Traveling New Zealand with a camper van hire is certainly a great way to see this fabulous Pacific destination. You can stop where you choose and stay as long as you like in each spot. However, the big question for many couples, groups of friends and families hiring a camper van is either to tour the South Island or the North Island! Of course, if you have plenty of time, you can do both by crossing the Cook Strait and going between the islands on one of the interisland ferries. But there is so much to do and see in New Zealand, that you may decide to confine your tour to just the North Island or the South Island – on this trip anyway!
The North Island certainly has some glorious spots and some great scenery. You will be able to take in the cultural and geothermal trips at Rotorua, enjoy water sports at Lake Taupo, visit the warm and sunny Bay of Islands and visit some of the country's largest cities of Auckland and Wellington which each have their own fabulous attractions like the Sky Tower and Te Papa Museum of New Zealand.
However, the South Island boasts a huge variety of scenery – from coastal beaches to raging rivers, fiords, the Southern Alps, pristine turquoise lakes, the spectacular Marlborough Sounds, glaciers and a wide array of flora and fauna. There is also a wide range of historical towns and cities that are small enough to be friendly and big enough to have every amenity you could ever need as well as their own specific tourist attractions.
Traveling the South Island with a camper van hire will certainly be very different to traveling the North Island. Both will be wonderful trips full of lifelong memories as you pass through a range of landscapes and come across everything from sandy beaches to snow covered mountains. Both islands also offer a choice of more activities and adventures than anyone could ever complete. It really depends on the kind of person you are, your activity level, what you enjoy doing while on holiday and whether you are looking for adventure or relaxation!
If you do decide to hire a camper van to travel the South Island, you can start from any of the larger centers such as Nelson, Picton or Christchurch. Nelson has the most sunshine hours of anywhere in the country and you will love the golden beaches and the walking trails in the Abel Tasman National Park. From there you can journey down the spectacular west coast, which really is like another world. In Murchison you can indulge in rafting, fishing and horse trekking. There are also plenty of gold panning opportunities along the West Coast and you can continue down to Greymouth and Hokitika.
Along the east coast you can take in a wide range of sea life, culminating in a fabulous whale watching tour from Kaikoura. Of course many nature lovers go inland. The South Island is known for its majestic South Alps, the glorious Aoraki Mt Cook and the awesome Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. You will be in awe of the beauty, purity and clarity of the alpine lakes in the South Island and, no doubt, you'll want to catch a glimpse of popular Queenstown and the Remarkables. If you visit the Mt Aspiring National Park you can stop off and admire the beauty of Wanaka too.
Continuing on through Christchurch and further south to Dunedin can extend your trip into some completely different scenery. The Canterbury Plains are spectacular when viewed from a hot air balloon and Otago in Autumn will take your breath away.
With a camper van hire you can usually choose to return the camper to your departure point or arrange to leave it at another destination. If you're traveling south to north, it's a good idea to leave yourself plenty of time to explore the Marlborough Sounds before saying goodbye to the South Island.
Other fabulous spots that you should try to include are the peaceful hot waters of Hanmer Springs, and the fabulous Banks Peninsula with the special little town of Akaroa at its heart. There are so many large and small towns in the South Island that it's really impossible to name them all, let alone visit them all on one tour. They each have their own wonderful scenery and history and deserve a spot in your travel plans. And with a camper van hire, you make the choices, so the best thing to do is choose a starting point and then drive off into the sunset!