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How Much Does it Cost to Travel NZ in a Camper?


A New Zealand campervan holiday is a bucket list item for many visitors (and locals!). From our vibrant cities boasting top restaurants and boutique shopping to our picture-postcard landscapes that are so incredible they feature in Hollywood movies, it’s easy to see why.

With such a variety of exciting things to do and see in New Zealand within a short drive, the very best way to make the most of it is with a campervan hire. And best of all, you can tailor a campervan holiday in New Zealand to suit your budget – however big or small.

Why travelling in a camper is a cost-effective option

Seeing New Zealand with a campervan hire is not only an amazing way to enjoy everything on offer but also very economical. You’ve got your accommodation and transport all in one, so it’s an excellent option for families or a group of friends – so much cheaper than booking several rooms at multiple motels. Campsites are very affordable, and you can even freedom camp overnight in some places.

Meals become a lot cheaper too – a few basics in the fridge and cupboards with the occasional top-up of fresh produce and you’re set! You can even try your hand at fishing at some of New Zealand’s lakes and oceans or foraging for mushrooms in fields (the best months are April-May).

Travelling by campervan also means you can carry extra luggage. Bring along your boogie board, pop your bike on a rack (be sure to request this when you book your Mighty camper), load up your fishing gear and save money on hiring these along the way.

If you’ve ever had the annoying experience of having to fork out for an item of clothing or gear you didn’t pack because you were short on suitcase space, a campervan hire takes care of that problem – there’s space for that extra jacket, your favourite bathrobe, and another pair of shoes … just in case!

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The costs for campervan travel in NZ

Campervan hire fees in NZ

The cost of hiring a campervan varies depending on things such as size, style, and extra options. With RVs ranging from 2-berth campervans for couples to 6-berth motorhomes for families and larger groups, the Mighty range of campervans has something for everyone – even those on a budget. Mighty Campers even offers a Price Match Guarantee so you can be sure you’re getting the best value campervan hire.

Your Mighty campervan includes everything you need to get started on your New Zealand road trip including linen, bedding, cooking gear, general living equipment, and GPS navigation. Your km’s are included in the cost too, which is one less expense!

Campsite costs in NZ

There are lots of campsite options in New Zealand to suit a range of budgets, from freedom camping to fully serviced holiday parks.

Many campervan travellers choose to mix and match between paid and free options to allow for a variety of experiences and to use facilities as needed. The peak season for campervan travel in New Zealand is over the summer months (December – February), as well as long weekends and school holidays, so booking during off-peak periods is a good way to save money on campsite accommodation.

To help find a great campsite or freedom camping spot, be sure to check out the thl Roadtrip app. This handy app has everything you need to get prepared before you travel, and to make your journey a whole lot easier while you’re on the road.

Holiday parks

New Zealand has some amazing holiday parks that offer a range of accommodation options, and everything needed for a comfortable campervan stay including facilities like laundry, kitchen, bathroom, rubbish and recycling bins, campervan dump stations, BBQs, children’s play areas etc. A powered site for two people averages around $35-40 NZD per night.

Note that there are extra fees for a powered site and most holiday parks charge an additional fee for use of some facilities (such as the laundry, BBQs, etc).

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DOC campsites

If you’re keen to get off the beaten track and enjoy back-to-nature camping, then a Department of Conservation (DOC) campsite is a great option. DOC has over 200 campsites around New Zealand, each within a unique setting – from forests and national parks to lakesides and beaches.

Some DOC campsites are unpowered, and some have more facilities than others, so if you want to plug in your campervan, it pays to check the facilities in advance:

  • Serviced: these have more facilities such as toilets, running water, cooking facilities, hot showers, and sometimes laundry areas. There are both powered and unpowered sites available, so are great for campervan users.
  • Standard: standard campsites are usually unpowered with toilets and cold running water, sometimes including BBQs, picnic tables, and rubbish bins.
  • Basic: basic campsites are unpowered, free to use, and have toilets and running water.

Some DOC campsites are free to use, and others charge just a small fee (approx. $15 NZD per person) with the priciest generally being the most popular.

Council parking areas

Most local council authorities manage campervan sites of one kind or another. These range from basic, back-to-nature camps in forest parks, to campervan and motorhome parks in public domains, often adjacent to sports grounds, parks, or other recreation reserves.

Council parking areas vary in terms of what they offer, but are generally quite basic with facilities which can include:

  • toilets
  • park benches
  • rubbish bins

Most council campgrounds are minimally priced (around $10 NZD per person per night) or even free, with some falling under the category of 'freedom camping'.

To find council camps, check out the thl Roadtrip app or call into the nearest i-Site for more information and to book.

Freedom camping sites

For the ultimate way to save money and enjoy camping at its ‘purest’, you can’t beat freedom camping. Freedom camping means free camping on public land that has few or no facilities such as showers and toilets. This means you must have a certified self-contained motorhome or campervan (which all Mighty campers are). Here are a few other key rules to know:

  • Use designated freedom camping spots only.
  • Use your self-contained toilet or a public restroom to keep the environment clean.
  • Take away all waste (including greywater, toilet waste, and rubbish) and dispose of it appropriately. Locate your nearest rubbish and dump stations, using the thl Roadtrip app.

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Fuel costs in NZ

The cost of petrol and diesel in New Zealand varies between different stations and regions. While modern campervans are becoming increasingly fuel efficient, as a general rule, the smaller your campervan, the cheaper it is to run, so consider whether a bigger campervan is really necessary if you’re keen to minimise fuel costs.

Here are a few more tips to help keep fuel costs down:

  • Plan your route, so you can save on petrol by not going the long way round or going the wrong way!
  • Use online tools such as Gaspy and PriceWatch to shop around for the best fuel prices.
  • Bring along your bikes for getting around the shops or walk where you can.
  • Drive easy – take your time and accelerate and brake smoothly.

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Food and drink costs in NZ

Travelling in a fully self-contained campervan means you can control the cost of meals by cooking in your own kitchen.

It’s a good idea to stock up the fridge and cupboards with all your favourite basics, snacks, drinks, treats, and fresh food from the supermarket before you head off on your holiday. Smaller shops and dairies – especially in those out-of-the-way towns – include a mark-up on these items, so it can get expensive.

Remember to bring your own condiments, seasonings, cooking oil, tomato sauce for the BBQ, and all those little extras that make your meals tasty and enjoyable.

Drinks can be very expensive, so pack your favourite coffee and soft drinks (and alcohol to enjoy once you’re parked up!).

Bring along some plasticware for storing leftovers too – this means you can make big dinners that provide enough for lunch the next day. And if you enjoy coffee while you’re out and about, bring a thermos flask and make your own to enjoy on the go.

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Parking fees in NZ

If you’re planning to stop for a spot of shopping in some of New Zealand’s vibrant cities and metro areas, it pays to be mindful of parking fees. Most inner-city areas are metred which means you’ll need to pay an hourly fee (this can range between .50c/hr up to several dollars per hour). Parking further out and walking or biking into the city centre can be a better option.

Be mindful to only park in permitted areas – it can really take the shine off your holiday if you return to your campervan to find a parking ticket, or worse, that it’s been towed!

Activity costs

One of the reasons that New Zealand is such a popular destination to rent a travel van is because it has plenty of amazing attractions that are completely free.

Combine free attractions with bigger ticket items to help make your budget go further. New Zealand has loads of fantastic free destinations such as national parks, beautiful beaches, waterfalls, museums, local markets, and art galleries. A good way to help keep paid activity costs down is to use vouchers from online sites such as GrabOne.

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In conclusion

As you can see, a New Zealand campervan holiday has loads of options to keep costs down, but without sacrificing all the comforts and excitement of a great holiday.

A little bit of planning can make all the difference, so be sure to check out our great itineraries, blogs, and recipes for the road to help you create your dream holiday, without breaking the budget!

Ready to book an affordable getaway?

Take the first step to enjoying the ultimate New Zealand campervan holiday and book your Mighty camper today.

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