New Zealand North & South with a Motorhome

Clare Flint on 01 April 2006

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Travelling out with my husband and parents in law - we had a wonderful experience over the 2500 kms distance we travelled in our comfortable motorhome. My mother in law took a wheelchair and the airline assistance was excellent. Despite not being able to secure a wheelchair friendly motorhome, we were able to stay at sites with wheelchair friendly access to all facilities.

North Island was warmer, very volcanic, with hot springs, rainforests and more commercialised. The South island is mountainous with glaciers, but it is not as quiet as the guides say. We did see quite a few motorhome truckers and it became customary to wave at each other on the open road.

The sights, the weather, the fresh air, the locals, the food, the wildlife, the infrastructure, the adventure sports and tourist evenings, the old one horse towns, the modern cities, and the mountains, are all fantastic.

One word of advice is not take fruit into this country (the airlines give you apples & snacks in flight). My relatives cleared customs but I was met by two ladies in smart uniforms with a lively beagle. As a dog lover this was a pleasant welcome, but this dog managed to smell a forgotten apple in my rucksack. It was donated by Qantas in flight and the dog apparently got a whiff of it across the airport. With some sweet talk I was let me off with a warning.

We stayed overnight in Auckland and had a welcome pre-arranged taxi transfer. Next day we collected our lovely huge motorhome. The best advice is to hire one bigger than your exact party size, as you need the extra storage. The 'Top Ten' chain of camp / motorhome sites are well located with clean facilities.

We took 3 weeks covering both Islands and a break in the Far East would also have been beneficial. Flights into Auckland and out of Christchurch worked for us. Some memorable stops include Rotorua, a tourist town that is well known for its geothermal activity. The Maori tourist evening is well worth it - my husband was elected our group representative and enjoyed the traditional welcome ceremony.

Napier is an Art deco touristy town with lovely beach - my in laws actually nearly emigrated here in the 1960's. Another tip is to make sure you have your camera on board if you take the inter-islander ferry from (windy) Wellington to Picton, which takes approx 3 hours.

Arrowtown is an authentic gold-mining town and resembled a cowboy film set (one location for the Lord of the Rings). Queenstown is the centre for outdoor activities, and the Harry Potter groupies were following the trails. The Waitaki Valley and Mount Cook are each about three hours' drive from Queenstown. The Southland scenery is stunning and much of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed here.

When visiting Milford Sound you venture through a long tunnel that cuts through the mountains and into a colder climate. Boat trips here are a must and last for half a day and longer. It can get very slippery around this area so remember hiking boots.

Mount Cook is a fantastic drive, which lots of lovely scenery and clear air. Nearby is the famous Hermitage Hotel and we ate very well at the Old Mountaineers restaurant. Dunedin was a lovely town with beautiful art deco Railway station and we also ventured to Portabello Otago Peninsular, where we visited the Albatross Chick Centre, museum and great tea room.

Also I recommend you take a trip to Christchurch where you can take the Tranz Alpine railway.

New Zealand is a suitable destination to visit all year round, with warmer summer months from November to April. It’s a long flight but well worth it and I loved the whole experience. So what are you waiting for? Please contact me today for further information.

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