Taking your Time to Travel New Zealand by Motorhome

Taking your Time to Travel New Zealand by Motorhome

Senior couple enjoying sunset by their motorhome


As a seasoned or experienced traveller, you already understand that you can get so much more out of a holiday when taking your time.

New Zealand is one country where time can stand still. Its relaxed nature and long winding roads naturally lead you to spend more time in one location — and to drive a short distance to the next.

In this blog, we look at the reasons why your best option when deciding to travel New Zealand is to hire a campervan or motorhome and take your time. Enjoy interacting with the friendly locals, get involved in diverse cultural experiences — and view the incredible scenery with a drive less, see more outlook.

Drive less — see more

Most roads across New Zealand aren’t in a straight line. They’re usually winding over mountain passes or around rugged coastlines, or rolling over lower hill country or farmland. Because of the unique geography of the country, it takes longer than you expect to travel by road.


Motorhome parked up by a scenic view


To make the most of your motorhome vacation and avoid getting stuck behind the wheel for hours on end, plan for your travel days to be relatively short. Under 200km per travel day is a recommended target — meaning you’ll be on the road for less than three hours when moving location. Also, remember to stop at rest stops along the way to take in the beautiful sights on offer.


Discover why New Zealand is a fantastic road trip destination

Embrace the diversity of the culture and landscape


Maori cultural performance


By slowing down and taking your time to enjoy the sights and sounds of New Zealand, you’ll be more likely to experience the local culture and how people connect to the land.

Traditional Māori culture has a deep connection to the land. This bond is reflected in the worldview, values and practices of Māori people. They use the land for a variety of traditional activities — like holding ceremonies and gathering food and medicine.

The Māori worldview

Māori people believe that the land is a living, breathing entity — named Papatūānuku. It’s said that humans descended from her and Ranginui, the sky father.

The Māori creation story tells of Papatūānuku and Ranginui being separated by their children — which allowed light and space into the world.


New Zealand’s varied topography offers a wealth of diverse experiences if you plan to take your time and keep company amongst nature for a while. Consider adding to your itinerary:

  • Short hikes — through native ferns and under giant kauri trees
  • Coastal wanders — across stretches of golden or black sand beach
  • Farm tours — from high country deer to lowland sheep and cattle
  • Māori historical site visits — see a list of the sites that the Department of Conservation (DOC) manages across the country.

Maori historical site visits


Find out where you can learn about traditional Māori culture in our Rotorua motorhome holiday guide.



Socialise with the friendly locals


Friendly locals at farmers market


New Zealanders are also known as Kiwis and are renowned for their welcoming, sociable nature. If you decide to travel the country by motorhome hire, it’s a great idea to be open to initiating conversations with the residents.


Your travel experiences will be immeasurably enhanced if you’re able to strike up a conversation with a small town shopkeeper or connect with a few parochial rugby supporters.

Some of your fellow campers at holiday parks, freedom camping spots and DOC sites will be New Zealanders. Get to know a few and you’ll gain a glimpse into the Kiwi lifestyle. When you pass the locals hiking, fishing, cycling or simply enjoying the outdoors, you’ll meet them at their best.

Senior couple cycling together


You’ll run into plenty of locals relaxing at the top New Zealand beaches for a campervan holiday.


Make time to enjoy the spectacular scenery

This breathtaking land of natural grandeur has so much to offer — particularly if you plan to take your time and soak it all up. Park up your motorhome rental or campervan hire under the snow-capped peaks surrounding majestic Aoraki Mount Cook. Or wake up to an east coast Bay of Plenty sunrise by one of the country’s most remote beaches.

Driving through scenic road with Mt Cook in the background


Slow down on the roads that have little traffic, like the:

  • Forgotten World Highway — a remote, mysterious and strangely scenic old road that navigates between rolling farmland and dense native bush
  • Great Coast Road — a rugged, wild and winding coastal road with cliff top views of the sparse Tasman Sea
  • Alpine Pacific Touring Route — from wine country to whale country to hot spring water country.

Hidden gems are often around the next bend on New Zealand’s popular highways. You can drive from the lush serenity of Fiordland where towering cliffs plunge into fiords carved by glaciers, to the geothermal wonderland of the extraordinary central North Island.

Check out our extensive blog on the best campervan park up spots in New Zealand.



Enjoy the easy nature of travelling on local roads


New Zealands sheep while traveling through backcountry road


The essence of taking your time is probably best felt on New Zealand’s backcountry roads — where life moves along at a slower pace. The two main islands are relatively easy to get around on the country’s dependable roading network.

If you’re planning a motorhome rental in summer, these lesser-travelled routes are often the best way to break away from the high season tourist crowds. They can offer:

  • Charming small towns — like Arrowtown, Glenorchy and Tūrangi
  • Well-kept coastal secrets — such as Anaura Bay, Nugget Point and Monkey Island
  • Alpine villages — including Lake Ohau, Mount Cook Village and National Park Village.

You’ll also be able to enjoy the warmth and hospitality of the people who reside in small town New Zealand.

Nugget Point


Find out just how easy it is to drive a Wilderness motorhome and browse our itineraries to discover interesting new places you’d like to visit.



The slow travel philosophy enables you to savour your travel moments as they unfold. If you’re still young at heart but ready for your next adventure, take a look at our over 50s guide to New Zealand motorhome holidays — or view our Auckland to Coromandel road trip itinerary which is designed to cover short distances each day.



motorhoming for over 50s planning your trip