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3 WEEKS MOTORHOMING IN NEW ZEALAND NORTH ISLAND

Diary component links
For those whose eyes go wobbly at text, I'll say up front a sample (still 270!) of our photos are here:
http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/DABurleigh/NewZealandShare
Just click top-left for a slideshow. To help keep you on track some photos are annotated with the new day, places, campsites, and comments. These pics are compatible with
www.cooliris.com if you prefer to browse pics that way.

An online map of our journey is here:
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/daburleigh/NZ.kmz
If you have the Google Earth application installed on your computer, simply double clicking on the above link will take you to New Zealand with 4 overlays/layers which can be selected or deselected individually, along with standard Google Earth layers:
1) Yellow pushpins for overnight stops, labelled with night stop number corresponding to day number in the text log below;
2) Red line linking yellow pushpin overnight stops in order;
3) Blue pushpins for some POIs mentioned in the log;
4) Blue round pins for stop recommendations from a Kiwi colleague:


If you don't have Google Earth installed, then open Google Maps:
http://www.google.com/maps
and COPY the earlier .kmz link into the white search maps box and hit the Return key:

and you will have similar, but lesser, functionality.

I don't think I'll bother entering campsites in the MHF database as NZ is a pretty specialised interest and they were all Top 10 sites bar one, similar in style/ provisions (though hardly in the regimented Caravan Club clone mould). If MHF had a Campsite CD issue with a full set of POIs included, I could be persuaded to add them for completeness.

Background
I had to work a week in Auckland the first week in May. As both Alison and I had not been to New Zealand, despite it being on a very short list of places we would be prepared to live fulltime, the opportunity seemed too good to miss. While the timing was not ideal for the weather (a month or two earlier would have been) we would certainly grab again the weather we enjoyed. Leave-wise it was ideal, for I had a month away from the daily office grind but only needed to take 2 weeks' leave; we left Maundy Thursday and I worked the May Day holiday.

Costs
My travel was covered by the business trip, but Alison's flights were £570 return economy Heathrow to Auckland with Malaysian Airways. We'd use them again. Although the business class beds were not as good as British Airways, the economy fare was just over half BA and the total flight duration (27-28 hours including stopover slot at Kuala Lumpur) and convenient departure and arrival times as good as they get. The cabin staff were delightfully informal angels (must be recruited based on waist size!) in contrast to the more stiff professionalism of British Airways and we wondered what they did with their long, exquisitely patterned and decorated dresses in an emergency, because although they are split, they are not conducive to hurrying!

The motorhome came out at £60 per day, £1325 for 22 days. If you want to, you can make it much cheaper, but the van will be more cramped and you will be liable for large costs in the event of any damage. We opted for the full Maui
www.maui.co.nz "no worries" premium package (recommended given some expensive stories we heard en route) and ALL incidental costs (mileage tax, LPG, chair and table hire, snow chains if you want them, etc.). Just return the van full of diesel. We booked via UK Trailfinders
www.trailfinders.co.uk to obtain their 3 weeks for the price of 2 offer (cheaper than booking direct with Maui, but not 2/3rds cheaper). The "no worries" must be good because Alison drove the van quite happily and it is bigger than our Murvi.

The exchange rate is 2.5 $NZ to the £, 40p per $.

Campsites based on Top 10
www.top10.co.nz were invariably around $35 per night including electricity for campervan and two adults.

Diesel was just under a $ per litre, so basically 40p per litre or 2.5 times cheaper than the UK. Many supermarkets give branded fuel discounts of up to 20c per litre (TomTom is handy to find the right branded fuel stops when you need them).

Food and drink and tourist activities are a more personal choice. Suffice it to say that supermarket prices seemed very similar to the UK and tourist activities seemed reasonably priced, better than the UK.

The Van
We chose the van from the Maui and Apollo
www.apollo.co.nz stables, deciding simply on layout. Not many seemed to offer feet-up lounging for two. We plumped for the Maui Spirit T/S Deluxe, a large panel van with simple layout. The Mercedes Sprinter 311 CDI Looong Wheel Base with 5 speed conventional autobox is an impressive base vehicle. The prop shaft for the rear wheel drive adds a lot of height. Our Murvi is 2.9m with a Camos 40 dome on the top; this was 3m with nothing on the top. It was 7.2m long. There was plenty of room under the bonnet for servicing and maintenance. However once water tanks were installed, there was not the acres of space I expected underneath; the prop shaft, final drive and leaf springs take up a lot. The conversion was simple, cheap but fit-for-purpose. It lacked any insulation which was OK for us, but any later in the season in South Island and I suspect it would be too chilly. The layout was an inefficient use of space compared to the Morello. In keeping with many NZ rental motorhomes, although there was gas water heating and cooking, space heating was mains only. Bed making should not be left until the wine is finished! It made us appreciate all the more the simple rack 'n roll sofabed Murvi mechanism, so we left the bed made up depending on how much time we intended to spend outside in the day and evening. Looking at the vans we came across as we toured, I'd consider KEA Campers along with Maui and Apollo next time:
http://nz.keacampers.com/
A digital safe was installed in the van, which was very handy. Break-ins can happen, but immobilisers are such that if the van isn't too desirable, it will be where you left it when you get back.

Rental van tip 1 - Check the packing of the glass cafetiere and locking of all locker doors. This will save you $20 (£8 ) on the first corner.
Rental van tip 2 - When they show you the tank gauges and you note it doesn't show full fresh water, but they previously said it was full, check under the van for drips. If 4 or more separate ones, ask for another vehicle. If 2 or less, keep quiet as you are onto a winner. Apparently from fellow Maui renters we met on the road, they found out the hard way there is a "water tank design fault" with these vehicles. I plugged the biggest leak with plumbers tape (self-amalgamating tape seemed impossible to find) but still left a trail wherever we parked. As most of the time we had a fresh water supply on our pitch we simply filled the 140l tank every couple of days.
Rental van tip 3 - When driving away from the van rentals, if the horn blares, the handbrake isn't fully off. Which reminds me, one nice touch I'm not aware of is that when firing up the engine, if the mains cable is still plugged in a warning alarm goes on in the manner of our retractable steps. I say a nice touch - it is a pain as soon as you discover the driver and/or passenger side windows are wide open from reversing onto the pitch, as you have to get out, pull out the cable, get in, "ignition" on, close windows, get out, plug in again and get back in. Clearly this is not a feature on all rental vans as some girls from Nottingham we chatted to over dinner in the Wellington campsite told a hilarious story of their camper being pursued on the road by a creep/ murderer/ rapist who with some relief and fast driving they saw off, only to later find they had been trailing their mains cable along the road for ages!

Australia and New Zealand have some interesting motorhomes that boast of European design and style but IMHO offer interesting layouts that for some reason seem denied to us. For example:
http://www.sunliner.com.au/provincial.html

Touring strategy
You need to do your research here. Get it wrong and you'll probably drive yourselves into the ground, possibly literally. We had the benefit of a niece and a son who within the last two years have backpacked around NZ for months. I had a local Kiwi with whom I worked for a year in 2000 kindly send me a Google map with annotated recommendations, a de-personalised version of which I have included in the above overlays. Finally Alison works with Maggie Wood whose husband John wrote "A Wrinklies Gap Year"
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wrinklies-G...=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1242745671&sr=1-1
which amongst other countries details their tour of NZ in a campervan! :)

We had to decide North Island, South Island or both, one possibility for the latter being a flight hop from Auckland to Christchurch on arrival, picking up the van from Christchurch and dropping it off back at Auckland at the end. Much of the South Island attracts, but after attempting some route planning around our cherry-picked interests, we ended up far more comfortable constraining ourselves to North Island. This was due to a combination of the time of year (the climate varies sub-tropical maritime North to sometimes chilly Invercargill at the southern tip), driving mileage and time, but most of all the blindingly obvious point that you simply cannot do the place justice in 3 weeks, so we'll go back and do South Island another time. We toured North Island clockwise and drove 2000 miles in 22 days. Some of the roads are twisty, so take note of published driving times between places rather than dividing mileage by what you think is a reasonable average speed. Sometimes TomTom got the driving times spot on, sometimes they underestimated them significantly, usually, but not always, when the roads were twisty. Our experience, plus chatting with others, would suggest that a month in each Island is about right for a good sampling of what NZ has to offer, and you'd make it a relaxing holiday, too. Less would mean missing good things or knackering yourself. More would be better!

Reference books
We used (yell if anyone wishes to borrow the books/map):
Rough Guide (borrowed from library)
1:1,000,000 NZ Rough Guide folding plastic waterproof map
TomTom
AA NZ Road Atlas
Camping New Zealand - with GPS coordinates but in the New Zealand Geodetic Datum 1949 rather than WGS84 datum. Fortunately I had an application on my Pocket PC phone called GPS Tuner which has many such datums loaded.

Day 0 (Maundy Thursday 9th April)
A long and stressful last day at work near Portsmouth followed by a worrying drive home later than planned with Easter weekend getaway traffic creating motorway gridlock at times. A quick change then off to Heathrow, dinner and a convenient late evening departure.

Day 1 (Good Friday)
Mostly in the air with a short stopover in Kuala Lumpur.

Day 2 (Easter Saturday)
Arrived Auckland 11am local, 11 hours ahead of UK time. New Zealand takes biosecurity very seriously. The signs at the airport had "Customs and Biosecurity" in equal weight. I had been warned to clean my hiking boots but I never expected the tut-tutting close inspection of every crevice of the soles of my boots before they were whisked away for "proper" cleaning.

We picked up the van, shopped for provisions and visited a Vodafone shop. Care for my sanity prevents me describing my exhaustive dealings on this trip with half a dozen Vodafone shops and their pleasant but utterly useless staff. Suffice it to say my research before leaving home showed they can provide 6GB of data per month for $90 (~£35) on a contract you can terminate at no penalty with just a single month payment. Unfortunately their staff seem brainwashed with the company culture of extracting your money (this took multiple visits) then finding they know absolutely nothing about the product/service they have just sold you to enable you to use it. Fortunately most campsites had wi-fi connections at very reasonable rates.

Do read up on the NZ rules of the road because giving way on the right is similar to the French at times, but struck me as even less reasonable! See the photos. In practice forewarned is forearmed and there is soooooo much SPACE on the roads that if anyone does anything silly there seems all the time in the world to spot it and compensate. By contrast over here you have bent metal before you notice anything untoward.

We went to Orere Point Top 10 campsite on the simple basis that it was the nearest one clockwise around North Island and outside Auckland. Become a member at the first Top 10 site you use - the 10% discounts on site fees, local attractions and ferries are worth the $40 membership fee. Orere Point and the area around it is entirely missable, however, unless heaven for you is a place where everyone owns a beat-up pickup, tows a fishing boat and has a rusty tractor parked on their front yard (for launch and recovery).

Day 3 (Easter Sunday)
A leisurely drive to Coromandel, which is what we should have done yesterday.
Kauaeranga Valley walks.
Driving Creek train station & potteries.
Coromandel (Shelley Beach) Top 10.

Day 4 (Easter Monday)
Hot Springs Beach - swimming in the sea then walked a few metres up the beach to wallow in a self-dug hot spring bath. Lovely!
Hot Springs campsite near the beach.

Day 5 (Tuesday 14th April)
Drive then walk to Cathedral Cove beach.
Papamoa Beach Top 10 (2 nights).

Day 6 (Wednesday 15th April)
Walk up Mount Maunganui.
Papamoa Beach Top 10.

Day 7 (Thursday 16th April)
Government Gardens & Bath House.
Rotorua Top 10.

Day 8 (Friday 17th April)
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.
Skyline Gondala and luge.
Tamaki Brothers Maori Village in evening for dinner.
Rotorua Top 10.

Day 9 (Saturday 18th April)
More luge runs - we bought an annual pass yesterday for only a $10 premium.
Lovely restaurant dinner on the side of Lake Taupo.
Lake Taupo Top 10.

Day 10 (Sunday 19th April)
Walk to Huka Falls, got lost on bike trail back (I hate schematic maps with a passion!) but soothed the tired limbs away in the Hot Springs not too far from the campsite.
To Napier and a recce drive around to get our. This is in the drier East and a wine growing region. Fortunately for the vineyards, but less fortunately for us, it rained for the first time in 8 weeks.
Kennedy Top 10.

Day 11 (Monday 20th April)
Browsing shops (bead shop for Ali, opossum for me!) and leisurely lunch in Napiers.
Art Deco shop and free 20 min video.
Art Deco self-drive tour.
Kennedy Top 10.

Day 12 (Tuesday 21st April)
Completed the Art Deco self-drive tour through Clive, Havelock North and Hastings, then a longish drive from Napiers to Wellington, stopping for lunch at Mount Bruce visitor centre.
Wellington Lower Hutt Top 10.

Day 13 (Wednesday 22nd April)
Up promptly and into Wellington, parking by the Te Papa museum by 9am, $10 all day.
Te Papa museum (free).
Monet exhibition in Te Papa museum.
Stroll through centre of city to cable car and museum. There are 400 private cable cars in Wellington, which puts the enclosed elevator we had in our house in the shade.
Cuba and Courtenay shopping areas.
Walk along Oriental Parade.
Return to Wellington Lower Hutt Top 10; a brilliant day in Wellington.

Day 14 (Thursday 23rd April)
Otaki Beach for glorious beach walks and picnic lunch.
Wanganui, escalator & tower.
Wanganui Top 10.
Excellent sociable evening with fascinating company around the chimenea and barbie.

Day 15 (Friday 24th April)
Dawson Falls, Mount Egmont.
Tried to climb Paritutu Rock at New Plymouth but road access was blocked due to maintenance.
New Plymouth Top 10 - eminently missable, as is the town.

Day 16 (Saturday 25th April)
Waitomo caves, stalagtites/mites.
Tour of glowworm caves.
Waitomo Top 10.

Day 17 (Sunday 26th April)
Natural Tunnel Ruakuri Loop walk billed as "one of the best short walks in the country".
Natural Bridge walk Mangapohue.
Angora rabbit shearing. Daily shearing at 12:45pm.
Kiwi house, Otorohanga. Kiwi feeding time 1:30pm (but photos forbidden).
Having really enjoyed the last 24hrs at Waitomo we drove to the contrasting Port Waikato Top 10. I don't know why, but wouldn't bother given time again! It reminded us of Orere Point - local fishermens' heaven (pickups, boats and tractors again in abundance) but anyone else there is lost or an ignorant tourist. But I loved the aging homemade Fifth Wheel Ali spotted (see pics).

Day 18 (Monday 27th April)
To Dome Forest walkway. This walk, after a heavy shower and through wet, humid bush, trying to get hiking boots grip on steep, slippery tree roots was a sweaty struggle. In dry conditions it would be a doddle.
To Whangarei. Lots of big yachts in the harbour below comfortable villas above.
Whangarei Top 10 and another lovely steak barbie washed down with local wine.

Day 19 (Tuesday 28th April)
Hike to Whangarei Falls. Steamy bush again but worth it!
To Bay of Islands Russell Top 10. Pitch 9 - beautiful. Decide to put down roots here. Plan for a lazy 1.5 days then a boat trip on 3rd day.

Day 20 (Wednesday 29th April)
Nothing. Bliss. Sauntered to waterfront and beach for an ice cream.
Russell Top 10.

Day 21 (Thursday 30th April)
Bay of Islands dolphin and hole-in-the-rock boat trip.
Waipoua Forest & Kauri trees, to see the largest tree in New Zealand.
Kaihu Top 10 - a beautiful site encircled by a river, but in the middle of nowhere.

Day 22 (Friday 1st May)
More chillin' for the last day in the van. Leisurely start in the sunshine, then to Matakohe Top 10, though we inadvertently missed Kia Iwi lakes on the way. As we were not doing much, I finally succumbed to a newspaper. What's this about Swine Flu? I threw it away and preferred to contemplate my mid-afternoon cuppa and a cake while watching cows graze in the sun.

Day 23 (Saturday 2nd May)
To Devenport, opposite Auckland, and watched sailing boats flooding out of Auckland harbour, racing class by class, in a never ending stream. There are some interesting houses to peer at as you cruise around. Then back to the Maui motorhome rental near Auckland airport to drop off the van.

Days 24 to 31 (Sunday 3rd to Saturday 9th May)
We enjoyed Auckland's Skytower, going up during the day and again on the last evening for dinner in the revolving restaurant. But the week was mainly work for me or cooped up in a hotel room (a lovely room but it felt like a straitjacket after the last 3 weeks!) but with pleasant evenings with Ali sampling waterfront restaurants. She joined in with a work Sunday evening reception and the more formal dinner. She used the hotel pool, shopped and did the more cultural and museum bits Auckland and its suburbs had to offer.

Early afternoon flight, stopping again at Kuala Lumpur.

Day 32 (Sunday 10th May)
Arrived LHR early morning. It was a lovely day weather wise, but although we slept reasonably on the plane we didn't feel like doing much. I caught up on some TV, dozed on the sofa, but we both slept solidly that night. And from Monday morning to date, over a week later, we have just felt fine and full of energy, tackling the allotment with gusto in the evenings after long commutes and working days. Clearly I need a new life routine of 3 weeks motorhoming, a working week somewhere new in the world, then a week back in the office at home, followed by 3 weeks motorhoming, …… etc :)

What would we NOT do with the benefit of hindsight?
Orere Point and Port Waikato Top 10 sites unless you like talking to fishermen about fish.
New Plymouth Top 10 (tiny site and uninspiring place)
We would trade Mount Egmont (lovely, but that's it apart from Tasman sea surf) for the route through the Tongariro Park, although we were not up to the all day crossing hike of the latter after all the walking and hiking we had already done, nor were we properly equipped for it this time of year (eg. gloves are needed for stretches). Alternatively we could have detoured there from Taupo before circling back and going on to Napier as we did.

What extra would we have done with more time?
Tongariro Crossing, but earlier in the year and with a rest to recharge batteries beforehand and get a very early start to avoid too many people. When we return to do South Island, we will make a point of doing this first.
Bodyboarding down the dunes on 90 mile beach.
Horse riding on the beach.
Whale Island (day trip).

DAB's Bouquets/ Technology Awards
As the Maori say, "People, People, People".
Rough Guide for NZ.
The Merc Sprinter Loooong Wheel Base panel van base vehicle, with conventional 5sp autobox.
My trusty Canon Digital Ixus camera
TomTom 920 and English Jane with campsites, petrol stations and shopping POIs.
Alison's Eee PC netbook for photo display/management, email/surfing/Skype, DVDs, BBC iplayer, Radio 4 streaming.
Sandisk Cruzer Titanium USB 16GB memory stick with U3 Smart s/w & disc encryption. Other than sleeping, showering and swimming, it was on a cord around my neck and held photo backups, personal data, Skype s/w (if no wifi) etc. I treated it just as my passport and credit card.

DAB's Brickbats
Compressor fridges 'cos they hum. Turning the thermostat down and wearing earplugs made it OK, but a sledgehammer would have been even more effective!
Van layouts entailing humping huge slabs of foam, tables and hinged slabs of wood about to make beds (the Murvi doesn't!)
Anything and everything to do with Vodafone staff and service, or rather lack of.
Maui fresh water tank fitting

A final comment. Despite camping right next to rivers and trees, and eating out in the evenings, I can't remember even noticing mossies, other than the occasional one in the van once shut up and easily dispatched (probably due to light on and door open too long/ late). I got a couple of bites on an exposed ankle one night, as did Ali, and that was it. Very surprising.

Now, when can we get to South Island? :)

Dave
 

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Never saw any of that when I was in Scotland Frank 8O


Oh sorry it's not Frank.


Welcome back DABs :lol: :lol: :lol:

Did you notice the bit of Discover Leisure that got away - Barrons, South Island. Anyone checked whether that branch closed last week? :wink:

SDA
 

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David, Sorry to say it but you have missed a lot of places that Kiwis would have preferred. 3 weeks isn't very long but your time could have been much better spent. Maybe next time you will find the South Island better, but you will really need to allow a month or more to do it properly!

~Bruce
(Hamilton, New Zealand)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Bruce, thanks for that. Which places, in particular those I didn't write about in the log? One of the Google overlays are the spots recommended by a Kiwi. And in the log I do recommend at least a month for each Island. The trouble is, that's tricky when one is not retired!

Dave
 

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We've done a couple of trips to NZ (3 & 4 weeks) the last this March/April. Our last trip we used Wilderness Motorhomes - www.wildernessmotorhomes.co.nz - and can thoroughly recommend them for their communication, helpfulness and of course the van itself which was comfortable and devoid of all those irritations of the larger companies' vans like knives that don't cut, pipes that leak, etc. It was also a dream to drive round the narrow mountain roads. It was fully certificated as self sufficient so we only used campsites for 4 nights of our trip, mainly using informal Dept of Conservation sites or just "freedom" camping in amazing places.

An amazing country and can't wait to go back - but, yes, you do need at least six months to do it justice!

Jean
 

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I can't remember even noticing mossies,

Dave, they don't have mossies in NZ - they have sand flies .

You may not have encountered them on North Island, but you WILL on South Island.

They do not look like mozzies at all.
They look like little flies.

Nor is there that warning "weeeee zap" sound you get with mozzies.

They are stealth fliers that were the design basis for those American planes.

Sand flies are industrial strength biters, their poison was analysed by the Russians and used for biological warfare weapons.

We were forewarned, or so we thought!

We took citronella-based deterent.

They thought it was a nice marinade!

So then we added DEET based stuff.

"Delicious" was their reaction as they redoubled their feasting.

Of course, we were also plastering ourelves with slip-slap sun protection.

Oh, and don't they just love that!

Finally, we were covering ourselves with anti-histamine cream to try and get rid of the IRRITATION - AAAAAARGGGGHHHHH!

Four layers of gunk and still we had bites the size of, well you remember the volcanic cones you saw out there on North Island?

Yep, angry red lumps that itched so much that only a general anaesthetic would cure.

We couldn't get that on our travel insurance so we had to make do with copious quantities of excellent NZ wine.

And, no, we didn't put it on the bites!!!!!!
 

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See you at the weekend Dave & catch up on the bits of the North Island west coast we've yet to do!
Could be a case of
"we'll show you ours if you show us yours" :roll: :oops:

Pippin is quite correct about the sandflies 8O - bitten to death we were!!

****
 

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Dave as usual a good report, and great to have you back - missed you

Carol
 

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I'm green with envy!

Great report Dave. NZ is on our list of must dos.

You need to do the Shetlands next, for the contrast.

The couple who bought our Lunar 620 last year caught the MHing bug on their trip around NZ. I can see why from the pictures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Grateful if a MOD would:
1) Move this to Motorhome trips forum;
2) Rename the forum from just "Post here a succinct description of your European Trip", seeing as all the other trip forums cover Europe adequately.

Ta,

Dave
 

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Moved for you Dave, but Mods can't re-name forums (fora? fori? :roll: ) You will have to ask Nuke. :D

Get back to the South Island. It's totally different and in our opinion, even nicer - but you do need to get on well with sheep!! :wink:

You may have dodged the sand flies on the North Island, but they will get you on the South for sure . . . and they are everywhere, not just on the beaches.

Some of the native forest down South is spectacular, specially where there are a lot of tea trees. They are beautiful. (Pity the Pohutakawas were not in bloom in the North when you were there.)

The South Island scenery is wonderful, but even you will have problems with the map. You drive along looking for a small town settlement marked on the map, and go past a loose collection of about six houses. Eventually you realise that was it!!! I'm not exaggerating either. 8O

Dave
 

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NEW ZEALAND

Hi the wife and I had a month there last year touring both islands but it was a bit hectic .I see that you like hiking so when you return to the south island a must is to walk the milford track the finest walk in the world 33 miles over three days it is a tough walk but very rewarding.
Regarding camper van hire I booked a van off the internet asked all the right questions and got all the right answers. It turned out to be a s..t heap and on the last day before returning the van I realised the brakes were scraping when driving slowly in traffic.
I took the van into a garage to have the brakes looked at. And to our amazement the internal brake pads to both front wheels were down to the metal and the external pads had no more than 2mm .I had just drove 2000 miles round new zealand with no brakes.
This van had been fitness tested 3 months earlier ( our m. o. t. ) the garage gave me a report stating that the van was not fit to be on the road. The next day I returned the van to the depot.
The owner did not want to discuss the condition of the interior of the van .So I gave him a copy of the report which at first he declined to read.I told him if he did not read the report he would not get the van back and I was taking the van to the ministry of transport who provide his licence
Then he read the report
and agreed to give me a full refund. he delivered £2,300.00 in cash to our hotel including £70.00 to have a nice dinner on him. I would like to go back again but have a month on both islands and be able to stop longer at places we liked. The wife and I have just retured from six weeks a round OZ we hired a car and drove the great ocean road stoping at booked motels on the way. Then we hired a motorhome and picked it up in brisbane
to drive up to cairns up the sunshine coast. It was a maui stopping at the big4 camp sites . They are pretty basic uncomfortable vans. The moral of the story is to hire a nice car and book chalets on the camp sites or motels
and you will be quids in.Australia and New Zealand are wonderful countries and to anyone who has not been. If you have the money GO

henry5 and wife
 

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South Island of New Zealand

Should anyone be looking at a trip in the South Island, in a real motorhome summer or winter then look no further. South Island Travel have a fleet of Swift Bolero's 680FBs
 

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We went to South Island for 3weeks in January, absolutely fabulous and cant wait to get back, but at least a month for each island (will have to wait till I retire in about 4 years ).

We hired from Maui, the first van was returned after 3 days, not the premium product we paid for. Got it changed for the Mercedes 311 Sprinter auto which was very good. we are tuggers so are used to making up beds. Now considering changing to a MH but reading about all the problems with Fiat's, leaks, rust etc is putting me off.

The sandflies were a pest but dont let that put you off, just cover up
 

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Life too short to write it all up.

Highlights for us were

Hanmer Springs
Kaikora whale watching
Omouru (sp?)
Timouru

Dundedin (went Jiving)

The Caitlins wonderful, saw a sea lion on the beach close up

Milford Sound( bit pricey but worth it)

Both glaciers

Hokatika

Arthurs pass

The people were really friendly, the roads were empty and the weather in Jan was lovely

Not sure I would fly with Emirates again, Dubai (2 days) was interesting but not aimed at tourists on our budget

Not sure if I would use Maui again, have a google for Rankers.nz which gives the lowdown on all the hire companies

Frank
 
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