New Zealand Campervan Roadie | Road 2 O-Week Convoy 24

· 10 min read
New Zealand Campervan Roadie | Road 2 O-Week Convoy 24

Imagine a whole crew of friends hitting the open road, campervans convoy as we conquered those winding New Zealand roads.  That's exactly what my mates and I did! From mountain passes to seaside sunsets, our trusty JUCY Chasers rolled together.  Every day was an adventure powered by our shared excitement and StudentCard deals.  Buckle up and get ready for the story of our epic Kiwi convoy journey!

This unforgettable trip was a dream come true because of JUCY and StudentCard New Zealand. In this article, I'm sharing the hidden gems, unexpected challenges, and everything you really need to know about road-tripping New Zealand in a campervan.

Day 1: Christchurch to Kaikoura - Campervan Rookies Take Flight!


That moment the JUCY crew handed me the keys... pure excitement mixed with a healthy dose of "Oh boy, what have I gotten myself into?"  After all, this was my first-ever campervan experience!  Thankfully, JUCY gave us a crash course in navigating our home on wheels, fueling the thrill for the open road ahead.

Campervans Ready for the Convoy

Leaving Christchurch in the rearview, it was like the landscape unrolled a giant welcome mat. Lush green hills dotted with fluffy sheep, farmhouses tucked into the valleys – classic Canterbury postcard scenes!  Each twist and turn held the promise of something new, and that feeling of pure possibility filled up the van.

Our first night's destination was the Kaikoura TOP 10 Holiday Park, and wow, did it deliver.  Mountains reaching for the sky, an oceanfront so close I could hear the was picture-perfect campervan territory!  Spotlessly clean, super friendly, and that view? Talk about an epic start to this adventure.

Kaikoura accommodation NZ Kaikoura Holiday Park TOP 10
Relax in Kaikoura’s only 5-star holiday park and soak up the mountain vistas, open spaces and beautifully landscaped grounds.

Sleeping in a campervan for the first time, especially on the top bunk, felt a bit like playing fort as a kid – the ultimate travel sleepover! As the sun peeked over those mountaintops, painting them in gold, I knew something awesome had begun. And the best part?  This was only Day 1!

My cozy campervan bed

Sunlight painted the mountain peaks like molten gold, the first rays of morning breaking over the campground. It felt like the whole world was just waking up, the air crisp and cool with the promise of a new day.

Day 2: From Kaikoura to Picton

Seals, Surf, and a Seaside Town: The second day of our drive took us along the coastal road. A colony of fur seals sprawled across the Kaikoura coastline, and their goofy antics had us laughing out loud. I could almost hear their joyful snorts and barks above the crashing waves.


Driving further north,  a powerful sight commanded my attention – the statue of the Maori Chief Tuteurutira, carved with fierce pride overlooking the sea.


It wasn't just a statue; it felt like a testament to generations past, the proud history of the Maori people etched into the land itself. It added a sense of depth and connection to the beautiful scenery, reminding me that every landscape holds stories waiting to be discovered.


I kept driving north, and out of nowhere - BAM! – the most amazing thing! Huge pink lakes right beside the road, like someone spilled giant strawberry milkshakes across the landscape.

Aerial picture of pink salt lakes

We rolled into Tasman Holiday Parks - Picton,  our home base for the night. It was perfect – clean, comfy, and everything we needed after a day on the road.

Picton Holiday Park | Tasman Holiday Parks
Just ten minutes from the Picton town centre, our Picton holiday park is ideally situated for exploring everything this remarkable area has to offer. Book now.

In the evening, I decided to do a solo hike. The Snout Track? No joke, it was tough! My legs screamed, and there were definitely moments I thought, "What am I DOING?" But reaching that lookout...pure magic.

Snout Track | Marlborough, New Zealand
Close to Picton, the track ascends to the Queen Charlotte View Lookout. Great views along the way.

Imagine Picton tiny below, boats like little toys in the harbor, and the ocean stretching forever under a fiery sunset. That wind whipping past, the pure feeling of "I DID IT"... it was like standing on top of the world.

I captured this aerial photograph by myself at the end of the snout track. Can you spot me? ;)

We went to bed early. We had to wake up really early the next day to catch the ferry.

Day 3: Farewell, Picton: Setting Sail on The Cook Strait

Saying goodbye to Picton, we stepped onto the ferry. Right away, we knew this wasn't going to be easy!  The Cook Strait was wild! Big waves crashed against the boat, making everything shake.  It was so bumpy, people turned a funny shade of green. It wasn't fun, but conquering a stormy sea felt kinda awesome too!


Finally, the ferry reached Wellington! We stumbled off, so happy to feel solid ground again. No more rocking and rolling!  Trading the busy city for winding roads felt like an adventure in itself. The countryside was so green, with rolling hills and cute little towns. Every mile took us deeper into the real New Zealand.

Look at our day 3 campground - aerial photo by myself

We left Wellington in the rearview mirror, ready for more adventure. The drive to Mangaweka was so beautiful! Picture rolling hills greener than you can imagine,  and little winding roads with a surprise view around every corner.  Finally, we found our spot for the night: Awastone, a hidden riverside campground.

Camp | Campgrounds & Accomodation | Awastone, Mangaweka NZ
Awastone Offers Two Beautiful Options of Camping in Mangaweka, Halfway Between Wellington & Taupo. Fantastic Location, Scenery, Reviews and Service to Suit Your Budget.

The Mangaweka Campground nestled itself beside the Rangitikei River, tucked away in a green valley. It felt like a hidden gem, far from the rush of cities and highways. Tall trees framed the campground, dappled sunlight filtering through their leaves.  We could hear the river's gentle current,  almost like a lullaby whispering promises of peaceful nights and outdoor adventures.

Day 4: From Riverside to Adventurous Rotarua

Bidding farewell to our peaceful haven by the Whanganui River, we embarked on the next leg of our North Island adventure. With Rotorua on the horizon, anticipation thrummed in the air. Lush farmlands and rolling hills painted the landscape, offering glimpses of charming rural towns along the way.

Taupo Lake was breathtaking! It looked more like a little inland sea than a lake, the water stretching impossibly blue towards the horizon. Then came the Taupo River, and just wow! That water churned with incredible power, the roar of the rapids echoing across the landscape. It was a reminder of the raw, untamed forces of nature and hinted at the adventures that might lie ahead deeper in the North Island.


Besides the scenic views, Taupo also surprised us with a dose of quirky fun – the famous Hole in One challenge!  Floating out there on the lake, that little target looked deceptively easy.  Of course, trying to score an actual hole-in-one proved way harder (and wetter!) than it looked. Still, many laughs and the challenge made the whole stop totally memorable.

As dusk descended, we embarked on a magical journey into the enchanting Redwood Forest. Guided by lanterns, we meandered along winding paths beneath the towering redwood trees, their silhouettes reaching majestically toward the star-studded sky. Thousands of tiny glowworms illuminated the forest floor, creating an ethereal spectacle that resembled a starry pathway beneath our feet. This awe-inspiring display of nature's artistry left us awestruck and humbled.

Things To Do In Rotorua At Night | Redwoods Nightlights Treewalk™
Discover the magic of Redwoods Nightlights Treewalk™ where forest and fantasy come to life. Perfect for those seeking fun things to do in Rotorua at night. Book online today

Checkout my Instagram reel:

Yasas Sri Wickramasinghe on Instagram: “Must do activity in Rotarua, New Zealand | The Redwood Treetop Walk 🌴 wow, this one is my favourite moment of the #road2oweek #studentcardnz #jucyworld. If you are travelling to NZ, don’t forget to experience this ❤️#travelLife #travelnewzealand #JUCYMOMENTS #travelLife #convoy24” on February 15, 2024: “Must do activity in Rotarua, New Zealand | The Redwood Treetop Walk 🌴 wow, this one is my favo...”

After our magical forest adventure, we settled into our campground by the shores of Lake Rotorua.  The Tasman Holiday Park in Rotorua felt like a very well-maintained modern facility. We had a powered site perfect for the campervan, plus all the usual facilities were spot on – clean bathrooms, a communal kitchen, even a pool to escape the heat! And the location?  I couldn't ask for better.  It was easy to explore all the Rotorua highlights, but at night, the park still felt cozy and peaceful.

Rotorua Holiday Park | Tasman Holiday Parks
Discover the ultimate Rotorua holiday park experience. Immerse yourself in nature, indulge in thrilling adventures, and enjoy a cozy retreat.

Day 5: Farewell Rotorua, and Auckland Awaits

Saying goodbye to Rotorua's smoky geysers and bubbling mud pools, we rolled on towards Auckland. One last detour tempted us with a different kind of beauty – the Hamilton Gardens. The minute we stepped inside, it was like a storybook! Each themed garden felt like a whole new world -  tranquil Chinese gardens, bright Italian Renaissance blooms, even a fantastical Surrealist Garden. It was a surprising reminder that New Zealand holds treasures beyond just those stunning natural landscapes.

Hamilton Gardens

Campervan Life: Embracing the Chaos

Let's be in a campervan is like a hilarious sitcom sometimes!  You're basically neighbors with your toilet, the sunrise is your personal alarm clock, and let's just say dump stations test your sense of smell. But somehow, all the cramped moments and awkward mishaps made my trip even more memorable.  

Click on the Image to Watch the Full Documentary on YouTube

Ready for your own Kiwi Road Trip?  

Here's what I loved JUCY & StudentCard:

My JUCY Chaser: The Ultimate Road Trip Companion

  • Home, Sweet (Compact) Home: This little van has it ALL! Two cozy beds, a mini-kitchen (think gourmet camp meals), and storage to keep things organized.
  • Goodbye Campsite Fees: Say hello to freedom camping! The Chaser is fully self-contained, meaning awesome views at no cost (check local rules, of course!) – however, we stayed at paid campgrounds, thanks to StudentCard and JUCY crew, who already paid for us.
  • Travel with a Clean Conscience:  Proper waste tanks mean leaving no trace is easy, and every little bit helps keep NZ pristine.
  • Shower & Toilet Onboard = Winning: Campfire shower vibes are cool...until they're not. The Chaser's facilities are lifesavers on long travel days. We used our toilet on wheels and made sure to dump the waste at dedicated dump stations.
Campervan Hire | Campervan Rentals in New Zealand | JUCY NZ
JUCY offers great value, custom-built campervans for an epic New Zealand road trip. Choose from a range of affordable 2 or 4 berth self-contained campers. Hire a campervan for your next adventure.

StudentCard Saves:  Being a student meant serious discounts with StudentCard! Think cheaper campsites, activities, even some restaurants.  Check them out before you go, your wallet will thank you later.

StudentCard is NZ’s largest student discount card – Household, Food, Electronics, Clothing, Beauty, Travel, Entertainment, Mechanical, Stationery

This combo made my trip affordable and took out a lot of the stress. If you love being independent, exploring at your own pace, and soaking up those wild New Zealand roads, this is the way to do it!

Final Thoughts

New Zealand already felt a bit like home, but this road trip changed how I see it! There's magic around every bend, in those quiet campsites and that epic scenery. This adventure with JUCY and my trusty StudentCard was the perfect nudge to get out there and explore. Honestly, I'm itching to plan my next escape... the South Island maybe?  One thing's for sure, studying here just got even more amazing, knowing the weekends hold the promise of open roads and Kiwi wonders just waiting to be discovered.