Ron LaughlinThe Ultimate New Zealand Travel Guide
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There are many choices of camper vans/motorhomes to hire for your travel in New Zealand. After years booking hundreds for visitors such as yourself I have narrowed it down to the ones I have full confidence in for their quality in vehicles, service and economy.
My major comment to everyone is you are about to spend a lot of hard earned dollars to come a very long way to be able to experience and appreciate one of the finest natural places on earth. The one place where you should not try to save is on the camper van you plan to use. The heartache, hardships and time lost is always attributed to the failure of the vehicle one uses to go around the country.
New Zealand has extremely well maintained roads but it is a country where 80-90% of the travel is on mountainous terrain with twists and turns everywhere. Hardly a flat straight road anywhere especially where the traveler wishes to go.
Most of it is quite remote also and a breakdown can be a long time consuming problem.
For instance I had brakes go out in Milford Sound. It was two days of harassment getting back out of there...........not to mention the 2 weeks it took to get back on the road (but this was my own bus so the time of delay wouldn’t be the same as the rental companies get you a replacement immediately).
The roads in the mountainous regions that twist and turn are also have very steep valleys along side. One does not need to be told how it feels to have a safe vehicle when moving along these areas.
Camper Vans and Motor Homes in New Zealand - An Overview
Some of the most sought after information is the rental and use of camper vans and/or motor homes. Perhaps with a brief outline I can provide some clarification on what is available, what it means and how does one go about knowing what to do.
First I must say I am very biased about seeing New Zealand with your own self-contained vehicle as opposed to a bus tour or even a car. I do realise many cannot or do not wish to go that way but for those who do perhaps the following will help:
Why is it a good way to see the country? New Zealand is a truly scenic wonderland almost everywhere you drive. The opportunity to stop and relax in comfort in a unit large enough to prepare lunch or a meal or just sit by the beach and have a drink far removed from anyone but you is readily available. The window space is greater and the ability to move around is helpful. Who wants to be crammed in the back seat of a car with small windows? Plus staying at holiday parks is less expensive than motels and who wants to keep packing and unpacking every day?
New Zealand Holiday Parks are some of the finest in the world being spacious, clean and tidy for the better part, providing parking spots with a pleasant outlook and have water and electric hookups for each unit. All have more than adequate waste disposal facilities to alleviate any worries in that department.
I note almost daily new companies sprouting up renting vans. All I can say is most of them have not proven themselves as reliable. If I were spending thousands of dollars to take that once in a lifetime trip to New Zealand I surely wouldn’t gamble on poor equipment to get me around. I would like to know I am working with a company that will back up any problems that may go wrong. Provide equipment I shouldn’t have to worry about. This is based upon my five solid years on the road every day and being with people at the holiday parks asking them questions on their rental equipment. Don’t take a chance just because one is cheap. You don’t need the aggravation of vehicle problems.
Yes a lot of companies are buying the vehicles taken out of service from the top companies and renting them cheap. Be careful! Work with reliable people and you won’t spoil your holiday.
So what should you rent? What will work for you?
First there are generally four sizes of rental units:
1.Small 2 berth camper van with sleeping only
2. 2/3 berth camper van with kitchen & facilities
3. 4 berth motor home w/total facilities
4. 6 berth motor home w/total facilities.
.............................and then variations with these but these are the basics.
If you do not need much room, feel you could drive a normal camper van easier as opposed to a larger motor home then the camper van may be the option. The first one is no more than a station wagon without head room. The rest you can stand up inside and move abound.(6’+ head room)
Most require making beds at night except the motor homes that have permanent double beds over the cab. The camper vans come with hot and cold water, shower, toilet, full kitchen with crockery, cutlery, etc. Check out the companies for the full specs. This is just to give you an idea.
The motor homes are deluxe in their specs and really provide a home away from home. I find they are a luxury way to travel with room and storage never having to worry about the clothes, luggage, etc. Perfect for traveling families or two or three couples and for a couple who enjoy more room.
Saying all that the ability to be more flexible on your trip is a real bonus but if you park up each night at a holiday park the shower is generally redundant unless during the day you took a swim in the sea or get really dirty on a tramp or the weather got you wet and cold (heaven forbid) and a good hot shower was handy. Having a toilet handy sometimes is a real help!