all while taking in the breathtaking views of the Cook Strait. For travellers desiring a more private setting, pre-bookable cabins with ensuite facilities are available. You need to book well in advance, especially if you plan to cross in summer.
Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide general advice about camper van rentals in New Zealand. It doesn’t constitute financial or legal advice. Readers should seek independent professional advice before making any financial decisions.