Renting a Campervan in Winter: New Zealand Road Trip Tips

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Tops Tips to Help You Have an Epic New Zealand Campervan Trip in Winter

Don’t shy away from a winter road trip in New Zealand just because the weather is colder. As long as you come prepared and follow our New Zealand road trip tips for renting a campervan in winter, you’ll soon realise that, in fact, winter is the best time of year to explore New Zealand!

Winter is a stunning time to visit New Zealand. With mountain peaks covered in snow, open roads and hiking trails empty of tourists, you often feel like you have the whole of majestic New Zealand to yourself. What’s more, it’s the perfect time to rent a campervan or a motorhome and hit the road. Campervan rentals are at their cheapest and there are a ton of amazing deals to help you save big in winter. So wrap up warm, follow our winter road trip tips, and join us in the land of Aotearoa! Oh yeah, and remember to relax using our road trip tips.

Before we begin, don’t forget to bookmark How to Plan a Campervan Trip in New Zealand for even more tips.

Video: How to Stay Warm When Camping in New Zealand

Check out some of our camping tips for staying warm in winter on YouTube! Don’t forget to subscribe for more New Zealand travel tips from NZ Pocket Guide.

Renting a Campervan in Winter: New Zealand Road Trip Tips© THL

What to Expect in Winter in New Zealand

New Zealand in winter means unpredictable weather. It will be raining, it will be sunny, it will be freezing one night and mild the next. But as long as you are prepared, the weather, whatever it decides to do, will barely be a bother! For typical weather, temperatures, events, prices and best activities to do in winter, take a look at our guides to the winter months in the below articles:

Plus, check out the 5 Best Places to Visit in Winter in New Zealand for road trip inspiration.©

Choose a Campervan or Motorhome with an Electricity Hook-Up

For a comfortable night’s sleep, you’ll not only want to get yourself a campervan with a heater but you’ll also need to be able to hook up to some electricity to use it all night long! Choose a campervan or motorhome with a 240v mains power hook up so that you can connect to power sites in holiday parks and campgrounds – see our guide to Camping in New Zealand to learn the difference between the two.

Some campervan rental companies have small electric heaters included in your winter rental or available to hire so you can heat up your campervan in no time. Alternatively, motorhomes often have their own in-built heating system in both the driver cabin and main cabin. Finally, budget campervan rental companies often provide free hot water bottles and extra blankets, such as Travellers Autobarn, which you can learn more about in Travellers Autobarn: What is it Really Like to Hire a Campervan in NZ?

Check out the different types of campervans to choose from in New Zealand in Campercar, Campervan or Motorhome Rental: Which is Better for New Zealand?


Select Your Campgrounds Carefully

On the subject of electricity, to make full use of your campervan or motorhome’s gadgetry (and heating) you’ll probably want to spend most of your nights in campsites with powered sites.

Yes, this might be a little more expensive than free campsites, freedom camping, basic Department of Conservation campsites or a tent site in a holiday park, but when you weigh up those powered site costs with the huge saving you will have made by renting a vehicle in winter, you can definitely justify treating yourself!

Look out for those extra little facilities that will make your winter evenings cosier, such as a spa pool or even showers actually near the powered sites! (You don’t want to be trekking in the cold to reach the showers).

Check out the different types of campsites in What is the Difference Between a Campsite and a Holiday Park?

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Pack Clothing for Winter

As they say in New Zealand: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. So forget shorts and thin cotton shirts! Pack for the rain, the cold, the mild and the sun, because it’s all going to happen in winter in New Zealand!

Here is what to include in your packing list:

  • Thermal layers – tops and bottoms
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof hiking shoes
  • Hiking/outdoors pants
  • Casual long pants
  • Casual long-sleeve tops
  • Casual footwear
  • Swimwear (for the hot pools)
  • Scarf
  • Beanie
  • Underwear
  • Thick woollen socks

See our dedicated Packing List for Winter in New Zealand for more advice. For more clothing ideas, check out What Clothes to Pack to Travel in New Zealand.

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Grab Some Extra Winter Gear in New Zealand

Once you arrive in New Zealand, take some time to grab a few winter essentials before hitting the road. Here are some suggestions especially for a winter trip!

  • Skin cream – Keep your skin hydrated in the cold weather
  • Groceries to make warm hearty meals – Rental campervans in New Zealand come equipped with everything you need to make warm food, so do some supermarket shopping!
  • Marshmallows – Some New Zealand campsites have open fire areas so grab some marshmallows for roasting
  • Hot drink mixes – Nothing feels better in winter than wrapping your mitts around a hot mug, so grab yourself some hot chocolate/tea/coffee and use the kettle or pan and stove in your camper to make some hot drinks
  • An extra blanket – If your rental company doesn’t offer extra blankets for free, buy one at budget department stores like The Warehouse or K-Mart. It will be much cheaper than hiring one! You can always sell/give them to some fellow backpackers before leaving, as suggested in 7 Ways to Get Rid of Your Excess Luggage Before You Leave New Zealand.

And for more winter-warmer tips, check out How to Stay Warm When Camping in New Zealand.

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Keep Safe on the Road

Be prepared to drive in winter conditions. If you’re going to be going to areas where there might be snow, i.e. going to ski fields or driving over mountain passes particularly in the South Island, then hire some snow chains. That way, you know they will be the right size for your campervan and it’s better to be safe than stranded.

On top of that, always check the road conditions on your planned route before you set out. The New Zealand Transport Agency keeps its website constantly updated with road closures and warnings.

For more tips, see the 12 Safe Driving Tips for New Zealand. And for tips for parking your vehicle, you might like The Best Tips for Parking a Campervan or Motorhome in New Zealand.

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Make Huge Savings!

Winter is the cheapest time of year to rent a campervan or motorhome in New Zealand. Make sure you compare a wide range of campervan rental companies and check out their winter deals too. While some rental companies offer free ski passes, others have tiny daily rental rates. Start by taking a look at The Best Campervan & Motorhome Rentals in New Zealand.

For more ways to save money on rentals, check out 20 Ways to Save Money on Car & Campervan Rental in New Zealand.

More About Winter Campervan Rentals in New Zealand

That’s it for our guide to renting a campervan or motorhome in winter in New Zealand, but is by no means the end of our campervan rental tips! Check out the following guides to make sure you boss your campervan road trip in New Zealand:

Have you planned your route yet? Check out the following itineraries for the best road trip routes!

Plus, find more essential travel advice in the 31 Tips for Travelling in New Zealand.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Robin C.

This article has been reviewed and approved by Robin, who is the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. With more than 15 years of experience in the New Zealand tourism industry, Robin has co-founded three influential tourism businesses and five additional travel guides for South Pacific nations. He is an expert in New Zealand travel and has tested over 600 activities and 300+ accommodations across the country.

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