A Cheaper Holiday
One reason people choose New Zealand motorhome holidays is cost. Hiring a motorhome combines your travel and accommodation, making for a cheaper holiday. If you’re not careful, however, a motorhome holiday can cost just as much as any other holiday. Petrol expenses and staying at fancy holiday parks every night can easily blow your budget.
If you want to save money, start with hiring a budget motorhome. There’s really no point to splashing out on a luxury one, as you’ll mostly use it for sleeping. As long as it’s self-contained so you can freedom camp, there isn’t much else you need. Just make sure you book well in advance. Also, be on the lookout for motorhome companies offering ‘relocation’ deals. (That’s when they need one of their vehicles transferred to another depot in a different part of the country.)
Avoid Peak Season
How expensive a motorhome is to hire depends upon the time of year. Peak season, naturally, is summer – that’s December, January and February in New Zealand – and that’s when motorhomes are at their most expensive. The difference in price between the same motorhome hired in summer and winter is shocking.
You might think that summer is the best time of year for a holiday, as it is warmer and rains less, but there are other considerations. A New Zealand summer can get unbearably hot, and everywhere is heaving with other tourists. It is better to hire a motorhome in spring or autumn, or even winter if your model has heating. Your bank account would thank you. Besides, New Zealand is beautiful all year round.
Plan Your Route with Care
Once you’ve hired a motorhome, you need to plan your route carefully. Fuel is quite dear in New Zealand, so it’s important to be economical. You don’t want to be driving back and forth over the same ground.
Seek out DOC Campgrounds
To further save fuel, it’s a good idea to stay at campgrounds that are within walking distance of things to do. Look no further than the various Department of Conservation campgrounds. The Department of Conservation, or DOC, manages New Zealand’s spots of natural beauty. Their campgrounds are right in the midst of the countryside, offering easy access to bush walks, beaches, waterfalls and other stunning pieces of scenery. They are also very cheap to stay at, if not free.
Finding places to camp for free in New Zealand has become a little more difficult in the past few years. Since the introduction of the Freedom Camping Act, you can receive an instant fine for camping in the wrong place. It is, however, still possible and well worth it. Holiday parks can be horrendously expensive to stay at. Where you can, it’s a good idea to stay at a proper campground with facilities every third night, freedom camping in-between. Just make sure you do your research and use your common sense.
Use the Rankers Map
The Rankers map shows you every campsite in New Zealand and, more importantly, whether or not they’re free, cheap, average or expensive to stay at.
Cook for Yourself
Just as you can avoid staying at an expensive campsite every night, you can avoid eating out every night. One of the many advantages of hiring a motorhome is you’ll have your very own kitchenette. Cooking for yourself is by far the cheapest way to eat. Due to the limited space, you’re best off sticking to one-pot meals – plenty of rice and pasta. If you think that’ll get monotonous, though, here’s some good news:
Scattered throughout New Zealand – at parks, campgrounds and beaches – are heaps of barbecues that are free for the public to use. There’s no better way to get a taste of the Kiwi lifestyle than to enjoy a barbecue while the sun sets in a beautiful location.
Article by Abigail Simpson, author of Poms Away: A British Immigrant’s View of New Zealand