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.
PLAN YOUR JOURNEY
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!
BE PREPARED FOR SNOW
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.
DRIVING TO THE CONDITIONS
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 MAINTENANCE VEHICLES
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.
GETTING INFORMATION WHILST TRAVELLING
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.
TAKE YOUR TIME AND ENJOY THE JOURNEY
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!
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
Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.