New Zealand Road Trip Route

Our two month campervan road trip of New Zealand is over and we had a great time. The New Zealand road trip route took us from Tauranga, North Island to Fiordland in the South and back. We drove over 6200km and saw countless beautiful sights.

Freedom camping near the beach in Hawkes Bay
Freedom camping near Napier, Hawkes Bay

Planning Our New Zealand Road Trip Route

Small as New Zealand is – equivalent to Colorado – there’s a lot to see and do. Before we hopped in the van, we didn’t have much of a plan besides seeing as much as we could. We bookmarked Lonely Planet, read people’s blogs, and used Google Maps to decide where to go and what to do.

Once we started driving, we only knew where we were going next. Then, as the days progressed, we booked two things weeks in advance: the Doubtful Sound overnight cruise, and the Kaikoura Coastal Walk. Everything else we booked a day or two in advance or last minute.

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Exploring New Zealand by Campervan

After more than five years of life aboard a sailboat, Brian and I are accustomed to living in a confined space. That’s probably why we adjusted pretty quickly to van life. We had fun exploring New Zealand by campervan. If you’re keen to do the same, read on for some tips and highlights.

Toyota Hiace campervan parked at beach campsite
Our van parked at the Kina Beach campsite on The Tasman

Buying a Campervan

It is remarkably easy to buy a campervan in New Zealand. Registering it was simple too – the seller gave us a couple of pieces of paper to take to the post office, we filled them out and got our new registration. Easy. Insurance isn’t even required here because they have limited liabilities. We got it just in case. Guess you can’t take the North Americans out of us even after five years away.

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Our Campervan in New Zealand

We bought a campervan! One of our goals in New Zealand is to drive the whole country, north and south, and freedom camping is the way to go. We bought the campervan, a Toyota Hiace, within a week of arriving. It’s a little old so Brian did a lot of work sprucing up our campervan in New Zealand.

We haven’t gone campervanning since Iceland so this is going to be an adventure! But before we really hit the road, here’s details on our campervan in New Zealand.

Buying a Campervan in New Zealand

Yes, we could have rented a campervan, but bought instead because we will be using it for months. We want to drive all over the north and south islands over a few months, so buying seemed more practical and hopefully economical as we want to sell it when we’re done.

Because so many people want to drive around the country, there are lots of campervans here. When people arrive, they buy, and when they leave the country, they sell. As a result, there are many ways to find a campervan to buy in New Zealand. We found ours at the weekly Auckland car market. Other ways of finding cars and campervans are through numerous Facebook groups and

car market, Auckland, New Zealand
Busy car market in Auckland
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Wildlife in the Okavango

We camped in The Okavango Delta for three days, which means three days of two game walks at six hours a day. We saw a lot of wildlife in those walks. No animals came and visited us at camp, which would have been exciting but also scary, so I guess we got lucky with all the wildlife in the Okavango.

The Okavango Delta

Located in northwest Botswana, The Okavango Delta is an interior wetland and a UNESCO site. Most deltas drain into seas, but the Okavango uniquely drains into the Kalahari Desert. The world’s largest inland delta, it encompasses 16,000 square miles.

The nearest city and airport is Maun, which is where we flew in and out before our safari. Botswana is 224,000 square meters and features other amazing places to see wild animals, like Chobe National Park, in the northeast of the country.

Wildlife of the Okavango

While in the Okavango, we got to walk quite close to a lot of animals, and we had the zoom lens on the camera to capture more. While we didn’t see cats like we did in Kruger, we saw hippos, buffalo, wildebeest, different kinds of antelope, wart hogs (*COOL!), and giraffes on the last day. We also saw a ton of different kinds of birds: eagles, open bills, pelicans, geese and more. If you want to read about the birds of the Okavango, I’ve got you covered.

Giraffe Okavango Delta
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Camping in the Okavango Delta

One of the highlights of our holiday was the three nights we spent camping in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Brian had been there 30 years ago and had good memories, so I am glad he wanted to return! It truly is a special place, a UNESCO world Heritage site, and a great place to spot wild animals.

Getting to the Okavango Delta

We flew from Port Elizabeth, South Africa to Maun, Botswana, a good base for beginning the trip to the Okavango camps. Botswana is an interesting country, land locked but full of adventure and a truly unique travel destination.

Accomodation Options in the Okavango

Many of the accommodation options in the Okavango were really upscale, and kind of unnecessary for us. We do not need hot tubs and gourmet meals when we’re in the middle of a beautiful natural landscape. Our purpose in visiting this unique region, where the Okavango River flows into the Kalahari Desert, was to see wildlife and enjoy the natural beauty. We opted not for a 5 star lodge with air conditioning and hot tubs, but for a camping trip and it was great!

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