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Top 10 tips for travelling in a
motorhome in New Zealand.

Going on holiday in a motorhome is, for many travellers, a new experience. So you’ll certainly have many questions about this mode of travel that offers so much freedom!

Below you will find ten practical tips for a successful motorhome trip.

1. Choosing the right vehicle.

Each motorhome has a particular layout and equipment, so, depending on your needs it is important that you choose the vehicle that best suits you. For example: If you want to do a lot of camping in remote areas choose a vehicle with a large water tank, a filter for tap water and solar panels.

If you are two adults travelling together but don’t want to make and unmake your bed every day, choose a motorhome that sleeps four.

Ask our specialists for which type of vehicle is right for you and your family/friends.

2. What is and isn’t included in the price of the rental.  

Each rental offers different benefits. Indeed, some rentals have hidden costs such as diesel tax, driver fees and others such as deposits and filling the petrol tank ... It’s important therefore to take these costs into account because some rentals which seem cheap at first may actually end up being much more expensive. If you take the all inclusive insurance these 'extra' items are generally included (depends on rental supplier).
Don’t hesitate to seek advice from our team, we can help you with comparing motorhomes.

3. Do I need insurance and if so which one?

This question comes up quite a lot. If you want a holiday with confidence the answer is YES you need insurance, but what’s the right one?
You have three options open to you:
  • Insurance by your credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Amex, ...). This option isn’t possible most of the time because the rented vehicle is often more or 3.5 times over 8m3. You need to check with your bank about the conditions of this type of insurance.
  • As an addition to your travel insurance. Some insurances, in addition to the standard elements (repatriation, illness, ...), have coverage in case of an accident. However you will be charged by the rental company the amount of the damage and reimbursed by insurance a few weeks later. This is an option if you can afford to put aside  $5,000NZD or more for the duration of your holiday.
  • The rental insurance for a motorhome. Deciphering the different options can be quite difficult and the most expensive is not necessarily the best but if the two above options have failed you will need this insurance. Read our page on insurance for more information.
NB: All of our partners offer a 24h/7 roadside assistance.

4. What should I take with me for a trip in a motorhome?

Renting a motorhome is like renting a fully furnished apartment for a holiday. The vehicles are fitted with a standard kitchen and fully equipped with cutlery, kitchen utensils, towels, dishwashing liquid, corkscrews, sieve, water glasses, wine glasses, pots, kettles, coffee plunger, bread toaster, ...
You’ll also have sheets, blankets, sleeping bag, clothes hangers, clothes pegs, towels, ...
So all you need to take with you is just your clothes and personal effects, and remember to take your international driver’s license.
To make storage easier use a soft bag or backpack, not a big hard suit case that will be difficult to store.
You’ll also need adapter plugs, a torch, CDs for the road, a beach towel, pharmaceuticals (sunscreen, mosquito repellent etc.).  

5. Traditional or freedom camping?

Travelling by motorhome offers so much more flexibility than other travel options. You can travel according to your preferences, weather, choose to stay longer in one place or move camp earlier.
There are four camping options:
  • The first and best known is in traditional camping. You pay per night for a site for your vehicle and number of travellers. In these campsites you can connect to a terminal and recharge your camper, dump your waste water and fill the tank with fresh water. These are private campsites with facilities and a good location more or less depending on the number of stars. You will receive 10% discount on these campsites when you book your motorhome home with DetourNZ.
  • The second option is to stay in a DOC campground (Department of Conservation). These areas are managed by the government and are regional and national parks for tourists. These areas are fairly basic but are based most of the time in special locations beside lakes, rivers, the ocean or in beautiful forests. Not excessive, a few dollars per night, DOC campsites are very popular and you can buy a 7 night DOC pass on our website.
  • The third is freedom camping. So let's be clear about this method of camping. It’s quite possible to go camping in the countryside but there are rules to follow. First you must be in a "fully contained" vehicle (with toilet and shower), you must comply with the any rules and leave no trace of your passage. If you are in doubt about a site ask i-SITE (local tourist office) on the possibility of camping in the area, or don’t hesitate to knock on the door of houses close to where you want to spend the night. Often you will have a very positive and friendly response.
  • The fourth option is the least known, is to buy a Okay2Stay membership for a one off price of $45. You then have access to a network of private properties such as farms, vineyards, orchards all over NZ... where you can spend the night for free in your campervan. In addition to staying in a safe place, you have locals nearby and you can visit the country as few tourists have.
In all cases, seek flat and horizontal locations to ensure you get a good night sleep!

6. Driving a motorhome

Although motorhomes are easy to drive and manoeuver you must always remember that you aren’t in a passenger car. Here are some tips to help make driving about the country easier.
  • Driving is on the left but the driver is still located in the "middle of the road"
  • Never forget the height of your vehicle, especially when you park under trees or shelters.
  • The speed limit is 100km / hr maximum. Avoid rushing and enjoy the beauty of Aotearoa, being on the road is an integral part of your stay.
  • Be careful when a truck passes by you, the "slap" is experienced much more in a motorhome.
  • Don’t be surprised if on multi-lane roads a vehicle passes you on the left.
  • Look at what is happening on the road ahead and not behind your back.
  • Let the traffic behind you go past only if you have a safe place to pull over.
  • Anticipate the actions of other vehicles. Braking distance and acceleration in a motorhome takes longer.
  • Respect and extend the safety distances.
  • Drive if possible during the day to avoid unexpected surprises.

7. Driving and parking in the city

Driving a motorhome is relatively easy, you'll get used to it very quickly.
Driving in town has its cons, it can be more complicated since there are more people and less space.
We advise you not to stay in the city and focus on paying for sites where you do not have to manoeuver too much into. Generally, you can’t camp in the cities, it is better to go slightly out of major cities but if you must then find a city campground.

8. Wastewater treatment stations

When you use a motorhome, it is important to be responsible and to adopt good behaviours when you empty your toilet and wastewater. You should always use the WWTP provided for this purpose.
This is very important for New Zealand’s environment.
Wastewater treatment stations are located in most campsites, holidays or parks in the main cities and towns.
You can find the closest WWTP to you here
On the road, don’t forget to look for the sign below that tells you where the next treatment station is.

Look out for the distinctive blue dump station logo!

9. Before hitting the road

Before hitting the road for new adventures, don’t forget to always check that your belongings (inside and outside) in the motorhome are secure and don’t end up on the floor when you turn the first corner.
In the same vein, if you use your power cable, make sure it is disconnected and tidy in your motorhome before hitting the road. The same goes for the gas cylinder, ensure it is safely closed and cupboards and drawers are securely shut.

10. Stay out of campsites for as long as possible

The advantage of going on holiday in a motorhome is to be as independent as possible, be able to sleep where you want, when you want, without worrying about the level of the fresh water tank or the battery and if the toilets are full or not.
Here are some tips that will allow you to stay longer out of campsites and more off the beaten track.
  • Get up early and go to bed early, you will use less electricity in the evening.
  • Turn on the lights only when necessary.
  • Turn off the fridge overnight. Maybe not a good idea in summer....
  • Have at least one or two meals that can be cooked without gas and electricity.
  • Fill the sink and use the same water to wash and rinse the dishes.
  • For most backpackers, a shower every two days is sufficient.
  • When you fill up with fresh water, don’t forget to empty the waste water at the same time even if the tank is not full.
  • Use public toilets where possible.
  • Use DOC campsites where you can sometimes find toilets and cold showers.

Contact DetourNZ now to find the perfect motorhome for your holiday!

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Address: Unit 5, 3091 Great North Rd,
New Lynn, Auckland 0600
New Zealand
Tel: +64 9 827 8525

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