Two Week Family Motorhome Adventure around the South Island


Family posing in front of That Wanaka Tree


When two travel bloggers from the UK visited New Zealand for a two week motorhome hire vacation with their two sons, remarkable lifelong memories were created.


In this blog, Mark and Jodie Shaw share their experiences travelling around the South Island — visiting Abel Tasman National Park, Punakaiki, Hokitika Gorge, Wānaka, Queenstown, Milford Sound and Lake Tekapo.





You’re crazy, that’s a long way to travel with kids.


This was the reaction when the Shaws told their extended family and friends that they were heading to New Zealand with their two young boys. However, it didn’t put them off pursuing the trip of a lifetime in a motorhome.


We had two weeks to explore the South Island in our motorhome hire — affectionately named Moto Moto. Being a reluctant camper, I was surprised at how spacious, comfortable and convenient the motorhome was.


Child playing a toy beside a motorhome window with hills in the backdrop


Travelling with kids can be daunting — but trust me, New Zealand is worth the mammoth effort. The beauty of travelling in a motorhome with our kids was that we had complete freedom to travel when and where we wanted to. And if there was somewhere they really liked, we could stay a little longer.


On our journey across the South Island, we chose to take plenty of rest stops as we came across lots of places we hadn’t read about in the guidebooks. We used the CamperMate app to find all our overnight places to stay. Each day was an adventure.




Look out for the brown tourist information road signs on your journey — then, just pull over and see what you find.

Mark and Jodie Shaw — UK travel bloggers




Exploring picturesque Abel Tasman National Park

Two kids in Abel Tasman beach shore


For next-level coastal beauty, the ultimate South Island location is Abel Tasman National Park. This incredible place was on the Shaws’ bucket list — and rightly so, as they excitedly reflected.


This place was stunning. We got to our campground which was right next to the beach. The area is called Kaiteriteri — it’s the gateway to the national park and you can catch boats in and out of the park directly from this beach.


The Shaws found Kaiteriteri Beach to be a perfect spot for their kids to safely kayak. The sea and estuary are often shallow, creating an ideal natural playground for children.


We took a boat trip into the national park which was a fantastic day out, swimming in the ocean and trekking to the stunning paradise beach of Awaroa Bay.


The Abel Tasman National Park, and especially Kaiteriteri Beach, can get very busy at certain times of the year. Read about how to avoid tourist traps on your motorhome holiday.




We took kayaks out one day around the bay, and to our boys’ absolute delight, we had blue sea penguins swim alongside and underneath our kayaks.

Mark and Jodie Shaw — UK travel bloggers




Marvelling at the limestone rock formations in unique Punakaiki

Limestone rock formations in Punakaiki


Punakaiki is best known for its natural pancake rocks and blowholes that make this scenic West Coast wonder a highlight the Shaws spent some time at.


We drove from Abel Tasman to Punakaiki in around six hours. It was the longest journey of our road trip — but the scenery and plenty of stops along the way helped.


The walk around the Pancake Rocks is a short half hour stroll with lots of informative viewing points. You’ll find out about how the rock formations were created and the variety of sea life that lives and thrives here.


When you’ve completed the loop walk, the Pancake Rocks Cafe across the state highway is ideal for a refreshment — or some actual pancakes.


Find out more about Punakaiki as a motorhome road trip destination.




Punakaiki is a must-visit for any family trip. Our boys witnessed the raw power of the wild waves blowing sea spray through the air. I’ll never forget their excited faces seeing this natural wonder.

Mark and Jodie Shaw — UK travel bloggers




Hiking to the dramatic Hokitika Gorge

Hokitika Gorge


The vibrant turquoise river that carves through spectacular Hokitika Gorge is a feast for the senses. The rich colour of the water along with the raging noise of the river make for a rewarding experience.


Half an hour driving inland from the fun coastal town of Hokitika is where the Shaws found the gorge.


The gorge has this most amazing blue colour. Unfortunately, on the day we got there it was a milky grey due to rainfall the day before — but still a beautiful spot. Wear decent shoes rather than flip flops and use some sandfly repellent as it’s a haven for those little nippers down there.




The water’s edge and best photo spot is a little trek down to the gorge and over a suspension bridge — but not too long for little legs.

Mark and Jodie Shaw — UK travel bloggers




Road-tripping the West Coast to heavenly Wānaka

Child jumping over Lake Wanaka


Any campervan hire road trip down the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island is both magical and memorable.


The Shaws enjoyed every minute of their State Highway 6 (SH6) journey past craggy coastlines, rich rainforests and glorious glaciers — like Fox and Franz Josef.


We were lucky enough to see a pod of dolphins from the high-vantage Knights Point Lookout on the way to Wānaka which was one of our favourite spots — very chilled and super family-friendly. We had a night off cooking in the motorhome and got delicious takeout from Erik’s Fish and Chips.


The popular takeaway van has since closed down in Wānaka but is still operating in Queenstown as Erik’s Fish and Chips.


The Shaws also hired bikes in Wānaka, cycled around part of the lake and took an inevitable photo of That Wānaka Tree.


There were some great family activities available around the Wānaka area — we loved Crossfire Wānaka where we all enjoyed learning archery and playing mini golf.


You’ll have an opportunity to walk on West Coast glaciers by taking this route to Wānaka. Find out more in our best hikes and walks blog.




Our eldest son spent the afternoon jumping off the pier into Lake Wānaka with some local New Zealand school kids — while we drank coffee by the lake.

Mark and Jodie Shaw — UK travel bloggers




Eating and exploring in vibrant Queenstown

Two kids looking over Queenstown view from Queenstown Skyline


Alpine scenery and high-adrenaline adventure clash in this famed Central Otago destination. The Shaws used the resort town as a base for exploring nearby and enjoying the wide range of food available in Queenstown.


We used an app called First Table. It’s ideal if you’re on a budget and like to eat early — especially with kids as it offers 50% off for early diners. But you can’t leave Queenstown without trying the famous Fergburger. I’ve never had to queue so long for a burger — but the wait was so worth it.


At the top of the gondola, the views of the lake and mountains are spectacular. The restaurant is family-friendly and has the best chocolate cake — according to our cake-obsessed son.


Check out our lake-focused Christchurch to Queenstown road trip.




The luge is easily the best family thing to do in Queenstown. It’s great fun whizzing down the track Super Mario Kart-style with the town’s breathtakingly scenic backdrop. The whole family loved it!

Mark and Jodie Shaw — UK travel bloggers




Taking a scenic flight to jaw-dropping Milford Sound

Kids arriving from Milford Sound scenic flight


In the northern hemisphere, a glacially carved inlet filled with seawater is generally known as a fjord. In New Zealand, it’s called a sound — and Milford Sound is arguably the most spectacular.


Rather than drive their campervan rental, the Shaws took the opportunity to take a 45 minute scenic flight to Milford Sound.


Dubbed the most scenic flight in the world, it lived up to our expectations. The scenery was unlike anything we had ever seen before. It’s an absolute must-do when visiting New Zealand. Even though I hate flying, and it was bumpy from turbulence, I’d do it a million times over to see this place.


The cruise through the sound takes you to one of the country’s biggest waterfalls. Much to our boys’ delight we were taken into the falls — where they had their first waterfall facial.


Discover the West Coast on our Christchurch to Milford Sound road trip.




Milford Sound is magical. Luckily for us, the region got a lot of rain a few days before our visit so every waterfall thundered into the sound. No photo can do this place justice.

Mark and Jodie Shaw — UK travel bloggers




Admiring the Colours of Lakes Pukaki and Tekapo

Driving pass Lake Pukaki


The Lindis Pass Highway (SH8) cuts through the middle of the lower South Island, mostly navigating an otherworldly, barren kind of landscape — before passing two particularly majestic alpine lakes. Both lakes are more than 500m above sea level and are fed by glacial meltwater.


We drove through vast plains flanked by mountain ranges, only to be greeted by the most turquoise blue lake we’ve ever seen. We stopped here at Lake Pukaki en route to our campsite at Lake Tekapo.


Tekapo is less than an hour from Lake Pukaki — and is home to Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. Late autumn and winter are often the best times to view the night sky in this region.


Night sky at Lake Tekapo


Find out some more reasons why exploring New Zealand by motorhome in autumn is a great idea. 




We went out for a late-night walk with the boys by Lake Tekapo for stargazing and wow! We were not disappointed. The night sky lit up with stars and the Milky Way was so clear — it was well worth keeping the kids up late.

Mark and Jodie Shaw — UK travel bloggers



The Shaws look back fondly on their two week motorhome rental road trip around the South Island of New Zealand.


If you want convenience and freedom along with adventure, a motorhome is the way to go. It was the ideal way for us to travel New Zealand — and we have memories of this trip that will last a lifetime.



Take a look at our wide range of road trip itineraries for one that fits your family’s travel plans.


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