The roads you can’t take a campervan on in New Zealand

Digimark AdminRandom reports from the road

Mercedes Sprinter 2 berth campervan next to lake Dunstan - Your Kind of Camper

Campervan hire companies in New Zealand include a stipulation in their hire agreement that restricts you from taking their vans on certain types of roads – in particular unsealed roads. While this may sound potentially restrictive it doesn’t have to be.

I’ve pasted the Road Restrictions excerpt from THL’s rental agreement below so you can see it in its entirety. While it’s important visitors to New Zealand wishing to travel in a campervan are aware of this policy, you should also know that there just aren’t that many unsealed roads in NZ these days.

Having spent the last 2 years travelling around the North and South Islands of New Zealand I can think of very few places that would have been restricted to us by this policy and we like to get off the beaten track. On the rare occasion that it might have been a problem, there was an alternative available anyway. The Ōparara Arch on the West Coast of the South Island is a great example.

We wanted to walk in to see the Ōparara Arches on the West Coast and enjoy some of the bush walks in that area. Once you turn off from the main highway and head inland to the Ōparara Basin you’re on an unsealed road for 14 kilometres (exceeding the 12 km limit in the policy) but even more importantly there’s a height restriction of 2.8 metres on that road and we were travelling in a motorhome that was higher than this. We visited the local i-site in Karamea and asked for advice and they offered two solutions; either hire a car or join one of the guided tours to the arches. We chose to hire a car for the day from Karamea Express and off we went. The bush walks in the area are easy, the scenery is stunning and the Arches are well worth the effort. The hire car was also very reasonable.

Here’s the actual policy and this applies to Might Campervan, Britz and Maui but don’t let it put you off:

Whilst we are all for adventure and getting out to explore, there are a few roads that we don’t allow our campers to travel on, for safety reasons.
Campervans can only be driven on sealed/bitumen or well-maintained roads. The only exceptions to this are well-maintained access roads of less than twelve kilometres to recognised campgrounds and major tourist attractions.
Should you wish to travel on an unsealed road that is greater than twelve kilometres in length to access a recognised campground special permission can be arranged pending road conditions, weather and distance. Please contact your Booking Host to discuss. Vehicles shall not be driven on:

  • Skippers Road (Queenstown)
  • Crown Range Road (Queenstown)
  • Ball Hut Road (Mt. Cook)
  • Ninety Mile Beach (Northland)
  • North of Colville Township (Coromandel Peninsula)

Vehicles are not permitted on all ski field access roads in both the North and South Islands from 01 June to 31 October. This means you cannot drive your vehicle up to a ski field car park and/or any part of the access road to the ski field.
You will be responsible for all damage if travelling on these roads.
Should you breach the road restriction rules by taking a vehicle on a restricted road, a fee of $300 on each occasion that is identified will apply.

If you’re concerned about this restriction impacting your adventures in New Zealand just contact us and we’ll suggest a few options.