Are you thinking of traveling New Zealand in a van? For us it was an amazing way to experience the most beautiful country in the world!
Junien loves to travel thanks to his parents who taught him the importance of traveling. He traveled a lot with them across the world. For example, his father lives in a van that he built and aims to travel all over Europe.
As for Chloë, she also traveled a lot with her parents, mostly in France. She also studied tourism and culture for five years at university, which are some of the reasons why traveling is important to her.
New Zealand has always been a place that we wanted to visit. Almost two years ago, when we decided to go on a trip across the world, New Zealand was the country at the top of our list. If we had to choose just one country to travel to in the world, it would’ve been this one.
Our first impression of New Zealand when we arrived was that it seemed to be a clean country, respectful of its environment, and with a lot of diverse fauna and flora.
Traveling New Zealand in a Van: The Ultimate Freedom
Traveling New Zealand in a van was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. It was the first time that we traveled this way. In our opinion, cruising in a van is a lovely way to discover New Zealand because it offers you the ultimate freedom.
You can’t really enjoy this level of freedom when you travel by train or by bus. With a van, you can easily find spaces to park at night and go pretty much wherever you want, whenever you want. Traveling New Zealand in a van is an experience everyone should have at least once in their lifetime.
Traveling New Zealand in a Van: North Island vs South Island
Without any surprise, we liked the south island more than the north island. The north is really nice, particularly the huge geothermal area where you can see many volcanoes and sulphur lakes. But the south island just has a lot more beautiful places to offer in our opinion.
Firstly, the south island is more wild. There are a lot of large spaces and an incredible diversity of landscapes. From mountains and forests, to deep blue lakes and sand dunes.
The south island is also an amazing place for the diversity of animals. Many different birds, sheep, sea lions and fur seals call this land home.
We saw dusky dolphins swimming and playing around the boat. It was so nice and we had the chance at the end of the trip to see a sperm whale.
This was the first time seeing this majestic animal for the both of us. We couldn’t describe the feeling that we had when we saw this huge animal. It was simply amazing.
Moreover, the company with which we booked the trip is known to be respectful of the fauna and flora of the ocean. This was important to us as we didn’t want to have a negative impact on the sealife.
Walking the Breathtaking Ben Lomond Track
Ben Lomond is a special memory for us because it was quite difficult to reach the summit. We’re not used to doing such hard day walks. We saw it as a challenge and when we finally arrived at the summit, we were so proud of our efforts and enjoyed the incredible landscape views.
This is the moment that will remain with us the longest from our trip to New Zealand.
Traveling New Zealand in a Van: The Best Experiences
1) The Tongariro Crossing: The landscapes that we saw on this trail were spectacular. This is one of the best day treks you can do in the north island. For us, it’s the quintessential outdoor experience in New Zealand.
2) Traveling New Zealand in a Van: This was our first time traveling a country in a van and we must say that it was awesome! The sense of freedom that we enjoyed – being able to sleep wherever we wanted next to some of the most impressive landscapes in the world – was the best.
3) Dolphins and Whales of Kaikoura: seeing these majestic animals up close was a special experience. The best thing about the tours is that there is a 95% chance of seeing the Giant Sperm Whales, the largest of the toothed whales.
4) Driving the South Island Fjords: cruising through these amazing fjords was incredible. It was a landscape that we had never seen before in our lives. We highly recommend doing this road trip if you’re traveling New Zealand in a van.
Most Beautiful New Zealand Landscapes
We saw so many beautiful places in New Zealand that it’s difficult to say which one we preferred. What we can at least talk about is the ones that impressed us the most. We think that our favourite natural landscapes were Lake Tekapo and Pukaki Lake both in the south.
When we saw Lake Tekapo it was surrounded by snowy mountains and purple lupins. Whereas Pukaki Lake was a colour that we have never seen before: an amazing turquoise blue. From Pukaki we could also see Mount Cook – the highest mountain in New Zealand.
The memory we had driving the van and seeing the beauty of the lake and mountain was something we won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
Meeting the Wonderful Kiwi People
We started our trip in New Zealand by staying two nights in an airbnb in Christchurch. The house was of two retirees. It was lovely because we had the chance to share a drink with them. They explained many things about their lives in the country and why they loved it.
The couple advised us on the places we should absolutely visit. They also offered us some help to build our van. In that way, we can say that our first encounter with New Zealand citizens was really interesting.
In global terms, we found them to be kind and helpful. We did notice that some backpackers traveling New Zealand in a van were not always liked by everyone in the country. They were seen as somehow dirtying the country. But our experience was great nonetheless.
Tips for Traveling New Zealand in a Van
If you are looking to travel to New Zealand, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, if you are traveling in a van, you absolutely need to download the following applications: CamperMate and WikiCamps.
These applications will help you find free campgrounds to stay in, bathrooms and laundries. Remember: wild camping is prohibited.
You should also know that if you want to book some activities at the cheapest price, you can download the applications GrabOne or BookMe which both offer discounts on some activities.
Thanks for reading our guide on traveling New Zealand in a van! We hope it has inspired you to take your own Kiwi road trip someday soon.