Campervans are currently lined up in carparks like huge white gravestones for the Tourism Industry. Bad for business, great for you! Now is the time to grab a deal and put your foot on the gas to see New Zealand in a Campervan and discover #vanlife.

My campervan hire experience was an outdoorsy six days around the top of the North Island that was very cost effective and tripped around some of the best sights in the Far North. Here is a full run down and itinerary of my trip for you to replicate! Complete with a list of places to visit, links to holiday parks and a downloadable Budget Breakdown that will make you want to submit your holiday request ASAP.


Waipu Caves

This is AMAZING! The cave just keeps going with glowworms waiting for you. Definitely take a headlight/torch and gumboots if you have them

Whangarei Falls

Always a nice place to stretch your legs!


Waitangi Holiday Park

Booked a powered site right next to the water! This campground has unlimited WIFI and hot showers. It's a nice walk into Paihia town for dinner.

Food Recommendations

Jimmy Jacks Rib Shack

Reasonably priced and delicious! Also, walking distance from the campground so there's no worries about parking a camper in town.


Haruru Falls

This waterfall can really get pumping and is just off of the main road making it an easy stop on your way out of Paihia! Keep an eye out for the many roosters that hang out in the carpark.

St Paul's Rock

Stunning 360 views of the surrounding bays and hills at the end of a 20 minutes track!...BUT this track is straight up the entire way and requires a good fitness level. Take shoes with good grip and a jacket to combat wind on the exposed summit.


For me, my Aunt's house in Cable Bay!

For you, pick a nice place to park up for the night that allows freedom camping!

I recommend the Cable Bay Reserve carpark right on the beach.

Food Recommendations

The Cable Bay Dairy is infamous for their ice cream cones and cute souvenir shirts.


Sand Boarding at Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes

Rent a board and get shredding! In peak seasons there is a rental truck in the carpark. In off season, take your own backup.

Cape Reinga Lighthouse

A must-see landscape every kiwi should visit at least once!


Whatuwhiwhi Holiday Park

After travelling to the tippy top of New Zealand, drive back down the coast and branch out to the KareKare Peninsula to spend a night in a small but beautiful bay.

Food Recommendations

Pukenui Pacific

If you want to grab some great Fish n' Chips, make a stop at Pukenui Pacific on your way back down the coast after a big day of building your appetite. Dine-in or takeaway to sit by the wharf directly opposite the block of shops.


Matai Bay

A stunning Bay with clear water and fine sand. I drove here in the morning and relaxed for a good chunk o f the day, soaking in the sun and exploring rock pools.


Freedom Camping in the carpark of Waimamaku Four Square...yes a Four Square carpark.

Food Recommendations

In the same carpark there is a local that pulls up with his coffee cart around 8am most mornings. Don't bet on him showing up in case you go hungry/ coffee deprived but keep an eye out for great coffee!


Tāne Mahuta Walk

A very short walk but it is interesting to see New Zealand's largest living Kauri Tree. Pair this walk with one of many others in Waipoua Forest to extend your visit; try the Yakas Walk or Te Matua Ngahere Walk (second largest living Kauri tree in New Zealand).

Kai Iwi Lakes

A stunning collection of lakes that are perfect for fun on or in the water. There's also walking tracks if it's a little chilly or you don't have a kayak.


Dargaville Holiday Park

Stop off at Dargaville Countdown to replenish your snacks and get yourself a powered site at Dargaville Holiday Park. They have lovely owners, clean facilities, handy location and WIFI.

Food Recommendation

Blah Blah Blah - Restaurant, Bar and Café

Right in the heart of Dargvaville, this place has meals for any time of the day and coffee can come by the BOWL for only $5.50. This place was recommended to me by a Waimamaku local and I'm happy to spread the word!

Head Home!

Allow time to do these things before you drop your campervan off (for larger self-contained vans):

  • Empty the waste container
  • Empty greywater tank
  • Fill freshwater tank
  • Fill Diesel tank
  • Swap gas bottle/ ensure it's full
  • General tidy up, sweep, wipe counters
  • Have your campervan back on time as stated by rental company

Most Gas Stations will do a gas bottle swap. Every other task can be done at most holiday parks.

Tip #1

Think about how much freedom camping you really want to do. Holiday Parks are common in Northland with all the facilities you need so it may be more cost effective for you to rent a smaller campervan without it's own Toilet/Shower and make use of the campground's.

Tip #2

Download the app Campermate!

It has all you need for a successful campervan trip; Public toilets, Dump Stations, Walking Tracks, Holiday Parks and lots more.

Tip #3

Insurance costs can be the make or break for affordability of a campervan holiday.

The cheapest insurance option will likely come with a high excess/ deposit cost you may not get back if there's damage to the vehicle; around $5,000 for me. Yikes.

Otherwise you can opt for a higher daily fee to reduce the excess/bond. Both aren't ideal for a budget friendly trip.

Independent Travel Insurance, such as OneCover, that includes Campervan Excess can only cost around $30.00 total. This will protect you if something was to happen to the campervan while also saving you from paying around $70.00 per day with the rental company.


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