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Hire Camper van OR car plus motel for 30days in NZL from 9Dec-6Jan,13

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My husband and I will fly from Bangkok-Auckland on 8th December and leave Auckland to Bangkok on 6th Jan,2013.

- Which way is more economical to hire a camper van or a car? We want to save money....please advice between the average accomodation cost for 30 nights + hire a car......OR camper van rental charge for 30days....which way would be better, cheaper, more practical? Please recommend....

- Do we need to book the room or campsite in advance every night as it's peak season in New Zealand?

- During December- January, It's the PEAK season in NZL and everything would be at the TOP rate + super busy, is that right?

- Please share, what is a good route to Travel New Zealand for 1 month? Do we have enough time to visit both island? Any tips?

- Should we start our trip at the South Island or the North Island first?

-Please recommend the car hire company....ok car with the good rate?

We're still in the planning stages of our holiday so all feedback / help we can get would be GREAT as regards to travel and accomodation and also best places to visit....tips, do and don't, etc...

Looking forward to your recomendations! & Thank you so much for your time in advance!

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    Hi Wasana -

    You'll have to crunch the numbers to determine which is cheaper, camper van or car/accommodation. Keep in mind that you'll use more petrol in a camper van and there are campground fees as well.

    Alot will depend on your particular comfort level...roads in NZ are winding and narrow and I can think of many places I'd personally be unwilling to take a camper van.

    Something else to consider is that motels, etc often offer reduced prices for longer stays, so be sure to work that into your calculations. Accommodation rates will run the gamut...hostels are well regarded in NZ and are worth looking into.

    I'd definitely book in popular areas with limited accommodation/campsites such as Mt Cook and the glaciers, but I'd think you could wing it in most other areas.

    January-Feb is high season, but 'busy' is a relative term. Busy in NZ is much less busy than 'busy' in other countries.

    With a month, you'll have sufficient time to explore both islands, but I'd suggest allowing more time for the South, as there's so much to see and do there.

    APEX is my car rental agency of choice. Have used them several times w/o problems. They rent new and older vehicles..you can save a fair bit of $$ by renting an older car.

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    our budget has blown way over since we committed ourselves to a Kea campervan
    after reading the reviews i really pushed for a kea rather than a cheaper alternative because i just didnt want to face the risk of anything leaking/ falling off in an older van ( kea keeps their fleet fairly new...)

    it wouldve been cheaper to do the car and hotels but OH is set on doing the campervan because he expects there is a greater degree of freedom ( i dont think so...cos you still have to stick to a bit of an itinerary when time is limited but im going along with his idea lol)
    we are going in november and im looking forward to just living out of the van...just not having to unpack is what enticed me in the first place

    we have sailed before and it was that same feeling...having everything you need with you and not worrying about lugging suitcases to hotels each night
    but the disadavantage i think will lie in mobility...not having a little car to zip around to the shops if you need something
    people have warned me to get good insurance cover because it can be a bit hard to manoeuvre those big campers in urban areas...scrapes in shopping mall carparks are a bit of a worry

    making sure that all the cupboards are locked is important too..someone lost their shoes from the outside locker...and another had glasses spill out of their kitchen cupboard

    we have been promised a new van...the adventure awaits!

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    Generally speaking a small car and motels/hostels/cabins will always be cheaper up front than a camper. There are however, two very important issues to make you decide.
    1 - You can cook in a camper saving money on buying food. You have everything yo need whereever you are. Hot and cold driks and food whenever you want.
    You can cook at camping grounds/hostels etc. but how will you store and carry your food from place to place?
    2 - Lifestyle.
    A) We hate camp grounds/people in general and have never stayed in a commercial campground. New Zealand according to Mel is restricting Freedom Camping but if you are in more remote areas and are responsible you should not have a problem. Don't stay in obvious places. This wil save you heaps.
    B) You are not restricted to being at a place by a certain time nor staying for a certain time (assuming you freedom camp)

    It really is a personal choice of the type of holiday you want.If you are mainly going from City to City and doing all the standard things then a small car and accommodation will be far cheaper and youwill not need a van. If you want to avoid all that and get off the beaten track, then a camper is for you.

    Shop around for a van company. We went 10 or so years ago with a small company based near the Auckland airport. they were very good and cheap. They made all their own vans. I can't remember what they were called.

    Talk to a travel agent.

    We are going next year for two weeks but are staying only two places on the North Island, so have hired a car with Europcar. They were the cheapest of the "known brands". (As I do not own a car I go with the known brands for car hire. Owning a campervan I am more willing to explore alternative businesses - knowing what questions to ask.)

    Thirty years ago I did a trip with my parents. Three weeks in the South Island to start then one in the North Island. This stil tends to be the standard, but I quite like both islands. Again it is all personal choice.

    For a four week trip I pick out 4-6 things that I MUST see and about ten or things that I would really like. Then work out how to get from one MUST to the next seeing as many likes as possible on the way whilst leaving plenty of room to just explore and follow where fate takes me.

    Others will plan day by day hour by hour. Other have no plan at all!

    Tow things are for sure, you will not see it all and you will have a great time exploring a new country.

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    Small car and cabins is the way to see the country with a small budget or stay for longer. If the cabins don't have cooking facilities then there will be a camp kitchen. NZ is very well set up for people traveling like this. You'll save the cost of the cool box inside three days.

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    $200 = 2 nights in a motel or about 5-7 nights in a Commercial Campground. So assuming you are stupid enough to get caught you still need to get caught every 2nd night to make motels cheaper or every 7th night to make campgrounds cheaper. Assuming you freedom camped for 30 nights and got caught once it will have cost you $6.66 per night or $3.33 EACH. Cheap accommodation! That is assuming a car and camper cost the same. I leave you to work out your own maths.

    We have NEVER EVER been "caught" because we do not stay in obvious palces.

    If you are going to stay in comercial camp groups - they all have kitchens and amenities so it really defeats the purpose of having a camper. Campers are best if you are staying in National or other Parks etc.

    The fees in some parks are very cheap. We stayed near a waterfall in a park run by the local Water Board. It was $2 each for the night (ten yrs ago). That was the only palce we paid.

    Mel and Alan are right you can take an esky/cool box with you (as we have done), it is just more awkward.

    TRIVIA - the first trip I did to NZ we hired a commercial Hiace, ie empty - no fittings at all. We slept on blow up mattresses and used a one burner hike stove for meals AND Freedom Camped. Cheap as Chips, but 30 years ago!

    It all comes down to the type of holiday you want.
    Bad accommodation choice = bad holiday memories.
    Cost is rarely remembered.

    Last time we looked at prices campers were about 3 times more expensive in the peak season than in the other seasons. I assume this is still true. I don't know how much more expensive motels etc. are in the peak season. Mel might help you there.

    Again it depends on where you want to go and how far away from the Icons you are prepared to stay. Closer = more expensive. Do you need swimming pools etc or just the basics? there would be lots of cheap options if you only want basics.

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    "Getting caught" pretty much sums it up, doesn't it? If it was accepted, one wouldn't have to worry about "getting caught".

    What about respecting the wishes and guidelines of the country you're visiting? What about being a responsible, respectful and rule-abiding visitor?

    If "cost is rarely remembered" why take the chance?

    I can only hope that petersale is a responsible freedom camper and not part of the problem.

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    Of course I am responsible freedom camper. I belong to the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA) and will soon be registered in the Leave No trace Programme (once I remember to send in my paperwork - thanks for the reminder - job for this afternoon). Leave No Trace is a mere formality as we have always been so. We will get a sticker to prove it though. So if in the rare event we are ever approached by a Ranger/By laws Officer/Police etc. it is clear, and they won't have to wake us up to ask.

    I use caught in inverted commas as the idiots who get fined deserve to be caught. As stated earlier we never caught/accosted/spoken to/questioned/moved on/noticed or whatever phrase you choose, because we don't stay in places where anyone cares and more than likely where anyone is. We do not stay for more than one night. We leave no trace. We have been doing it for decades. So in essence, we are not taking a chance.We just have better ways to spend our money than paying to park somewhere where we have no need for any of their services. It is akin to hiring a hotel room but not staying there, just so you can park your car for the night.

    The people who get in trouble are the ones who outstay their welcome, are in very obvious places and ignore the signs. I have heard of people staying at popular urban beaches for weeks or breaking into toilet block power boards to get power. These people are the problem, and of course should be fined. The more the better.

    The regulations you posted refer to only some places and they are clearly signed and we would of course follow those signs, as we do here. There are however, always more unrestricted places then there are restricted. Generally they are away from people - which of course is why we freedom camp.

    Remember the main people against freedom camping are the caravan park owners. They use all sorts of arguments to to try and keep their monopoly. There is no way that all the toilet paper and rubbish you see at the roadside stops and picnic grounds is Freedom Campers. But this is their main argument. The CMCA issues us with free garbage bags so that we can clean up after the litterers.

    The CMCA is successfully implementing RV Friendly towns and Dump Points to encourage towns to accept Freedom Campers. The research shows that the average RV user, freedom camps about 3-4 days each week and spends around $500 a week in the communities they visit. More and more towns are joining this programme and benefitting from the money brought to the town. Case in point Penguin in Tasmania has a place on the beach in the middle of town for campervans, 100m away from a bakery. We stayed there and spent about $30 on buying breakfast and lunch. Had we stayed at more remote beach they would have got no money. $30 may not sound much but there can be as many as 15 vans at that spot each night according to the council.

    Like all management issues do not judge the majority by the minority. Likewise do not support knee jerk reactions without giving the whole issue thought.

    End of Hijack.

    So back to the OPs original question. It is entirely up to you, of course. I am obviously biased, but I think there is no better way to travel than by freedom camping in a small van.

    As to cost, pure and simple, a small car and hostels/cabins will be cheaper. Great if you are the social type and like meeting new people every day. A nighmare if you are hermits like us.

    What sort of holiday do you want? Do you have to go in peak season? Do you want to be among people or among nature? Areonly going to the main places or off the beaten track?

    Just did a quick search:-
    Neither Britz nor Maui have any vans available for that time. You could try ringing them or try one of the alternatives. But you have probably left it too late. So you can largely ignore all of the above as you will have little choice. I would start booking as soon as you possible can.

    Car hire should not be as hard. For comparison we are getting one at Easter next year for about A$945 for 15 days.

    Motels start at around NZ$120 night.

    Holiday Parks as follows.
    http://www.kiwiholidayparks.com/prices.php
    Average Prices NZ$
    Holiday Park Motels
    Prices range between $90 and $170 per night for two people.
    Self Contained Units / Tourist Flats
    Prices range between $80 and $120 per night for two people. The majority of units will have linen included in their price, especially units at the higher end of the price range.
    En-Suite Cabins
    Prices range between $70 - $100 per night for two people (linen not included).
    Tourist Cabins
    Prices are approximately $75 per night for two people (linen not included).
    Standard Cabins
    Prices range between $40 - $70 per night for two people (linen not included).
    Powered Sites
    Prices for these sites vary from $17.00 per adult to up to $22.00 per adult, per night. The price includes use of all park communal facilities, such as kitchen, showers/toilets and laundry. Some Parks do have coin operated showers.



    Have you considered a getting an agent (or yourself) to book a drive and stay package for you? It a package deal where all your accommodation is booked in advance but you drive yourself from place to place.

    Hope it all works out for you.

    Australia is nice that time of year!

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