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Top Tips for Planning a Long Road Trip in New Zealand


Planning to rent a travel van for an extended New Zealand road trip? A New Zealand campervan holiday is a bucket list experience for many. But before you hit the road, you’ll want to make sure you’re fully prepared. In this helpful guide, we’ll share a few top travel tips to help you plan your trip, including:

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  1. Decide on a budget
  2. Download the thl Roadtrip App
  3. Plan your itinerary in advance, and allow flexibility
  4. Book your motorhome in advance
  5. Book your campgrounds in advance
  6. Make a packing list
  7. Make sure you have a first-aid kit
  8. Create a brilliant playlist for the drive
  9. Plan some meals in advance
  10. Map out petrol station stops

But first, why you should consider hiring a motorhome for your New Zealand road trip

There’s no better way to explore New Zealand than to hire a campervan. Van travel blends freedom and spontaneity with comfort and convenience. Here a just some of the great benefits of hiring a maui campervan for your New Zealand road trip:

  • Maui campervans come with a fully equipped kitchen. You’ll also have all the basic cookware you need to create your favourite meals.
  • With your own toilet and bathroom on board, you’ll never need to worry about finding a public restroom.
  • Part of the fun of travelling by campervan is taking the opportunity to explore off-the-beaten-track destinations. You’ve got the freedom to take a diversion to somewhere new, stay longer in places you love, and be as spontaneous as you like.
  • With your vehicle and accommodation in one, campervan travel is an economical way to see the country. It also means not having to pack and unpack as you move between destinations.
  • New Zealand has awesome campgrounds by lakes, beaches, and in national parks. If you choose to, you can wake up to a beautiful new vista each day.
  • You’ll meet other campervanners who love to share their travel tips and where to find hidden gems. It’s a great way to hear about more fun things to do in New Zealand.

Top 10 tips for planning a long road trip

When it comes to a New Zealand road trip, a little planning can go a long way. Quite literally! Here are our top 10 travel tips to help you make the most of your campervan holiday.

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1. Decide on a budget

Identifying your budget is the first step in planning your road trip. Once you know how much you’re able to spend in total, you can start to factor in potential costs such as:

  • Your campervan hire and fuel
  • Campsite fees
  • Activities
  • Food and drinks

2. Download the thl Roadtrip App

One of the most helpful tools for planning a long road trip is the free thl Roadtrip App.

This handy app is a campervan traveller’s best friend. Not only will it help you plan your New Zealand road trip, it also comes in very handy while you’re travelling. Here are just a few of the great features:

  • Book your campsites: This makes planning a road trip itinerary super easy. Search along your planned route and pre-book campsites, holiday parks, and even attractions directly within the app.
  • Offline maps: Going out of Wi-Fi range but need maps? The app’s maps work offline. Just save them first and you can access them anytime.
  • Where’s the nearest …? Need to find a supermarket, campsite, dump station, or laundromat? The thl Roadtrip App uses your GPS location to show you where to find all these and more.
  • A show-through video of your campervan: Keen to see inside your campervan hire ahead of time? Use the app to take a look through.
  • How-to videos: Not sure how to empty a toilet cassette or set up the dining table? No problem, we’ve covered off everything you need to know in our how-to video section.
  • Get recommendations: You’ll be able to read tips and feedback from other campervan travellers about places they’ve stayed or visited. It means you can plan to stay in campgrounds that are most preferred etc.

3. Plan your itinerary in advance, and allow flexibility

While campervan travel is a great way to be spontaneous, you may also like the peace of mind of having a planned itinerary. Some things to consider that will help you plan include:

  • Do you want to avoid peak travel times (such as school holidays)? Or are you travelling with children and have restricted dates to choose from?
  • What season do you prefer to travel in?
  • What parts of New Zealand do you most want to explore?

To help you get started creating a road planner itinerary, check out some of our popular New Zealand driving routes.

As you travel, you’ll probably want to make lots of unscheduled stops. You may even decide to stay longer in a spot that you really love. So be sure to allow some flexibility within your itinerary.

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4. Book your motorhome in advance

You’ve decided how long you want to travel for, and when. You’ve got your budget sorted. So what’s next? We suggest booking your campervan hire asap! Campervan travel is back in full swing in New Zealand. That means they’re often booked out ahead of peak holiday periods. It’s a good idea to lock in your campervan in advance to avoid missing out on dates that suit you most.

5. Book your campgrounds in advance

Once you’ve got your campervan booked, it’s a good idea to do the same with your chosen campgrounds. Popular campgrounds and DOC campsites can be booked out many months in advance, especially during school holidays. We suggest using the free thl Roadtrip App to make your bookings.

You may also like to plan a few stays at freedom camping grounds. Bear in mind that you can’t book these in advance, so it’s usually a case of first in, first served. That’s often no problem during off-peak travel times. But if you’re travelling with the holiday masses, you’ll need to plan to get in early.

6. Make a packing list

However long you’re planning to travel, having the right gear will make your campervan holiday more comfortable and enjoyable. Parking up for your first night and realising you’ve forgotten something important like medication or your phone charger is no fun. Writing a packing list well in advance gives you time to think of everything needed. It also means you can think carefully about things you don’t need. After all, you don’t want to be struggling for space because you’ve packed a bunch of gear you’ll never use.

The first step in planning your packing list is to check what’s included in your hire. This will help you know what you need to pack.

7. Make sure you have a first-aid kit

It’s a good idea to pack a basic first-aid kit for your New Zealand road trip. Thankfully, all maui campervans come with a first aid kit. This will cost $40 if opened, but it means you’ll be prepared for any accidents along the way. If you’re packing your own, here are a few essentials to consider adding:

  • Plasters
  • Bandages and dressings
  • Paracetamol
  • Antiseptic
  • Antihistamine
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Eyewash

You should also add in any regular medications along with inhalers, vitamins and supplements, etc.

8. Create a brilliant playlist for the drive

Long drives are the perfect opportunity to enjoy your favourite music. Or perhaps you prefer to make a dent in your reading list? Download your audiobooks or podcasts, set up a playlist, and you’re good to go! Some good apps to do this include Spotify (for music and podcasts) and Audible (for audiobooks).

9. Plan some meals in advance

Because your maui camper has a kitchen, including a fridge/freezer, cooktop, and microwave, you’ve got the option of planning home-cooked meals. This helps save money on eating out while you get to enjoy your favourite foods. Knowing what meals you want means you can plan a shopping list or bring along ingredients you’ll need. A good option for stocking up on any fresh produce needed as you travel is at local farmers markets.

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10. Map out petrol station stops

When you’re on a long road trip, you’ll need to refuel several times. In most New Zealand regions, petrol stations are easy to come by. But there are a number of roads where you could find yourself in trouble if your tank is low. Cell phone coverage can also be limited in some hilly or remote areas. And you certainly don’t want to end up running out of gas with no means of calling for help! Keep an eye on your fuel tank and plan ahead to top up before you start off along a remote route. The thl Roadtrip App can also help you find the nearest petrol station.

Ready to explore everything that New Zealand has to offer?

Feeling inspired to plan, pack, and explore New Zealand on a lovely long road trip? Now is the time to do it! Simply book your maui campervan hire online and then pick it up from the maui branch that suits you. You can even pick it up from one branch and drop it off at another.

Be sure to check out our latest deals for great savings on your campervan hire.