New Zealand South Island Road Trip | Pt. 2
Matt and I are definitely go with the flow kind of people, however we knew that this trip was unique and would require a lot of planning and research if we wanted to see it all and not end up stranded on a mountain with no place to park our camper van. So here is part two of my New Zealand content where I wanted to give you the details of our itinerary, accomodation, and additional tips for this type of trip to help anyone who is planning to see this incredible country for themselves!
First off, campervaning is absolutely the best way to see the country. We were able to adjust our plans according to weather, road/trail closures, and places we wanted to either cut out or go back to with ease because we had the van and essentially could sleep anywhere. Keep in mind this means you’ll be driving on the opposite side of the road and car if you’re from the U.S. We hired the Jucy Condo camper van because it was affordable and had good reviews. It was nothing fancy, but easy to drive, had a stove and refrigerator which saved us money on meals, and was the perfect size for two people. The Jucy vans are these big bright lime green vehicles that can’t be missed, so every time we passed another Jucy on the road we had fun being absolute dorks and waving to them over-excitedly!
In New Zealand they have what’s called “freedom camping” which means that as long as you have a fully self-contained vehicle you can park at any campsite along the roads that allow freedom camping. The signs are pretty clear on where it is allowed and where it’s not, just make sure you have cash with you to leave in the box otherwise you’ll risk getting a ticket (I believe our freedom campsites were $10 or less).
Your trip will either begin in Queenstown or Christchurch as that’s where the South Island’s International airports are located. We decided to opt out of seeing Christchurch because of the earthquakes that have destroyed much of the city. We began and ended in Queenstown which was slightly more expensive, but wonderful to have Queenstown as the hub of our trip. The longest drives were just 3 hours and our route looked like this:
Queenstown >>> Milford Sound >>> Te Anau >>> Wanaka >>> Mount Cook >>> Lake Tekapo >>> Queenstown
Queenstown: Queenstown Top 10 Holiday Park
We did one night in a hotel at Central Ridge Boutique Hotel. It was affordable and nothing fancy, but we liked that it was close to the city center and we could walk to everything.
Te Anau: Te Anau Top 10 Holiday Park
Mount Cook: Glentanner Park Centre
Lake Tekapo: Lake Tekapo Motels and Holiday Park
Other tips and things you should know:
The currency exchange is in our favor (currently 1NZD to .68USD)
You can expect to pay close to $100 NZD for gas every 2-3 days. Prepare ahead of time because there usually aren’t gas stations in the national parks or right off the roads. You really need to be in a town to find gas and on the South Island towns are sparse!
Weather obviously depends on the season, but we went in spring and had a wide variety of temperatures. Bring layers and prepare for rain/snow!
Good, waterproof hiking boots are highly recommended even just for short hikes / paved walks
New Zealand tourist season is about Mid- October through Early- May. We were there about two weeks before the busy season and even though it was a bit cold we found had no troubles with anything booking up or selling out.
We used hot water bottles by our feet each night or on our laps when we were hanging out in the van to keep us warm. Life savers!
Pack baby wipes! So convenient for wiping up after a hike, a quick face wash in the morning, or cleaning up the stovetop area.
We cooked most meals in our van to save money! Four Square and Pak N’ Save are two common grocery stores that you’ll see in town.
Use duffle bags rather than hard shell suitcases for in the camper van.
Learn what utensils and dinnerware your van company provides you with.
Bring card games for downtime (you probably won’t have data ;))
I hope this was helpful! Be sure to pin both New Zealand posts for future reference! And if you’re not planning on seeing New Zealand or already have I hope you at least enjoy the pics! Believe it or not, all of our photos from this trip and my time in Sydney have been shot on my iPhone X!