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Traveling New Zealand In A Camper Van

We selected our form of transport for New Zealand.

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Finding the best mode of transport for each place you go to is one of the keys to travel. Not everywhere should be traveled using the same strategy. Some countries have incredible, efficient, and cheap public transport networks, while others don’t really have public transport at all — like New Zealand.

Maybe NZ has buses and trains that go between the major towns, but I haven’t seen them yet. If they do exist they’re probably expensive. This is a vast, mostly rural or wild country were people drive. If you want to travel here, it’s probably a good idea to ‘live like the locals’ and get a car.

In travel, it is usually better to go with the grain than against it. The game here is indentifying which way the grain is going. 

In New Zealand, we determined that the grain was running towards renting a campervan — it’s how the ‘backpackers’ and the geezers travel here. For $20 per day+ gas we get transportation and a place to sleep — and the freedom to go wherever we want. 

There is kind of a campervan travel movement here. The roads are full of them, and there is also this incredible network of free and low cost places to park for the night that include facilities like toilets, sinks, and, sometimes, showers. It really seems to be The Way to travel here. 

New Zealand doesn’t seem to be a place that’s very evenly distributed as far as population is concerned. There seems to be a couple of cities and the proverbial ‘out there,’ with very little in between.

There seems to be little reason to go to New Zealand if you’re not going out there. From my brief foray into Auckland it was clear that the charms of this country are elsewhere — in the mountains, on the beaches, and in the forests.

Traveling as a family of four has changed the dynamics of my travels considerably. We’re not just talking about one ticket to ride on public transport here, but three or four each time. Add this up over the course of a journey and it often makes renting cars or, as the case may be, campervans the budget option.



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Filed under: New Zealand, Travel Diary

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3720 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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