Top tips for winter campervan travel in New Zealand | Apollo NZ
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Nelson & Marlborough

Craving artistic flair, golden beaches, and a taste of adventure? Look no further than the Nelson and Marlborough region. Sitting at the top of New Zealand's South Island, this area is packed full of natural beauty, culinary excellence, and cultural richness. It’s easy to see why it makes the perfect destination for a New Zealand campervan holiday. Nelson, often hailed as New Zealand’s ‘sunshine capital’, radiates a warm, inviting atmosphere complemented by its vibrant arts community, historic architecture, and bustling markets. Nearby, the tranquil Marlborough Sounds offers a playground for kayaking, fishing, and scenic cruises. Wine enthusiasts will relish visiting Marlborough's famed vineyards, where tasting world-class wines becomes a memorable part of the journey.

A road trip through Nelson and Marlborough in an Apollo campervan means every day is a new adventure, crafted just to your liking. With the flexibility to explore hidden gems, from the secluded coves of Golden Bay in Nelson to the enchanting Marlborough Sounds, your journey can be as laid-back or as action-packed as you desire. The convenience of travelling by campervan, complete with a kitchen, bed, and bathroom, means that the beauty of Nelson NZ and the Marlborough Sounds are yours to enjoy in your own time. Whether you're soaking up the sun on Nelson's beaches or sipping on exquisite sauvignon blanc in Marlborough, travelling by campervan offers a truly unforgettable experience. 

 

Why explore Nelson & Marlborough by campervan

Travelling in a campervan, especially through beautiful areas like Nelson and Marlborough, turns a simple holiday into a series of unforgettable experiences. It's your adventure, at your pace, surrounded by the comfort and convenience that only campervan travel can offer. With a campervan, you're not tied down. You can linger over a long lunch in a Nelson café or decide to spend an extra day tasting wines in Marlborough because you've fallen in love with the scenery.

The journey itself becomes part of the fun when you're in a campervan. It's about making spontaneous stops at breathtaking lookouts, enjoying your morning coffee in the middle of postcard-perfect views, and finding your own special spot to watch the stars. Stumbled upon a hidden gem in Golden Bay or found a hiking track in Marlborough you’d like to tackle? With a campervan, you have the freedom to explore it as much as you like.

 

Things to do in Nelson & Marlborough

Nelson and Marlborough are rich with activities and attractions, offering something special for every kind of traveller. For families on holiday, there are endless opportunities for fun, from exploring the sun-drenched beaches of Nelson to the interactive and educational experiences in the region's museums and galleries. Food enthusiasts will revel in the culinary journey through Nelson and Marlborough, from the fresh seafood of the coastal areas to the exquisite flavours of the region's renowned wineries. Whether you're indulging in a leisurely lunch at a vineyard in Marlborough or sampling local artisan produce at a Nelson market, your taste buds are in for a treat. Adventure seekers and nature lovers won't be left wanting either. With activities like kayaking through the Marlborough Sounds or hiking the trails of the Abel Tasman National Park, the great outdoors is your playground. And for those looking to unwind, the charming towns scattered throughout the region offer a peaceful retreat with their unique boutiques, cafes, and galleries.

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Popular Nelson road trips & itineraries

Nestled at the top of New Zealand's South Island, Nelson and Marlborough are prime starting points for some of the most picturesque road trips in the country. Kicking off from Nelson, you can weave through the scenic drives that unveil the artistic townships, golden beaches, and lush national parks. Heading into Marlborough, the journey continues through rolling vineyards and along the majestic Marlborough Sounds. Whether you're venturing from the urban buzz of the North Island or the rugged landscapes of the South, these regions promise memorable campervan road trip adventures tailored to every interest. Here are a few worth checking out:

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Great savings on your New Zealand road trip

Apollo offers a fantastic selection of deals and specials for those looking to explore New Zealand by campervan. From hot deals and last-minute discounts to long-term hire benefits, you’re sure to find a deal designed to help you make the most of your campervan adventure. 

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Apollo Campervan branches

Christchurch

The drive from Apollo Christchurch to Nelson takes you along some of the South Island’s most scenic coastline. There’s a fair bit to see and do along the way, so be sure to take your time and perhaps plan an overnight stay in Kaikoura. 

Queenstown

Keen to make the most of your road trip and explore more of the South Island? Book your camper with our Queenstown branch and spend a few days heading northward taking in some of the great southern highlights along the way. 

Auckland

The North Island is packed full of sights and experiences, so why not tick off a few with a road trip from Apollo Auckland to Nelson? This journey includes crossing the Cook Strait by ferry offering the opportunity to travel through the pristine Marlborough Sounds. 

Auckland City Skyline

Auckland

New Zealand’s multi-cultural hub of food, music, arts and culture.

 

Christchurch City, New Zealand

Christchurch

 One of the world’s most unique destinations.

 

Queenstown

Breathtaking scenery and adrenaline-pumping adventure activities.

 

Helpful tips for visiting Nelson & Marlborough

 

Climate and seasons in Nelson & Marlborough

Nelson and Marlborough are renowned for their inviting climates, making them year-round destinations for visitors. Nelson, often celebrated as the sunniest city in New Zealand, enjoys a mild maritime climate that complements its outdoor lifestyle and vibrant arts culture.

  • Summer (December to February) in Nelson are warm and sunny, with temperatures typically ranging from 20°C to 25°C, perfect for enjoying the region's stunning beaches and outdoor dining. In Marlborough, the warmth accentuates the beauty of the vineyards, making it an ideal time for wine tasting and scenic tours.

  • Autumn (March to May) in Nelson are warm and sunny, with temperatures typically ranging from 20°C to 25°C, perfect for enjoying the region's stunning beaches and outdoor dining. In Marlborough, the warmth accentuates the beauty of the vineyards, making it an ideal time for wine tasting and scenic tours.

  • Winter (June to August) brings cooler weather, with daytime temperatures hovering around 12°C to 15°C. It's a great time to enjoy the region's art galleries, museums, and cosy dining spots, with the occasional crisp, clear day perfect for outdoor adventures.

  • Spring (September to November) breathes new life into the regions, with blossoming gardens and warming temperatures. It's a beautiful time to witness the region's natural beauty, from the awakening vineyards in Marlborough to the blossoming landscapes in Nelson.

Both regions enjoy relatively low rainfall compared to other parts of New Zealand, though it's always wise to pack a light rain jacket just in case. The transitional seasons of autumn and spring offer a spectacular display of nature's beauty, making them particularly rewarding times to visit.

 

 

 

What to pack

Heading out for an adventure in Nelson and Marlborough with your campervan is an exciting prospect, and packing smart can enhance your experience. The region's welcoming climates and diverse outdoor activities mean you'll need a mix of gear to comfortably enjoy everything from sun-soaked beaches to leisurely vineyard tours. Here’s a rundown of what to bring along.

  • Outdoor gear: The stunning landscapes of Nelson and Marlborough are your playground, so come prepared with versatile outdoor gear. Lightweight, breathable clothing will keep you comfortable during the warm days, while a layer or two for the cooler evenings ensures you can enjoy those starlit nights by the campfire. Durable walking shoes are essential, whether you're hiking in Abel Tasman National Park or exploring the coastal trails.

  • Campervan add-ons: Enhance your campervan living with a few thoughtful extras. A portable barbecue can elevate your dining under the stars, while extra camping chairs and a table (these can be added to your campervan hire) can make your outdoor setup more comfortable.

  • Sun protection:The New Zealand sun, particularly in the Nelson region, known for its high sunshine hours, calls for diligent sun protection. Pack high-SPF sunscreen, a quality pair of sunglasses with UV protection, and a hat to shield you during those outdoor adventures. Remember, sun safety is key, even on overcast days.

For more helpful ideas, check out our guide to what to pack for your campervan road trip.

 

 

Nearby attractions and day trips from Nelson

 

Farewell Spit

Farewell Spit is a striking natural feature located at the northern tip of the South Island, renowned for its extensive sandbar and rich birdlife. This area serves as a bird sanctuary where visitors can observe a variety of migratory birds in their natural setting. The iconic lighthouse at the spit's end also provides a picturesque backdrop for visitors exploring this unique and protected landscape.

Takaka

In the heart of Golden Bay, Takaka is a vibrant town known for its artistic community, quirky cafes, and nearby natural wonders like Te Waikoropupū Springs. A day trip to Takaka can be as relaxing or adventurous as you like, with options ranging from exploring local art galleries to hiking in the Abel Tasman National Park.

Rabbit Island

Just a short drive from Nelson, Rabbit Island offers vast sandy beaches, picnic spots, and cycling trails. It's an ideal place for a family day out, where you can enjoy swimming, beach games, or simply bask in the tranquil atmosphere of this coastal gem.

Lord of the Rings film locations

For fans of the Lord of the Rings series, the Nelson region offers the chance to visit some of the trilogy's filming locations. Take on a day trip to explore the diverse landscapes that were transformed into Middle-Earth, from the rolling hills to the lush forests, each offering a glimpse into the magical world of the films.

 

Where to stay in Nelson & Marlborough with a campervan

When it comes to finding the perfect spot to park and rest in Nelson and Marlborough, there's no shortage of picturesque, comfy campgrounds. Here are a few worth checking out:

Nelson

Marlborough

 

 

Alyssa Tresider
/ Categories: NZ blog

Top tips for winter campervan travel in New Zealand.

Heading out on a winter road trip in New Zealand in a campervan is an experience like no other. The country's stunning vistas take on a whole new character, offering adventures that are both unique and exhilarating. 

In this handy guide, we'll take you through some essential tips for making your New Zealand winter road trip not just comfortable but truly unforgettable. 

From the must-have items for your campervan checklist to the best winter destinations in NZ, we've got you covered. Whether you're planning a NZ ski holiday or seeking the best places to visit in winter NZ, your journey is about to get a lot more exciting. So, grab a cuppa, and let's take a look at how to make your camper hire adventure the highlight of your winter.

 

Why you should take a winter campervan trip in New Zealand

Taking a winter road trip in NZ in an Apollo campervan is an invitation to witness a side of New Zealand that not everyone gets to see. As the cooler months roll in, the landscapes undergo a magical transformation, presenting a spectacle that's both quiet and majestic. 

Here's why a winter journey through New Zealand should be on your radar:

  • New Zealand in winter reveals a landscape that's utterly breathtaking. The snow-capped mountains, frosty mornings, and crisp air bring out a different kind of beauty. It all adds up to a more intimate and reflective travel experience. It's a time when the country's natural wonders feel like they're there just for you.

  • The drop in tourist numbers is a significant bonus. Make the most of the freedom to explore iconic spots without the usual hustle and bustle. The roads are less crowded, making your drive through New Zealand's scenic routes more relaxed and enjoyable. It's the perfect setting for those who prefer a more laid-back holiday, with plenty of opportunities to take in the views at your own pace.

  • For the thrill-seekers and adventure lovers, winter in New Zealand is a playground. The season is synonymous with exhilarating activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and even glacier hiking. Resorts like Queenstown and Wānaka become bustling hubs for winter sports, offering some of the best slopes in the Southern Hemisphere. Whether you're an experienced skier or trying it for the first time, the New Zealand skiing holiday experience is unmatched.

 

Our top 10 tips for winter campervan travel in New Zealand

Venturing through New Zealand in a campervan during winter offers a unique blend of challenges and rewards. To help you navigate this chilly but charming season, here are our top tips for a safe and enjoyable journey.

 

Check the weather forecast

Staying updated on the weather is a must for any New Zealand road trip. Winter can bring sudden shifts in conditions, so it's wise to be prepared. Packing additional layers, blankets, and a hot water bottle will keep you cosy inside your camper. Being well-prepared allows you to embrace the stunning winter landscapes without the discomfort of the cold.

 

Drive cautiously

Navigating New Zealand's roads in winter requires a careful approach, especially when conditions turn icy. Lowering your speed and allowing more space for braking are good practices. 

Equipping your campervan with snow chains is important to help enhance traction and safety on snowy or icy roads. These can be hired with your Apollo campervan. It's also a good idea to get comfortable with using these chains before you hit the road. 

If your adventure includes the ski fields, remember that campervans may need to be parked at designated areas, as direct access via entry roads is often restricted from June to October. Additionally, be aware of specific locations where campervans might not be permitted during the winter months, and plan your route accordingly.

 

Choose the right campervan

When it's time to choose the best campervan for your winter road trip in NZ, it's all about matching your needs with the right set of wheels. Winter travel has its own set of demands, so here's how to make sure your campervan hire ticks all the boxes:

  • Storage for your gear: Winter trips often mean bringing along more stuff – think skis, snowboards, extra blankets, and all those warm layers. You'll want a campervan with plenty of storage space to keep everything organised and accessible. No one likes a cluttered living space, especially when it's your home on the road.

  • Self-contained comforts: There's a special kind of joy in having your own little bathroom and kitchen with you, especially when it's cold outside. An onboard shower and toilet not only make your winter travels more pleasant but are also essential for freedom camping. It's about having those home comforts, no matter where you park for the night.

  • Heating options: Different campervans can come with different heating systems – electric, gas, or diesel. Electric heaters will need a power hookup, which is fine for campsite stays but not ideal for off-grid adventures. Gas and diesel heaters can keep you warm anywhere, but it's good to know how they work and what they need. For example, diesel heaters are super-efficient and great for keeping the chill at bay, while gas heaters give you that cosy warmth without needing a power connection.

 

Stock up on essentials

Getting ready for a winter road trip in NZ means making sure you've got all the essentials packed in your campervan. It's not just about having enough snacks for the road (though we all know how important those are!), it's also about being prepared for anything the journey might throw at you. Here's a quick checklist to make sure you're all set:

  • Food and water: Stock up on enough food and water to last you a few days, just in case you find yourself in a remote spot or get held up by unexpected weather. Think non-perishable items that are easy to cook in your campervan kitchen.

  • Emergency supplies: A well-stocked first aid kit is a must, along with essentials like a flashlight, extra batteries, and a multi-tool. These can be lifesavers in unexpected situations.

  • Warmth and comfort: Extra layers of clothing, thermal wear, and waterproof outer layers will help keep you warm and dry, whether you're inside the campervan or out exploring. A good quality, warm sleeping bag is also a must-have for those frosty nights.

  • Navigation tools: While digital maps are great, having physical maps or pre-downloaded maps as backups can be a lifesaver, especially in remote areas where signals might be spotty. We recommend downloading the thl Roadtrip app before you begin your road trip. This handy app is packed full of everything you’ll need to prepare for and enjoy your campervan road trip. Download on the App Store or Google Play.  

  • Entertainment: Don't forget to pack some books, games, or even a portable speaker for those cosy evenings in. It's all about making your campervan feel like a home away from home.

 

Plan your route

Mapping out your journey is a crucial part of preparing for your winter road trip in NZ. The winter season can bring a few surprises, from road closures to unexpected weather changes, so it pays to be prepared. Here's how to ensure your route planning is on point:

  • Stay informed: Before you set off, check out the latest updates on road conditions, closures, and detours. Websites and local news channels are great resources for the most current information.

  • Backup plans: Having alternative routes in mind can save you a lot of hassle if you encounter any roadblocks or delays. It's always better to have a plan B (and even a plan C) just in case.

  • Local insights: Don't underestimate the value of local knowledge. Chatting with locals or other travellers can give you insights into the best routes and hidden gems that might not be on your map.

  • Flexible travel itinerary: While it's great to have a plan, being flexible can make your trip even more enjoyable. Sometimes, the best experiences come from those unplanned detours and spontaneous decisions.


Stay connected

Keeping in touch and ensuring you have a way to communicate is super important on your New Zealand road trip, especially when you're cruising around in your campervan. Here's how to stay connected, even when you're off the beaten path:

  • Power up: A fully charged cell phone is your lifeline. Pack a portable charger or power bank to keep your phone juiced up, especially on those long stretches between stops.

  • Share your plans: Let your friends or family know your travel itinerary. A quick message to share your daily plans or any changes can keep everyone at ease.

  • Regular check-ins: Especially if you're venturing into more remote areas with unreliable reception, make it a point to check in regularly. Find spots along your route where you can get a signal and touch base.

  • Emergency contacts: Have a list of emergency contacts, including local authorities and roadside assistance, saved in your phone. It's also a good idea to have them written down somewhere in your campervan, just in case.

 

Choose campsites wisely

Finding the right spot to park your campervan each night is a big part of the adventure. To make sure your nights are as comfy as your days are fun, here's what to look for in a winter campsite:

  • Creature comforts: After a day of exploring, there's nothing like a hot shower to warm up. Look for campsites with power hookups, hot showers, and maybe even laundry facilities to make your winter camping experience a bit more like home.

  • Winter availability: Not all campsites are open in the colder months, so it's a good idea to do a bit of research and planning ahead of time. Checking availability and booking your spots in advance can save you from the hassle of a last-minute scramble.

  • Strategic locations: Choosing campsites that are close to your planned activities or attractions can cut down on driving time and allow you to spend more time enjoying the sights and experiences.

  • Safety first: Especially in winter, make sure the campsites you choose are safe and well-maintained. A little research on reviews or asking for recommendations can go a long way.

 

Stay warm and dry

Staying snug and dry is key to enjoying your New Zealand winter road trip to the fullest. Here's how to keep the chill at bay and ensure your campervan remains a cosy retreat:

  • Layer up: Invest in some good-quality thermal clothing that'll keep you warm from the inside out. Topping these off with waterproof outer layers means you can face the elements without a shiver, whether you're out exploring or setting up camp.

  • Ventilation is vital: Keeping your campervan aired out might seem counterintuitive in the cold, but regular ventilation is crucial to prevent condensation and moisture buildup inside. A little fresh air circulating through can make the space more comfortable and prevent dampness from settling in.

 

Embrace winter activities

Getting stuck into some of the great winter activities that New Zealand offers can turn your campervan journey into an epic adventure. Here's how to make the most of the season:

  • Hit the slopes: Whether you're into skiing, snowboarding, or just a good old-fashioned snowball fight, New Zealand's winter wonderland is your playground. The country's renowned ski fields offer something for every level, from beginner to pro.

  • Scenic explorations: Don't miss out on the breathtaking winter trails. Whether it's a frosty morning walk or a guided tour, the landscapes are spectacular.

  • Warm-up: After a day in the cold, there's nothing like soaking in a soothing hot pool. It's the perfect way to relax and warm up.

  • Local flavours: Winter is also a great time to explore the local cuisine. Cosy up in cafes and restaurants and enjoy some hearty meals that'll warm you from the inside out. Even better, stock up on local produce and artisan goods and create some campervan cuisine. 

 

Be flexible and adaptable

Winter in New Zealand can be full of surprises, and a flexible approach to your campervan adventure can lead to some of the most memorable experiences. The weather might throw a curveball your way, or you might stumble upon a hidden gem that wasn't on your radar. Being prepared to adjust your plans on the fly allows you to embrace the unique spontaneity that winter travel offers. After all, it's the unexpected moments that often become the highlights of our travels.

 

Ready to explore New Zealand in a campervan this winter? 

A winter campervan road trip in New Zealand is simply unbeatable. And with a bit of smart planning – from selecting the ideal campervan to packing the right gear – it’s one you’ll never forget.

Feeling inspired to start planning your winter travel itinerary? Apollo Campervans has the perfect range of motorhomes and campervans to suit your needs. Book your cosy campervan online now and set off on a memorable trip through New Zealand's breathtaking winter scenery.

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