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10 of the best campervan road trips in Australia & New Zealand

Looking for the best routes for campervans in New Zealand and Australia? Here's a list of recommended road trip sites, including popular destinations such as Ellis Beach oceanfront bungalow campground.

Hit the road in a campervan for an epic holiday off the beaten track in Australia and New Zealand. Skyscanner recommends some great road trip options with great airfares to get that road trip started.

Fully kitted out campervans come with all the bells and whistles. At the luxury end, they come with a shower, toilet, air-conditioning, double beds, full-sized fridge, oven and cooktop. Duvets, pillows, linen and towels, camp chairs and picnic tables are usually provided too. At the end of a day’s driving, there is little setting up to do beyond opening a bottle of wine and preparing the canapes. These motor homes are a dream to drive and are perfect for those who don’t really ‘do camping’.

At the budget end, things are more basic. Without a shower or toilet onboard, you’ll need to find public facilities, beds will often have to be converted from the settee and kitchen facilities are limited to a cooktop and small fridge (if that’s available). You’ll likely need to provide your own sleeping bag and camp chairs. The upside is that with the dollars saved, you’ll likely be able to see more and stay on holidays longer!

1. Great Barrier Reef Drive (QLD)

A stretch of bitumen that ranks right up there with Australia’s best, the Captain Cook Highway snakes its way between two World Heritage icons. The Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics area collide in a collusion of colour. Call in to Palm Cove and Port Douglas for fabulous cafes and restaurants on the beach before heading into the lush wilderness of Cape Tribulation where the rainforest dominates the horizon.

Route: Cairns to Cape Tribulation

Highlights: Mountains, deserted beaches, ancient rainforest

Distance: 140 km

Campsite: Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows

Duration: 2 days

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Photo courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland
Photo courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland

2. Great Eastern Drive (TAS)

Tasmania’s east coast has the sort of dazzlingly beautiful beaches that tropical destinations wish they had (with the exception of the Whitsundays and Whitehaven Beach). The water is ridiculously blue, the sand blindingly bright and they’re considered crowded if there’s more than a handful of dog walkers in sight. The only problem is the temperature: Despite being a darn sight prettier, Tasmanian’s climate is as chilly as you’d expect at latitude 40 degrees south. Don’t let it put you off a campervan trip though. Throw on some extra layers, crank up the heating and hit Tassie’s east coast – it’s a magnificent coastline.

Route: Hobart to St Helens via Orford, Swansea & Bicheno

Highlights: Picture perfect beaches, Wineglass Bay, The Hazards

Distance: 300 km

Campsite: Freycinet National Park campsites

Duration: 3 days

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Tasmania's Bay of Fires - The Great Eastern Road
Tasmania’s Bay of Fires – Image Credit: Peter Gawthrop / Flickr

3. Savannah Way (QLD, NT & WA)

An epic journey that includes five World Heritage areas, two states, one territory and a gazillion stars to light up outback nights. A true road trip adventure that takes travellers into the heart of Outback Australia, the Savannah Way straddles an entire continent. Vast, striking landscapes are home to characters and wildlife aplenty – pull up a stool at any of the pubs along the way and you’re bound to meet plenty of each species!

Route: Cairns to Broome via outback Queensland, Northern Territory & West Australia

Highlights: Too many to single out on this epic route!

Distance: 3,700 km

Campsite: Free camping sites are plentiful

Duration: 30 days

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Photo courtesy of Travel Boating Lifestyle
Photo courtesy of Travel Boating Lifestyle

4. Great Ocean Road (VIC)

Hugging the dramatic Bass Strait coastline that is known as the Shipwreck Coast, the ocean dominates these parts. With little land between here and Antarctica (besides Tasmania and its islands), the weather can be wild and unpredictable. Surfers love it, particularly around famous Bells Beach, and fishermen, well they just know that every day is never easy. Road trippers are the winners though as they get to enjoy all the highlights from the comfort of a campervan. And the highlights are many. Stop for a fresh seafood feed at Apollo Bay, a beer on the deck of Wye River Hotel and wander historic walking trails in Port Fairy. Stretch the holiday dollars to take a chopper flight over the 12 Apostles for the best view of these striking formations.

Route: Torquay to Port Fairy via Lorne and Apollo Bay

Highlights: 12 Apostles, Bass Strait vistas, fresh seafood, maritime history

Distance: 665 km

Campsite: BIG4 Wye River Holiday Park

Duration: 4 days

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Photo courtesy of 12 Apostle Helicopters & Tourism Australia
Photo courtesy of 12 Apostle Helicopters & Tourism Australia

5. Southern Wonders Wildflower Trail (WA)

Giant 400 year old trees, some of the world’s rarest wildflowers and a landscape that changes from wheat belt to granite ranges to lofty forest in the blink of an eye – that is the Great Southern. West Australia’s dry Mediterranean climate is the perfect breeding ground for stunning displays of kaleidoscopic wildflowers from September to November.

Route: Perth to Albany via Kojonup, Stirling & Porongorup Range National Parks, Mt Barker

Highlights: Valley of the Giants treetop walk, fields of colourful flowers

Distance: 700 km

Campsite: Valley of the Giants Ecopark

Duration: 8 days

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Photo courtesy of Tourism Australia
Photo courtesy of Tourism Australia

6. Hawkes Bay to Wellington Wine Trail (North Island)

OK, we know that it’s not cool to drink and drive, so this road trip needs some careful planning. The best solution is to rope in a teetotaller to look after the driving while you wine and dine your way through New Zealand’s classic Wine Trail. Three days is not really long enough, but in the interests of preserving rather than pickling, it’s best to not stay too long. Beautifully preserved architecture of the Art Deco Capital of the World (Napier) soon gives way to sun-drenched vineyards rolling over the hills. Cellar doors and restaurants are plentiful before reaching the windy city of Wellington.

Route: Napier to Wellington

Highlights: Art deco architecture, award-winning vineyards, New Zealand’s capital city

Distance: 370 km

Campsite: Martinborough Holiday Park

Duration: 3 days

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Photo courtesy of Chris McLennan & Tourism New Zealand
Photo courtesy of Chris McLennan & Tourism New Zealand

7. Forgotten World Highway (North Island)

The name alone is reason enough to take this drive, though there are plenty of other worthy motivations for the return journey. Stopping in at Whangamomona Hotel is an absolute must to meet some unique local characters– not all of them are human! The road itself twists and turns enough to make the hardiest traveller car-sick. Imposing mountains, a scary one-lane tunnel and more ups and downs than a roller coaster, the town of Stratford awaits. Named after William Shakespeare’s birthplace, the Bart’s influence is everywhere.

Route: Taumarunui to Stratford & return

Highlights: Historic Whangamomona, Tahora Saddle, Egmont National Park

Distance: 300 km

Campsite: Whangamomona Campground

Duration: 3 days

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Photo courtesy of Tourism New Zealand
Photo courtesy of Tourism New Zealand

8. TranzAlpine Explorer (South Island)

This road trip has it all! Traverse the Southern Alps via Arthurs Pass; the road itself is an extraordinary example of engineering linking east and west coasts. Snow-capped mountains, gorges carved by ice-fed rivers, glaciers, sub-tropical rainforests and wild, rugged beaches. Hike to Rob Roy Glacier before returning to civilisation at Queenstown, the southern HQ for adventure New Zealand-style.

Route: Christchurch to Queenstown via Greymouth

Highlights: Southern Alps, Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers

Distance: 765 km

Best campsite: Jacksons Retreat, Arthurs Pass

Duration: 3–4 days

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Photo courtesy of Tourism New Zealand
Photo courtesy of Tourism New Zealand

9. Top of the South Island

Start your road trip at Christchurch where lively pop-up bars and restaurants are adding the fun factor to a city that’s had its fair share of trauma with the 2010 earthquake. Work up an appetite walking or kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park or cycle the Great Taste Trail. Linger around Nelson and Marlborough, feasting on food, wine, cider and beer that the region is famous for. Stop for a photo at impressive Lewis Pass before rejuvenating road-weary bodies in thermal springs at Hanmer Springs.

Route: Christchurch to Hanmer Springs via Kaikoura, Marlborough Sounds and Nelson

Highlights: Abel Tasman National Park, vineyards, Marlborough Sound, beaches and whale watching

Distance: 855 km

Campsite: Pines Holiday Park Hanmer Springs

Duration: 6 days

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Photo courtesy of David Wall & Tourism New Zealand
Photo courtesy of David Wall & Tourism New Zealand

10. Southern Scenic Route (South Island)

This route takes in classic New Zealand high country in the south of South Island. Rugged seascapes meld with equally dramatic landscapes to create draw-dropping scenic vistas at every twist and turn of the highway. Make sure your camera is fully charged for the Milford Rd section between Te Anau and Milford Sound. Taste the famous oysters at Bluff and take a cruise on Milford Sound.

Route: Queenstown to Dunedin via Te Anua, Bluff and The Catlins

Highlights: Milford Sound, Fiordland, famous walking trails

Distance: 610 km

Campsite: Milford Sound Lodge & Campground

Duration: 4 days

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Photo courtesy of David Wall & Tourism New Zealand
Photo courtesy of David Wall & Tourism New Zealand

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