It All Depends On…
Thinking about the best time of year to embark upon a motorhome tour of New Zealand, the answer is not simple. Different considerations are involved. It depends entirely upon what you want out of your holiday. Do you want to come home with a tan, or would you prefer it not to get too hot so you can enjoy being active? What activities do you want to experience? Do you want a cheap holiday, or is money no object? Do you mind sharing beauty spots with many other tourists, or do you seek serenity?
New Zealand’s weather is highly changeable. It differs between the North Island and the South Island. Summer in the North Island is hot and humid; summer in the South Island less hot generally, but sometimes scorching, and dry. It can get so hot that all you want to do is doze during the day, yet you can’t get to sleep at night! Nights like this can be torture in a motorhome. In winter, the North Island gets a lot of rain, but there are still beautifully sunny days, and it rarely gets very cold. In the South Island, winter gets bitterly cold and it can snow. You’d be stupid to hire a motorhome in winter that didn’t have any form of heating. Spring and autumn are mostly pleasant all over. They’re the best seasons for bush walks, at any rate.
Obviously, if you wanted to ski in New Zealand, winter would be the best time of year to come. Surfing and sunbathing, however, are best in summer, as is swimming with dolphins. (Further south in the South Island, it can be too cold for swimming even in summer.) Summer is also the best time for barbecues, for sitting outside your motorhome in the evening, although this is still possible in spring and autumn.
Despite there being advantages to coming to New Zealand during other times of the year, the vast majority of tourists come in summer. In the tourism industry, this is known as peak season. It is when motorhomes are at their most expensive to hire, because the are most in demand. Not only that, the best campsites and tourist spots are very crowded.
Motorhomes are less expensive to hire during spring and autumn, and some companies are dirt cheap for the winter. The problem with hiring a motorhome in winter is, at times, you may find yourself trapped inside your motorhome, unable to do anything due to the storm raging outside. Most winter days, however, aren’t so bad you can’t go out, and quite a lot are just fine. In winter, you can have the best places all to yourself!
So What is the Best Time?
Each season has its pros and cons. If you want a really cheap holiday and don’t care about getting cold and wet, the come in winter. If you have money to spare and don’t mind crowds, come in summer. If you want a compromise between the two, come in spring or autumn. If I were you, I would come in spring. The weather is lovely, not too hot, and everything is fresh. The baby animals are all out; it’s nice, when you’re driving past a field of sheep, to see lambs gambolling about. (And, in New Zealand, you will be driving past lots of fields of sheep.) It’s cheaper and less crowded than coming in summer, without all the rain of winter. Plus, because of all the winter rain, beautiful features such as waterfalls are at their most spectacular. At the end of summer and into autumn, they can be a little disappointing.
If you do decide to come in summer, though, avoid the few weeks either side of Christmas. (Don’t forget, the seasons are opposite in the Southern Hemisphere.) This is when the residents of New Zealand themselves most like to go camping, so you’ll be fighting both Kiwis and tourists and for spaces. Seriously… spring.