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Best Time To Take A Campervan Trip In New Zealand

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New Zealand plays host to an abundance of stunning and exciting places to visit year-round. Arguably, there’s no bad time to take a campervan trip in New Zealand! But the best time of year to take a campervan trip will depend on your interests and what your dream holiday entails.

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During the winter months, New Zealand transforms into a winter wonderland but can get quite chilly. Summer months bring clear skies and at times, rather toasty temperatures. It's important to be well-prepared no matter the weather, so do your research and pack accordingly.

Trying to decide when to visit New Zealand? We’re breaking down all the things you’ll want to think about before you lock in your holiday dates.

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Where has the best weather in New Zealand?

With weather varying wildly, the country often experiences four seasons in one day across the two islands! The Far North is home to a subtropical climate during summer, whereas the alpine areas of the South Island can reach temperatures as low as -10°C in winter. Although, a lot of the country is located on a coastline, making for reasonably mild temperatures year-round and comfortable campervan travel no matter when you go.

The best weather in New Zealand really depends on what you mean by best! For a snowboarder, the best weather may be in the South Island where there are snowy mountain ranges, perfect for hitting the slopes. If you’re a hiker, chances are you’re looking for dry weather conditions to get the best out of your adventure. Whatever kind of weather you’re looking for, you will be able to find the perfect destination in New Zealand. The sunniest areas in New Zealand historically are the Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, and Nelson.

New Zealand's climate and weather can be unpredictable no matter what the season is. So as always, it’s best to expect (and prepare) for any weather when travelling - as the famous saying goes, hope for the best but prepare for the worst!

When is it cheapest to travel New Zealand in a campervan?

When it comes to calculating the cost of a campervan trip, it pays to consider a few factors:

  • The size of your family
  • How far you are travelling
  • The length of your trip
  • Where you plan to stay

The cheapest time to travel to New Zealand is arguably the out of peak travel seasons which take place between November and March. Prices in New Zealand are often dictated by general demand. By choosing to travel when fewer people are on the road, prices will come down and there’s more choice as you’re not competing with other travellers. Not only will you need to budget less for off-season travel, but you will also have a more authentic experience, just by having more time and space available.

If you are planning to travel New Zealand in a campervan, it always pays to plan a budget to avoid overspending. Be sure to take into account, campervan hire costs, holiday park prices, and any attractions you may want to include in your itinerary. Another way to reduce the costs of your trip is to use the onboard kitchen facilities to prepare meals, rather than dining out.

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When is the best time for families to travel in a campervan?

Depending on the age of your children, the best time to travel New Zealand with kids may be during the school holiday period. With many other families travelling during this time, your children may be able to meet up with other kids to play with at holiday parks, making for a more memorable trip! There are four school holiday periods each year in New Zealand, with the holiday dates varying every year.

What are the hottest months in New Zealand?

The hottest months in New Zealand are in the summer season, especially during January and February, with warmer temperatures continuing into March a lot of the time. Days are long and sunny and nights are mild. Summer in New Zealand is the perfect time for getting outdoors and embracing the incredibly mild climate. Average temperatures between December and February range from 20°C to 25°C.

It is worth noting that the temperature in New Zealand will vary a lot from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island, this is because the country lies in the Southern Hemisphere. However, the South Island is still an incredible summer location, particularly the adventure capital of the world - Queenstown.

Best campervan stops during summer

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Since it’s summer, the chances are you’ll be looking to embrace the outdoors. The sun is shining and the temperature is warm, time to get outside to enjoy a spot of sunbathing, swimming, hiking, and maybe even hitting some epic biking tracks.

To experience the best of New Zealand’s stunning beaches, check out these popular spots:

  • Matapouri Bay, Northland
  • Muriwai Beach, Auckland
  • Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula
  • Mt Maunganui, Bay of Plenty
  • Oriental Bay, Wellington
  • Kaiteriteri Beach, Nelson/Tasman
  • Hokitika Beach, Hokitika

If you’re planning on putting your boots on and exploring a hike, it’s important to note that many DOC huts in New Zealand require you to book in advance, so it pays to research your preferred hike in advance.

Many people in New Zealand enjoy travelling beyond the peak seasons when the crowds have returned to school and the roads are quieter, embracing the concept of an endless summer. Arguably, this is one of the most spectacular times to travel. Enjoy parts of the country shining at their best, the hordes have gone home and the sun is still out!

There is an abundance of destinations to visit during the summer months that can be visited by camper, whether you’re uncovering hidden gems in secluded spots, or heading back to old favourites.

  • Oamaru and Moeraki Boulders
  • Russel and the Bay of Islands
  • The Coromandel
  • Hawke’s Bay
  • Nelson
  • Queenstown and Wanaka

How to prepare for travelling in a campervan in summer

New Zealand famously sits under a hole in the ozone layer which makes for very intense heat and sunshine during the summer months. Although the ozone layer over New Zealand is slowly healing, it’s still easy to get sunburnt in no time at all. Before you travel in a campervan over the summer, it’s important to ensure you gather everything you need to be sun smart. The most important things to keep in mind when packing for a campervan holiday in New Zealand are:

  • Loose clothing that covers your skin
  • Broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen of at least SPF30
  • Wide brim hat, or a cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Shade sails or awnings

When outdoors, try to slip into the shade of a leafy tree or a building as much as you can. Plan your outdoor activities for earlier on, or later in the day when the sun’s UV levels aren’t as high. An awning is another way to keep out of the sun, some of our Britz campervans come with fitted awnings, but if not these can be included in your hire as an add-on.

Summer is a popular time for travel in New Zealand for international travellers and locals, especially around the Christmas and New Year holidays. Because of this, you must book your holiday parks and experiences well in advance to avoid missing out.

What are the benefits of travelling in a campervan in winter?

You can’t really beat a winter road trip in New Zealand - alongside the stunning scenery, snow-capped mountains, secluded coastlines, and rolling green farmland, you’ll experience the ultimate combination of epic road trip experiences, plus the roads will be quieter! With fewer crowds, you can embrace the freedom and flexibility of a campervan road trip by following wherever the road takes you and stopping wherever you please.

Winter doesn’t mean you need to put your road trip on hold - in fact, it can be one of the best times of year to go! Don’t let the idea of travelling in winter scare you from exploring New Zealand in a campervan. If you’re a snowboarder or skier, the winter months are the only times you’ll be able to get up to the mountains to hit the slopes.

With fewer locals travelling during winter in New Zealand, you’ll have the pick of the bunch from DOC campsites, holiday parks, and freedom camping spots. Having fewer people on the roads means you can get to your destination faster, and pack more sights to see into your trip - without the stress of traffic. Even if the weather is drizzly some days, there are plenty of epic restaurants, indoor activities, and shops to keep you occupied until the weather passes.

Best campervan stops during winter

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As we’ve mentioned already, there are some truly incredible destinations to enjoy the snow during winter. Though it can certainly get chilly, a New Zealand winter is fairly mild compared to other parts of the world. The North and South Islands have quite different winter conditions.

The South Island experiences heavier snow in areas like Canterbury and Otago. These destinations are particularly to explore in a campervan over winter. Whereas the North Island rarely experiences snowfall (with the exception of the Central Plateau).

South Island

  • Queenstown
  • Wanaka
  • Glenorchy
  • Franz Josef Glacier

North Island

  • Rotorua
  • Hawke’s Bay
  • Waitomo
  • Taupo

New Zealand is also home to some awesome hot pools and spas. After a long day of driving, there’s nothing better than removing the winter chill by unwinding and defrosting in a toasty hot pool.

How to prepare for a campervan trip in winter

Whether you are a couple looking for a romantic getaway or taking the whole family out for a road trip adventure, Britz has campervan hire options for everyone. If you’re looking to hit the slopes, you may want to consider a larger vehicle for that bit of extra storage to tuck your toys away so they stay secure on the road. Since you could be spending a little more time indoors, compared to a summer holiday, you’ll want to make sure that you have extra space to crack out the board games and stretch your legs.

With winter travel, comes the icy and cold road conditions which don’t make for the safest driving experience. Before your trip, it is important that you do your research and are well prepared with safety essentials. Sometimes due to weather conditions, roads may be closed so be sure to check road closures before you drive.

As it can be very cold, be sure to pack appropriately, and have adequate heating options in your campervan. There are plenty of ways that you can keep warm while in a campervan:

  • Blankets
  • Small fan heaters
  • Hot water bottles
  • Plenty of hot food and drink

Is it the right time to book your New Zealand campervan trip?

When it comes to a road trip in New Zealand, there really is never a bad time. Depending on whether you want to hit the slopes for an alpine adventure, or beach hop around New Zealand’s stunning coastlines, pick your perfect time to explore. No matter what time of year you decide to travel, be sure to familiarise yourself with safe driving in New Zealand. Book with Britz today to lock in that epic adventure.