New Zealand is an extraordinary place to explore in a campervan. There are endless beautiful vistas to enjoy in every direction you turn and travelling New Zealand in a campervan has been one of the best experiences of my life!
This article is a combination of advice from travel bloggers who have all experienced travelling New Zealand in a campervan. They have suggested some of the best spots to see throughout the country to ensure you have the ultimate New Zealand campervan trip! Let’s get stuck in.
Travelling New Zealand in a campervan: What you need to know
Travelling New Zealand by campervan is one of the best things you could do. Outlined below is some helpful information for your New Zealand camper trip including freedom camping rules, accommodation options, renting a campervan, ferry crossing, where to find necessities, packing list and a few handy need to know tips!
Freedom camping rules
Freedom camping is not what it used to be in New Zealand. It used to be acceptable to pull off the side of the road almost anywhere and park up for the night. Now it is likely most spots you want to camp are restricted such as in central Wanaka for example.
Signage is really good in New Zealand and you will know if you are in a no-camping zone. I highly suggest downloading the app Campermate and learning how to use it to find legitimate camping spots!
Tip: If you are a self-contained vehicle you are able to camp at a lot more sites throughout New Zealand. If you are unsure what I am talking about, check out my article all about Self Containment requirements in NZ and how to get your van certified.
There are lots of camping options available in New Zealand. In some places, you park up to a million-dollar view without the price tag. My favourite way of finding places to stay in a campervan is by the app Campermate. A safe option if you are looking at camping in towns and cities is top 10-holiday parks, most places in NZ have one and they are usually pretty affordable and comfortable.
Renting a campervan
There are so many campervan rental companies to choose from throughout New Zealand. If you are unsure who to go with or have no idea where to start I have you covered with a comprehensive article all about finding cheap campervan rentals in New Zealand!
My favourite option after doing a lot of research and picking a company to explore for myself is Spaceships campervan rentals! I love them for price, location and comfort. Check out their website and latest deals here!
The Ferry Crossing
New Zealand campervan travel is incomplete without a ferry crossing (pack the sea-legs!). There are two Ferry companies running in New Zealand. Interislander and Bluebridge. Both companies are able to take your vehicle and are similar in price however, I have found Bluebridge to be slightly cheaper when booking in advance.
Just remember you will need to pay for your vehicle as well as yourself and if you have a pet they have to stay in the vehicle.
Campervan New Zealand tips: Finding Necessities
By necessities, I mean things like water, toilets, laundry, food, showers, gas and dump stations while on the road.
The best way to find all of the above is on the app Campermate (seriously I am obsessed, I use it every month when I need to find a water fountain or public toilets in a town I’m not familiar with). I filter for what I need and zoom in or out on my location to find how far away things are that I want. As a rule of thumb, most towns have supermarket/s and these are usually called Pak n Save, Countdown, New World, Four Square or Fresh Choice.
As for laundry. Lots of camping grounds have laundry options however there are quite a few laundry mats around (again, I find these on the Campermate app). Just don’t leave your washing unattended because you don’t know what could happen to it! (We brought a cheap clothes hanger from the Warehouse that goes over a door in your house, it worked a treat on our van door when we shut it- see below).
Toilets are well signposted in most towns and cities. (Also found on the Campermate app!).
Water was tricky to find to full up my tanks. Some dump stations have water. (Dump stations are in some towns usually at petrol stations, again the best way to find them is to filter for them on Campermate, or ask at a local garage). But not all dump stations provide clean drinking water. I recommend finding a public water fountain usually near public toilets or at a gas station.
Showers… Some public toilets have showers with them and some free campsites have cold showers! It’s best to try a dip in the sea or freshwater as you are never too far away from a water source in NZ! But my best tip is to pay to access a swimming pool and use their shower or just pay for a shower. The cost is usually between $2-$5. Swimming pools are found in most towns!
New Zealand campervan tips
Here are a few tips and things to keep in mind that I have found from my time on the road!
- New Zealand roads are windy and narrow at times. Extra care is needed driving a campervan in New Zealand! Especially through tourist hot spots like Tekapo, Wanaka, Queenstown, Milford Sound and the Coromandel! Drive to the conditions and be careful of ONE LANED bridges, there are heaps of them!!!
- There is A LOT of driving involved. Take regular breaks!
- Wifi at camping grounds sucks. The best I found was at McDonald’s or a local cafe. Or 2 degrees mobile do a free 1 hour of data if you are on one of their plans!
- Parking a campervan is tricky. I suggest taking a block of wood or something similar to balance your van on uneven ground.
- Plan your petrol stops! There is nothing worse than running out of gas…
- Campervan life is not always easy. Be prepared for things to go wrong! And know that it is okay and part of the journey.
What to pack for Campervanning in New Zealand
I have a comprehensive article on everything to pack in your campervan holiday in New Zealand. Click through to read the post here. Or follow the form below and I will send you a copy of my packing list!
But quickly, just remember to pack light and compact. Space is limited in a campervan and you don’t want to be taking unnecessary items. If you are travelling for 2+ weeks only take enough clothes for 2 weeks. And remember to pack a rain jacket!
Travelling in a campervan in the North Island!
Outlined below are some awesome recommendations from travel bloggers about the best places to explore while travelling the North Island in a campervan!
Keep in mind this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything through them, I will get a small referral fee and you will be supporting me and my blog at no extra cost to you, so thank you!
The Coromandel Peninsula
Suggested by Cass from Cassie The Hag
The Coromandel Peninsula is a must-see destination due it’s unique natural attractions. The most famous of which, Cathedral Cove, is a giant cathedral-like arch that dominates the white sandy beach below. Impressive rock formations jut out from the cool blue sea, and snorkelling, boat trips and kayaking are all popular here in the Summer. Even in the Winter, the walk from Hahei Beach to Cathedral Cove is a wonderful way to take in this stunning coastline.
Other things to do in the Coromandel include hiking the Pinnacles, taking in the beauty of New Chum Beach and watching the sunset from the top of Mt Paku. The Paku Hill Summit Walk is only 45-minutes return and you get a fantastic, panoramic view for minimal effort.
Hot Water Beach is another must for your itinerary and it is known worldwide for its famous Dig It Yourself hot tubs – thermal water runs below the surface of the sand, so if you dig a hole and climb in you get your very own beachside spa. There are many campervan parks and campgrounds in the area to choose from, some with great holiday facilities, and other affordable sites right next to the beaches.
Suggested by Samantha from A Truthful Traveler
A campervan trip in New Zealand is not complete without a stop to the country’s geothermal sights. Located closer to Auckland than Wellington on the North Island, this area has a volcanic history that can still be experienced today.
The first stop is located off the main highway, up Tarawera Road. Blue and Green Lake are named for their colours that shimmer in the sunlight. With traditional Māori names of Lake Tikitapu and Lake Rotokākahi, these lakes that lie within a volcanic caldera are the perfect place to enjoy a break. There is a van accessible viewpoint halfway between the two, and the area is surrounded by beautiful trees that look like a palm/fern hybrid. Take note that Green Lake is sacred and the lake itself is inaccessible to the public.
Joining back to the main road and continuing South will take you to Wai-O-Tapu. New Zealand’s version of Yellowstone, this hotbed of continued geothermal activity means you can experience geysers and colourful pools up close. Park your campervan in the parking lot, and take a stroll through the park’s raised walkways. You will get up close with bubbling pools of different colours, a lake, craters and even a few caves. Don’t forget to schedule in time to visit nearby Lady Knox Geyser, which has scheduled eruptions throughout the day!
Rotorua is a tiny slice of North Island, but there is no shortage of things to do! This area is the perfect day trip on a campervan adventure!!
For accommodation options in the area try one of the following: All Seasons Holiday Park. Check out the prices and latest deals here. Other good options include: Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park- check out prices and deals here. And lastly, Rotorua Top 10 Holiday Park- check out the prices and latest deals here.
Red Beach, Auckland
Suggested by Maureen Spencer from “So Many Places! So Little Time!” – Online travel inspiration.
Often you will pick up your campervan in one of the big cities and may need some time to get organized and check that you have everything you need for a hassle-free motorhome trip and/or there are things you want to do or see in that city before you head off on your tour. It can be difficult to find campervan parking in the big cities.
We suggest that in Auckland you stay at the Red Beach Top 10 Holiday Park. It is a great stop off when you are heading north or returning from the north. It is located about 30 to 40 minutes’ drive north of the actual city or 45 minutes to an hour’s drive from Auckland Airport.
The very pretty Red Beach is a couple of minutes walk away and Orewa township, which has a great cafe hub, is about 10 minutes drive or a 30-minute walk and has an excellent beach and estuary boardwalk for either walking or biking (Bikes can be rented in Orewa).
There is an excellent express bus service from nearby Silverdale into the central city if you want to do some city sightseeing but don’t want the hassle of driving in the city and finding expensive parking.
Have a great trip!
Suggested by Nicholas from Rambling Feet
Hokianga is a place you ought not to miss on your way back to Auckland from Northland. The sea carves its way deep into the mainland in this region and over thousands of years, it has formed some spectacular landscapes.
Sitting at the top of my list of things to see in the area are the Koutu Beach boulders. These giant round boulders (up to three metres wide) dot the coastline beneath the pines and cabbage trees. It’s best accessed at low tide from the car park on Waione Road, which branches off from Koutu Loop Road; keep walking along the beach and you’ll find even more boulders, and at the end, you can walk back to the van along the road. If you can’t get to the beach at the right time and plan to stay the night, however, you can’t go wrong with the campsite at Wairere Boulders Reserve about an hour away.
The well-maintained trails take anywhere between one and three hours and along the way, there are surreal basalt formations and even a little swimming hole. It helps that the campsite owners are very hospitable too. Best of all, these sights are only a short drive from State Highway 12, yet you are less likely to rub shoulders with the coachloads of Auckland daytrippers. Despite it being the start of peak season, I never encountered more than a handful of fellow visitors. It makes taking the longer route instead of SH1 worthwhile.
Suggested by Alex from Weekend Getaways NZ
Thanks to its location, Northland makes for a great mini road trip from Auckland. It’s not only known to be mild year-round, but Northland also boasts some of the best beaches for strolls for days (and you could take this quite literal).
Three of my favourite Northland campsite are perfectly located for a tour around the peninsula. Starting off with the Uretiti Beach DOC campsite, just south of Whangarei. It couldn’t be easier to reach as it’s literally on Highway 1. It’s a big, grassy campsite with direct access to Uretiti Beach. Being a DOC campsite, there are no fancy amenities apart from toilets and hot showers but it’s a great spot for stargazing. The free Waipu glowworm caves are nearby, too, so don’t miss out on visiting them!
Up in the Bay of Islands, in the oldest town of new New Zealand, is Russell Top 10 holiday park (check out the latest prices and deals). Here, you get all the amenities you could think of, plus amazing views over the Bay of Islands right from your campervan! Russell was once known as the Hellhole of the Pacific and New Zealand’s first licensed pub can be found there, amongst other very picturesque historic houses.
And last but not least, Trounson Kauri Park DOC campsite on the west side of the Northland peninsula. It’s a basic DOC campsite and quite small, so make sure to be there early. The campsite is located near Tane Mahuta, New Zealand’s largest known kauri tree. At night, you can go on a glowworm walk right from the campsite and when it’s quiet, you can sometimes hear the wild kiwi birds call.
The Kapiti Coast
Suggested by Jub from ChurNewZealand.com
Less than an hour from Wellington is the Kapiti Coast, consisting of a few towns along the State Highway 1. The Kapiti Coast is a great spot to visit to spend time before leaving to catch the ferry to the South Island, or if you’ve just arrived in the north. The smaller towns make driving a campervan less stressful than in Wellington.
Heading north, Paekakariki is the first town on the Kapiti Coast with a couple of cafes on its main street. It’s home to the Paekakariki Escarpment Track, one of the marquees walks near Wellington. For the adrenaline junkies, there’s the Fly by Wire, an epic bungy jumping alternative. And you can park up at Queen Elizabeth Park for the night. With nice walking trails and backing onto the beachfront, it’s a great spot to relax.
Travelling the South Island in a campervan!
A New Zealand campervan tour is not complete without a trip to the South Island! Outlined below are some epic recommendations from travel bloggers about the best places to explore while travelling the South Island in a campervan!
Visit the Abel Tasman park & try kayaking!
Suggested by Lotte from Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog
One of the highlights of our New Zealand itinerary was kayaking in Abel Tasman park. This beautiful National Park is located in the Northwest of the South Island, about one hour driving from Nelson. There are two routes to get to the village of Marahau, where you can find the entrance to the Abel Tasman National Park.
Option 1: from Motueka, drive north on the SH60 until you see a road on the right (Riwaka – Kaiteriteri Road). Follow this scenic drive to Kaiteriteri, then continue on the winding road to Marahau.
Option 2: instead of taking a right to Kaiteriteri, you turn left and then take an immediate right onto Riwaka – Sandy Bay Road, this leads to Marahau as well.
Before setting out on your kayaking trip you’ll be given a thorough safety instruction. Be sure to bring some food and plenty of water with you, as well as sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. Also, keep in mind the wind can be quite strong so don’t be tempted to kayak too far with the wind in your back as you’ll have a hard time getting back.
Kayaking is one of the best things to do at Abel Tasman Park as you get to admire the park from different vantage points. If you are lucky and the sun is out, the ocean has a brilliant blue colour and the golden beaches look even more inviting. Don’t spend all your time in your kayak, also be sure to hike up to the top of Watering Cove to admire the beautiful view of the Astrolabe and the Northern part of the park.
Suggested by Mikaela from Voyageur Tripper
The Southern Scenic Route is a particularly beautiful drive and cuts right through The Catlins. Along the way, you’ll find stops for waterfalls, beaches, lighthouses and more. Some of my favourite stops include the beautiful lighthouse at Nugget Point, Cathedral Caves (sea caves you can walk inside) and the petrified forest at Curio Bay.
Other notable stops are Slope Point, the most southern tip of the South Island, and McLean Falls, a 22 m waterfall. The Catlins is also a great place to find wildlife: penguins, seals and sea lions roam numerous stops along the coast. (You can find more notable stops in this guide to The Catlins.)
The Catlins is best explored as a road trip, and there’s no better way to travel than by campervan. Nearly all of the stops have excellent parking with wide parking spots, which will be especially important if you are navigating New Zealand by campervan. In addition, there are several campsites (both privately owned and operated by the Department of Conservation) where you can safely camp overnight.
Have a look at Catlins NewHaven Holiday park near Surat Bay- check out the prices and deals here. Or try Thomas’s Catlins Lodge and Campground in Owaka (just a 20-minute drive from Purakanui Falls)- check out the prices and deals here.
Suggested by Erin from Never Ending Voyage
Nelson is a small city at the top of the South Island that’s well worth adding to your New Zealand campervan trip. It’s only a few hours from Picton where the ferry from Wellington arrives and you can stop at the famous Marlborough wine region on the way.
The city is most known as a gateway to the stunning Abel Tasman National Park (about an hour north), but there are plenty of other things to do in Nelson.
In the compact centre, you can sample craft beer, browse art galleries, buy locally made products at the Saturday market, or walk up to the Centre of New Zealand for a superb view of the city.
Beautiful nature is easily accessible and nearby you can stroll along the Maitai River, hike up the Grampian hills, and relax on Tahunanui Beach. Further afield there are wineries, breweries, berry farms (where you can pick your own berries in summer), many mountain biking trails, and the gorgeous Nelson Lakes National Park.
There are a number of holiday parks to stay whether you want to be by the beach or next to a nature reserve. For a quiet location, head to Cable Bay, a 20-minute drive from Nelson where you can hike, kayak, and swim.
Have a look at Nelson City top 10 Holiday park in the heart of Nelson- check out the prices and deals here. Or the beloved Tahuna Beach Kiwi Holiday Park and Motel located in the suburb of Tahunanui- check out the prices and deals here.
Suggested by Lauren from Ponytail-Pretty.
If you’re looking to get out in nature and off the beaten track, Peel Forest in the mid-Canterbury region is a great place to stop on your New Zealand campervan trip. Only 15 minutes off the main road, this hidden gem is a lovely quiet spot and has 2 campgrounds, the Peel Forest campground and Clarke Flat, so there is plenty of room.
The Peel Forest campground has 35 powered sites and 47 tent sites with access to cooking facilities, toilets, showers and safe drinking water. The sound of the nearby Rangitata River is so peaceful and sets the perfect ambience for a relaxing evening. Note that the Peel Forest campground is closed May to mid-September but basic campsites at Clarke Flat are open for use year-round.
The village isn’t huge but it has a cafe and it is easy to drive around in the area. Along with activities like kayaking, rafting and horseback riding, there are plenty of trails to explore from easy walks to day hikes. One of the most popular walking tracks is the Big Tree walk which takes about 40 minutes to complete. This walk features incredible massive 1000-year-old Totora trees which are really a sight to see.
Peel forest also has one of the best day hikes in the mid-Canterbury region, Little Mt Peel. If you’re up for a challenge, this hike is well worth the effort with epic views over the Canterbury plains and out to the Southern Alps.
Suggested by Leah from Officer Travels
No New Zealand road trip is complete without a trip to Wanaka. Just an hour away from Queenstown, this stunning lakeside town is a bustling mix of kiwi’s and international visitors, all wanting to get a slice of its beauty. Lake Wanaka is surrounded by the southern alps, it’s so beautiful here that you’ll probably find really hard to leave once you arrive – I know we did!
Popular things to do in Wanaka include completing the 6-hour return hike up Roys Peak is at the top of most visitors to-do list, as is snapping a photo of the insta-famous Wanaka Tree. Once you’ve done this we highly suggest visiting the Lavender Farm, taking a tour to Mou Wahu Island (An island with a lake, that’s in a lake on an island…) and watching a film in the quirky Paradiso Cinema for a unique look at a different side of Wanaka.
Wanaka is a really outdoorsy kind of place; in winter there are several ski fields nearby and in summer you’ll find everyone either cycling the nearby tracks or hanging out on the lake. Grab a paddleboard, hire a kayak and join them!
It’s worth noting that freedom camping in town is strictly prohibited but there are some really nice campsites on the outskirts of town that I’m sure will fit your budget. Our favourites include Albert Town and Lake Outlet Holiday Park. Both of these are dirt cheap with stunning views of the lake or river and border some local walks.
Suggested by Susan Gan from Thrifty after 50
Milford Sound on the South Island of New Zealand (near Queenstown) is a fantastic destination for a camper van road trip as there are long windy roads and breathtaking views around every corner.
The drive along the Te Anau – Milford Highway could be done in two hours but if you plan to take it slow and enjoy the journey then don’t be surprised if it takes you at least 6-8 hours. There are so many places along the way that are worth you pulling over and spending time to explore.
You can take a short easy walk through the forest to Lake Mistletoe or stop off and see the beautiful Mirror Lakes where on a breeze free day the mountains behind are reflected perfectly in the mirror like surface.
If you are looking for something more challenging then the Key Summit Alpine Walk will take you about 90 minutes to hike from The Divide carpark. You will be rewarded for your efforts with stunning panoramic views of the Hollyford Valley.
Monkey Creek is a popular place to stop for a photo as the creek meanders its way through a beautiful little valley with snow-capped mountains. Whatever you do, don’t leave your possessions unattended as the native Kea bird is curious and mischievous!
As you wait in the queue to travel through the Homer Tunnel you can get out your camper van and admire the Mt Talbot Glacier which dwarves all who approach it. When you finally reach your destination you will be rewarded with the best view of them all, the stunning Milford Sound….which actually isn’t a sound but a fiord!
There is no camping in Milford Sound but there are plenty of DOC campsites along the road. Check them out here. Or try staying in Te Anau at the Top 10 Holiday Park and Motels- check out the latest prices and deals here.
Suggested by Jennifer Parkes from Backyard Travel Family: Active Family Travel Specialists in New Zealand
Lake Tekapo is an amazing glacial lake, about halfway on your road trip between Christchurch and Queenstown. It is an absolute must stop as I am sure you will never believe the lake really is this colour.
You cannot freedom camp in the central Lake Tekapo area, but there is a campsite with the most amazing lakeviews that will set your heart alive. Lake Tekapo Motels and Holiday Park is also right next to Tekapo Springs. It is a great place to visit for the whole family, with hot pools all year round and some great seasonal activities.
In winter you can ice skate and snow tube, and in the summer they have a huge water slide and inflatable play area. It really is a lot of fun for young and old. They also run stargazing tours at night, after the hot pools have closed, so you will get a private soak and gaze at the Dark Sky Reserve.
If you are after views, then take the Mt John Summit track, a 1-2 hour walk up to a beautiful viewpoint over Lake Tekapo. You must see the lake from above, as it really intensifies the colour. While you are up here, pop over to the Observatory cafe for a coffee with a view.
Suggested by Anna from Anna Meanders
The Maruia valley is the perfect stopover if you’re venturing out to or from the West Coast. It’s an easy and extraordinarily scenic three-hour drive from Christchurch, tucked away in the Lewis Pass that runs through the Southern Alps of the South Island, east to west.
In the Māori language, Maruia means a place of shelter and is where those gathering the sacred Pounamu greenstone from the West Coast would stop to rest in the bubbling hot springs on their long journey back across the island. Many years have passed since those days, but Maruia is still a popular stopping point to relax in the natural thermal waters and explore the long meandering trails of old growth beech forest, abundant with native New Zealand birdlife, secret waterfalls and misty mountain views.
Maruia is a pretty wonderful choice for a camper van stop thanks to an abundance of places to stop and spend a night or two along the way. The Boyle campsite in the Kānuka forest, Marble Hill campsite and the Deer Valley Conservation campsite are all Department of Conservation campsites in the area providing campervan access with numerous hiking trails nearby to each, and if you’d like a touch of luxury for the night then the Maruia Hot Springs sell self-contained camping (unpowered) sites that come with 24 hr access to their ultra relaxing sauna and hot springs bathing area.
The Maruia valley area is a haven for rare wildlife and is surrounded by hiking trails, ranging from quick twenty minute loops through to the magnificent 66km St James Walkway which takes five days to walk. A perfect stop for nature lovers, hikers, or just those who love a good soak and retreat!
Suggested by Holly from Globeblogging
Nestled on the Otago Peninsula by the picturesque harbour, the second-largest city on New Zealand’s South Island may seem slightly out of place. Settled by the Scottish in 1848, the name Dunedin is derived from the Gaelic for Edinburgh, and much of the city is still reminiscent of the old-world style brought by its Scottish settlers. Both Highway 1 and Highway 87 pass through Dunedin, making it a great place to stop by on a road trip.
While it’s definitely worth taking a stroll through the city itself, particularly the grand old train station, one of the best things to do in Dunedin is undoubtedly paying a visit to Larnach Castle.
Modelled after a country homestead in Sussex, the architecture of the finished building also included gothic and Australian colonial influences still evident today. After falling into disrepair it has been painstakingly restored to its original glory, even featuring the original furnishings and woodwork when they have been found. While you cannot stay in the castle itself, you are able to book an amazing three-course dinner in the ballroom and accommodation is available on the grounds, including in the original stables.
Even without staying the night, it is worth the visit to stroll through the beautiful old building and the grounds overlooking the Otago Harbour, and the view from the castle tower is worth the climb.
As for places to stay have a look at Portobello Village Tourist Park on the stunning Otago Peninsular- check out the latest prices and deals here. Or try the Dunedin Holiday Park in the heart of Dunedin- latest prices and deals here.
Suggested by Caroline from CK Travels
Mount Cook National Park has some of the south island’s most incredible landscapes and is also home to New Zealand’s highest mountain. The area has several scenic walks/hikes and is a great spot to park up your campervan for a few days.
Mount Cook village is the main place to base yourself and is located a short drive off Highway 8 (approximately halfway between Queenstown and Christchurch). There are many walks are of varying lengths but the Hooker Valley Track is the most popular short walking track due to its easy access along the Hooker River and it’s incredible mountain and lake scenery. The trail is approximately 5 kilometres long (around 3-4 hours return) and suitable for all levels of fitness.
Fun activities you can book whilst in Mount Cook include heli hiking – where you take a short helicopter ride up to the top of the Tasman glacier for the ultimate hiking experience. Alternatively, you take a Tasman Glacier lake boat trip, which takes you up close and personal to some large icebergs in the Tasman lake.
Glentanner Park Centre has 60 spacious powered sites that you can book online, whilst the White Horse Hill Campground offers 60 non-powered sites for campervans on a first-come-first-serve basis (the site does not take reservations).
Suggested by Nadine from Le Long Weekend
Akaroa is a small town on the South Island with a unique and intriguing history. Originally discovered by French sailor Jean François, it later became an English settlement after the Treaty of Waitangi. However, the French settlers decided to stay in town, and to this day, Akaroa still carries a distinctive French flair in the way of its street names and architecture. Getting there is an easy detour or day trip from Christchurch, taking just over an hour to reach from the Southern city.
The drive is spectacular, if somewhat slow going around the twisty road. Visit for the French culture, the beaches, and the unique attractions. Among its other accomplishments, it is the only place you can take a tour to swim with New Zealand’s native Hector’s dolphins. They take refuge in the nearby marine reserve and the harbour is home to a resident population.
After spending the day at the beach, swimming in the harbour, or hiking in the hills, be sure to grab a meal at one of the trendy cafes that line the waterfront. And if you’re visiting in October, check out the annual French Fest to take part in the Festivities. It’s a celebration that lasts all weekend! Definitely add this location to your New Zealand campervan route!
For accommodation try the Akaroa top 10-holiday park for incredible views and its location- check out the prices and deals here.
By Sinead from Map Made Memories
The Moeraki Boulders on Koekohe Beach in the South Island make a great stop on a campervan road trip around New Zealand. The unusual, perfectly spherical boulders are easily accessed off State Highway 1 and make a great stop on a journey along the east coast to or from Christchurch.
The boulders are concretions, formed from mud, silt and clay that became cemented in calcite during the Palaeocene era. The boulders took as long as 4 – 5 million years to grow to their large shape and their hard exterior has protected them from erosion. There are still boulders that lie undiscovered amongst the eroding coastal cliffs around this area.
The long, sandy Koekohe Beach is littered with around 50 of these unusual formations which my son likened to the Death Star in Star Wars! Some of the legally protected boulders are perfectly intact, like enormous sentinel marbles, whilst other boulders are fractured or broken allowing visitors to observe the marine life that has made their home amongst the boulder’s rubble. A visit to the Moeraki Boulders will only take one hour but the lovely unspoilt beach makes an ideal picnic spot and offers the chance to stretch your legs after your campervan journey.