Eveline Harvey

Eveline Harvey is nzherald.co.nz's travel editor.

Freedom on four wheels: Motorhome holidays in NZ

A new book about touring New Zealand in a motorhome is packed with handy hints, writes Eveline Harvey.

'The Great Kiwi Motorhome Guide: Exploring New Zealand by campervan or motorhome' covers everything from signing a rental agreement to keeping the septic tanks on board odour-free.
'The Great Kiwi Motorhome Guide: Exploring New Zealand by campervan or motorhome' covers everything from signing a rental agreement to keeping the septic tanks on board odour-free.

As Kiwis' thoughts begin to turn to their annual summer holidays at the bach or the beach, a new book is extolling the virtues of a different type of vacation.

Husband-and-wife team Jill Malcolm and Bill Savidan have drawn on their years of experience touring New Zealand and Australia to compile The Great Kiwi Motorhome Guide.

Covering everything from signing a rental agreement, to driving courtesies, to keeping the septic tanks on board odour-free, the book is a comprehensive guide aimed at both renters and potential owners of motorhomes and campervans.

It also breaks down the country into 16 regions, giving detailed information on the motorhome-friendly holiday parks and recreational reserves in each area, including the facilities available and price indications.

Malcolm says the number of motorhome owners in New Zealand is growing; and while most owners are older couples, they're a great option for families as well.

"I think they're terrific for family holidays... the only problem most families have is the initial outlay and then being able to use it often enough to justify the outlay."

To combat this - and to get an idea of what they're looking for "in terms of size and layout" - she suggests people try renting a motorhome before taking the plunge and buying one.

She says most people who purchase a motorhome without doing enough research in advance end up changing it for another model within two years.

"They come to understand what it is they really want and like and so maybe their first purchase hasn't actually done that for them."

For Malcolm, the biggest attraction of travelling the country in a motorhome is the freedom to change your destination on a whim... and to dodge inclement weather: "If it's raining on the west coast, you can head to the east coast instead."

While she concedes the cost of buying a motorhome is not insignificant - they come in at around $100,000-$120,000 secondhand - Malcolm points out it's probably still cheaper than buying a bach.

For those interested in renting rather than buying, it's vital to make sure everything is working properly before you leave the rental yard, says Malcolm.

"The last thing you want is to get somewhere and find that your gas bottles aren't working or something like that."

She says it's also important both renters and owners familiarise themselves with the recently-introduced freedom camping bylaws - a subject also dealt with in the book.

"I think the most important thing for a motorhome owner is to [have a] self-contained (vehicle) because that does open up your options... if you're not self-contained then I'm quite categoric in saying that you should be camping near facilities."

Malcolm says she's enamoured of many places in New Zealand but one of her favourite spots to visit in a motorhome is Golden Bay in the north of the South Island: "It's very motorhome-friendly and it's beautiful."

And she has one final piece of advice for those itching to get on the road.

"I do find that the concept (of travelling by motorhome) is on a lot of people's bucket lists - that one day they would like to do this - and I always say, well, don't leave it too long."

* The Great Kiwi Motorhome Guide: Exploring New Zealand by campervan or motorhome, by Jill Malcolm and Bill Savidan (Random House New Zealand, $45.00).

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