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britz summer campervan coastline

10 Top Tips for Summer Campervan Trips

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Are you planning a classic Kiwi summer holiday? There’s no better way to enjoy New Zealand than from the front seat of a campervan. So, if you’re looking to experience the best New Zealand has to offer, consider renting a campervan. Van travel gives you the freedom to explore what makes Aotearoa such a bucket-list destination. We’re here to help you have a successful summer campervan trip around New Zealand.  In this guide, we’re listing our top tips for a campervan holiday in New Zealand.

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1. Book in advance

First things first, ensure you book well in advance during this busy period, to avoid disappointment. New Zealanders take full advantage of the closedown period over Christmas and New Year and flock to the sunniest spots of the country. This is the peak travel time, with more people on the roads and the demand for RV rentals is at its highest. It pays to book in advance to avoid disappointment. The last thing you want to do is waste time and money planning a trip, only to find out our campervans are fully booked. 

Campervan travel opens up a whole new level of freedom and spontaneity, but planning is still an important part of a successful road trip. Letting the road guide you to unknown destinations  may sound idyllic, but you don’t want to end up missing out on some of your bucket list travel spots, adventures and places to stay. Over the summer, it’s a good idea to book ahead.

We’re not saying you need to organise every day down to the last minute. But, having a loose plan will set you up for a successful summer campervan trip.

2. Consider an air-conditioned campervan

Taking the weather into account and choosing the right campervan for your adventures are important aspects of any holiday planning. Your campervan rental will be your home on wheels for the length of your trip, and over December, January and February the temperatures are between 20 and 30°C / 68-86°F. Fortunately, all our campervans have air-conditioning in the main cab and our 4-berth Explorer and Discovery motorhomes both have insect screens. For outdoor summer cooking, the 2-berth Britz Venturer and Venturer Plus include a BBQ and the Explorers, Discoveries and 6-berth Frontier motorhomes all have awnings.

3. Download the thl Roadtrip app

The key to planning a successful road trip is the thl RoadtripApp. Although you’ll often get great tips from fellow campervanners, this handy app is a goldmine of detailed information. It’s filled with tips and other van trippers’ feedback. It will show you the nearest powered campgrounds or freedom camping spots, petrol stations, dump stations, supermarkets and so much more. You’ll be able to take into account how many hours you want to drive each day while planning your route around activities and any must-sees along the way.  The thl Roadtrip App even works offline, so if you are out of reception, which does happen in New Zealand, you’ll still be able to see where you’re going.  We recommend that if you can, you should really plan for a few no-driving days, so you can make the most of your trip.

4. Stay hydrated

Make sure you drink plenty of  water  throughout your daily adventures to stay well hydrated. This is especially important if you’re enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, or kayaking. If you’re planning on adventuring off the beaten track, remember to take a sufficient water supply with you. Although it might be tempting, we don’t recommend you drink from streams and rivers you stumble upon.

5. Don’t forget your layers

You may be familiar with the song “Four seasons in one day” written by Kiwis. And, they’re not wrong. The weather in New Zealand can be ever changing. The main rule of thumb is that no matter where you are in the country, remember to pack some layers. It’s not uncommon to go from searing hot sunshine to a muggy, heavy downpour. The days can be hot, but the evenings may be quite chilly. The answer? Mastering the art of layering. Pack warmer clothes or layers for the evening, such as a long-sleeved merino top, jeans, leggings or hoodies and definitely a rain jacket.

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6. Don’t overpack

You'll find our rental campervans come with surprisingly good storage options. And, while it’s a good idea to be prepared, don’t be tempted to overpack. Your Britz campervan comes with linen and towels as well as other handy motorhome accessories like pegs, clotheslines, crockery, cutlery, wine glasses, coffee plunger, and cooking gear. Don’t forget the see the full list of what's included with your RV. Make sure you pack your togs, shorts, sarong and jandals, but don’t double or triple up on the clothing you will likely wear once. Be honest with yourself and pack only what you know you’ll use. It's best to bring your belongings in soft bags, which can be stored more easily. Also, do plan for some quieter times. Pack some cards or your favourite board games. We also recommend bringing a torch.

7. Do your research

Once you’ve got the wheels you need to get around the place, it’s time to start planning fun. Activities whilst travelling can become your biggest expense, particularly if you are travelling as a family, but there are ways to enjoy what New Zealand has to offer without breaking the bank. Try checking out the deal websites. Bookme and GrabOne both offer deals on experiences and dining. and First Tables offers 50% off lunches and dinners if you‘re seated before certain times. 

Taking advantage of your onboard kitchen is also a sure way to save some money. This will give you more spending money for adventure activities.

8. Restock at farmers markets

Taking advantage of roadside stalls and farmers markets will help you stretch your budget. Britz motorhomes are all set up for cooking, so just go where you want and enjoy the scenery while putting your meals together. Fancy a coffee? Just pull over and make yourself one - you're travelling with a kitchen, after all.

As you drive through the country, you'll see many roadside stalls selling fresh, homegrown produce or even pick-your-own strawberries. These can be significantly cheaper than supermarkets, and you’re supporting regional economies on your drive. They also make for great opportunistic snacks for on the go. for the kids.

There’s nothing better than opening a chilled bottle of local wine and making a platter from local foods. All while taking in the view is the reason for campervan travel. Shop at farmers markets to stock up on seasonal foods, veggies, eggs, and snacks. Summer in New Zealand is the perfect time to do it.

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9. Familiarise yourself with camping options

If you’re wondering if you can sleep anywhere in a campervan in New Zealand, you’re not alone. The answer is no, you can’t camp just anywhere in New Zealand. Freedom camping laws determine where you can and cannot stay. In saying that though, there are around 420 dedicated freedom camping sites on public land in some amazing settings. You can’t book these sites in advance, however, so over summer when it’s busy, you may well turn up and find there is no availability. 

Luckily, there are plenty of camping options in New Zealand to choose from. To find the perfect spot to spend the night that you can book, there are some great apps available. Use the thl RoadtripApp to find the holiday parks and DOC campsites that will work for your travel itinerary or try Rankers, the official New Zealand app for camping. To stay on private property, have a look at Campable. You’ll have access to places like vineyards, farms, beaches, and pubs and get opportunities to meet the owners. Okay2Stay is a great way to support local businesses. Buy delicious produce and you can park overnight in vineyards, craft breweries, under olive trees, on farms, in orchards or in restaurant or café car parks.

10. Be sun smart

New Zealand may not be as hot as some countries, but the sun can be ferocious. The hole in the ozone layer means you can get sunburnt in no time at all. So, it pays to plan your outdoor activities for earlier on, or later in the day when the sun’s UV levels aren’t as high. 

To travel safely and comfortably, you’ll need to be sun smart; be sure you put on your sunscreen every day. It’s recommended to wear water-resistant sunscreen of at least SPF 50 during the summer months. And, don’t forget a sunhat and sunglasses. If you’re looking for other ways to protect yourself from the sun, sitting under an awning is a great option.  Ask about our Britz campervans with fitted awnings, or whether they can be included in your rental van hire as an add-on.

Looking for a great way to explore New Zealand this summer?

While it can be busy, New Zealand summers are a perfect time to travel the country. Days are long and sunny, nights are mild, it’s a great time to hike, swimming at the beach is at its warmest. There’s plenty going on and everything just seems so much brighter in the sunshine. Travel in a campervan at your own pace and with your creature comforts. Renting a campervan is really worth it! Book your Britz motorhome online and then pick it up at the most convenient Britz branch. You'll find what it is that makes this country a dream destination and our 10 top tips for summer campervan trips make it even easier.