How to plan your dream New Zealand road trip

The land of the long white cloud beckons – now that borders are opening and temperatures are dropping, New Zealand comes alive in winter. If you’re dreaming of an international skiing holiday but your budget doesn’t quite allow for Canada or Japan, New Zealand is only a three hour hop from the east coast – or four hours when Air New Zealand opens up a route to Hobart this June. 

Since we have the same road laws (mostly) and drive on the same side of the road, a New Zealand road trip could be on the cards – and you get to soak in all the breathtaking natural scenery and make stops at your leisure.

Stuck for ideas or not sure how to plan your NZ road trip? We have it covered.

Plan your schedule

First off, you need to figure out when is best for you – can you just take time off during winter? Or is the summer season when you’re most needed at work? Perhaps you work for yourself and need to consider whether others can step up. Also, off-peak travel is always cheaper than busy tourist periods.

Financing your trip

Though an NZ trip is significantly cheaper than going to the US, Canada, or Japan, it can still be a large expense. Though you may be tempted to dip into savings or put it on the credit card, it can cost you more in the long term. By comparing personal loans, you can potentially save thousands on interest and make fixed repayments which you can accommodate into your ongoing budget. 

Planning your route and wheels

There are no shortage of routes to choose from – the “Ultimate Lord of the Rings” tour is popular, as are Queenstown skiing trips, North Island wineries, and South Island vistas, as shown here. But are you going to stay in BnBs, hotels, camp out, or rent a caravan or motorhome? 

Camping is cheaper, but you will have to bring all your own equipment (or buy it in country.) Motorhomes can also be rented weekly and may be cheaper than staying at BnBs or hotels (more on that later.) It all depends on your budget and how much appetite you have for adventure.

Be mindful of cultural sites

If you are camping, make sure you aren’t camping on Māori special land or Department of Conservation restricted land. Local councils may also restrict “freedom camping” on land that isn’t a designated caravan or holiday park. More on that here.

Motorhomes – rent or buy?

You may be wondering if you can buy a motorhome in Australia, ship it to New Zealand, and back again – instead of just renting and “wasting” that money. It’s not easy shipping a caravan or RV to New Zealand: they usually don’t fit inside standard 20-foot or 40-foot containers and need to be ferried on roll-on/roll-off ships. 

Quotes for shipping from Australia to New Zealand (depending on port of origin and destination) range from A$4,000 to $6,000 or more – and may be subject to NZ Ministry of Transport inspection, quarantine, and customs fees. Of course, you’d have to spend the same amount to get it back into Australia. However, a six-month lease for a large two-berth caravan (56m3) can average out at about $5,000. If you aren’t staying for that long, renting is a better idea than buying and shipping over.

Make sure you plan your route, allow for exploration, and spend wisely so you don’t blow your budget – you’ll have a blast road tripping New Zealand!

This information presented is general in nature and not a substitute for professional financial advice.

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