How hard is to drive an RV in New Zealand? An adventure for the US automatic transmission driver.

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RV View in New Zealand

Thinking about renting an RV in New Zealand?

Here are the top pros and cons to consider:

Things you’ll love about driving an RV in New Zealand

  • Independence: No need to worry about hotels, bookings, or restaurant meals. The house is with you. The RV camp sites  in fantastic places, with absolute great views.
  • VERY good RV infrastructure:The better RV camps have all the amenities you”l need – hot showers, laundry, DVD rentals, fridges, grills, wifi.
  • Costs – when you add it all up, between the rental and gas, you’ll always come ahead, when considering the cost of hotels and restaurants in New Zealand.

Will we see New Zealand again from an RV? Yes, ABSOLUTELY! We loved it. The first few hours are a bit rough – read on for the other side of the ledger. However, when you leave the RV back at the airport, you’ll want to do it again.

Things you’ll need to think about before driving an RV in New Zealand


New Zealand Roads are not as wide as in US

  • Close quarters: If you live in the typical American house with your partner, well… the RV is a small place. You will be 2 feet from each other for a looong time, so you better like each other, or get to re-like each other a lot.  And if your kids travel with you, you will come out of this trip a much nice, loving family. Just be prepared that on your journey to that loving and zen place, the first two or three days will have a cabin fever bump. Once you know it will be there, you’ll just look at it as part of the transition. A little extension to the 14 hour flight.
  • The side box: Yes, you will need to take that blue looking box out from the side of the RV, drain and wash it. This is not an ego booster….I personally asked my wife to return the DVDs while I took care of the human waste cartridge.  Yes, it is honest work, but I’ll rather do it by by myself. No selfies here. And make sure you watch the video instructions on how to take it out and put it back.   Trust me, if you don’t put it back the right way, you’ll know it. Others will know it as well, to the tune of an entire parking lot when your first stop for the  views occurs.
  • Big machine, stick shift: Worry about driving stick? Few RVs with automatic transmissions here…better take some lessons on stick driving before landing here. The time to practice shifting gears is not when driving a 21 ft machine on the wrong side of the road, trying to take a right turn on a busy, slightly uphill intersection.
    • The roads in New Zealand are not as wide as in US, and the vast majority are two lane highways. The only “highway” (by American standards) is around Auckland. If you plan to drive more than 400 km per day, think twice, or make sure you have a good backup driver.



Yes, the driver is on that side.


Most likely a diesel engine RV


Sink and cooking setup


Only the Rockies are as spectacular