Road-trip in South Island New Zealand - The360 Travel

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  • Saturday, December 14, 2019

    Road-trip in South Island New Zealand

    Road-trip in South Island New Zealand

    Five aspects to consider when planning a road trip in the wildest of the two islands of New Zealand.


    The road

    Yes, New Zealanders practice left-hand driving, and moreover, on narrow, winding roads. It takes a certain amount of time to acclimatize. The island does not have any highway as it is conceived in North America. The roads are almost always two lanes, one in each direction, with single-lane bridges. The speed limit is often 100 km / h, but the roads are so winding that you rarely drive so fast, especially when driving a recreational vehicle. This must be taken into account when planning the route and not relying too much on Google Maps for the duration of journeys.

    In return, these roads cross grandiose landscapes and follow glacial lakes with turquoise waters, snowy mountains or fields dotted with sheep ... Unlike other countries - think of the United States - there are quite a few clearance areas that allow you to stop and enjoy the panorama.

    To know: the international driving license is required for all those who do not have a driver's license in English.

    The vehicle

    In New Zealand, the recreational vehicle is king with tourists. Especially here it is possible to park virtually anywhere to spend the night (we will come back). On the major highways that connect the busiest cities of the South Island, it seems to the eye that one in four vehicles is an RV. In very high season (between December and February), the ratio is probably even higher.

    The format of the vehicles varies enormously. We can go from a specially equipped minivan to a large motorized for six people, with shower, toilet and TV screen.

    The price, necessarily, fluctuates accordingly. For smaller models, you can find deals at less than $ 30 a day. For large cars, the price can go up to $ 360 per night.

    Between these two extremes, everything is possible, according to the inclusions (fridge, toilet, shower...), the format and the rental dates. In high season, the price can go from single to double...

    These prices often include unlimited mileage as well as all the necessary materials for the stay (such as bedding or cooking utensils), but not the additional fees required if you leave the vehicle in a city other than the one where you took it. Taxes for diesel and insurance fees can also be added.

    And the price of gas? This week it was around C $ 2.13 per liter, compared to C $ 1.47 per liter of diesel.

    Free camping

    New Zealand is one of the few places on the globe where you can park your recreational vehicle to sleep, without paying, just about anywhere on public land: a beach, a picnic area . New Zealanders call it freedom camping, free camping.

    Freedom camping is the ultimate dream for road trip fans, because it offers unparalleled freedom: to sleep where you want without fear of being worried by the authorities ... Only this free camping is not possible everywhere and is only allowed under certain conditions.

    It is necessary to drive an autonomous vehicle at all costs, that is to say which has a reservoir for sewage and a reservoir of drinking water, both big enough for three days of camping. Vehicles that have them have a sticker to authenticate.

    The rules of free camping also vary from one region of the country to another. The best is to ask the question about what is possible or not in the tourist information offices.

    Those who do not follow these rules face fines of around $ 200.

    Organized camping

    Those who have not rented an autonomous vehicle must opt ​​for organized campsites, such as those of the holiday park network or those managed by the Department of Conservation. The second are rudimentary; the price per day varies between 5 and 18 $ CAN. The first are more expensive (between 25 and 50 $ CAN per night) and offer more services: playgrounds, common kitchen with fridge and hob, toilet blocks impeccably clean (according to our experience), sometimes saunas , swimming pools, spas...

    In both cases, it is highly recommended to book.

    An application to download

    To find campgrounds (for a fee), gas stations for refueling, places to empty the RV and places to visit, we recommend the CamperMate app. Available on iOS and Google platforms, this application is frequently enriched with new addresses. It is available in several languages, including French.

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