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The Ultimate Guide to Winter Campervanning in New Zealand

Why should you consider camping in Winter? 

Even Popular Tourist Spots Are Quiet

If you prefer solitude and peace and quiet to crowds of tourists, winter is definitely the time to explore New Zealand.

While there are plenty of places you can go to escape the crowds even in peak season, in winter, you can drive for miles without seeing a single other car or campervan on the road. You can enjoy stunning empty beaches and landscapes without a soul in sight.

You also won’t need to book ahead at popular campsites so you have more flexibility – you can just turn up as and when it suits you.

Popular skiing locations will obviously be at their busiest times in the winter, but you’ll feel as if you have the rest of the country to yourself. It really is the ultimate wilderness experience!

winter campervanning new zealand 2

Amazing Snow-capped Vistas

Talking of stunning landscapes, you’d be hard pressed to find a prettier time in New Zealand than the winter months. Snow on the mountains makes for amazingly beautiful views and photographs that are sure to make your friends and family back home jealous.

All that snow isn’t just pretty to look at either. If you’re looking for a great opportunity to teach the kids to ski, or you want to hit the slopes and try out snowboarding for yourself, New Zealand has no shortage of mountains and plenty of powder snow in the winter months

It’s Cheaper

Travelling in the off-season means you can take advantage of cheaper rates. Renting a campervan is cheaper for a start, with prices as low as $29 a day between May to September.

This means your money goes a lot further and so you can stretch out your road trip for longer – hurray! You can also treat yourself to a night or two in a hotel along the way if you’re craving a little luxury. Hotel rates drop in the winter along with everything else.

camping in winter in new zealand

2. Best Places to Visit in New Zealand During Winter

Now that you realise winter is most definitely the best time for a campervan holiday in New Zealand, you can start planning your trip.

Of course, many of the must-visit places on the North Island and South Island are worth travelling to at any time of the year. Still, there are some extra special experiences you can enjoy in the wintertime:

  • Wanaka on the South Island has some great winter activities on offer including dog sledding and snow and ice driving experiences.
  • Queenstown holds a four-day winter festival that’s well worth a visit if you’ll be around at the end of June. With live music, street parties, and mountain races, there’s something for the whole family to enjoy.
  • Tekapo Springs in Christchurch is a must-visit for adrenaline junkies of all ages to try out the snow tubing on a 150-metre downhill slope. For a more sedate activity, you can relax in the natural hot pools with stunning views of the Southern Alps.
  • Kaikoura is a haven for animal lovers. It’s one of the best locations in the country for whale watching. Their migration period falls in June and July so you’re more likely to catch a glimpse of a humpback or blue whale. There’s also a seal colony at Kaikoura Peninsula, just south of the town.
  • The Franz Josef Glacier is at its best in the winter months. There are plenty of hiking opportunities on the glacier itself or up to the vantage point of Alex Knob.
  • Skiing is, of course, a must-do activity during the New Zealand winter. There are plenty of places to hit the slopes, with most of the ski areas found on the South Island. Cardrona Alpine Resort in Wanaka is one of the best resorts for family skiing and offers child-friendly slopes, ski school, and childcare options.

winter camping new zealand

3. New Zealand’s Best Campsites

Powered campsites are a must during the winter months so you can run a heater and stay toasty warm inside your campervan.

The best campsites offer a combination of a beautiful setting, convenient location, and great facilities. Of course, you want to plan your trip around the places you want to visit, rather than choosing the best camp sites, but it’s helpful to know what the best options are for bedding down for the night in the area you’re travelling to.

There are many great campsites that are worth staying at for a night or two in the winter months. Here are just a few of our favourites:

Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park

Within easy walking distance of the town centre, this campsite offers powered sites with great shower and kitchen facilities, Wi-Fi, and even a playground for the kids.


Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park

Only a couple of minutes from the lake and a 10-minute walk into town, the location of this campsite can’t be beat. The spacious grassy powered sites are serviced with full amenities including toilets, showers, kitchen, a children’s playground and small petting zoo.


Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park

After a busy day of sightseeing, you’re sure to appreciate the thermal pools and swimming pool that are free for campsite guests. What more could you ask from a camping spot? Other facilities include a BBQ area, children’s mountain bike track, playground, TV lounge, laundry, kitchen, and shower block.


 Download the full guide for more top campsites.

campervanning in winter new zealand

4. Free Camping Spots in New Zealand

Dotted all around New Zealand are “freedom” camping spots that allow you to park up and stay the night for free. These camping spots don’t usually have any facilities such as toilets, and you’ll need a blue “self contained” sticker on your campervan to be eligible to use one. Travellers Autobarn offers self-contained vehicles that meet this requirement.

It’s important to use one of the designated areas and not just stop your campervan wherever you want. Even if you’re in a remote location and think you’re not bothering anyone, you can be fined for camping in a restricted area. These fines were put in place in 2011 to protect the environment.

To find out where you can camp for free, you can use the official NZ camping map app, which includes over 500 free camping spots on both the North and South Island. You can install this handy app on your phone and the maps even work offline so you’ll be able to find somewhere to camp for the night, wherever you are.

winter camping new zealand

5. What to Take on a New Zealand Campervan Trip in the Winter

Packing for your first campervan holiday can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’ll be travelling in winter, but there’s no need to get stressed about it. If you forget anything, it’s usually easy to buy while you’re on the road.

Of course, you should pack your usual clothes, documents, toiletries, and other bits and pieces that you’d take when travelling. For a campervan holiday in the winter you should also consider bringing along the following:

  • Plenty of bedding – take an extra duvet or sleeping bag for those chilly nights.
  • Lots of warm clothes – dressing in layers is best as the temperature can be quite changeable throughout the day. This gives you the flexibility to just strip off or add an extra layer.
  • Hot water bottles – to keep you extra toasty in bed.
  • Portable heater – will heat your campervan to a cosy temperature when you’re staying at a powered campsite.
  • Snow chains – you might not need these, depending on your itinerary, but they’re a requirement for certain roads and mountain passes on the South Island in extreme weather. You can hire snow chains at the same time you pick up your campervan and remember to check the forecast before you go!
  • Plenty of coins – most campsites have coin-operated laundry and shower facilities so you’ll need plenty of spare change to use them. Start stocking up on coins before you leave.
  • Torch – a good torch or headlamp is essential for those late night trips to the toilet block, or if you want to conserve your campervan battery by not turning on the lights. Make sure you have spare batteries too.
  • ·Extension cable and electrical adaptors
  • First aid kit  – including bandages, Elastoplast, antiseptic cream, painkillers, bite cream, diarrhoea medication, etc.
  • Insect repellent – mosquitoes and sand flies aren’t so much of a problem in winter but it’s best to be prepared.
  • Music – most rental campervans come with a stereo. Make the most of it and create a road-trip playlist that will help you to remember your adventure every time you hear it in the future.
  • Books – you’re unlikely to have internet access everywhere you go and the internet at campsites can be painstakingly slow. Instead of getting frustrated, enjoy the opportunity to curl up with a good book instead. See the end of this guide for some helpful book suggestions.
  • Food – stock up on packet pasta and noodles for when you need a quick and easy meal in the middle of nowhere.
  • Hiking boots – the best of the country is off the beaten track so be prepared to do some walking to see it.

camping in winter new zealand

6. Best Road Trips on the North Island

The climate is mild on the North Island in winter. Temperatures in Auckland are usually between 9 and 15°C. The scenery on the North Island isn’t any less impressive in winter and while it will be too cold to swim in the ocean, there are plenty of natural hot springs to enjoy.

1. Auckland to Wellington

The “Thermal Highway” runs from north to south along some of New Zealand’s most interesting volcanic sites, including the Rotorua geysers and the Lake Taupo crater. These places are not only great fun to explore and to get some amazing holiday snaps, but they’re also a great educational opportunity if you’re travelling with kids and trying to squeeze in some “road schooling”. There’s also the Hobbiton movie set at the start of the route, which is a must-stop for Lord of the Rings fans.

For the grown-ups, this route also includes some of the island’s best wineries, so you can relax and explore with a drink or two. Plan around two weeks for the whole trip, with plenty of stop-off.

winter road trip in new zealand

2. Taumarunui to Stratford

The 150 km “Forgotten World Highway” is a driving experience to remember (although perhaps not for the faint of heart!), with roads passing over mountains and alongside river gorges.

Taumarunui is a friendly town with plenty of shops, accommodation, and eateries. There’s so much to see along the way including Damper Falls, the Whangamomona Saddle, and the enigmatically named “Bridge to Somewhere”.

Plan three days for this trip and use Stratford as a base for exploring Mount Taranaki and Egmont National Park.

Download the full guide for details on the Pacific Highway roadtrip!

hire a campervan in winter new zealand

7. Best Road Trips on the South Island

The South Island is arguably at its best in winter when its impressive mountain ranges are capped with snow. Expect the weather to be chilly (but the scenery more than makes up for this) but there are still places on the South Island with a mild winter, such as Nelson, which boasts the highest annual amount of sunshine in the country.

1. Queenstown to Milford Sound

The stunning drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound is considered by many to be one of the best road trips in the world. You’ll pass through snowy landscapes, majestic mountain ranges, and ancient rain forests.

The full drive is around eight hours and is best split over a few days with stops for attractions like the mirror lakes and the Fiordland National Park.

2. Queenstown to Christchurch

This road trip takes you through some of the best that the South Island has to offer in winter with plenty of opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, hiking, and relaxing under the stars.

Along the way you can visit must-see tourist spots including Wanaka, Lake Tekapo, and the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, all which offer some of the country’s most stunning scenery and are particularly spectacular in winter.

Plan around 10 days for this trip, which is enough for a few days to explore all Queenstown has to offer, with a day or two spent at other spots along the way.

 Download the full guide for more roadtrips.

8. Top Cities to Visit in New Zealand

New Zealand is famous for its sweeping landscapes and beautiful wilderness locations, but it also offers exciting metropolitan cities.

Balance out your campervan trip by spending a few nights in the city in between exploring the countryside. You’ll also find, cities have some of the best-equipped campsites and, of course, a great opportunity to stock up on supplies.

hire a campervan in auckland


Auckland on the North Island is the largest city in New Zealand. It is also an international flight hub so there’s a good chance your holiday will start off here.

There’s lots to see and do here, including museums and art galleries, parks, and of course many world-class bars and restaurants.


Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city and is located near the southernmost point of the North Island. It’s a quirky and creative city with a strong art scene and a good dose of coffee and craft beer culture.

Wellington’s attractions include Oriental Bay – the city beach, and plenty of opportunities for walks and outdoor activities. Food is also king in the city with many restaurants, food trucks, and night markets.


Christchurch suffered massive damage from the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 but its spirit has not been broken. Most of the original attractions are still standing or have been re-built.

The Botanic Gardens is definitely worth a visit and a ride on the Christchurch Gondola will take you to the top of Mt Cavendish for a bird’s eye view of the city.

camping in queenstown

Queenstown on the South Island is a popular hub for adventure sports all through the year, including sky diving, bungee jumping, and white water rafting. In the winter months, skiing is the main attraction and the town celebrates the start of the season with their four-day winter festival.


Nelson is a small city but it’s worth a mention as it’s so popular with visitors for its laidback vibe and sunny climate. The region boasts a long history of creative culture and it’s a great hub for exploring the surrounding areas such as Kahurangi National Park, the Abel Tasman National Park, and Golden Bay.

driving campervan in winter

9. Driving a Campervan in Winter in New Zealand

To drive a campervan in New Zealand, you’ll need an international driving licence, which you must keep with you while driving. The legal driving age in New Zealand is 18 and you can rent a campervan from this age too.

Drivers in New Zealand drive on the left side of the road, which can take a little getting used to if you’re from a country that drives on the right. As some of New Zealand’s quieter roads are almost empty of traffic in the winter months, it’s not unknown for visitors to drive for several kilometres on the wrong side of the road before they realise their mistake!

Driving in winter can be more hazardous, especially on the South Island where snow and ice can make the roads slippery. You might need snow chains for some of the more remote mountain roads in winter. Road safety in New Zealand is generally very good and roads are usually closed when snow starts to pose a safety hazard.

It’s best to research the route you plan to take by consulting guidebooks and searching online before you set off. Some roads are unsealed, which require careful and slow driving. Steep and winding roads can also be difficult to navigate for inexperienced drivers. Your insurance may not cover driving on unsealed roads so make sure to check this before you plan your route. 

winter campervanning in new zealand

Download the full guide for top tips on campervan life and our teams recommendations on the best books worth reading before you go

To put it simply, any time of year is a great time to travel New Zealand in a campervan. Speak to the team at Travellers Autobarn for more information and to book your campervan today

We look forward to welcoming you on the trip of a lifetime!

If you are after more Campervan Travel  Guides please check out our New Zealand Campervan Travel Guide section…

If you’re anything like me, when you think of a road trip you think summer, sun & sand. Well, New Zealand is just as beautiful in Winter as it is in Summer. Best of all, there is barely anyone there! As not many people are travelling in winter, there is almost no traffic on the roads and it feels like you have the whole country to yourself!

Top Winter Activities New Zealand

Queenstown Winter Festival

Every year, Queenstown hosts a festival to commence the beginning of Winter. It’s a celebration of music, comedy, snow and a whole lot of fun! From fireworks to races, this festival has everything to cure your winter blues. Starting from 21st June and carrying over the long weekend, this is perhaps the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest celebration of winter!

Queenstown Winter Festival

Trek Franz Josef Glacier

The Franz Josef Glacier is one of the South Islands most loved treasures. This World Heritage site will often see fresh snow on top of the ice during winter. If you’re a keen explorer there is are a range of 1.5 – 5 hour treks which starts in the town of the same name as the Glacier. They will take you up to 750m up to the ice monsters face!

Franz Josef Glacier

Hitting the Slopes on the Mountain

New Zealand’s slopes are some of the legends. From one of the most popular ski fields of Coronet Peak, surrounded by the Remarkables in the South, to Turoa Ski Field, the skiable volcano in the North, there is no shortage of mountains. So why not grab a board or a pair of skis and have a go at one of the sports making New Zealand’s famous?

Skiing in New Zealand

Rotorua Geothermal hot springs

What could be better than jumping into a naturally heated hot spring after a cold day? Kerosene Creek is just 35 minutes’ drive from Rotorua. It is heated from a natural spring under the Earth, which bubbles up into the water, creating warm waters in the creek. Best of all, there is no admission price!

Rotorua Hot Springs

Whale watching in Kaikoura

The best time to catch the widest range of whales is in winter. Head down to Kaikoura to see the Whales while they take a rest stop in Kaikoura as they migrate from the cool Antarctic waters, up to the warmer tropical oceans. On the perfect days, you can see the Humpback whales somersaulting on the horizon, with the crisp, blue sky of winter days which is unforgettable!

Whale Watching in New Zealand

Adrenaline Activities at Lake Tekapo

Are you an adrenaline junkie? Not only does Lake Tekapo offer a wide range of the most popular activities, but it also offers activities you may have never heard of! Snow tubing is a new one for me, however, it is the most fun! How more can you embrace the snow than sliding down a giant hill?!

Winter Activities in New Zealand

There’s no better time to hire a Campervan and take that road trip you’ve been dreaming of!

So, what are you waiting for? There’s no better time to embrace winter! Grab your quote here. For more campervan winter stories in New Zealand click here

New Zealand is a perfect year-round travel destination. Snow-capped mountains, winter sports activities, and empty, open roads make winter an ideal time to hire a campervan and hit the road. Here are some of the reasons why you should consider a winter road trip in New Zealand.

Kuga Campervan Lifestyle Travellers Autobarn

Kuga Campervan Sunset by Travellers Autobarn

When you think of New Zealand, images of snow-capped mountains and icy glaciers probably come to mind. Although spectacular year-round, New Zealand is a winter wonderland and is nothing short of jaw-dropping in the winter! Get those envious, Gram-worthy photos, and see beauty in every direction you look, with a road trip in winter.


Kuga Campervan Lifestyle Travellers Autobarn

Kuga Campervan Sunset by Travellers Autobarn


1. Less crowds

Summer is an extremely popular time for travellers to visit New Zealand. As it is a small country, it can get pretty crowded with travellers during the warmer months. If you want to avoid this, skip the peak season and visit in winter. You can do almost all the same activities (even more!), plus you will have campgrounds and popular attractions mostly to yourself!

Kuga Campervan Lifestyle Travellers Autobarn

Kuga Campervan Lifestyle by Travellers Autobarn


2. Save money

With fewer people travelling in winter, that also means everything gets a lot less expensive. New Zealand is not always a cheap country to travel to, so if you have a tight budget, travel in winter! You can experience the country in just the same way, and avoid those peak-season tourist prices. A campervan hire in winter is usually less than $50 a day, so there’s your transport and accommodation sorted at a fraction of the price.

Kuga Campervan Lifestyle Travellers Autobarn

Kuga Campervan Lifestyle by Travellers Autobarn


3. Winter activities

There are certain things about New Zealand that draw in visitors from all over the world. Its winter activities are one of them. New Zealand’s impressive mountainous terrain makes great sporting activities. Skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and glacier hiking are some of the amazing activities you can do in winter.

Kuga Campervan Lifestyle Travellers Autobarn

Kuga Campervan Lifestyle Winter Campervan by Travellers Autobarn


Worried about being cold in winter? Travellers Autobarn provides a FREE winter pack for all bookings in May to September. With a heater, extra sleeping bags, and hot water bottle, you’ll be cosying up in your home away from home at night, and out playing in the snow during the day! Get a quote on a winter campervan hire from Travellers Autobarn today.

For more campervan winter stories in New Zealand click here

New Zealand is one of the most beautiful winter destinations in the World – and yes – it is an amazing country to explore in Winter – plus it is SO CHEAP! Campervans are up to 80% cheaper than during summer, camp sites are nearly for free and even the ferries – going between North to South Island – give you a bargain price.

Let us convince you on why you should explore New Zealand in winter on our dedicate Winter Campervan Travel page. You find plenty of information on here on why you should travel during winter, how to prepare yourself, key visiting spots and much much more…

Hiring a campervan in winter in New Zealand is a great way to explore this beautiful country, but it is really important that you practice safe driving in winter. If you want a enjoyable and safe trip, it’s good to consider some tips and prepare yourself to drive to the conditions if you find yourself on an icy, snowbound or slippery road. Winter in New Zealand runs from June to August, but quite often you’ll get snow around the mountains well into September.

Campervan hire New Zealand Winter


Make sure that you plan the route you’d like to take as well as camping spots along the way. Check online for any weather warnings and road conditions ahead of time. Change your route/ plan if required.  Always choose safety over convenience :)

If you need an updated road report or additional information, call 0800 44 44 49 or visit highwayinfo.govt.nz.

Do not drive at night time or if the visibility is bad. Plan your driving for the middle of the day or in daylight hours and if travelling long distances at a time, make sure you take lots of breaks. Before you set off make sure your windows are completely clear of overnight condensation, and if possible wait until the sun has warmed up the roads and melted the ice. Watch out for corners of the road that may not have seen the sun yet!

Winter campervan hire New Zealand


Be prepared for snow by carrying tyre chains with you. Make sure that you know how fit and use them before you set off on your road trip. It’s worth buying a jerry can and keeping at least half a tank of petrol in your car in case you get diverted onto another route due to the weather/ road closures.

Make sure you pack lots of warm clothes with you. It will get cold at night and campervans can get pretty nippy in the evenings. We supply free winter packs for all our customers travelling with us over winter, but it’s worth bringing some extra blankets too just in case. It may also be worth hiring a heater for your campervan as well which you can use at powered sites.

Winter campervan hire New Zealand


It’s really important to drive to the conditions you are in, especially when there is snow and ice. Drive slower than you normally would, it takes less than a split second to lose control in wet or icy conditions. Don’t do any sudden turns or break heavily as these movements can cause you to skid. If you need to break you should pump the break pedal in short rapid bursts  to avoid skidding and sliding which can happen if you press long and slow.

Keep a greater distance between yourself and other drivers because it takes longer to stop on slippery roads. Double the two-second rule in winter and always keep a safe distance between yourself and the car in the front. When there is fog, rain or snow drive with your dipped headlights on so that others can see you better.

Winter campervan hire New Zealand


As well as being aware of other drivers around you, keep a safe distance between yourself and maintenance vehicles helping to keep roads open. Do not pass these vehicles until you are instructed to – these crews have experienced knowledge of their region so please follow their instructions and advice at all times.


Whilst your driving in New Zealand you will see electronic message signs at roadsides, these will provide you with up-to-date warnings on current driving conditions, such as road closures, ice and snow. The signs will be blank if there are no restrictions. Keep your radio on as radio stations will keep you up to date with local road conditions.


New Zealand is a spectacularly scenic country so take your time and enjoy the views. Distances between places may look short on a map but in fact the winding roads in new Zealand mean that journeys can take longer than you anticipated. Take lots of breaks to rest and revive and enjoy your road trip!

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Winter campervan special

Travellers Autobarn also provides a FREE winter pack to all customers travelling between May and September. This includes extra sleeping bags, hot water bottle, and a heater to keep you cosy at night. For more campervan winter stories in New Zealand click here

Are you planning to travel via campervan through New Zealand during winter season – especially June to August? Yes, it will be cold; and it will be a lot of FUN! It is all in the preparation of your hire…


Really between May to September the goal should be stay at powered campsites so that you can use the heater during the night – it is just like camping in front of a fire – however inside a van & you won’t even feel the cold. Travellers Autobarn has a partnership with Kiwi Holiday Park so you end up saving a bit too!



Warm slippers – thermals – thick socks – just imagine you be off skiing – you require the same clothing. A warm water bottle, as well as a decent sleeping bag, are a good idea too plus an umbrella in case of rain fall! Travellers Autobarn provides you with free heaters, water bottles as well as extra sleeping bags between May to September for free – so that’s a plus!

winter pic2



In some areas you might require snowchains so it is best to do your research – and if required – hire on from your campervan provider on pick-up. It is also a good idea to stay flexible and keep an eye out on the weather; the sun still shines 😉 An excellent weather service provider is MetService.


New Zealand offers so much variety when it comes to winter – hiking, skiing, hot springs – they have it all. It is all about choosing the right activities – for skiing we recommend Coronet, Cardona, Treble Crone  – of course there a lot more out there. Hot springs wise areas like Rotorua and Hammer Springs are amazing!

winter pic6

You see – there is lot’s to do in winter in New Zealand! If you are not convinced yet for a winter campervan hire please read our “Top 5 Reasons for Winter Campervaning in New Zealand” article – happy campervanning 😉

Winter campervan special

Travellers Autobarn also provides a FREE winter pack to all customers travelling between May and September. This includes extra sleeping bags, hot water bottle, and a heater to keep you cosy at night.

For more campervan winter stories in New Zealand click here

Everyone wants to see New Zealand in summer – between November to March New Zealand is the #1 campervan holiday destination in the world and holidaymakers from all around the world are willing to spend big $$$ for it!

Here is the thing – New Zealand is just as amazing in Winter as it is in summer – here are our top reasons:


Campervans go for as little as $29/day between May to September – that’s right $29/day – a meal will cost you more so it’s a great time for bargain hunters!


For all those winter freaks out there – New Zealand is a top location for winter sports – skiing/snowboarding – you name it. Top locations include Coronet, Cadrona, Treble Cone, Mt Hutt and Turoa! Park your camper on a powered campsite, heat it up and cook some delicious “Gluehwein” – it’s like a winter party in your campervan!


There is nobody around – well except in the snowfields – so you can really relax and chill out – you will love it.


You can get some of the most amazing imagery during winter – especially for those photography fans out there. The mountains & lakes will take your cold breath away!


Especially if you are from Europe you love hot springs – there is nothing better than sitting in a hot pool in cold weather – snowing – and winter scenery! Areas like Rotorua and Hamner Springs are highly recommended!

Winter Campervan Hire New Zealand


Let’s get ready for your winter campervan adventure with Travellers Autobarn – between May and September all campervans will be provided with FREE heaters, hot water bottles and extra sleeping bags!

For more campervan winter stories in New Zealand click here

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