One of the most iconic travel experiences you can have in New Zealand is taking a motorhome trip. They say its the best way to see the country. If you’ve never been in a motorhome, it is quite a terrifying idea– but once you get used to being on the road in one, you’ll want to spend the rest of your road travel days in an RV. First off, it gives you the independence. You can wake up any time and just drive off from one spot to another if you are freedom camping — no hassles of check in and check out from hotels. Second, you have the luxury of waking up to sunrise by the lake — a view you’d have to pay a hefty sum for if you were renting a room. Third, it’s simply the perfect vehicle for a family roadtrip, even when you have young kids travelling with you.
There are many motorhome rental companies in New Zealand, offering vehicles ranging from small two-berth with no permanent beds, to bigger six sleepers with permanent beds at the back. I’ve done some research and based my decision on pricing, quality of vehicles and review and I’d have to say that Wilderness Motorhomes was the company that always topped that list. So we went with them and it was really the best decision we’ve made for the trip.
The vehicle is German-made and is truly the epitome of luxury. We loved every aspect of it! From the twin beds at the back for the two kids to the numerous cabinet space (with the handles the double as locks), we really felt like it was our home on the road. Here’s what it looks like inside the 4-berth campervan that we rented from Wilderness:
We did run into a problem with the house battery not charging, but with one call, the Wilderness Adventure team was able to hold our hand through it, teaching my husband how to change a blown fuse. They even asked us to buy an extra one, which came in handy when the fuse blew again the next day. Yes, things aren’t always perfect on the road, but what really mattered was the level of support we received from them. Even when things went wrong, they did it right.
Travelling with Kids
The tricky part of the trip was really planning to travel with two kids. Converting the back to twin beds was the perfect solution to get them to sleep better at night. Car seats were required because they were only 4 and 5. Of course we already had our own carseats, but for those who need them you can always ask Wilderness to install them for you when you rent your vehicle. We had to remove the dining table so they can have more space, but it was pretty easy to do that.
Here are our tops tips for a happy family motorhome trip:
- Think about the space – If you’re a family of four, renting a 5-berth would be a good idea (unfornately the 5-berth wasn’t available, but it was still a pretty spacious vehicle). The key to avoiding cabin fever is to give them room to move. It’s also the reason we took out the table during the drive.
- Have the right number and type of clothes for them – Be prepared for anything! Have jackets, swimsuits, more clothes than the number of days you’ll be on the road and different types of footwear they may need.
- Be prepared for the outdoors – Sunblock and insect repellent should be part of your packing list
- Think of on-the-road games to keep them busy (such as I Spy)
- Bring their favourite toy and a couple of books to read at night – this is especially useful if they have a specific routine before sleeping, you do not want to break that routine even when you’re on the road.
- Pack some snack packs (bikkies, grapes, popcorn and juice boxes should always be within easy reach)
- Design an NZ motorhome roadtrip itinerary with young travellers in mind. It’s important to you fully understand the hours you spend on the road (check travel distances before you go), so the kids don’t get cranky. You may want to plan your drive time around sleep schedule for younger kids, but preschool aged kids are much more flexible with that.
- Pick campsites that have activities – While freedom camping is exciting, you may want to stop in at a serviced campsite or a holiday park which has BBQ facilities, play areas for kids and RV charging stations.
At the end of the day, preparing well had them sleeping like babes while we were on the road and at night when we were ready to turn in. They had the energy wherever we stopped for activities and they really enjoyed the trip.