Heading on a camping trip across New Zealand? It’s possible that you’ve started to plan ahead or have been given recommendations by friends – but what you’ll need to know is how to find top-rated campsites, trails and views, insider tips and how to respond to any emergencies (fingers crossed not!).
Here are the best camping apps for New Zealand:
Let’s jump right in.
No more camping fines? Yes please!
The Ranking Camping app shows you council-approved sites, so it’s perfect for a last-minute adventure, or if your trip involves a spontaneous pitstop.
As a huge advantage over other apps, Rankers Camping allows you to download grounds for offline use, giving you access to a range of nearby sites and points of interest across 2000+ locations. What’s more? You can save your favourites and ensure you’re getting the best spot possible – with sites backed by over 60,000 reviews.
If you’re choosing New Zealand for your next camping adventure, download the Rankers Camping app.
Collecting over 100,000 tracks, AllTrails is the ideal app for those that enjoy breaking their sweat and exploring the outdoors.
Backed by a community of 10 million travellers, the app provides an extensive and localised map outlining popular tracks and points of interest. Of course, you don’t have to sweat for each trip – but especially if you’re close to some of South Island’s best camping grounds, you’ll be able to browse popular trails and compare against a range of geo-tagged images.
Grab the latest climate information with live weather maps, fire history and air quality scales, save your favourite trails before you hit a higher altitude, and stay in the right lane with accurate GPS tracking.
Ready to make the most of New Zealand’s night sky on your next trip? Star Chart acts as a portable planetarium – simply point your camera at the sky, and you’ll find out all there is to know about our solar system; every planet and every star visible from Earth is all captured in the one app.
From the comfort of your own tent, you can use voice commands like “Take me to Mars”, virtually navigate throughout the solar system, and capture over 120,000 visible stars.
With the latest on camping spots and points-of-interest, the Travellers Autobarn app lets you find campsites ahead of time, or allows you to select based on your current location. You’ll be provided with suggestions on nearby facilities such as ATMs or laundromats, so if you’re in dire straits on an upcoming adventure – this app certainly has you covered.
As well as that, you’ll have the chance to interact with the community hub; add your photos, leave reviews and grab recent updates on local deals relevant to where you’re staying.
Once you’ve decided on a camping ground and you’ve settled in, your next thought is probably along the lines of – “what do we have to eat?”.
When you become sick from eating all of those nut-bars, Trail Chef is the best solution for cooking from your tent or campervan. Not only does it include over 60 easy-to-follow recipes, but the app also allows you to access the full menu without an internet connection.
Add your own recipes, categorise by dietary requirements and save your favourites for other adventures down the track.
So don’t worry, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to be bitten by a spider or break a bone on your next New Zealand trip – but this app is ideal for all things off-the-grid. The ‘Offline Survival Manual’ is an intuitive but comprehensive guide for skills such as building a campfire or shelter, finding food or treating bites and stings.
We know it’s quite obvious, but it’s also worth mentioning that the app can be used no matter whether you have a data connection or not, so you’ll always be prepared. Explore different areas of survival across basic medicine, shelter, fire, water procurement, poisonous plants or dangerous animals – and yes, the list continues.
Going on a trip without a proper plan? You wouldn’t dare – especially in New Zealand.
The Camping Checklist app provides a collection of templates and quick ways to share your items with other mates. This app also includes pre-loaded checklists, which means you can quickly start to plan ahead if you’ve organised a last-minute getaway.
Don’t trust Siri when it comes to weather – particularly in the land of the long white cloud! The MetService app has been designed to warn you of severe weather changes, and provides updates for up to 48 hours ahead of time.
You’ll get real-time rain radars and climate warnings, customisable dashboards and access to live traffic cameras – absolute must-haves if you’re considering a trip throughout the south or north islands. Created by the Meteorological Service of New Zealand, it’s ideal for keeping up to date on all things weather.
Ok, so we’re not here to shelter you, but a first aid app cannot go unnoticed if you’re camping in New Zealand. The First Aid & Emergency mobile app, created by the NZ Red Cross, is designed to give simple, easy advice for emergency situations.
Broken down with step-by-step instructions, it’s an accredited app that lets you access guides without reception or an internet connection – providing advice for natural disasters or first-aid scenarios.
Learn, prepare and test your knowledge with built-in modules, and use it as a pocket guide in case of any emergencies.
Wrapping up the best apps for camping across New Zealand, you should now be well prepared for your next trip. If you’re planning on driving throughout your journey, be sure to check out the best travel apps as well – it’s packed full of tips for Wi-fi hotspots and where to pick up the cheapest fuel, so you can’t miss out!
Have some other recommendations for us? Feel free to get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.
You’re finally going on that spontaneous road trip across New Zealand.
You’ve saved up as much money as possible, got the time off work, and shown off your campervan booking confirmation to your mates. Now what do you do?
Believe us, being spontaneous is fun, but you’ll probably want to do a little planning before you go and find some places to check out when you’re there. Finding places to eat, sleep, get fuel and go on day trips can seem daunting, but finding these places (and saving a bit of money along the way) will be much easier with these 9 apps.
These are the top road trip apps for New Zealand:
Campermate is the personal guide to New Zealand you didn’t know you needed. From finding epic campsites, nearby petrol stations or the best bar in town, this app has you covered. It was built with New Zealand and Australia in mind, so it’s not short on detail and is updated with warnings and alerts in real time.
The most comprehensive maps app out there due to the sheer scale of countries it covers – 220 countries! You’ll have no trouble finding your destination with this app. You can save 120,000 square kilometres in the offline mode and seeing as though it’s only about 1,700 kilometres from South Island to North Island, you’ll have no trouble getting from A to B (unless, of course, you want to get lost).
Google Maps should be pre-installed on most Android devices, so if you’re on an Apple device, download it from their App Store here.
Grab the latest tips on camping spots, places to visit and sights-to-see with the Travellers Autobarn app. You’ll not only find campsites closest to your road trip route, but will be thrown suggestions for facilities like the closest laundromat or nearest ATM.
With the app’s very own community-hub, add photos of your trip, provide reviews to other travellers and get the very latest updates on local deals relevant to your location.
Not only is there a lot to see in New Zealand, there’s also a lot to do. That’s why you’ll want the locals guide to all the best events around town with the What’s Hot NZ app. This free download is your ultimate event guide for design, fashion, arts, dining and accommodation. The app also includes:
When you’re on the road, knowing where to fill up can make all the difference. With petrol prices changing daily, you want to be able to rely on an app that gives you up to date price information, crowd-sourced by it’s own users. Enter, Gaspy.
This petrol station locator app helps you compare prices from petrol stations on your journey and avoid paying too much. It keeps money in your pocket for the important things, like 15 foods you must eat.
Download Gaspy from the App Store or Google Play store.
If you need to get online, you want to do it quickly and effectively so that you can return to the road. To do that, we recommend Wi-fi sweet spots – an app which scans your location for the strongest wi-fi connection. This might also help in choosing your morning coffee shop to catch up on recent posts, or for reading the latest updates in your news feed.
Take in even more of New Zealand with GrabOne. This app offers some incredible discounts across local activities, restaurants or outdoor camping spots, and even let’s you purchase your vouchers in advance.
Better yet, you can filter your searches by location, price and category, so you’ll never be short of adventure – even as you inevitably come across some of New Zealand’ most instagrammable locations.
This road trip app contains the GPS locations of over 200 campsites managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Whether cheap or free, these sites span the length of both the North and South Island, and the app itself contains some amazing locations which are saved locally – so no need to worry about losing mobile data or a wifi-hotspot.
Find the NZ Doc Campsite Finder app on Google’s Play Store.
The Outbound Collective is a community-based travel app, great for finding local adventures, or planning your road trip to visit as many places as possible. The app features personal stories on real adventures, amazing landscape galleries, and categorises trips by activity and season. Be sure to check out their guides on exploring Karekare Falls (near Auckland), and the Rakaia Gorge Walkway (near Christchurch).
New Zealand is a land full of adventure, and we’re not talking just about the extreme sports you can try there. If you ever visit the place, you would be in for a culinary adventure. It’s a beautiful country with so much to see, do…and EAT. You’ll find delicacies you won’t find in any other country. When you are travelling around New Zealand, here’s just a preview of the must-eat foods you can’t miss out.
The goal when doing a road trip would be to experience the country like a local. One way to do that would be to eat like a local. The hangi is a traditional Maori cultural food. This dish is prepared by placing vegetables and meat wrapped in leaves in deep fire pits. The cooking process is time-consuming. It takes three to four hours to cook the meet. This slow cooking method results in tender meat and flavourful vegetables. Since it takes so long to cook, this is a dish that’s normally cooked for special occasions.
Photo by Christina Branco on Unsplash
Manuka honey is popular all over the world. It’s known for its medicinal properties. The manuka tree grows in New Zealand, and this type of honey is known for being more flavourful than other varieties of honey. It’s quite expensive to purchase outside of New Zealand. This would make a great souvenir to bring back home with you.
Lobster or crayfish is widely available in New Zealand. As an island nation, the easy access to seafood means that you will have plenty of choices for different types of seafood. The crayfish in the country is a must-try. You do not want to miss out on this delicious local favourite.
The origin of this dessert is much debated. Ask a Kiwi, and they will tell you they invented the pavlova. An Australian would tell you that it came from their country. I guess it doesn’t matter who came up with this delicious dessert. All you need to know is that it’s a dessert you will want to have over and over again. It is a meringue dessert that is crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The meringue is served with fruits and whipped cream. This is a featured dessert for Christmas.
As a country that is full of vast greenery, the beef and lamb industry thrive here. You cannot visit New Zealand without tasting the lamb. Roasted or grilled, you’ll find this meat on basically every restaurant menu.
No must-eat list would be complete without something sweet. When you’re in New Zealand, you have to try something from the dairy industry. Dairy products are amazing in New Zealand, and the ice cream is one of the highlights. One of the popular flavours is called hokey pokey. This ice cream is a mixture of vanilla with bits of honeycomb. You’ll never call vanilla ice cream boring after you try this mix.
Whitebait is a tiny fish that is considered a delicacy in the country. From August to November, whitebait will be in season. You can enjoy them in an omelette served with toast. Be warned, it is an expensive fish.
Available basically all year round, this variety of mussel is juicier, fattier, and larger than the North American and European varieties. You’ll find plenty of seafood options in the country, and it’s definitely something you don’t want to miss out on.
Okay, this isn’t a must-eat, but it is a must-drink. Coffee lovers, pay attention! Much like the pavlova, the flat white is another item with a contentious history regarding whether it came from Australia or New Zealand. Needless to say, it has been long loved and is well known in this beautiful island country. So, when you are travelling around the country, pop into a local cafe and get a taste of the real flat white. The local baristas will have all perfected this brew.
This plant actually comes from South America but it is planted in gardens all over New Zealand. A feijoa is a small, oval-shaped green fruit with a taste that is often compared to a guava. It is actually called the pineapple guava. When ripe, you’ll enjoy the distinct fruity smell. They can be eaten straight from the tree or used as an ingredient for a smoothie. This fruit is high in vitamin C and antioxidants. It’s a great healthy snack to enjoy as you drive along the country’s long and winding roads.
This delicacy is expensive all over the world. If you want to splurge and expand your culinary horizon, paua is the way to go. Paua is the Maori word for abalone. This is a rare shellfish that is native to New Zealand. There are different ways to eat this — raw or fried are two popular choices.
The hamburger is the ideal road trip food. You can eat it in your car, and it’s easy to hold. You don’t need a knife and fork. It’s a grab-and-go food. The locals decided to put their own twist to the classic burger. The Kiwi burger is made of toasted bread, a beef batty, fried egg, tomato, cheese, onions, lettuce, beetroot, and condiments.
The Maori word for sea urchin is kina. It is a spiky, ball-like sea creature. You’ll find that people either love it or hate it. Kina can be found on any coast of New Zealand. The inside is soft and fleshy. You can buy the sea urchin and try to crack it yourself or you can purchase a tub of the flesh that can be eaten directly. The briny, slimy texture won’t work with everyone’s palate, but it’s worth a try!
This is the ultimate sweet potato. The kumara is a nutritious and affordable root crop that can be used in many recipes. It’s low fat and high in fibre, so if you’re watching your diet closely, this is a great food to try. This is a very good staple food that can leave you feeling satisfied.
This is another shellfish that’s native to New Zealand. This is a delicacy for Maori people. You can cook this by boiling it or creating a fritter. The soft and creamy texture is a big hit with the locals.
There’s so many foods to try when you go to New Zealand. The list we gave is a mere snippet of the gastronomic delights that await you. If you’re planning to visit the country, hop into a campervan. It’s one great way to really explore and get to know the place like a local. If you’d like to book a trip, contact Travellers Autobarn, or if you’d like to read more exciting cooking in a camper ideas explore here.
It’s a luxury to be able to just head out on the open road and be one with nature. There’s a lovely sense of freedom that comes with being able to disconnect from the chaos of city life, drive off, and go for a weekend camping. Driving around in a campervan makes it easy for you to discover new places, but you can’t forget about your basic needs like water and food to take camping.
When planning your meals for your road trip, you might think that you’ll be limited in your choices. In fact, there are a number of easy camping recipes that you can try to ensure you don’t have boring, basic meals during your campout.
We want to help you by making it easy for you to plan out your camping meals. We’ve put together a collection of simple and easy camping food ideas and tips you must try on your next campervan adventure.
Easy meals don’t have to mean plain cheese sandwiches and crisps or anything else that comes in easy-to-open packaging. You can actually create something more fancy and flavorful. Cooking in a campervan is really an experience you have to try.
Here are some of the benefits you’ll enjoy when you dine in your campervan:
Immersing yourself outdoors is one of the best things about camping. When you have a campervan that has a decent kitchen facility, you can really take advantage of the surroundings. Can you imagine eating a warm meal under the stars? Sitting under the night sky enjoying your supper is romantic, calming, and serene.
Obviously, when you go out to a campsite, you won’t have a huge kitchen with lots of equipment. You can only bring the bare essentials. You’ll probably have one pot, one pan, and a handful of spices. This would mean you want to force on bring creative so that your meals will still taste good even with just the basic spices.
Take advantage of the local fruit and vegetables that are in season because it’s cheaper than buying in the grocery stores.
The biggest adjustment when planning meals for camping recipes instead of planning for cooking in your home is that you have to create those meals on a much smaller scale. Ideally, you need to have things in handy containers that are easy to open and store or stack.
Here’s a quick list of the must-haves for camping out and cooking on the road:
The sky is really the limit for camp cooking recipes, anything can be made with the right equipment. Here are our top campervan cooking videos to excite your palate:
Meal planning doesn’t have to be hard or overcomplicated. To make things easy for you, we have put together this list of camping food ideas that you might want to try out on your next trip:
Whether you’re ‘glamping’, free camping or have the luxury of a campervan, the options really are endless while cooking on the road. Whatever you do, just make sure to pack the essentials, and keep your cooking simple yet creative!
For more recipes, adventures and happy customer stories, come and explore our YouTube channel!
If you are thinking of setting off on the journey of a lifetime in New Zealand, hiring a campervan is a great option for anyone. It is not only the most fun and adventurous way to travel, but also enables you to camp amongst nature, and often completely for free! So, when doing your research for campervans in New Zealand, you might come across the term ‘self-contained’. This article will explain what it means, and why it’s so important.
In New Zealand, there are plenty of opportunities to camp for free or ‘freedom camp’. This means parking in designated camp places for the night which don’t cost a cent. As this form of travel is so greatly popular in New Zealand, there are pretty strict laws on who can and cannot freedom camp, depending on what amenities your vehicle has on board.
Self-contained vehicles are more environmentally friendly, as they eliminate waste and store it in the campervan. This is extremely important to preserve New Zealand’s clean environment and ecology.
To be classified as ‘self-contained’, your vehicle will need to have a few particular items on board. When they have these items, they should be eligible to receive a ‘self-contained’ sticker. You will commonly see these blue stickers on the back of campervans in New Zealand. They are government approved and freedom camping without one will make you liable for a hefty fine if you get caught. To obtained one of these stickers, the campervan will need to have:
Even if a campervan has all of these, it is not classified as ‘self-contained’ unless it has received a warrant from the government.
If you do wish to freedom camp whilst in New Zealand, make sure you do your research which campervans enable you to do so. Our campervans in New Zealand come with the option to make them self-contained:
You’ll just need to add a ‘porta-potti’ which is a portable toilet – everything else is built into the van. Then, you’re on your way to freedom camping in some of New Zealand’s most spectacular locations!
Just because you have a self-contained van doesn’t mean you can just pull up wherever you like and sleep the night. It does, however, mean there are plenty more spaces in which you can do this. We suggest downloading the Travellers Autobarn road trip app, which is a fantastic way of finding campgrounds in New Zealand – paid or free. The maps will locate paid campsites, free campsites, mid-range campsites, campsites for self-contained campervans only, and much more. Some of our favourites?
Want to know more about freedom camping? We have plenty of information you can find on our Freedom Camping page.
So get a quote on a self-contained campervan and start planning your adventure of a lifetime today with Travellers Autobarn!
New Zealand is a more popular travelling destination than ever as the world discovers what the Kiwis already know to be true. Here you’ll find dazzling beaches, pristine turquoise lakes, spectacular mountain views, volcanic geothermal springs and over 250 well maintained camping areas.
If your first road trip is through New Zealand, you’ll be setting the bar very high for any trip to match! Whether you’re a local youngster heading out on the road for a gap year or a tourist flying halfway across the world to experience New Zealand, read on. You’ll learn how to plan a one-of-a-kind trip by seeing the country the way it should be seen: with the freedom of your own wheels.
Here’s What You’ll Find In This Guide To Travelling Around New Zealand
Some of the things you want to consider when planning your trip are whether you will be sleeping in a campervan or tucking up in a tent. A fully equipped campervan comes with many amenities such as a bed, storage area, kitchenette with sink and gas cooker, a fridge and power plug-ins. So generally speaking, you will have almost everything at your fingertips, making your trip close to hassle-free. Whether you’re on a family trip, or out with your best buddy, we’ve got a detailed campervan packing list here.
Some people want to sleep in a tent for a more rustic outdoors experience. If you’re not sleeping in a car or campervan, you’ll need to pack:
There are many places around the country to buy and rent gear but the more prepared you are ahead of time, the less worries you’ll have on the road. If you plan on sleeping in a tent, you’ll also want to consider where you camp. New Zealand has a lot of fully serviced campgrounds with bathrooms; however, a lot of the country is rural. If that makes you nervous, you can use a campervan with a toilet for convenience. Whichever way you choose to travel, there are other essentials you should pack:
These are the basics to get you thinking about what to pack before you hit the road. Consider what special activities you might be doing and plan accordingly. New Zealand has great ski areas, for example. There are also great caves for diving and beaches to explore. Come prepared and you’ll be ready for anything.
The best time of year to travel New Zealand is in winter, hands down, June – August. The roads are quieter, the vans are cheaper and there should be more selection with pick up and drop off locations. Plus to top it off, if you love to ski or snowboard, as well as travel, what better way to tie your 2 loves together? Travellers Autobarn does offer heaters and water bottles for specific months of the years, so you won’t get cold.
Autumn would be our second recommendation to travel New Zealand, March to May. With temperatures up to 29 degrees and you will still experience those long ‘summer-type’ days. This is also a cheaper time of year to travel as well, so if you’re trying to save on budget then make sure to look at these months!
Spring, but specifically October is worth a checking out too! Prices are still sharp and the weather is starting to get warmer. Everything is more vibrant! Spring is generally known as the ‘waterfall season’ in New Zealand, so make sure you check them all out! Whale watching is starting as well, so if you love mother-nature and the great outdoors, Spring is your month.
Finally, November to February are all great months to explore New Zealand. Summer is kicking in and the weather is improving. Although rates won’t be at their lowest, there will still be a deal to be had. Warm, long and sunny days make for a relaxing adventure, however you do risk hitting the crowds and busy roads! Kids will also be on school holiday for the majority of December – January.
Who doesn’t love cooking in the great outdoors? Whether you’re cooking on an open campfire, or over your campervan stove, each meal really does feel special and like you deserved it.
It can be a challenge to get cheap food while travelling around New Zealand, but as long as you plan and research it is possible to eat well while you’re out on the road. Cooking in your campervan means that budget and quality can come together, as long as you’re organised. Stock up on basic essentials such as rice, pasta, potatoes, veggies and fruits. Sauces and spices can also go a long way to jazzing up your meals.
Campfire nachos. Who doesn’t love nachos, especially after a long day of swimming or surfing at the beach? Grab some corn chips, refried beans, cheese, salsa, sour cream and jalapenos and get cooking.
If you’re renting a campervan and it’s a self-contained unit, check with us to see what is included, so you know if you need to bring any other essentials. Vehicles are often outfitted with a standard kitchen with a fridge, microwave, cookers/burners, a sink, and cupboards. Travellers Autobarn do offer a kitchen kit as well, in our premium living equipment set.
Other items you should pack, include:
The Freedom Camping Act of 2011 gives campers the right to stay the night in any public area. However, “free of charge” does not mean that the campers have no responsibilities. Campers must remember:
In addition to the many public lands of New Zealand, the Department of Conservation provides over 200 public campstes which can be searched here. This search engine allows you to filter campsites by region, landscape, facilities provided and access. Also, read up on your rights and responsibilities with this article about the Freedom Camping Act 2011 from Trip Savvy.
If you’re a camping enthusiast, there are a couple of options for you:
That’s it, once you’ve got all the basics covered, it’s now time to plan your route! We give you our top 5 beaches you need to visit when in New Zealand, whether you’re camping or in a campervan, these spots should be on your list.
One of the great things about New Zealand beaches is that even touristy spots seem vacant to international beachgoers. If you want access to truly off-the-path, unspoiled beaches, then ask some friendly locals or the Travellers Autobarn team.
Finally, we give you one of the best road trips you can do in New Zealand: Auckland to Christchurch. A drive from the capital city at the topmost part of the north island, to Christchurch, the biggest city on the south island, it is a great way to hit the highlights of New Zealand. You’ll want to take at least 9 days to enjoy the trip!
Check out some of our New Zealand road trips for even more inspiration on your next adventure – happy watching:
New Zealand is one of the most naturally spectacular countries on earth. So, it’s no doubt campervan travel is so popular when the great outdoors has so much to offer here. If you plan on hiring a campervan for your trip around New Zealand, you might be wondering how to find campgrounds and which ones allow you to camp for free, or ‘freedom camp’
There are strict laws in New Zealand which determine where you can and cannot freedom camp, which normally depends on the location and whether your vehicle is self-contained. Luckily, we live in the age of technology, so access to information is right at our fingertips. We have put together a list of our top 4 apps to help you freedom camp your way across the country!
We know how important budget-friendly travel is to our customers, so we have created this awesome app to help you find freedom campgrounds in New Zealand. Inside the app, you’ll find a map with hundreds of pinpointed campgrounds around the country, and information about what facilities you will find at each. From free sites to fully-equipped motorhome parks and everything else in between, there will be a site to suit your budget, wherever you are in the country. The app tells you which campgrounds are suitable and unsuitable for self-contained vehicles, which have BBQs, toilets, showers, dump-stations, as well as other handy information such as reviews and petrol station locations. If you’re using the app while in one of our campervans, you’ll also find the vehicle explanation videos and our contact information very useful.
Camping NZ is an official New Zealand app for camping, so you can be sure the information is trustworthy and reliable. This app has a lot of information on individual campsites, making finding what you need to know very easily. You can also book campsites ahead via the app if required. Like most other apps, Camping NZ also relies on user-generated information on campsites such as photos and reviews of the sites.
WikiCamps is a great app for finding campsites in New Zealand. A great benefit of WikiCamps, you’re able to download the maps for offline and it allows you to navigate and get directions to sites, directly from the app. The difference between WikiCamps and some others is that is has a lot of other useful features. It has a compass, a camping checklist, world time zone clock, and other great camping features. Unfortunately, this is not a free app, it costs $2.99.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) manages more than 200 campsites throughout New Zealand. From sites by the lakeside and sandy beaches to forest settings, and everything from basic free campsites to serviced campsites. NZ DOC Campsite Finder app is a helpful tool for locating these sites. The app is quite basic and directs you to pages on the DOC website. However, it’s very user-friendly compared to having to navigate the website yourself, and a fabulous way of finding DOC campsites – which are perfect for freedom camping.
We would recommend everyone downloads at least one of these apps before setting off on your campervan journey. Even if you do not plan on freedom camping, these apps are great for finding paid caravan parks and advise you on which have amenities such as toilets, dump stations and communal kitchens. They are a must-have on any holiday!
Freedom camping is the best way to travel New Zealand on a budget! We have plenty of freedom camping tips, check them out!
Hiring a campervan for your trip around New Zealand is one of the most budget-friendly ways of travelling around the North Island. You have your transport and accommodation all in one, meaning plenty of savings can be made in order to do other activities. And New Zealand is the land of fun activities – so you’re gonna want to put some dollars towards that!
That being said, during peak travel times of the year, campgrounds and caravan parks in New Zealand can become quite pricey. So if you’re travelling in a campervan, you can always take the other option of freedom camping. Freedom camping literally means camping for free! New Zealand has plenty of freedom camping opportunities around the North Island, and just because they don’t cost a cent doesn’t mean they aren’t AMAZING! Read on to learn all about the hows, whats and wheres of freedom camping in the North Island.
Freedom camping is camping outside of recognised campgrounds on public land or using campsites specially designed for freedom campers. Families and adventure lovers alike appreciate freedom camping because of the quiet and unobstructed views it affords. There are frequently no other campers right on top of you to keep you up at night or wake you up in the morning.
As these spots are usually quieter than your normal paid campgrounds, you can enjoy 180-degree views or better of some of the most stunning terrain in New Zealand. This is ideal for stargazing and if you’re into your photography. It can be like having your own campground all to yourself!
Some freedom camping locations are truly free, in that they don’t cost anything. Others charge a fee, albeit usually a small one, but you are not restricted in the way you would be in a family holiday camp or RV park. Instead, you can park in out-of-the-way locations because you don’t need to be hooked up to an electrical or water connection (but more on that below). You see more of nature and can come and go with ease, covering lots of ground without having to spend hours “decamping”.
If you wish to freedom camp in the North Island, you should be aware of a few things before you head off on your road trip journey. As there’s such a high volume of campers and campervan travellers in New Zealand, the country has some pretty hefty laws in place – understandably. Some of the rules and regulations of freedom camping in New Zealand include:
Whether you want to stay lakeside, beachfront or in the forest, you’ll find plenty of amazing freedom campgrounds in the North Island. You might want to consider some of these free campgrounds when you travel around the North Island:
Also, try Googling Department of Conservation (DOC) campgrounds in New Zealand. These are government run sites, many of which are free for campervan travellers.
To take advantage of freedom camping in New Zealand, you should have a general idea of some places you can stay before you head off. We live in the era of technology, which means luckily for us, there are plenty of apps that allow you to find places to sleep, right at your finger tips. We would recommend not leaving on your campervan journey without having downloaded at least one campground-finding app. Trust us – they are lifesavers and will make your trip so much more enjoyable!
You can download the free Travellers Autobarn app which has helpful information about free campgrounds, so you should never be stuck without a place to sleep.
If you are looking for more information about Freedom Camping please visit our Freedom Camping Section…
Queenstown is a must-visit destination on any South Island trip. It is a lively and charming hotspot strategically situated in a beautiful mountainous surroundings, and there is something there to appeal to everyone. Whether you crave adventure, meeting new people, or indulging in top quality food and drinks, we have you covered. Check out these top 5 things you should do when you visit Queenstown:
Queenstown is a traveller’s and a foodie’s haven. One of its biggest drawcards is the variety and quality of food options available in town. You can indulge in almost anything from hearty winter meals to organic summer salads. So, if you are planning to go there, get ready for a journey for your taste buds.
The famous Fergburger is a must-try on many foodie’s bucket lists. But if you aren’t into queuing up, try the just as good Devil Burger instead. For s modern Malaysian-inspired cuisine, head to Madam Woo. Have dinner here and try their delicious roti and laksas. If vegan dishes and fresh smoothies are more your thing, don’t miss Bespoke Kitchen for a wholesome brunch and coffee.
Queenstown is set within spectacular lakes and picturesque mountain backdrop. There is no shortage of natural beauty to take in when you visit Queenstown, so it’s the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and stretch your legs.
Start your day with a relaxing stroll through the charming rose gardens and pristine lawns in Queenstown Gardens, and grab a take away coffee on the way. In the afternoon, you can walk 1.5 km to the top of Queenstown Hill and be rewarded with the view of the sun setting over the city.
If you are looking for something challenging, Queenstown has to offer as well. The Ben Lomond Track is a demanding climb that offers spectacular panoramic views at the summit. You can choose to take the Gondola Cable Car up the hill at the beginning or take the entire hike, which will be a 6 – 8hr return trek.
Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand, so it is the perfect place to get your heart racing. The city is a must-visit for adrenaline junkies, and you can choose from a variety of extreme adventure activities.
Choose from skydiving, jet boating, white water rafting, bungee jumping, or a combination package of many. We recommend trying the Nevis bungy jump at AJ Hackett. This 134m drop is the longest in New Zealand, and it is definitely not for the faint-hearted!
If you are visiting in the winter months, you’ll surely not want to miss a day or two on the slopes. The nearby mountains are perfect for skiing and snowboarding and offer some of the best experiences in New Zealand for action snow sports.
As well as being the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown also holds the reputation of being the party capital. With the huge number of backpackers and youth travellers visiting Queenstown every year, you’ll be sure to enjoy the bar and club experiences if you are a lover of the nightlife.
Head to Loco Cantina for cheap eats and drinks, and DJs for your party nights. You can also head over to Bungalow for a more sophisticated cocktail bar. For late night dancing with an artsy vibe, head to Vinyl Underground or Zephyr. There are also plenty of craft beer bars and pubs to experience in Queenstown, such as Atlas or The World Bar.
Although it may seem like Queenstown is all go-go-go, it is also the perfect place to simply relax, unwind, and chill out. Take a book and chill out by the lake where you will be surrounded by people playing instruments and strolling through the park.
In the warmer months, you can go for a dip in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Wakatipu. With the natural beauty and energy of the region, it sure does make a perfect chill out experience. Sore or tired from all your adventures? Treat yourself to a massage and spa package at the tranquil Onsen Hot Pools, where you can relax and take in the beauty of the surroundings.
Your New Zealand experience will never be complete if you don’t drive to Glenorchy. This town may be little, but it has so many beautiful spots to offer. And about 20 kilometres away from Glenorchy, you will reach a sleepy village called Paradise. Although it does not have lots of souvenir shops and restaurants, the view is simply postcard-perfect. Not everybody makes it to these places, though, which is a shame. However, if you love mountains and nature, you should put this on your bucket list.
In case you don’t know, Glenorchy and Paradise are the towns that have been used as the backdrop for various movies, such as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Queenstown is the perfect road trip destination. Located on the southwestern side of the country, it is centrally located to many of the South Island’s must-see locations. About a 6-hour drive from Christchurch, there are plenty of places to stop and see along the way. Check out a campervan hire from Travellers Autobarn New Zealand, and start planning your dream getaway today.
If you are looking for more campervan travel tips check out our Campervan Travel tips section…
New Zealand is one of the most beautiful and remote countries on Earth. It’s peaks, valleys, bays, cities and trails are sought by people all over the world. New Zealand has everything from amazing culture and restaurants in cities, to memorable movie locations from the Hobbit, to an array of outdoor beauty and adventure that can be found in no other place. There are a few top locations that are both amazing to see and to Instagram.
These ancient caves feature millions of tiny insects that glow in the dark. These unique creatures hang from the ceiling of the cave, creating an optical illusion that looks like stars in the night sky. Visitors sail through the caves in small boats as their guide explains the magic history and nature of this location. Any picture inside these caves will be simply incredible on Instagram (remember to keep the flash off though).
Glow Worms Caves New Zealand
Located on the South Island, Mount Cook is one of the highest peaks in New Zealand. It has amazing skiing during the winter time and is a great place to go to get away from the warmer parts in the North. The amazing, clean, beautiful, snowy slopes make great places to snag a photo. The photo below is captured along Mount Cook Road, a road that winds along the turquoise blue Lake Pukaki with a backdrop of the spectacular mountain ranges and the highest peak, Mount Cook.
Queenstown is the HQ of adventure in New Zealand. The area offers everything including bungee jumping, skydiving, white water rafting, kayaking, mountain climbing and adventure trails. There are so many cool photos available here it is hard to know where to begin. Anyone looking for thrills and beauty should come to this location on the South Island. It is also home to some of the most iconic scenes from The Hobbit.
Queenstown New Zealand
Tauranga is a spectacular beach on the North Island. Visitors come for surfing, jet skiing and general good times. There are places to hike and explore. There are also wonderful hotels and spas to relax at. Instagram experts might want to focus on the amazing beaches and nearby scenery.
This island is known to be a spot for the artists, innovators, rich and famous to get away. It has amazing hotels to stay at as well as pristine beaches. There are also several top wineries that accept visitors. Tourists can enjoy all aspects of this island paradise. Photos at the beach, restaurants, winery or hiking trail are all great ideas.
This is the largest city in New Zealand and the gateway to the rest of the world. It has skyscrapers, luxury real estate, great food, and a thriving nightlife. This melting pot has visitors from around the world enjoying local cuisine, beer, and the nightlife. This is a great place to shoot party shots and downtown photos.
Auckland New Zealand
The Milford Sound is on the South Island and is home to the Fjordland National Park. It includes massive glaciers that are truly incredible. In fact, when famous author Rudyard Kipling saw this land, he called it the Eighth Wonder of the World. This area includes massive peaks and valleys. It is quite cold so visitors need to wear extra layers of clothing. Photographers will have no trouble finding the perfect pic to place on Instagram though.
Hobbiton is one of the most iconic locations for visitors to New Zealand. The movie producers of the Hobbit left many of the most famous homes in the village standing. These stand among beautiful rolling hills and farmland. Visitors can walk right up to the homes and take the best pictures. At the end of the tour, people can sample the local ale or many other treats.
Hobbiton New Zealand
This island is known to be a spot for the artists, innovators, rich and famous to get away. It has amazing hotels to stay at as well as pristine beaches. There are also several top wineries that accept visitors. Tourists can enjoy all aspects of this island paradise. Photos at the beach, restaurants, winery or hiking trail are all great ideas.
The best way to capture those Instagramable #roadtrip memories is with a campervan hire in New Zealand. Travellers Autobarn hires out campers from Auckland and Christchurch. Get a quote and start planning your epic road trip today!
If you are looking for more campervan travel tips check out our Campervan Travel tips section…