Choosing your motorhome for meandering around New Zealand isn’t the easiest thing to do. Do you go for one of the larger names in the industry like Britz or Maui, which are a tad more expensive but offer you peace of mind? Or the affordable alternatives like Jucy or Spaceships and skimp on space and luxury? We went for middle ground, choosing one of the luxury options fit for a moderate budget, with Wilderness NZ. In this review we’ll tell you exactly why, and whether we think the choice was the right one.
Spoiler alert: it was!
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Guest Post By James & Lee
Why We Chose Wilderness NZ
It had been at least four days in the black hole of the internet… We were looking for a campervan for our South Island itinerary, we had spent far too many hours looking through what felt like the endless options. In all honesty we felt a bit lost.
When we came across Wilderness NZ it just felt right. The website was well-executed (important to us as bloggers ourselves), the photographs looked high end, the camper specifications were easy to understand and they had a number of high quality videos and an interactive tour giving you an insight into what the vans really looked like.
We had a couple of ‘non-negotiables’ for our search: we needed a self-contained vehicle (one that had a toilet on board) so that we could freedom camp, we wanted a newer vehicle that wouldn’t break down and we wanted a longer-length bed as James is 193cm (6’3’’).
And on initial view, it looked like The Vista 2 would deliver all of that.
About the Wilderness New Zealand Vista 2
Now Wilderness Motorhomes New Zealand has a number of campervans on offer, but we liked the Vista since it seemed perfect for us. It ticked all our boxes, it was geared towards two travellers and it was compact yet spacious.
The choice was relatively easy as Wilderness offers an onsite Motorhome Selector Tool which walks you through a list of questions to deliver the perfect option for your trip.
Like all the other vans in the fleet, the Vista 2 is a high-end, German designed campervan. It’s 6.3m long making it long enough to accommodate all the amenities but short enough to park relatively easily in a standard parking bay. The unique design sees it have a large sliding door (with insect netting to keep out those pesky sand flies) and two rear-opening doors, perfect for waking up and throwing them open to watch the sunrise.
It includes a king-sized bed, a bathroom with toilet, sink and integrated shower, a kitchenette including a two-plate hob, fridge, sink and all the key cookware, glassware, crockery and cutlery.
There is also a dining area made possible by a permanent settee and the clever use of the driver and front passenger seats that could swivel round. In reality that meant that we could set up our laptops and do some work, or eat dinner while taking in the views.
The company also offers a number of attractive extras that we made use of: comprehensive insurance, furniture including deck chairs and, the piece de resistance, a wifi router which offered pretty quick speeds even in some of the more remote parts of the island. This helped us not only do some work when parked up for the night, but we ended up using this for GPS and Google Maps on the go, which we prefer to the physical GPS unit provided.
Book The Vista 2 Wilderness Motorhome HERE
Taking Our Wilderness Motorhome on the Road
We’d no sooner landed in New Zealand at Christchurch airport than we were in the Wilderness offices, located right near the terminal. It was a warm welcome full of great instructions on how to handle the van, they help map out our itinerary, giving us a few tips and recommendations and a strong cup of coffee to get us excited for the road ahead.
To be honest, not much was needed at this point since we felt Wilderness New Zealand had done a fantastic job of equipping us before the journey, with free electronic guides on the best spots to visit, how-to videos and frequent emails with the basics of driving your first motorhome in New Zealand; all gearing us up for actually taking that first step into our new mobile home for ten days.
It was now time to hit the open road!
South Island Itinerary
We took the campervan for our New Zealand South Island itinerary, which saw us travel from Christchurch down to Queenstown, before heading back up towards Wanaka and Hanmer Springs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get up the West Coast to Franz Josef or Fox Glacier since the roads had been washed away with seasonal rain.
The experience of driving a campervan was a surreal one. New Zealand’s South Island is arguably one of the most exquisite places to visit in the world, filled with soaring peaks, icy blue lakes and incredible glaciers. Packed into our campervan we could easily navigate the roads to visit key spots including Mount Cook, Lake Pukaki, Lake Hawea and the adrenalin-fuelled town of Queenstown.
Because its self-contained we were able to do our first freedom camping experience, pulling up to a quiet spot along Lake Pukaki. We’d possibly count this as one of the best experiences of our life – finding a deserted place to park Wilma (our pet name for our van), pull out the grill to make some barbecue dinner, watching the sun go down over the glistening lake and then waking up to absolute silence save for bird song and the lapping of the lake’s waves on the shore.
Interested in more information on NEW ZEALAND? Check out:
ROAD TRIP INFO:
– Comparing the BEST Motorhome & Campervan Hire – New Zealand
– REVIEW: Kiwi Campers and Happy Campers NZ
– REVIEW: Maui Campervan New Zealand
– REVIEW: Spaceship Beta Campervan
– REVIEW: Spaceships Rocket Campervan
– REVIEW: Wilderness NZ (motorhome company)
– How to Save Substantial Money Using Bookme NZ
– Work Abroad In New Zealand
What We Liked About Wilderness Motorhomes New Zealand
Overall, this campervan was at the luxury end but was still a cost-effective solution and we were entirely comfortable even in the ‘confined’ space of the camper. While it rained incessantly for a number of days, we didn’t feel over cramped, and the van kept us nice and dry.
The van was surprisingly easy to drive. For motorhome newbies, we soon got the hang of it and even in high winds and rain, we didn’t have much of a problem.
The amenities were fantastic. Including everything from a cheese grater to perfect climate control, we thought the van was well-executed and had all that you needed for a great trip.
Interested in other ROAD TRIPS around the world? CHECK OUT:
– The Best 5 EUROPEAN Road Trips
– ICELAND Road Trip from Akureyri to Reykjavik
– ICELAND in a Campervan – Luxury on a Budget
– 5 Day Road Trip Tour of NORWAY incl. the Fjords
– SPAIN: Road Trip – 5 Days in Asturias
– UK Road Trip Tips
– AUSTRALIA – Adelaide to Melbourne Road Trip with Great Ocean Road Itinerary
– Comparing the Best Motorhome & Campervan Hire – NEW ZEALAND
– Kiwi Campers & Happy Campers NEW ZEALAND
– Review of a Maui Campervan – NEW ZEALAND
– Why You Should Motorhome CHILE – A Unique Way to see Chile
What We Didn’t Like About Wilderness Motorhomes New Zealand
Because Wilderness is one of the smaller operators, they don’t have bases in many cities, like their larger competitors. While this helps them remain affordable it does mean that if you have a breakdown in a remote part of the island, you’re more likely to be rerouted to a partner workshop, as we were near Queenstown.
That said, the issues we had were quickly resolved by the workshop and we were back on our way.
To outline those issues, we had a problem with the shower and some annoying creaks in the vehicle. Not too much to write home about but we did wonder why this wasn’t found in the pre-checks; that said they were quickly and efficiently resolved by the friendly Wilderness team.
Book a Wilderness Motorhome HERE
Conclusion - Wilderness Motorhomes NZ - A Very Decent Operator
The golden question: would we use Wilderness again? Most probably, yes. This a reputable, reliable and welcoming company that is passionate about people enjoying their time in New Zealand.
The vans are high-end, comfortable, reliable and well-considered. The service is excellent and the pricing is eminently affordable. We’d highly recommend Wilderness as being a company that cares about its customers, staffed by travellers themselves.
About The Author
This is a guest post by James and Lee of The Travel Scribes. The Travel Scribes is a blog dedicated to travelling, writing and everything social media. A mid thirties married travel couple, they decided to sell everything, pack their world into two small backpacks and set off on a round the world trip. This review of Wilderness was written about their experiences in New Zealand, where they spent a few weeks campervanning the country.