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Visitors to New Zealand are in for a real treat. There are few places in the world where you can enjoy such a sublime experience. Sub-tropical beaches, unique wildlife and majestic mountains provide the backdrop to lush green scenery as you travel by motorhome on your journey throughout New Zealand.

New Zealand is split into two islands; visitors to the North Island enjoy the hustle and bustle of its seaside cities and rural towns, and its fascinating geothermal regions, whilst the South Island is home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes and scenery in the southern hemisphere. But there is more than these two main islands. The coastline surrounding them is scattered with smaller islands. Each has its own natural identity and culture, steeped in legend and full of opportunities.

It may seem like a motorhome holiday isn't the most logical way to explore the islands of New Zealand, where crossing seas and waterways are a necessity, but it is the only option that allows you to pack in as much as you can and truly make your holiday in New Zealand one to remember.

You can travel from place to place. When you stop near an island you want to explore, you can take a break from the driving and hop onto a ferry; or make the most of a guided excursion to the island. Many of our New Zealand holiday itineraries take you right by some of these beautiful islands, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to explore.

Cape Reinga, North Island
▲ Cape Reinga, North Island

North Island

The official name for this island is Te-Ika-a-Maui which means 'Fish of Maui'. Legend tells us that the demigod Maui cast his fishhook into the sea and caught the land, dragging it to the surface to form the island we know as the North Island.

Known for its bustling, urban cities, such as Auckland, it's beautiful beaches and unique geothermal regions. Make sure you spend some time travelling through this striking island and see some of the best spots along the way.

Famous landmark tree on lake Wanaka
▲ Famous landmark tree on lake Wanaka

South Island

The South Island is the largest of the two, and its traditional Maori name is Te Waiponamu which means 'Ocean'.

The South Island has so much to offer that it's difficult to pin it down to a few points. It has almost everything you could want. You can explore a fascinating culture and history, spend time lazing on gorgeous beaches and hike through some of the most remarkable mountainous landscapes and countryside.

All of our New Zealand holiday tours include the best spots to visit and stay on the South Island, so spend some time browsing through them to find the places you want to see on your holiday. If you're going to focus on exploring the South Island, then we even have an itinerary for this! Our South Island Discovery tour begins and ends in Christchurch, with plenty of opportunities for exploration on the way.

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Stewart Island

Stewart Island is New Zealand’s third largest and is a hilly landscape with an abundance of wildlife to discover. There are fewer people on this island, making it the perfect spot for some quiet relaxation as you take in the scenery. Its Maori name is Rakiura, which means glowing skies because of the southern lights'. It also has a much older name, Te Punga o Te Waka, which translates to the anchor stone of Maui's canoe.

Stewart Island is often bypassed by visitors who overlook it for the more famous attractions the mainland has to offer. Make sure you don't make this mistake and take a trip to this island. This is a place where you can still see the wild and rugged place New Zealand would have been before it became the place it is today. The wildlife is still abundant, and any keen bird watcher will enjoy a few hours with their binoculars watching the fascinating array of feathered wildlife the island has to offer.

There is only one town to explore, Oban, so this is primarily a nature-lovers paradise. It is perfect for hikers who want to explore the wild beaches and rugged hilltops. The best way to make a stop on Stewart Island is by taking one of our holiday tours that travel nearby. Our South Island Discovery tour and our Ultimate New Zealand tour are the perfect options.

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Rangitoto Island

Rangitoto Island is one of the more iconic of New Zealand's islands. Its almost perfect symmetrical slopes lead up to a dormant volcano which lies at the centre of the island. This isn't a large island and is only 3.4 miles wide, making it perfect for a day trip to explore the wildlife and exciting landscape on offer.

What makes this island particularly interesting to visit is that it is relatively new. It was formed through a series of volcanic eruptions about 600 years ago. When you arrive, you can take a guided tour via a four wheel drive road train to the summit of the volcano or take a hike around the shores and slopes while you marvel at the intriguing flora, fauna and wildlife that have made the island their home.

You can visit Rangitoto easily from downtown Auckland city, which is perfect as many of our itineraries include a stopover in Auckland! Please take a look at our New Zealand motorhome holidays for inspiration on your next holiday of a lifetime.

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Waiheke Island

The Hauraki Gulf is the coastal region just off the coast of Auckland. It boasts a collection of islands that offer a wonderful glimpse of island paradise. Waiheke is the most populated of these islands, although it is only the second largest. If you want to experience scenic beaches, breathtaking landscapes and a culture rich in art, cuisine and fine wine, then this is the island for you.

What you may find most striking is its wonderful mix of natural wonders, and it's people with a love for life and the finer pleasures that life can bring. You can go from exploring secluded coves and beaches to touring wineries, and then a spot of nature watching or even taking part in some outdoor sports. The choice is yours on this beautiful island paradise.

If you are spending a little time in Auckland, consider taking a ferry to this beautiful island and experience all that it has to offer.

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D'urville Island

Also known by its Maori name, Rangitoto-ki-te-Tonga, D'urville is one of the best places you can visit for a perfectly tranquil and serene experience. This is a little-known island located in the Marlborough Sounds and this is part of the its charm. Many tourists are keen to get on their way as they travel between the North and South Islands and forget to stop here to take in the natural beauty of the many islands throughout the Sounds.

D'urville Island is a haven for anyone who loves to spend time outdoors. If you love fishing, hiking or natural outdoor pursuits, this is the place to visit. The island comprises beautiful coastlines surrounding ancient forests, all set within the beautiful deep blue water that surrounds New Zealand. If you are lucky, you may even spot the dolphins and seals that make the water around the island their home and feeding grounds.

When you are making the journey between the North and South islands on your road trip, we recommend that you take time to visit this beautiful island. Almost all of our tours allow you to take a detour to the area, so take a look at our New Zealand itineraries and choose the one that suits you best.

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