New Zealand is a country that may be a long distance away for those living in the United States and in Europe, but there are an awful lot of attractions in the country that draw visitors to make that epic journey every year. Once you have arrived in the country, there are several different ways that you can get around, ranging from public bus services and organized tours down to being a little more independent and making your own way around the country by car or RV. The road trip is the ideal solution if you want to have complete freedom to choose your own itinerary, and you won't miss out on some of the key sights that are on your radar, but not on the itinerary of a bus tour.
Renting or Purchasing a Vehicle?
This choice will largely depend on the flexibility that you have in your itinerary and your budget, as purchasing a vehicle and then reselling it at the end of your trip is most cost-effective, but is not as convenient as the option of renting a vehicle. If you are purchasing a vehicle then make sure you give yourself plenty of time to sell the vehicle at the end, and be prepared to take a hit on the price if you need to offload it quickly. If you're on a tight budget you can find basic RV options being sold by other backpackers for around $3000, but it is also worth noting that you'll have to ensure the vehicle's registration and Warrant of Fitness, as well as paying an extra tax if your vehicle is a diesel.
Travel by Car or RV?
The RV is the option that usually makes the most sense if you are going to be taking a road trip, as it gives you the option of avoiding the charges for accommodation by sleeping in the vehicle, but equally, they are more expensive in terms of the original fee. A car will also usually be able to cover a longer distance, so if you do have a more limited amount of time available, driving a car will often be a better option.
Choosing Your Route
The starting point for your road trip will be a very important decision when you are planning your itinerary, and most people will either start from Auckland or Christchurch. These cities have the benefits of good international flight links and are also good as they are ideal for starting a circular road trip route. It is also important to be realistic about how much of a distance you are going to cover each day, and not to leave yourself with hundreds of miles to drive each day.
Crossing Over From the North to the South Island
One of the things that you will need to consider is whether or not you are just going to travel around one of the islands, or whether you want to explore the entire country, and see the different personalities of the wilder and more rural South Island and the warmer and more cosmopolitan North Island. Traveling with a car or RV means crossing between the North and South Islands needs to be done by ferry, and while in most cases you will find spaces available, it is certainly worth booking a couple of days before you actually need to make the journey.
Food and Drink
If you are traveling with an RV, then you will sometimes have a kitchen or at least a few cooking appliances located within the vehicle, so this will give you the option of cooking for yourself and purchasing your supplies at a local supermarket. However, make sure you keep an eye out as you travel, as you will often find some wonderful culinary options in roadside restaurants and stalls throughout the country.