How to choose the best motorhome

A motorhome or camper van is a great way to explore New Zealand. We've put together a guide for choosing the best motorhome for your adventure.

You've decided on a trip to New Zealand. Great choice! New Zealand's epic landscapes, friendly people and endless road trip experiences will all come together to make for a great experience!

Travelling by motorhome is defintely the way to do it! You'll have the flexibility to camp out at the best wilderness locations NZ has to offer, and get off the beaten track to places many others do not get to. Plus you've got the same cosy bed every night and these days, all the conveniences you might have in a hotel!

Choosing the right motorhome requires a bit of research, and there are a few things you want to think about:

1. How many people are travelling?  A group of friends or a family need a seat for each passenger.  (And their own comfy bed.)


2. How long are you travelling for? The longer the journey, the more creature comforts you might want to think about.


3.Weather – do you need to be fully winterised? Some motorhomes, like the Wilderness fleet, are fully four season campers, meaning they come with indepedent heating, and are well insulated. If you are freedom camping in the South Island through winter, and in fact a lot of autumn and spring, this is a must. We also pioneered the idea of a bathroom that converts to a drying room, originally intended for wet winter clothes but it’s proven just as handy in summer and is now included in all our new generation motorhomes.

4. Think about the on board amenities. Having a bathroom is one of the great motorhome benefits (and a point of much discussion on travel forums).  Do you want the full service bathroom with hot shower or can you make do with a more basic camp toilet? All Wilderness vehicles come with either a built-in toilet and shower or a portable camping toilet and solar shower.

5. Extra. Check out the range of extras and how these are powered.  All Wilderness RVs have a fridge and a cooker; some have a microwave and grill, and a small freezer compartment – handy if you’re doing lots of self-catering.  All of our fleet come with at least one 12v house battery, mains power hook up capability and some have additional power capacity – think about whether you’re going to want to charge phones and use electronic devices.There’s a DVD player for those times when a little distraction is required; most also have an MP3 connection.

6. How much gear are you brining with you? Surfboards? Walking and hiking gear? Snowboards? Bikes? Consider storage space - a must when travelling with children or bringing special sports or hobby equipment.

7. Camping out. Do you intend to freedom camp? Sending you off the beaten track is what Wilderness is all about – all our motorhomes are certified self-contained (able to provide all sanitary services with enough water and holding tanks for up to 3 days). Our motorhomes with a built in shower have enough fresh water storage for at least 2 showers per person before being refilled and all except the Dart 2 have a hot water heater. To get to the best freedom camping spots, you’ll need to get off the paved roads. Wilderness does not have a black list of roads our insurance doesn’t cover.

8. Sleeping. Let's take a closer look at beds. A good night’s sleep is part of a relaxing holiday – and pretty darn essential for safe driving. Most Wilderness motorhomes are equipped with thick memory foam mattresses for the ultimate in comfort.  Clever European design with innovation like drop down beds creates separate sleeping areas and in most of the fleet, you can avoid the novelty – which can wear off quickly – of having to make up the bed every night.  A curtain can be pulled across the sleeping area to give children or friends their own space.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS INCLUDE:

Automatic or manual transmission. 

Fuel type and efficiency – diesel fuel is more economical than petrol (though diesel does incur a NZ road user tax).

Floor plan versus size – compare floor plans carefully as some smaller motorhomes can actually feel roomier with design features like swivelling cab chairs. 

Manoeuvrability – you simply won’t see gigantic motorhomes in New Zealand because they’re not suited to our winding roads.  

Age – an older campervan may not have every bell and whistle but may still offer good value. 

Tank capacity for water & waste – an indicator will let you know when it’s time to find a dump station. And don’t worry, it’s quick, easy and does not require a hazmat suit.

Like anything else, with a motorhome rental you get what you pay for.  

Final Thoughts

Talk to people about their motorhome experiences.

The Rankers website is an independent, unbiased travellers’ website that can help provide information and reassurance while you choose.  Wilderness is proud to have consistently been a finalist or winner in the campervan category.

Don’t be afraid to ask us for advice. Our priority is for you to have a fantastic experience.

Once you’ve made your choice, you can look forward to a great New Zealand motorhome holiday. And we promise you won’t meet any bears.

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