Motorhome Trip with Kids in New Zealand – South Island 2018

South Island

Queenstown

As the kids grow up, time has come to start them with camping, making them learn the way of minimalist living, letting them live off the grid, while at the same time, enjoying and appreciating nature. Thus, New Zealand came into picture.

With the limit of 2 weeks, it would be best to focus on one of the island (North/South). Since it was our first time, we would like something totally different from somewhere we have ever been to (e.g from Australia), so South Island it was.

It was a simple return trip from Christchurch to Milford Sound via Tekapo, then back to Christchurch via the same way.
This route is considered short, compared to the round island route via the glacier.  

2 weeks have been an ideal time for the the simple route above. Heard of others experienced fatigue when they went round the island within 2 weeks time, rushing from one place to another.

So far everywhere is beautiful there, we don’t even know if it is any of the places of LOTR or Hobbit. Need not pressure yourself, just go wherever you like. 

Don’t be fixated about specific destination, enjoy the journey.

Tekapo

For the kids, as long as the places have something they can interact with, they will be fine. e.g. play with stones, feed animal, smell the yellow Lupin, dip their feet in the lake, go on adventure, cycle around, play luge, etc.
Relaxing in cafe or looking at scenery works, but not for long.

See what the kids like, tailor the destination according to that.

Motorhome

Motorhome at

It was said that motorhome is made for New Zealand. It is so TRUE

Exploring the island from one place to another without much hassle of unpacking-repacking, waking up seeing superb scenery, stocking up local produce without worry (with fridge), having meal with views, need not depend on the only food-source (like in tourist spot), etc.

Motorhome comes in different sizes and features. For our trip, we chose Wilderness Motorhome, as they have nice interior and exterior design, great bed, good features, and good reviews. In short, it looks cool.

We were using the Ranger 4 model in this trip.

Driving motorhome/campervan is not as scary as everyone thought. Hope this blog can clear your doubt: Beginner Guide to Motorhome with Kids in NZ

Weather

We went at the transition period between Spring to Summer (end Nov to early Dec). The weather changing from cold to warm (around 10C to 20C). It was either rainy or sunny. Both accompanied by cold wind. Luckily we had good sun during most of the activities.
But sometimes, things were just gone crazy. Snowfall happened in Lindis pass and Cardrona (Crown Range).

Remember to get raincoat, windbreaker or down-jacket, and sun-screen.

In summer, the sun set at 9pm while it is already bright at 6am. We can see the data at timeanddate.com

Long sun time is another good consideration to be there in summer. Longer active time.

The kids find it quite fun to see the sun still bright even when it was already 6pm. By the time it got dark, they KO-ed easily as well.

Food

Expect good local produce like fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, meat, and, of course, honey. 

There are rice, but cooking it manually is a pain. If it is necessary, bring/buy a small rice cooker.

Food that is a must-have: Steak, Egg, Tomato, Lettuce, Orange, Avocado, Kiwi, Milk, and Honey. Unfortunately, the grapes and berries were expensive, even when they are so close to Australia. Likely it wasn’t the season yet.

Try the unique fruit juice called Feijoa.

Since the motorhome has cooking hob, we did cook ourselves. Not only to save up, but the restaurant might have closed after 5 pm. In the itinerary below, we do have many stock up places.

The items left behind by others in Holiday Park kitchen

Important: Before stocking up, please do check the stuff people left at the Holiday Park kitchen. You will be surprised. 

As for the kids, the elder one (9 yo) had no issue. However, the young one (3 yo) had trouble adjusting to non-rice food. So she ate lotsa fruits, eggs, and milk.

Itinerary

  • Christchurch
    • Wilderness motorhome
    • Stock up in Airport Countdown supermarket
    • Drive to Arundel bridge area for freedom-camping. (for the first day, kids will be occupied with the view of cows, sheeps, horses. only the first day)
  • Lake Tekapo
    • Lunch in Valley Brewery (view of horses still good with the kids)
    • Enjoy Lake Tekapo and Lupin plants (lake, ducks, and flowers are friends)
    • Rest in Tekapo Holiday Park (Powered site)
    • Hope for clear sky for star-gazing (was raining heavily)
    • Stock up in Foursquare supermarket
    • Church of Good Shepherd (stones and rocks are friends now)
  • Mount Cook (Aoraki)
    • Lunch at Mount Cook Alpine Salmon Farm.
    • It is just a store, so only raw salmon available. Fortunately we are in motorhome, as we can cook once we reached Aoraki.
    • Have a walk on Hooker Valley trail (adventure comes into play)
    • Rest in Whitehorse DOC Campsite (Unpowered)
    • Hope for clear sky for star-gazing (was raining)
  • Lake Hawea
    • Stock up in Twizel Foursquare supermarket
    • Drive to High Country Salmon for lunch
    • Go through Lindis Pass (great view, strong wind, we were lucky to meet snow)
    • Enjoy Lake Hawea via Hawea Holiday Park (Powered site)
  • Arrowtown
    • Take the challenge to drive through Cardrona
    • Wine and Cheese tasting at Gibbston Winery and Cheesery (kids like cheese)
    • Take a zipride (or a bungy if you dare) at AJ Hackett Kawarau. (the 9 yo can take zipride, yeah! at least)
    • Lunch at Arrowtown
    • Dinner and rest at Arrowtown Holiday Park (Powered site)
  • Te Anau
    • Stock up in Frankton Pak n Save supermarket 
    • Drive and enjoy lake Wakatipu (a long and beautiful drive)
    • Rest at Te Anau Holiday Park (Powered site)
  • Milford Sound
    • A challenging drive to Milford Sound (from here on, it was an adventure)
    • Enjoying the great scenery along the way.
    • Stop by The Mirror Lake, The Chasm, exit of Homer Tunnel (wild kea, waterfall, rocks made the kids excited).
    • Get sprayed by glacier water in Milford Sound on Southern Discovery Cruise. (the kids had been waiting for it)
    • Go back and rest in hidden but beautiful campsite in Kingston (also a lake)
  • Queenstown (2 days)
    • Gondola to Skyline and play the Luge (get the max package, coz once is never enough)
    • Enjoy Queenstown.
    • Rest at Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park. (It is 5 minutes walk to city) NOTE: moving around using Motorhome in the city is a pain
    • Go for Shotover jet boat (it’s fun)
    • Buy Fergburger at 8am (confirm no/less queue)
    • Must try the Patagonia Ice cream and churros.
  • Glenorchy
    • Drive through a scenic drive between Queenstown and Glenorchy
    • Stop by Wilson’s bay, and a few other stopping points. (lake with ducks)
    • Enjoy the slow pace of life at the wharf. (flower and nice wharf for them to explore)
    • Relax at the cafe.
    • Rest at Wholly campsite (non powered)
  • Queenstown (2 days)
    • Drive back the scenic road.
    • Stop by Bennet’s Bluff.
    • Bike through Queenstown Garden to Frankton (ride to Kelvin Bay if you can)
    • Rest at Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park (again)
    • Visit Walterpeak farm via TSS Earnslaw ship.
  • Lake Tekapo
    • Going back to Christchurch, stop over at Tekapo Holiday Park (again).
    • Re-visit the Mount Cook Alpin Salmon farm (again), coz it is just so good.
    • Hope for clear sky for star-gazing (we only get to see the full stars this night. great experience for the kids)
  • Christchurch
    • Drive around and enjoy the city (Note: not motorhome-friendly)
    • Rest at North South Holiday Park (Powered site). Motorhome need to be returned fully charged, filled, and cleaned. This campsite has/is nearby to power-source, water, dump-site, petrol station, motorhome office.
    • Return home the next day.

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