New Zealand is a beautiful country at anytime of the year and is even more magical in winter. Winter is the low season so you won’t need to share its beauty and tourist destinations with others, prices are more affordable and everything is more beautiful with a dusting of snow! We headed over the ditch to New Zealand’s South Island for Dan’s 30th Birthday and spent 10 days exploring in our wonderful JUCY campervan! In our opinion, winter is the best time to visit this stunning country and a campervan gives you the freedom to see it from the comfort of you own travelling home!
OUR JUCY CONDO
We booked a JUCY Condo which sleeps 4 people so was super spacious with just the two of us! We tried both the bed at the top and the bed down the bottom and found the bottom more comfortable for us. We used the top to store our bags which was great to keep them out of the way! We loved driving the van, it was easy to drive and a much more reasonable size for parking compared to some of the huge motorhomes! It contained everything we needed for cooking as well as all our bedding and a heater which kept us wonderful and warm on the freezing winter nights! A lot of people have asked about campervanning in winter and to them we say, DO IT! We weren’t cold and slept like babies in the warmth of the van and it was lovely and cosy! We stayed in campsites each night so that we could plug into the mains power to use the heating and charge our electronics.
ARRIVING INTO CHRISTCHURCH
We flew in quite late, around 11pm and so had booked our accommodation for the night at JUCY Snooze at the airport. JUCY Snooze is a pod hotel with pods and private rooms that is only a 10 minute walk from the airport. The hotel is clean, comfortable and we loved the ‘hang out area’ complete with a kitchen.
The next morning we woke up bright and early and walked the 15 minutes to JUCY to pick up our campervan! The check in process was super quick and once we’d been shown the ins and outs of the van and completed an inspection we were ready to hit the road! We did the bulk of our grocery shopping at Countdown supermarket in Christchurch which proved to be one of the cheapest shops of our trip. The other reasonably priced supermarket chain was Pak’nSave, which is the most affordable supermarket in the Queenstown area.
MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK
Our first stop was the stunning Mount Cook National Park. We spent our day making plenty of stops to admire the beautiful Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki. These two lakes are some of the most beautiful lakes we’ve ever seen with the most stunning blue colour and a backdrop of snow covered mountains.
Lake Tekapo is the more popular of the two, however Lake Pukaki is also worth spending time at! We drove the full length of Lake Pukaki on our way to Mount Cook, spending the night at Glentanner Park Centre. The views from the park were spectacular with Mount Cook towering in the distance. It was the perfect campsite to spend the night, with clean, modern bathrooms and of course, powered sites so we could plug in and stay warm!
It was an absolutely freezing night as we sat outside enjoying dinner and a beautiful red wine from the Otago region. Mount Cook National Park is located within the only International Dark Sky Reserve in New Zealand and star gazing is something that everyone in the region should experience. It was so cold that our campervan was frozen on the outside by 8pm, but luckily our camper heated up really quickly and we were lovely and warm!
After a great first night sleep in our campervan, we cooked breakfast and headed up the road to Mount Cook Village. The scenery on this part of the drive was even better than the day before (if it is even possible)! We parked at White Horse Hill Campsite and headed off on the Hooker Valley Track which is one of the best short hikes we’ve ever completed! This easy, 10km hike is three hours return and travels along flat ground through the Hooker Valley, across alpine streams, glaciers and mountains enroute to the base of Mount Cook itself. It’s a hike we’d recommend to anyone and the photos truly do not give it justice!
Wanaka is a quaint town on the shores of Lake Wanaka and surrounded by the Southern Alps. We spent two nights in Wanaka at the Kiwi Holiday Park which was a short 5 minute drive into town. This park was the best of our trip with amazing facilities including a spa and sauna which was much appreciated after our big day of hiking!
We loved Wanaka and its chilled out vibe, lakefront bars and trendy shopping. The thing we wanted to do the most in Wanaka was hike Roy’s Peak. We read a lot of articles the night before and were unsure if we’d make it to the top due to the winter conditions but decided we’d have a go and see how far we made it. I’m happy to say we made it to the top! It was one of the hardest hikes we’ve ever done but we were pretty proud that we did the return hike in about five and a half hours. The views along the hike and from the top were breathtaking and worth every bit of sweat and pain we endured!
Milford Sound is known as the ‘8th natural wonder of the world’ and is one of the most spectacular places on earth! I first visited 18 years ago with my parents and have the best memories from that trip! It was Dan’s first visit and we decided (against many people’s recommendations) to drive to Milford Sound from Wanaka. It was honestly the most scenic and spectacular drive we’ve ever experienced. The drive goes through beautiful lakeside Te Anau which is worth stopping at for lunch!
We then continued on along Milford Road and whoever was passenger was constantly checking the road status, as it can often close in bad weather or a lot of rain. We has a beautiful sunny day and we were both in awe of the majestic scenery! We had plenty of stops along the way to take photos and soak up the beauty around us, as well as make friends with a few Kea birds.
We stayed at Milford Lodge which is the only campsite near Milford Sound so you need to book it in advance to make sure you don’t miss out! The facilities here were excellent with clean bathrooms and great kitchen facilities!
We booked the first cruise of the day with JUCY Cruise! Milford Sound is one of the wettest places on earth and we were blessed with a rare day of sunshine! The cruise was spectacular and we sailed past cliff faces, waterfalls, snowy mountains and out to sea at the mouth of the fiord! The water was so glassy and calm and we were very lucky to see seals, penguins and dolphins! Milford Sound is without a doubt one of the most naturally beautiful places in New Zealand and it is well worth the trip to visit! Drivers of JUCY vehicles also go half price on cruises which is a nice little saving and meant our tickets were less than $70 for both of us!
Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world and I’ve never met a single person who doesn’t love it. It’s a beautiful lakeside town set in a valley surrounded by snowcapped mountains, including the aptly named Remarkables mountain range. Queenstown has something for everyone and the hardest thing is deciding what to do with your time! We stayed at Lakeview Holiday Park which has the best location in Queenstown but facilities wise was probably the worst of all our campsites, however the short walk into town made up for this.
We had a few days of rain during our time in Queenstown so used these days to relax and enjoy our campervan, sample a few local restaurants and bars, stroll around the lake and do some shopping. We loved checking out JUCY’s rooftop bar and pizzeria, Miss Lucy’s! It had beautiful views, mouthwatering woodfired pizzas and was a really awesome bar to spend a few rainy hours in! There’s plenty to do and from a previous visit I’d recommend the Skyline Gondola & Luge and Onsen Hot Pools (unfortunately booked out six weeks in advance from our trip)!
We also hit the slopes while we were staying in Queenstown. The best snow report was for the Remarkables and so we took our trusty JUCY campervan up the windy road to the slopes! We had to put our ski chains on about half way up so it was a very slow trip but worth it for the amazing scenery! I hadn’t skiied for about 10 years and it was Dan’s first time on the slopes and he absolutely nailed snowboarding (and I managed to make it down without stacking too bad)! We had a great time at the snow and are now planning to spend a week skiing and snowboarding in either France or Austria in January!
ENROUTE TO CHRISTCHURCH
On our last morning in Queenstown we sadly packed up and headed north to Christchurch. We drove through the beautiful Otago region which is somewhere we would love to return and spend some time. Beautiful snowy mountains reflect in glacial lakes and are surrounded by wineries. I personally think you’d struggle to find a better combination than that!
As we drove past Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo we decided to stop in and enjoy a soak at the Tekapo Hot Springs! For $33 each we spent a few hours soaking in the multiple hot pools and enjoying the steam room and sauna. The hot springs overlook beautiful Lake Tekapo and the snowy mountains and it was such a perfect way to break up our journey.
We arrived into Christchurch in the late afternoon and had booked the night at North South holiday park which was the closest one to the airport. We spent the afternoon tidying the campervan, packing out bags and having one last sleep in our awesome home on wheels! We were very sad to drop our campervan off the next morning before flying home and spent our whole flight home reflecting on what an amazing trip we’d had (and how quickly we could manage to book flights back)!
WHY WE THINK WINTER IS THE BEST MONTH TO TRAVEL NEW ZEALAND
Whilst we love summer, winter is one of our favourite months of the year. New Zealand is beautiful at anytime of the year but truly shines in winter. With snow covered mountains, winter sports, mulled wine, wood fires and cosy nights after a day in the snow, it honestly doesn’t get much better than that! We loved coming back to our JUCY campervan each night and pumping the heating so we were cosy warm! There are also so many other benefits of travelling in winter as the prices drop and everything becomes so much more affordable! In addition, there are no crowds as winter is the off season in New Zealand so you get to experience all the beauty the country has to offer all to yourself!
We absolutely loved everything about our winter roadtrip with JUCY and would recommend it in a heartbeat. Our JUCY Condo was such a cool campervan, it was comfortable, reliable, had everything we needed and felt like home from day one! You also instantly become part of the JUCY family where everyone is super friendly and waves to each other on the roads! This was my fourth visit to New Zealand in winter and it is still one of my favourite destinations in the world. Dan absolutely fell in love with New Zealand as well and we’re already trying to plan a visit back next winter!
Have you ever had a campervan holiday? It’s one of our favourite ways to travel! x
The Aussie Flashpacker experienced our amazing New Zealand campervan holiday as guests of JUCY.
Our opinions are as always, our own.