Peak seasons are popular for a reason. They’re simply the optimal time to visit those desired vacation destinations—the weather is ideal and there are more outdoor activities on offer, to start. However, they are also the busiest times; and those always come with a few disadvantages. And top RV road trip destination New Zealand is no exception in its busiest months. If you choose to make your way through this spectacular country during that time, especially if you plan on traveling by campervan hire, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Campervan Hire Documents
One of the best things about hiring a campervan in New Zealand is that foreign nationals are not required to provide a special driver’s license in order to rent and drive one. Unless you are renting a very large campervan, which might require a heavy vehicle license, a valid driver’s license with car entitlement will usually suffice so long as it’s in English. Those with non-English driver’s licenses, however, may be asked to provide an international driver’s license or a certified translation.
Peak Tourist Season
Located in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand’s summer months are December through February. The destination’s prime season for traveling, therefore, runs from December through February or even well into March, which is the start of the autumn season. It’s at this time when most tourists descend upon the destination in droves.
Renting a Motorhome in Advance
During the peak months, it would be in your best interest to secure a campervan hire well in advance as most rental companies will most likely rent out their entire fleet. Many companies suggest booking a few months in advance or as soon as you secure your vacation dates. If you were not able to do so, it would be a good idea to at least call the rental companies 30 minutes to an hour before you arrive, just to find out if they have availability.
Beware the Crowds
Travelers are encouraged to opt for a winter vacation in New Zealand as there are far less people and the tourist spots as well as campgrounds are often less crowded. If you’re visiting and going on the road around the country during the peak season, be prepared for crowded beaches, jam-packed cities, high traffic, sold out hotels, and full campgrounds.
Rates are Highers
Higher rates usually come with heavy tourist traffic. Accommodations, flights and ground transportation are not only harder to come by during the peak season, but they’re also usually a lot more expensive. Expect to pay top dollar for everything, including your campervan hire. It’s also worth noting that some RV rental companies have a minimum rental period of 10 days in the high season, which increases your rental cost even more.
While there is a plethora of campgrounds and camping options in New Zealand—from Department of Conservation campgrounds to holiday parks, keep in mind that many of these, especially the most popular ones, might be full by the time you get there. One good way to secure a campsite when most campgrounds are full is to go to an off the beaten path one. The country has some secret camping spots that not many tourists know of. There are also Okay2Stay properties, which are essentially farms and vineyards that allow overnight parking for a fee.
As a last resort, there’s the option of freedom camping, although it’s a good idea to check if the area you’re in has laws against it. If you are able to free camp however, do make sure that you don’t impose on someone’s property, you are respectful, and you dispose of your waste properly.