The Keys to New Zealand: Maui Motorhomes

Imagine arriving to the shore of a glacial lake, surrounded by yellow poplar trees and snow-capped mountains and saying, “We’re home.” This my friends, is campervanning in New Zealand, where each night you stop at an absurdly gorgeous place, make a gourmet meal, open a bottle of Marlborough wine, and then wake up to a million-dollar view, free of charge. We carried on like this for 10 glorious in our Maui Ultima campervan—our luxury studio apartment on wheels—exploring the South Island’s mountains, glaciers, fjords, colonial towns, beaches, and alpine villages. There are so many exquisite and remote places to experience in New Zealand, that a rental car and a few hotel stays wasn’t going to cut it. With the ability to move at our own pace, go wherever inspired us, and have the amenities of home on hand, we found the keys to total freedom and adventure.

We picked up our two-berth Mercedes Sprinter with its spacious living area, efficient kitchen, full bathroom, ingenious storage, and modern accents and couldn’t believe how posh a campervan could be. Watch this video for the full tour of our faithful steed and mobile palace.


Our 1472-mile route was ambitious but there isn’t a single place on this itinerary we’d cut on this crazy clockwise loop. Starting with Christchurch, Lake Alexandrina, Mount Cook/Tasman Glacier, Oamaru, Moeraki Boulders, Dunedin, Otago Peninsula, Curio Bay, Catlins Conservation Park, Invercargill, Te Anau, Milford Sound, Queenstown, Lake Wanaka, Haast, Franz Josef Glacier, Arthur’s Pass back to Christchurch.


We left Christchurch way later than expected so the new plan was to get as close to the world heritage site of Mount Cook National Park as possible before dark. We zoomed into our trusty Maps With Me app, trying to survey the digital landscape for a pretty place to sleep and found a spot overlooking Lake Alexandrina. In New Zealand it’s legal to “Freedom Camp,” which means if your vehicle has its own bathroom (like our Maui) and the land isn’t signposted, you can overnight park on public land. Freedom camping allowed us to wake up to views like this every day.


After admiring the tallest mountain in Australasia, we headed south on Canterbury’s Highway 8 going from snowy mountains to teal seas to the stunning city of Dunedin. We were dazzled by the Victorian and Edwardian architecture and lively vibe of this university town.

The Otago Pennisula, a 20-km long finger of land jutting off Dunedin has some of the best marine life and bird watching in the world with the albatross colonies, endangered yellow eyed penguins, hooker sea lions, sea elephants and more. We pulled over to watch some seals and made a seafood dinner in our fully equipped kitchen.


Continuing along the southern coastal roads into the Catlins, there were not only gorgeous beaches but Lord-of-the-Ring style podocarp forests. We took a hike to a waterfall and I could have sworn we saw a few hobbits darting between the moss-encrusted trees.

Every visitor that comes to the South Island has Fjordland National Park and its world-famous Milford Sound on his list. There is no freedom camping in the park so we stopped at Deer Flat campground in the shadow of the 5,000-foot mountains and made ourselves a hearty meal before hiking and kayaking the day away.

Milford Sound is said to be an 8th Wonder of the World and after our four-hour kayak expedition between the majestic mountains, hanging glaciers, and gushing waterfalls…we’d have to agree. Fjordland National Park is a wildly popular place, attracting plenty of tour buses, but with our campervan we were able to zip to the lesser known vistas and trails without the crowds.

10 Nevis Gorge

Our whirlwind road-trip continued to the Adventure Capital of Queenstown and its adrenaline effects immediately took hold. Within an hour of our arrival to this alpine town, we signed up to bungee jump, jet boat the Shotover river, and ride the world’s largest gorge swing. Maybe its the town’s hundreds of adventure activities on offer or the seductive nature of the Remarkable Mountains and Lake Wakatipu, but Queenstown got our heart racing like no other.

11 Drive to Glenorchy

We couldn’t leave Queenstown without a stop at the famous Fergburger for a Bambi—venison burger with spicy mango chutney. With full bellies we started our drive to Glenorchy, the hippy town at the head of Lake Wakitipu. It should have taken us 40 minutes but add in 20 photo stops to document the coastal gorgeousness and it took us close to two hours.

12 Lake Wanaka

Cruising back through Queenstown with our mouths agape, we made our way north to Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. These sister lakes aren’t nearly as popular as Wakatipu, but dear lord are they spectacular. Glacier-cut mountains shoot from all sides of the deep waters and no matter how many panoramics you take, you can’t fit all the beauty in.


Over the waterfalls of Haas Pass and out to the West Coast, we made our way towards Franz Josef Glacier. We took a helicopter ride to the top to the pristine white peaks but by just pulling our camper over, we got this view.

14 Franz Josef camping-HoneyTrek (1)

A friend recommended a campsite near the glacier but with our gas kitchen, solar panels, kitchen, and bathroom, we had no reason or desire to use these shared facilities. Instead we found a quiet spot in line with Franz Josef, fired up our slide-out BBQ, and enjoyed grilled lamb and red wine at our private table for two.

15-Lake Wanaka Picnic -HoneyTrek

We made our way back to Christchurch via the stunning Arthur’s Pass and couldn’t stop marveling at how much we saw in ten days. Our campervan saved us from booking hotels, having to pack up each day, and staying on the tourist track. It allowed us to truly explore the pristine South Island and discover a whole new way to travel the world.

New Zealand Glamping at Papamoa Beach

Papamoa Beach Top 10 Holiday Resort has been owned an operated by Bruce and Donna Crosby for over 20 years.  This resort is located in the Bay of Plenty on New Zealand’s North Island.  Papamoa Beach is known for it pristine white sandy beaches and sparkling blue waters and is an excellent destination for fishing and surfing.  Papamoa Beach Top 10 Holiday Resort provides an excellent way to stay right on the beach, where literally, the beach is your doorstep. The accommodations range from campsites all the way to luxury villas.

For a true glamping experience, guests will enjoy the newly-refurbished Beachfront Bliss Villa.  The Bliss Villas feature modern designs and decorations.  Each Bliss Villa has a superking bed (that’s right, it’s even bigger than a king bed!) and a luxury bathroom complete with a shower and free-standing bath tub with stunning ocean views.  Speaking of ocean views, each of these villas also features huge, glass patio doors that provide a panoramic view of the ocean and lead out onto your private patio.  From there, guests can walk right down to the beach.  The Bliss Villas also feature flat screen TVs with Sky Television (satellite TV) and an iPod docking station.


Also available are Two-Bedroom Garden Villas which are located in a central park position, and have views of the beautifully landscaped grounds.  These luxury villas feature a queen size bed and 21” television with Sky TV in the master bedroom, and one set of bunk beds and a single bed in the second bedroom.  These modern units feature a shower with double heads, a dining area and kitchen as well as large decks off of the lounge area.

Studio Spa Garden Villas offer yet another alternative for a glamping vacation at Papamoa Beach Top 10 Holiday Resort.  These luxurious villas feature a queen size bed, fully-equipped kitchen and a television with Sky TV.  In addition, the studio villa has a large bathroom with a shower and oversized spa bath.

For those guests who have taken their glamping accommodations into their own hands, Papamoa Beach Top 10 Holiday Resorts provides powered-RV hookups and immaculate communal showers and restrooms, as well as picnic areas with grills.  For a small fee, guests can choose a site with sea view.


Activities abound at the Bay of Plenty, and are perfect for a romantic vacation for two, or for families.  There are several attractions close by to Papamoa Beach Top 10 Holiday Resorts.  At Spring Loaded Fun Park, you can take a scenic helicopter flight or take a river jet boating adventure on the Kaituna river.  This river is narrow and windy, perfect for an exhilarating ride!  Other attractions include Classic Flyers, where you can ride in an open top biplane or Blokart Heaven, which is a speedway track for blokarts (think wind-powered go-karts with sails).  For a more laid back activity, guests can visit Kiwi 360, a kiwi orchard.  Here visitors can take a tour of the orchard in the kiwi cart, visit the Kiwi 360 café to enjoy their quirky and delicious kiwifruit fare or kiwifruit wine, or take a picture in the famous, giant kiwi.