Where to go when you are craving a New Zealand adventure

13th Feb 2023
Sophie Piearcey
Jayco Ambassadors

Adventure is calling. Regardless of if you are on the North or South Island of New Zealand, natural beauty lurks everywhere you look. When the daily grind starts grinding, you’re craving to get outside, and the weekend (or that holiday) finally comes, it is time for a New Zealand adventure. It’s time to pack up the ole Jayco and hit the wide, open road, and lucky for us, a gob smacking scenic destination is only around the corner.

Here are seven destinations that promise to take all your worries and stress away:


North Island

Kick off your shoes in the Coromandel

Waking up to the sounds of surf couldn’t be more ideal. The first place we’re recommending is heading up to the northeast peninsula of the North Island. For good reasons, Coromandel is a holiday hotspot, but if you want to get away from the crowds, keep heading further north. Or even head inland to the forest park, listen to the birdsong, and watch the sun pierce through the dense native trees. Spend your days wandering from breathtaking beach to breathtaking beach, embracing the good, slow days.

  • Build your hot pool at Hot Water Beach.
  • Walk out to Cathedral Cove (best for sunrise).
  • Try real-fruit ice cream.
  • For those after a hike, head inland to the Pinnacles Track.
  • Bring or hire a kayak, SUP board, surfboard, or snorkel and get in the water

Book a few nights at Hahei Beach Resort, parking at the pink sand beach, perfect for watching the sun rise over the ocean. This campsite has an onsite cafe, hot pools, and several epic bookable activities.


Rotorua for a heated adventure

New Zealand’s literal hotspot for volcanic activity is also an action-packed town. Rotorua is destined for adrenaline-seekers from mild to extreme sports activities and wickedly wild geothermal locations. It’s two and a half hours southeast of Auckland in the Bay of Plenty region. While you can kill hours wandering the touristy downtown, it is easy to get away and into nature with just a short drive in your van. Here are our recs for the area:

  • Hike or cycle in Whakarewarewa Forest Park, an expansive woodland with giant Redwoods towering over the many trails.
  • Worth checking out the Treetop experience during the day or at night amongst the lanterns.
  • Check out geothermal activity at Kuirau Park (free in town), Geothermal Valley Te Puia (paid), or Waiotapu Thermal Wonderful and prepared to be blown away by electric colours bubbling away.
  • Soak in a hot pool or mud bath. Choose from a number of spas in the area, or head to the free one at Kerosene Creek.
  • Head up the Skyline Rotorua, take the luge down, and go for a big swing or zipline in this big adventure park.

One thing that won’t be easy on this adventure is deciding where to pull up your Jayco for the night. Try a DOC spot at Lake Okareka or Lake Tarawera if you want peace and quiet. If onsite hot pools and hot showers are more your thing, book a few nights at Rotorua Thermal, All Seasons, or Holdens Bay Holiday Park.


Maunga time in Taranaki

Something is calming, grounding, and centering about being near a mountain. It can be a place for rest and rejuvenation from simply being amongst its power, and it also can be exhilarating, challenging, and unpredictable. Mount Taranaki and its rich, dense forest surrounding it is an excellent choice for when you are craving a New Zealand adventure. The perfect cone-shaped mountain trumps everything in sight, making it more miraculous to soak in. It’s a place to feel alive as you move through its forests and it’s many different trails, and it’s a place that can also be enjoyed from the seaside.

  • Hiking is a must in this national park. Drive into Dawson Falls entrance for a few easy options, including waterfalls, rock slides, and swing bridges with views of Taranaki.
  • Hang out in New Plymouth, the main town near the mountain with great eats and awesome artwork.
  • Head up the coat to Three Sisters where crazy rock formations jutt out into the sea (check tide times prior).
  • Have a picnic lunch at Lake Mangamahoe and walk up to the viewpoint for one of the best views of the maunga.

To be close to Taranaki and all its trails, stay a couple of nights at the Stratford Holiday Park, complete with an indoor pool, playground, and BBQ facilities otherwise, locals love Oakura Beach or Opunake Beach Holiday Parks.


South Island

Coastal hangs in Kaikoura

On the northern coast of the South Island, sits a seaside town nestled against a range of sky-high snowy peaks. Kaikoura is one of those places you can get stuck in for weeks. At first, it seems like a super small town, but what it’s known for is what stretches along the coast. The waters here draw in a wide range of marine life, from Hector dolphins to humpback whales and plenty of stinky seals who love to bask at every beach.

  • Hire a bicycle and ride out on the Kowhai River Trail.
  • Fish and chips meal at the beach is a must.
  • Stroll out to Point Kean viewpoint and keep your eyes on the water looking for wildlife.
  • Take a boat tour or heli for a chance to see whales. Make sure to bring your sea legs onboard as this water can get rough.
  • Place yourself between the ocean and the mountain peaks with a hike up to Mount Fyffe. The 360 vistas are worth the long slog up.

A stone’s throw away from the beach, a short walk to town, and a simple look up to see the impressive Kaikoura Range is enough to make the TOP 10 Holiday Park your home for the foreseeable future (or as long as your boss will allow).

Alpine time in Mount Cook/Aoraki National Park

New Zealand’s tallest mountain looms in the centre of the South Island, and unlike most mountain regions, this one is super accessible for all campervans and all types of travelers. It’s windy road leading you to it will leave your jaw hanging, and the roadside pullovers are a must to take it all in. The glowing, electric blue lake guides you into the most visited national park, and it only takes a second to realise why thousands travel here every week. From easy to extreme, the park has something for everyone.

  • Hooker Valley Track is the number one activity in the park. Cross three massive swing bridges while taking in glaciers and snow-covered peaks ending at a glacier lake under Mount Cook itself.
  • Sit on the deck of the Hermitage with a bevvie from the cafe and marvel at the mountain views.
  • Spend some time learning about the history at the DOC visitor centre in Mount Cook Village.
  • Tasman Glacier offers an easy stroll to the lake or up to a rocky viewpoint.
  • Stargaze from the comfort of your camp.

White Horse Hill campsite sits at the trailhead of Hooker Valley track and Kea Point track. It’s a DOC regulated campground with plenty of spaces for your van setup.

Head to the edge of the world at Purakanui Bay

Tucked away at the bottom east coast of the South Island is Purakanui Bay, with its dramatic cliffs and dream surf conditions. This area is known as the Catlins, and although the roads are slow and windy to get around, you’re guaranteed to find isolated spots along the ocean. Inland you’ll find trails leading to waterfalls and rolling fields of pastures.

  • Bring a surfboard, boogieboard or body board in the waves at Purakanui Bay.
  • Drive up to Jack’s Blowhole for an hour roundtrip walk to see the power of the ocean from a high vantage point.
  • Nugget Point Lighthouse is the most famous landmark in the Catlins and for a good reason, drive up to the parking lot and follow the trail to see it.
  • Go waterfall chasing to McLean Falls, Matai Falls, and more.
  • Support the small, local shops and restaurants while you’re there.

Drift away to the ocean sounds at Purakanui Bay campsite, another DOC campground with van lifers like yourselves flocking to it. Unpowered, but you won’t mind when you wake up at this spot every morning.

Magic Milford Sound is waiting.

Paradise can be anywhere you park your Jayco van, but true paradise beckons on the southwest coast of the South Island. A part from your modern home on wheels, it feels as if you’ve to step back into the Mesozoic era, as if T-rex is waiting around the bend. Curious one-of-a-kind alpine parrots terrorise (in a friendly way) your vehicle and campsite. Mountains emerge from the water, and plenty of unique visitors make their way to Milford Sound daily.

  • Pre-book a cruise and kayak tour to get the most out of the experience of this fascinating place.
  • Bring a camera, you won’t want to stop snapping photos as you drive into Milford Sound (please pull over if you’re solo).
  • Hike part of the Milford Track, taking a boat across to Sandfly Point.
  • Get above the ground with a scenic flight or heli.
  • Wine and dine at Pio Pio Restaurant, a true culinary experience.

Sleep in the rainforest in Milford Sound Lodge’s campervan park. This high-end resort has one of the best campgrounds in the country with modern amenities and excellent hang space

Are you ready for your next New Zealand adventure? Tell us where you are heading first!