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Why campervan camping grounds in New Zealand are great
Campervan campgrounds have been a huge part of New Zealand holiday culture for a long time, so it’s no surprise each spot has been well thought out to ensure you get the best home base possible, wherever you decide to park up.
Here are some of the great advantages of using campervan camping grounds: Well priced
At around a quarter of the cost of a hotel stay, campervan camping sites are without a doubt great value. Whether you are wanting a low cost getaway on a long weekend, or something a bit longer, it’s a great option to keep costs down.
Paying for multiple hotel rooms can get expensive very quickly when travelling with family or friends, so hiring a motorhome and utilising one of the many camping grounds available means you can all be together, for a portion of the cost.
Safe and family friendly
If you are travelling to an unknown area, staying at a dedicated motorhome site can bring you peace of mind knowing exactly where you are, so you can easily navigate and use basic amenities like bins, bathrooms and information boards.
Bookable and casual stay options
For those that like to plan, you can book campervan sites well in advance of your travels to ensure you have all your dream spots locked in, or for anyone that prefers to see where the road takes them, there are also plenty of casual booking sites around too. If you prefer to find campsites on the road, our thl Roadtrip App will come in handy for this and so much more.
Fancy parking up by the side of a lake or a right by the ski field? New Zealand campervan parks can be found at the most desirable locations in the country with envy inducing views right on the doorstep of all the best tourist spots.
Types of motorhome campsites in New Zealand
With more than one type of motorhome campsite to choose from in New Zealand, we’ve put together some information for you on what the options are, so you can enjoy a holiday tailored to your needs.
Holiday parks like TOP10 Holiday Parks are hugely popular as they provide all the creature comforts you could need for your home on wheels, for much lower prices than traditional accommodation options.
Here are some of the great perks of staying at a Holiday park while travelling in a motorhome:
- Most sites feature level, hard surfaces to promote free-draining lawns: keeping your motorhome mud free will mean less cleaning and more time to sit back and enjoy your holiday. A hard and level camp site makes your stay a lot more comfortable, not to mention driving on to your site a whole lot easier!
- Nicely landscaped grounds: the addition of shade trees and picnic tables gives you extra space to stretch out after being on the road, and provides plenty of space for family time.
- Power and water: after taking plenty of holiday snaps and adventuring around new places you can connect your motorhome to power and charge your devices and power your cooking as well as wash off the day! Holiday parks provide communal facilities like kitchens, bathrooms and even laundries if you want to mix it up from your motorhome.
- Internet and TV lounges: for those wanting to have a bit of down time outside of the motorhome, you will find sites that provide internet and TV lounges for your leisure.
- Spa pools, barbeque and play areas: after a long day on the road, relaxing in a spa or cooking some sausages on the BBQ can be just what you need. Meanwhile, the kids can burn off some energy on playgrounds and in games rooms!
- Bike and kayak hire: once your motorhome is parked up safe, ask the holiday park staff about bike or kayak hire so you can check out the area to the fullest! If exploring cycling tracks is your thing, you can also add on bike rack hire when you rent your maui motorhome!
With most motorhome parks being owner-operated you really couldn’t be in better hands with getting site advice which is especially helpful for first time campervan users who might need a refresher on how to plug in or dispose of waste.
As well as practical advice, you can also ask about activity bookings or ideas from people who know the area.
Fees and bookings
A powered site for two people averages around $35–40 per night. Bookings are strongly advisable during summer holidays (Christmas to end January, and Easter) and major local events; otherwise you can normally just cruise on in.
Around 250 of New Zealand's 400-odd holiday parks rally under the banner of the Holiday Parks Association, an excellent portal for research and bookings.
Department of Conservation Campsites
If you like back-to-nature camping, you'll be wowed by the Department of Conservation's campsites in New Zealand national parks and scenic reserves.
There are more than 200 campervan-friendly (and stunning) locations to choose from all around the country.
Some DOC campsites are unpowered, so if you are wanting to plug in your motorhome be sure to check the facilities in advance:
- Serviced: these have more facilities such as toilets, running water, cooking facilities, hot showers and sometimes have laundry areas. There are both powered and unpowered sites available, so are great for motorhome users.
- Standard: standard campsites are usually unpowered with toilets and cold running water, sometimes including BBQ’s, picnic tables and rubbish bins.
- Basic: basic campsites are unpowered, free to use and have toilets and running water.
Fees and bookings
Some DOC campsites are free to use and others charge just a small fee (approx $15 per person) with the priciest generally the most popular.
These should be pre-booked in peak season (1 October–30 April) either online or at a DOC visitor centre. Others operate on a first-come, first-served basis, with payment made to the warden or popped into a self-registration box.
We recommend purchasing a DOC weekly campsite pass which provides half-price camping at more than 100 DOC campsites nationwide - add this to your booking on check out.
Most local authorities – that's regional, city and district councils – manage campervan sites of one kind or another. These range from basic, nature camps in forest parks, to motorhome parks in public domains, often adjacent to sports grounds, parks, or other recreation reserves.
Often found near public areas like parks, they vary in terms of what they offer, but are generally quite basic with their facilities which can include:
- Park benches
- Rubbish bins
Fees and bookings
With the exception of council-owned holiday parks, the majority of council campgrounds are cheap (around $10 per person per night) or even free, with some falling under the category of 'freedom camping'. To find council camps, check out Rankers or pop in to the local i-Site for more information and to book.
'Freedom camping' refers to staying overnight in an area that is not a designated campsite, such as a riverside or beach reserve, or even a town car park.
Only self-contained campervans with onboard toilet, greywater and fresh water systems are allowed to freedom camp, so that includes Maui campervan hirers. The rules around such camping vary between regions – some have a blanket ban, while others encourage it with plenty of allocated sites. If you're not sure whether freedom camping is permitted, assume nothing: ask a local (the i-SITE visitor centre, ideally).
Just because there's a toilet, rubbish bin, or other campervans parked up, doesn't mean it's okay to stay. Abuse by freedom campers has seen a major crackdown on illegal camping, with fines frequently issued.
Fees and bookings
You might find approved freedom camping zones in carparks, or near reserves. They are usually free to use, but it’s a good idea to check online and read up on the rules for freedom camping in New Zealand.
Finding campsites on the road
If you are travelling in a motorhome and want a quick reference tool to help you with navigation, finding camping grounds, or even ‘how to’ guides on vehicle operation, the thl Roadtrip App will be your best companion!
It even has travel tips and road closure information so you can make the most of your getaway.
Inspired to go on a splendid New Zealand adventure? In order to get started on this journey, book a maui campervan today, we have branches in Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown. You can also check out our latest deals and specials here. And if you want to explore more scenic routes and must do itineraries around New Zealand check out our recommended routes here.