New Zealand Self Drive Adventures

July 02, 2020

Budget NZ Road trips 2020

Holidaying in NZ while the borders are closed is the only option available to Kiwis at present. Many people are realising it can be more expensive than they imagined. Why not take a leaf out of the savvy International tourists’ playbook? With the current discounts available on camper-vans, its the perfect time for a road trip.

Counter to what one would expect, accommodation and air fare deals have not been widely offered to stimulate local tourism. Camper-vans on the other hand are more affordable than ever and it is off peak season for campgrounds and caravan parks. This creates the opportunity to build an affordable road trip focused on the activities or attractions that appeal specifically to you.

If you enjoy cycling, hiking, fishing, golfing, sight seeing or just being somewhere new, now is a great time to pack up and get on the road, especially from a cost and accessibility perspective. Because of Covid-19 and the time of year, you are almost guaranteed not to be fighting crowds or standing in line (with the possible exception of skiing.)

When travelling in this manner it is important to build a basic itinerary for yourself. It can include lots of flexibility but make sure you have a plan on where you will be able to plug in, buy supplies, replenish water etc. Don’t count on wide availability and selection in small towns. Look at drive time between stops and plan to arrive well before dark and before the shops and campground offices close etc. Contact tourism and site operators beforehand to understand whether you can just show up or need to make reservations. If equipment will need to be hired to participate in an activity get the details ahead of time. If you plan to take a ferry, definitely book in advance.

Take some activities, books, or other ways to amuse yourself in case the weather interferes and for at night in areas where you are staying in the campground. Going out to eat locally at night is often very affordable in the smaller towns and a great way to avoid too much time in the camper-van. The ability to bring groceries with you is a great way to keep the budget for the trip down but leave a few nights free to go out even if for a really cheap meal at the local pub.

Try to travel in a loop rather than backtrack and see the same towns and scenery over again. Try to go somewhere that has different topography and vegetation than you are used to so that it feels like you have been somewhere new. New Zealand has so many micro-climates, unique coastal areas and vegetation changes that you won’t have to go far.

Author: David Turner