One of the best ways to see and travel around New Zealand is in a campervan or motorhome, there are plenty of campsites to stop off overnight and it gives you far more flexibility than just hiring a car and B&B hopping. When hiring a campervan, it’s important to remember that you still need the right motor insurance to cover you during your trip.
Hobbiton Film Set
You can’t put together a list of places to see in New Zealand without mentioning the Lord of the Rings film set on the North Island. The village of ‘Hobbiton’ is located in the town of Matamata and was rebuilt for the filming of The Hobbit trilogy transforming the surrounding countryside as well. The two-hour tour takes you around the whole set including The Green Dragon Inn and the hobbit houses – this really is any Tolkien fan’s dream day trip.
Close to the film set is the Waitomo glow-worm caves that are also well worth a visit. There are tours available which offer trips that cover both attractions. Waitomo Caves contain thousands of glow-worms which light up the grottos, stalactites and stalagmites in the caves and are seen by boat.
Bay of Islands
While you’re on the North Island of New Zealand, we recommend heading up to the northern tip to see the Bay of Islands. This sub-tropical region is best known for its stunning beauty and array of marine wildlife, it’s best seen from a boat of some sort whether you hire a sea kayak, join a day cruise or even charter a yacht. There are over 100 islands, bays and inlets to explore as well as plenty of walking tracks and camping sites if you want to stay for a few days.
Rotorua is another must see on the North Island, a cultural heart for the Maori people and best known for its thermal mud pools and geysers which erupt daily from geothermal activity. The first thing you notice about Rotorua is the distinctive sulphur smell which has given rise to the nickname ‘The Sulphur City’ however don’t be fooled by the pungent smell. There’s plenty to do here including visiting the Te Puia – the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute where you can watch a traditional Maori performance and sample the traditional cuisine.
Fox Glacier or Franz Josef Glacier
The South Island of New Zealand is also home to numerous attractions that you should try to squeeze into your itinerary. One of the top must-see places is Fox Glacier, which, at 13km, is the longest of the West Coast glaciers – though all are awe-inspiring. If you want to go onto the glacier itself, you can do so with trained guides or you can fly over them in a helicopter for some fantastic views. You can also round off the day with a soak in the Glacier Hot Pools which are fed by the waters from the glacier itself.
The final attraction on our list is Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park, this is the largest of New Zealand’s national parks with 1.2 hectares of untouched wilderness. Milford Sound is the most well-known and easy to access fiord but it is still quite a long drive from the nearest town. It was formed by glaciers during the Ice Age which have given rise to stunning cliffs and waterfalls. The best way to see Milford Sound is by boat and there are plenty of sight seeing cruises that you can take to see both the waterfalls (such as Lady Bowen Falls) and the wildlife including dolphins, penguins and even fur seals. You can also navigate the waters yourself by hiring a kayak or hiking the Milford Track.