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Renting a Campervan in Winter: New Zealand Road Trip Tips

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Tops tips to help you have an epic New Zealand campervan trip in Winter!

Don’t shy away from a winter road trip in New Zealand just because the weather is colder. As long as you come prepared and follow our New Zealand road trip tips for renting a campervan in winter, you’ll soon realise that in fact, winter is the best time of year to travel New Zealand!

Winter is a stunning time to visit New Zealand. With mountain peaks covered in snow, open roads and hiking trails empty of tourists, you often feel like you have the whole of the majestic New Zealand all to yourself. What’s more, it’s the perfect time to rent a campervan and hit the road. Campervan rentals are at their cheapest and there are a ton of amazing deals to help you save big in winter. So wrap up warm, follow our winter road trip tips, and join us in the land of Aotearoa!

What to expect in Winter

New Zealand in winter means unpredictable weather. It will be raining, it will be sunny, it will be freezing one night and mild the next. But as long as you are prepared, the weather, whatever it decides to do, will barely be a bother! For typical weather, temperatures, events, prices and best activities to do in winter, take a look at our guides to the winter months in the below articles:

Working Holiday Insurance

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Choose a vehicle with an Electricity hook up

For a comfortable night’s sleep, you’ll not only want to get yourself a campervan with a heater, you’ll need to be able to hook up to some electricity to use it all night long! Choose a campervan or motorhome with a 240v mains power hook up so that you can connect to power sites in holiday parks and campgrounds.

Some campervan rental companies will have small electric heaters included or available to hire so you can heat up your campervan in no time. Alternatively, motorhomes often have their own in-built heating system in both the driver cabin and main cabin.

Check out the different types of campervans to choose from in New Zealand here.

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Select your campgrounds carefully

On the subject of electricity, to make full use of your campervan or motorhome’s gadgetry (and heating) you’ll probably want to spend most of your nights in campsites with powered sites.Yes, this might be a little more expensive than free campsites, freedom camping, basic Department of Conservation campsites or a tent site in a holiday park, but when you weight up those powered site costs with the huge saving you will have made by renting a vehicle in winter, you can definitely justify treating yourself!

Look out for those extra little facilities that will make your winter evenings cosier, such as a spa pool or even showers actually near the powered sites! (You don’t want to be trekking in the cold to reach the showers).

Check out the different types of campsites in What is the Difference Between a Campsite and a Holiday Park?

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Pack clothing for winter

As they say in New Zealand: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. So forget the shorts and thin cotton shirts! Pack for the rain, the cold, the mild and the sun, because it’s all going to happen in winter in New Zealand!

Here is what to include in your packing list:

  • Thermal layers – tops and bottoms
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof hiking shoes
  • Hiking/outdoors pants
  • Casual long pants
  • Casual long-sleeve tops
  • Casual footwear
  • Swimwear (for the hot pools)
  • Scarf
  • Beanie
  • Underwear
  • Thick woolen socks

For more clothing ideas, see What Clothes to Pack to Travel in New Zealand.

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Grab some extra winter gear in New Zealand

Once you arrive in New Zealand, take some time to grab a few essentials before hitting the road. Here are some suggestions especially for a winter trip!

  • Skin cream – keep your skin hydrated in the cold weather
  • Groceries to make warm hearty meals – Rental campervans in New Zealand come equipped with everything you need to make warm food, so do some supermarket shopping!
  • Marshmallows – some New Zealand campsites have open fire areas so grab some marshmallows for roasting
  • Hot drink mixes – nothing feels better in winter than wrapping your mitts around a hot mug, so grab yourself some hot chocolate/tea/coffee and use the kettle or pan and stove in your camper to make some hot drinks
  • An extra blanket – if your rental company doesn’t offer extra blankets for free, buy one at budget department stores like The Warehouse or K-Mart. It will be much cheaper than hiring one!

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Keep safe on the road

Be prepared to drive in winter conditions. If you’re going to be going to areas where there might be snow, i.e. going to ski fields or driving over mountain passes particularly in the South Island, then hire some snow chains. That way you know they will be the right size for your campervan and it’s better to be safe than stranded.

On top of that, always check the road conditions on your planned route before you set out. The New Zealand Transport Agency keeps their website constantly updated with road closures and warnings.

For more tips, see 12 Safe Driving Tips for New Zealand.

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Make huge savings!

Winter is the cheapest time of year to rent a campervan in New Zealand. Make sure you compare a wide range of campervan rental companies and check out their winter deals too. While some rental companies offer free ski passes, others have tiny daily rental rates. Start by taking a look at The Best Campervan Rental Companies in New Zealand and The Best Budget Campervan Rentals in New Zealand.

For more ways to save money on rentals, check out 20 Ways To Save Money on Car Rental in New Zealand. These tips apply to campervans too!

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