We did a few laps of the south in both December, and then May that following year. December was beautiful + had great weather but May was preferable in terms of less traffic, cleaner campsites and cooler nights.
NZ is a super popular place to be visiting atm, as well as living! I met so many people that NEVER wanted to go home. It’s a pretty indefectable country- mountainous areas, glass like lakes, beautiful humans, a realllllly nice array of wines and roughly the same prices as Australia- it was so e a s y to travel ✨
We ended up arriving in Christchurch and bought a van there, I remain to know zero about cars so good thing my BF knows it all ha. Ended up getting our baby Esteema for 3K. Summer is the more expensive time of year to be purchasing a vehicle that’s for sure. Most foreigners seem to fly into Auckland on the north island and it seems as tho alot get ripped off so I think Christchurch was a good choice. You also need a ‘self contained’ verification sticker on your car to be able to sleep at certain areas in the country. Do your research and suss out the free locations of the area’s you’ll be visiting (this helps with funds for sure, but every now and then it was so worth paying the $7p/p to have somewhere to put your rubbish, an undercover area, bathroom and sink. Ahhhh the simple things in life.
I liked Christchurch and felt super safe there. I’m not a massive city person myself but loved what it had to offer. Akaroa region is so worth checking out.
After Christchurch we decided to travel the island anti clockwise, so we hit up Kaikoura. It was a sleepy little seaside town with some pretty hikes, many dolphins and lots of backpackers.
Robin Hood bay was up next and I’m going to say this was probably my fave camp destination on the island(that we got to anyway 🤪) it was so scenic, peaceful, clean and remote. It was gorgeous. We ended up back again during our second lap.
Ahhh this blog has me feeling nostalgic, and it only gets better. Marlborough region!!! If I were to live in NZ again it would be here. Wineries, local cheeses, cherries, lots of travellers, on the coast. An absolute haven. Many bottles of wine were purchased here haha. Picton and Blenheim were two of my favourites. I’d stay a minimum of 3 days in this area.
Rarangi, Kina beach and Takaka were all further up north. Kina beach was a super cool hippy campground, and only $5 a night. We stayed a few times.
Nelson being more of a city was a good stop for things we needed for the van. I found my love for Bunnings in NZ. But otherwise I didn’t think it had heaps to offer. The best part of Nelson would have to be Abel Tasman which is about 2 hours from the city. The hiking, swimming, boating, canoeing around the area is insane. Outdoor lovers paradise.
We spent just one night at Maruria falls which was a free DOC site, it was decent for sure. If you have the time it’s nice to try and aim for roughly three so you actually have space etc. The DOC sites can get pretty packed. It’s only a 10 minute walk to the falls so super achievable after a few scrumpy’s 🤪
Greymouth we had to pass through twice and in my opinion doesn’t have much going for it. We saw a few interesting things in that place and camped on the water as such but it’s fairly well a car park. It was pissing down with rain all afternoon so we sat in the car and played uno- whats uno without a few shots. Made the most out of it. Good cidery there!
The west coast started getting really pretty once we hit Franz Josef. We hadn’t seen mountains in a while and they’re all just so pristine. Very pretty but popular place! Heaps of hiking around here too.
Driving into QUEENSTOWN was everything I expected and more. It was a lot bigger than I had predicted but scenic AF nevertheless. I feel like I could absolutely do a seperate blog on QT alone seeing as it is such an admirable place to visit/live.
We arrived with no jobs or rental to live in(the best way) but luckily had a few mates to stay with. It is SUCH a touristy place so expect to pay a lot for rent, accom, activities. Talk about a town with it all though. Adventure capital of the world they say, and they aren’t wrong. Skydiving, hiking, lugeing, bungy jumping, water sports, mountain biking and so much more. Definitely never got bored. I was hairdressing and my partner had a maintenance job. Both had jobs within a few days. It was the best 6 months. First table- get on it. Food and drink options are endless, we ate out allllaaaa the time.
NZ South Island is amazzzzzing. (I’d love to do the north next) There is so so much to see and do. Beautiful people to meet. Mountains to climb. Freezing cold lakes to swim in. When the world is functioning properly again, book a flight and visit NZ- one way even 😜 Life seems really slow right now, but if you’re spending time with your loved ones in your home country, think about how good you’ve got it. We’ll all have so much cheap travel to look forward to later this year. All of my Love ❤️
Tips on travelling to NZ:
- If you’re headed there to live from Australia don’t bother with travel insurance- we are covered
- Download ‘Camper mate’ and ‘Rankers’ as they show you where you can camp
- Do your research with your vehicle
- Eat lots and lots of pineapple lumps
- Fly into whichever capital city is cheapest as it’s so easy to get around the country
- We came across SO many sandflies, if you have some kind of remedy for keeping them away- bring that with you
- You end up carrying around a lot of rubbish in your car, I didn’t do my best but next time I’d really try and have two seperate bags for waste and recyclables
- If you don’t have a car to do Milford sound, do a bus tour! We got them for $100 p/p for the day and it was the most incredible day ever. What a place.
- Aim to get to campsites before 3pm
- Travel in the spring
- Spend as much money as you can on a van that suits your needs
- Use the website ‘first table’ whenever you want to eat out
- Do something that scares you