I’m always proud to call myself a Kiwi, and part of that reason is because of how incredibly beautiful my country is and how many unique offerings we have. And no matter where I travel in the world, people tell me the same thing! Here is the bucket list I tell every visitor about when they are visiting New Zealand
I’m always proud to call myself a Kiwi, and part of that reason is because of how incredibly beautiful my country is and how many unique offerings we have. And no matter where I travel in the world, people tell me the same thing!
One thing that does let New Zealand down slightly is that it can be rather hard to get round all the good places unless you have your own transport. Campervan hire in New Zealand makes things super easy though - you get to have the freedom to go wherever you like and it’s not difficult to find cheap campervan friendly spots right around the country by checking out a couple of useful apps.
Here is my list of the top 7 places around the North Island that you HAVE to go to if you hire a campervan in New Zealand.
Spotting the infamous wingless bird that us Kiwis are named after in the wild is pretty hard to do – this is mostly due to the fact that they only come out at night and also because they are an endangered species. The best way to catch a glimpse of one is to visit Zealandia – the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary just outside of Wellington. During the day you can check out the work they are doing to reintroduce native and fascinating wildlife back into the area, and you can take a night tour to explore the sanctuary and spot unique creatures including our Kiwi bird.
(courtesy Jipe7 flickr)
If you have ever wanted to experience staring up at a sky full of glowworms, the complex underground system of caves and rivers of Waitomo is the place to do it. About an hour’s drive away from Hamilton, Waitomo Caves offers a day of fun and adventure for all ages. Take a guided tour through the caves and enjoy a boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto, and, if you fancy stepping it up a notch you can go on a thrilling black water rafting ride or try your hand at abseiling or ziplining in the caves. There are different activity combo options to choose from so you can make the most of your day according to how adventurous you are feeling.
Papa Aroha Holiday Park, Coromandel
This is one stopover that you won’t find in the Lonely Planet guide!
My first ever camping experience when I was a kid was right here at Papa Aroha Holiday Park, located on the North-western coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. Our family had a caravan, and we’d spend our summers swimming, fishing, collecting shellfish and enjoying daily BBQ dinners.
Today the campground is still going strong, and is the perfect place to stop over for a few days if you are doing a road trip around the Coromandel.
The owners offer a range of activities to keep you busy such as kayaking, boat trips out to the islands – you may even like to try soft bait kayak fishing. They’ll provide everything you need to catch some delicious snapper!
Neighbouring Whiskey Bay is the only place I’ve ever experienced swimming with dolphins, so do take a boat taxi over to try your luck and explore sea caves or visit the gannet colony.
(courtesy of Pixabay)
At the top of the North Island you’ll find Cape Reinga, where a swirl of currents shows you exactly where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet. You can get here by driving straight up State Highway 1 if you have a campervan rental from Auckland. Seventeen kilometres away from the Cape you’ll come across Te Paki Recreation Reserve, with great campgrounds and a variety of native flora and fauna to observe. Thrill seekers will love sandboarding down the Giant Te Paki Sand dunes, with the longest run being a massive 350 metres long.
The sleepy surf town of Raglan often gets overlooked by most visitors to New Zealand, but if you have a campervan hire then it’s a great spot to check out. Here you will find three huge beaches – Ngarunui Beach is known for its volcanic black sand (it gets really hot in summer though so make sure to have beach shoes!), and Manu Bay features a long surf break. If surfing isn’t your thing then you can kayak out to the interesting Pancake Rocks or check out the hiking trails at Wainui Bush Reserve and Mt Karioi.
Raglan township has cute cafes and pubs, and there is always a friendly local around to give you some advice about what to do or talk about the weather! You can go chasing waterfalls too – the 55m Bridal Veil Falls is just a short drive away.
(courtesy of Pixabay)
Not far from Auckland city lies the paradise of Waiheke – New Zealand’s version of island life. While many people take the passenger ferry over from Auckland CBD, you can drive your campervan rental straight onto a car ferry at Half Moon Bay in Auckland’s Eastern Suburbs. 30 boutique wineries are scattered around the island and most of them offer beautiful settings to enjoy lunch. Stonyridge Vineyard has a gorgeous outdoor area and they play host to international DJs and fashion events during the summer months.
Having your own campervan means you can make the most of exploring Waiheke, and truly appreciate the chilled-out vibe with the locals who call this place home. If you fancy a bit of exercise, you can hire a bike and take your time exploring fabulous white sand beaches, art galleries, and open-air sculptures. You may even spot a few native New Zealand birds along the way!
Often referred to as one of the most surreal places on earth, Wai-O-Tapu is a place to really marvel at Mother Nature. This highly active geothermal park is just half an hour’s drive away from Rotorua, and makes a perfect day trip in your campervan rental when you’ve finished doing all of the other awesome activities Rotorua has to offer. The Lady Knox Geyser is spectacular to watch shooting up in the air, and you’ll certainly want to take a few snaps while walking around the uniquely different landscape – no filter needed!
Where will you go with your campervan hire in New Zealand?
With so many incredible things to do in all corners of New Zealand, it makes total sense to hire a campervan to make sure you can get to as many spots as you can. Just make sure you allow plenty of time to get it all in!