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New Zealand - a couple of questions.
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userCattwg
Posted: 13 July 2017 8:05 PM
Subject: New Zealand - a couple of questions.
 
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We are about to book a camper for a trip around New Zealand. A few questions, please to those who have travelled New Zealand before:
* We are considering six weeks. Is this too long for this trip? (We will never be able to do it again).
* In our own ‘van we always travel with two gas bottles to prevent actually running out of gas. It
appears that the NZ campers are only supplied with one gas bottle. Is this a problem?
* Is it worth buying the “return gas bottle, fuel tank empty” (Express Return Pack at about £170?)
* Should we book the South to North Island ferry in advance or simply turn up on the day?
Cattwg
usermalc d
Posted: 13 July 2017 8:32 PM
Subject: RE: New Zealand - a couple of questions.
 
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Cattwg - 2017-07-13 8:05 PM

We are about to book a camper for a trip around New Zealand. A few questions, please to those who have travelled New Zealand before:
* We are considering six weeks. Is this too long for this trip? (We will never be able to do it again).
* In our own ‘van we always travel with two gas bottles to prevent actually running out of gas. It
appears that the NZ campers are only supplied with one gas bottle. Is this a problem?
* Is it worth buying the “return gas bottle, fuel tank empty” (Express Return Pack at about £170?)
* Should we book the South to North Island ferry in advance or simply turn up on the day?
Cattwg



We went in 2008 for two months and wished it had been longer.

6 weeks is definitely not too long.

We flew to Auckland then on to Christchurch on the South Island.
Toured South Island for a month then crossed to North Island on a pre booked ferry and toured the North Island for a month.

Only had one gas cylinder which was not a problem.

Take ' squashable' luggage carriers ( e.g. holdalls or rucksacks ) as you have to store them somewhere in the van for the whole trip.

Lots of off-site camping places.

We collected the van in Christchurch and left it in Auckland. If you are taking the van back to the same place as you collected it, they MAY store your suitcases - if that is what you are using.

Have a good trip.

( Wish I could go again ! )

userRogerC
Posted: 13 July 2017 9:16 PM
Subject: RE: New Zealand - a couple of questions.
 
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6 weeks is too short (well it was for us).....but just about acceptable if you can't manage longer.  Next time we are going for 3 months.
Take a look at Wendekreisen https://www.wendekreisen.co.nz/default.aspx for hiring and in our experience (seriously we advise you) 'don't' bother with a newer MH.  Wendekreisen has the least restrictive....and most transparent insurance of any NZ rental company.  Those that rent newer MH have an insurance clause that restricts you to 'black top' roads....and this means you are unable to visit so many fabulous places due to the restriction.
Don't bother with the 'gas/fuel' deal.  It is easy to ensure you have a full bottle and the same with fuel.  We used so little gas over 6 weeks we couldn't get any into the bottle at the pump.
Ferry booking......do it a few days before you want to travel and do it on line.  It is simple and allows you to be flexible with your plans.

If you want to chat about things....credit cards, currency, rental,  sites including freedom/commerciial sites/DoC sites etc....smart phone apps to help in planning/places to visit etc etc are so very helpful, joining Caravan/Organisations there to save on fees etc....anything at all drop me a PM and I'll give you my tel number.

Lastly take a look at NZ weather and consider their holiday periods with regard to doing South-North or vice versa.  Basically the colder weather flows from South to North so considering that we planned our trip to keep ahead of the weather by doing South Island (right down to Invercargill and beyond) and then turned north as the weather started to move in.  South Island was so amazing we split our 6 weeks into 4 South and 2 North which made North a little curtailed but we felt we made the right decision.
Anyway as I said PM me for my number if you want to chat.
userpeterjl
Posted: 13 July 2017 10:19 PM
Subject: RE: New Zealand - a couple of questions.
 
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Hi
For us 6 weeks was ideal. 2 weeks north island and 6 weeks South Island.
We booked ferry in advance.

If you are going that far you could stop of on Oz on the way back as you are passing. We have done that twice.

Peter
usercolin
Posted: 13 July 2017 10:34 PM
Subject: RE: New Zealand - a couple of questions.
 


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it was 28 years ago we where in NZ spent 4 weeks on south island and could have spent longer but we had flight booked to Australia.
userRobinhood
Posted: 13 July 2017 11:00 PM
Subject: RE: New Zealand - a couple of questions.
 


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Cattwg - 2017-07-13 8:05 PM

* Is it worth buying the “return gas bottle, fuel tank empty” (Express Return Pack at about £170?)


I'm assuming the Maui/Britz model of charging.

...you should be able to do the maths on that.

A full tank and full gas are at best, by my calculation, somewhere about £60 in value. (and then only that if you return the 'van with only fumes in the 75 litre tank).

I believe they want to see a purchase receipt for a gas bottle exchange from the previous 24 hours to prove it is "full", but surely must have a local "penalty" charge if you can't produce one?

The bigger part of the cost is to recover the state's road charges, without having to go through the calculation. I can't believe that they don't set this well above average mileage levels so that they don't lose out, but of course you can do an estimate of distance and multiply by the current road charge. ($6+ per 100 km). If you plan to do a lot of mileage, then you may just win.

I think any real value from the express return option arises if you are departing on a flight the same day shortly after you drop the 'van off, and want to minimise the effects of waiting around for all the checking and calculation to be done.

(Note, AIUI, the charge is on an escalator that increases it as the length of hire gets longer - to adjust for the road recovery, of course - I think the value you quote is for the lowest hire term, and you would probably be paying higher).
userRogerC
Posted: 13 July 2017 11:09 PM
Subject: RE: New Zealand - a couple of questions.
 
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In response to the poster mentioning the 'road charges' with Wendekreisen this is all taken care of so mileage is unlimited and not a cost concern.
userAlanb
Posted: 14 July 2017 12:06 AM
Subject: RE: New Zealand - a couple of questions.
 
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Hi,

I am a veteran of many trips to New Zealand.

Sorry if I missed it but none of the previous replies seems to have answered your question about the lpg.

The answer is simple, do not worry. You can get the bottle topped up at lots of filling stations. They weigh the bottle and fill up to the safe level. Charge for the gas put in.

Check bottle is full at pick up. Once due to an unfortunate error we ran out of gas in the remote Hollyford Valley near Milford Sound. No problem Joyce just migrated to the camp kitchen which was close by. Annoying thing was that we had past a filling point earlier in the day.

I should explain that NZ Holiday Parks or Motor Camps normally have camp kitchens with fridges, hobs, and sinks. The term for a pitch with EHU is a." power site",

Pick up a free Jasons Holidaypark & Campground guide at an information centre.

For background may I suggest looking up the website "Uniquely New Zealand" Peter and Pauline Curtis have visited even more times than we have.

For van hire may I recommend "Discover NZ Motorhome Rentals New Zealand". They are based near Nelson, but have agents in several locations including Auckland and Christchurch.

A 12V compressor fridge is very common on rental vans. A lot of the cheaper rental vans are ex KEA, sold on after 3 years. KEA tend to use boat boilers for water heating. Engine cooling water or EHU as a heat source. Do not count on a hot morning shower, if not on EHU.

Electricity supply in NZ is 240V. The EHU connectors are the IEC type as in UK sites. Domestic sockets are three pins in a Y formation, identical with Australian standard.

Having said that do look closely at the insurance conditions as regards driving on gravel roads. Many NZ back roads are "unsealed" that is gravel surfaced. You may wish to explore some of them.

Also we have never paid the insurance bond waiver. The risk has paid off over the years. Check wether insurance bond is taken or just credit card details held. S*d's law you are more likely to lose rather than gain with exchange rate fluctuations.

I am probably preaching to the converted but do get a credit card that does not charge 3% on top of each transaction. Similarly some debit cards do this for a sterling transaction when buying foreign currency in the \uk,

We have limited our trips to 45 days (42 days in NZ). Daily routine of making up bed etc gets a bit wearing after that time.

If you pre book ferries and NZ internal flights from the UK the cheapest prices are not given to a UK computer IP address. They are ways around this!

DO NOT CONSIDER DRIVING ANY GREAT DISTANCE IMMEDIATELY AFTER PICK UP. Stay somewhere as close as possible. Auckland is not brilliant in this respect.

Thera are two major holiday park chains in NZ, Top Ten which tends to be top dollar, and Kiwi Parks which has a more affordable NZ flavour. We have used both and many others independants.

Some Holiday Parks / Campgrounds do not offer toilet disposal points. There are many free public disposal points in garage forecourts & near public toilets etc.

One of the worst natural hazards are the sand flies which pack a bigger punch than scottish midges. Particularly bad on the west coast of South Island. Go prepared with STRONG repellant.

For a first timer SI is better for scenery. I would particularly recommend the trip to Milford Sound, and up beyond Queenstown to Glenorchy.

If walking is your thing then NI probably has more waymarked walks. The Department of Conservation, DOC is the main provider in ths respect. DOC also run small campgrounds with varying facilities. Toilets on most of these sites are often of the vault type. That is just a seat over a big hole.

Alan


userGeeco
Posted: 14 July 2017 6:32 AM
Subject: RE: New Zealand - a couple of questions.
 


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Www.tourism.net.nz is an excellent site to look at different routes around NZ. Last visit we went by car and drove roughly the Billy Connolly tour that is listed as 18 days. We expanded it out to 2.5 weeks with a visit to Mt Cook. No doubt you could expand on one of these routes to suit your needs as we did. NZ is well set up for motorhomes and is very compact and an absolutely beautiful country especially the SI. As a motorhome destination it is probably better than Aust as the distances are so much shorter between locations. Enjoy.
userRogerC
Posted: 14 July 2017 2:39 PM
Subject: RE: New Zealand - a couple of questions.
 
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Having read the replies following mine and done further research I can only reiterate that of all the rental companies I have researched Wendekreisen has the most 'unlimiting' in terms of roads that can be used whilst remaining insured than any other company.

From their web site:
Restricted Roads

A Wendekreisen vehicle must not be driven on any salt water beaches, Skippers Road (Queenstown), Ninety Mile Beach (Northland), Tasman Valley Road (Mt. Cook) and North of Colville Township (Coromandel Peninsula). All other public roads are permitted throughout New Zealand.

Most 'all' other companies restrict use and don't allow insured driving on 'gravel' roads, of which there are a lot in NZ leading to some fabulous places, one of which is Cannibal Cove a 16km drive down a graded track to a fabulous beach where seals are in abundance.
So I strongly recommend looking at the 'Roads Restrictions' policy before you decide on who to rent from.


Edited by RogerC 2017-07-14 2:40 PM
userCattwg
Posted: 15 July 2017 5:29 PM
Subject: RE: New Zealand - a couple of questions.
 
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My thanks to everyone who replied to my queries. I’ve taken the advice on board. It’s good to get information and opinions from people who have ‘actually done it.’
We don’t fly until late January (going via Singapore) so I may be back with more questions!

Cattwg
useralistair
Posted: 16 July 2017 12:38 PM
Subject: RE: New Zealand - a couple of questions.
 
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As a Kiwi, I’m always interested to see threads about New Zealand. We South Islanders also agree with comments that the South Island deserves a longer visit than the North, but we could be a little biased!

I have a few minor comments on what has been said here. Regarding ferry bookings, outside the mid December to late January school holiday period, it’s usually not necessary to book ahead, but you may get better prices by doing so. A few days in advance should be enough. Even over that busy period, you should get on by just fronting up but may have to wait for a few crossings. Be aware that storms can cause delays or even cancellations on some crossings. NZ is a lump of rock in the Southern Ocean and as such, our weather can be very changeable. February is generally our most settled month, but any time can defy the weather statistics. Cook Strait can be very stormy. Having said that, most crossings are on time and uneventful. There are two ferry companies – Interislander and Bluebridge. You should check out both before making your booking. Bluebridge are a little more basic and sometimes offer better deals.

There was mention of what we call “freedom camping” (off-site camping). In the last few years, there has been a huge upsurge in public feeling against freedom campers, caused by a small minority of such travellers who leave rubbish and human waste where they have stayed, ruining some of our nicest places. Most are travellers at the budget end of the scale with vans that are not self-contained (ie no toilet), but others are also guilty of leaving rubbish. Many local authorities have now introduced bylaws heavily restricting freedom camping. It is banned in some areas, and in others, it’s limited to certified self-contained vans. Make sure your hired van has a certification sticker on it. I think that most rental companies with self-contained vans will have had them certified. The hire company should be able to give you information on the current rules regarding freedom camping in the areas you’ll be going to. I endorse the comments about the Department of Conservation (DOC). Their campsites are basic (often very basic) are in some of our loveliest wilderness areas. They may have toilet facilities and water, but little else. But, they are the next best thing to freedom camping, they are legal, and they are cheap. Most tourist areas have a DOC office that can also provide information on DOC sites.

I fully endorse the comment about not driving too far the day you arrive. Tourists have a disproportionally high accident rate and many of these involve travellers who have arrived in the last few hours before they set out. Admittedly, many of these are tourists from countries that drive on the right and are easily confused, especially when tired. Outside the cities, we have very few dual carriageways and many of our roads require vigilance, especially as most don’t have hard shoulders to provide a safety buffer. But, driving is generally very easy as our traffic density is low and the roads are often very quiet. Kiwi drivers can be rather impatient and intolerant of slow campervans (the generic term we use for any type of motorhome) but this is improving.

Enjoy my country!
userg3ttc
Posted: 12 February 2019 11:11 AM
Subject: RE: New Zealand - a couple of questions.
 
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Sounds like useful information for my trip next year. Many thanks.
Keith in Warwick, central England.
userWill86
Posted: 12 February 2019 3:33 PM
Subject: RE: New Zealand - a couple of questions.
 


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Should you have an inquisitive mind its a great experience to see how its been shaped ... land surroundings crumpled like a blanket ... smoking volcanoes ... homes supplied by heating from underground activity ... boiling mud pools.

Its a truly magical country that sits on the ridge of a protruding tectonic plate. I experienced tall pine trees from a forest spread across a road just hours before I arrived and sparkling sky formations of ice crystals never to be forgotten, and then there's the earthquakes, real ones !

Stay as long as you can.
userCattwg
Posted: 12 February 2019 6:03 PM
Subject: RE: New Zealand - a couple of questions.
 
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When we were planning our NZ trip we found this link very helpful. The recommendations there formed the basis of our itinerary.
https://www.phenomenalglobe.com/new-zealand-6-week-itinerary
New Zealand is very hot on what can be taken into their country. Just in case you don’t know it’s worth looking at:
https://www.customs.govt.nz/globalassets/documents/forms/form-3-new-zealand-passenger-arrival-card.pdf
And
https://www.customs.govt.nz/personal/travel-to-and-from-nz/travelling-to-nz/on-your-arrival/

We thoroughly enjoyed our New Zealand trip. It's a fascinating country with very friendly and chatty people. The six weeks we were there was just about enough, eight would have been better.

Cattwg
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