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When I dreamed of traveling, I always pictured airplanes and trains. But once we hopped in an RV for my honeymoon, my mind was opened to a whole new world of travel. We fell in love with the freedom and flexibility that a home on wheels allows and decided that was how we would see the world.
We’ve now RVed in ELEVEN countries around the world!
New Zealand is arguably the most campervan-friendly country in the world (in my experience France is a close second).
But what do you do when the weather turns wet?
Camping in the rain is less than no fun. It’s dirty, and messy, and often means being cramped inside what is suddenly a really small rig.
And as nice as our Wilderness Motorhome rental is, you don’t want to be stuck inside all day in a rain storm. Which is exactly what the 10-day forecast was predicting. Ten straight days of rain! 😱
So we decided to leave ✌️
This is the beauty of RVing over other forms of travel. With no reservations and a full tank of gas, you can go anywhere! Including hopping on a ferry to a new island.
The Interislander Ferry
Whether you’re escaping bad weather or just want to visit both of New Zealand’s major islands, the only way to cross the Cook Strait in an RV is on a ferry. We’ve done this twice and used the Interislander ferry both times.
Why choose Interislander Ferries?
Interislander partners with Top 10, a chain of holiday parks all over New Zealand. If you buy a Top 10 membership (which costs $55 NZD), you get discounts on your stays at their holiday parks. We always end up staying at a handful of their holiday parks, making the two-year membership a decent value. They have locations in every major tourist area and are good quality, making it easy to plan a tour across New Zealand where you stay at Top 10s every night!
In addition to the stay discounts, you also get a discount on your ferry bookings. This saved us over $75 NZD on our booking! Even if we didn’t use the other membership benefits, the membership pays for itself in savings on the ferry fees.
How to Buy a Top 10 Membership
You can buy a Top 10 membership at any of their holiday parks. You’ll pay the signup fee and get your membership card. I forgot to get our membership while at the holiday park, so I signed up online. This was a straightforward process that I could complete on my phone.
When finished, you’re given your membership number and your membership expiration date. You’ll get your membership barcode when you get your card, which can picked up at a holiday park or mailed to you. (If you’re not a Kiwi, don’t opt to have the card mailed to you!)
Even without a physical card in hand, I was able to book our ferry tickets with the discount and board the ferry.
Boarding the Interislander Ferry in a Motorhome
When you arrive at the ferry terminal, you’ll check in at a kiosk and be told which lane to proceed in. You’ll also be given a placard with motorhome-specific instructions and reminded to turn off your propane tank. Plan to arrive at least an hour before your ferry’s scheduled departure time.
While you wait in your lane, be sure to turn off your engine. We typically use the wait time to cook a meal, clean the rig, or get out to stretch our legs. During this last visit, our kids used the wait time to take naps.
The wait can be a bit boring, but once they start directing cars onto the ferry, you board quickly. We were one of the last vehicles on the ferry (after being one of the first to arrive). Someone reminded us to apply our hand brake and turn off the propane and we followed foot traffic to a staircase. The stairs led us up to the main floor of the ferry where we would find lounges, shops, and restaurants.
Riding a Ferry with Kids
We worried a little about how well the kids would do on a three-hour boat journey. But once we made it to the top of the staircase, we saw a slide! There was a small playground on the ship, a TV playing kids’ shows on a loop, and some small games and books. We played, grabbed dinner, and played some more. Before we knew it, it was dark outside and we had arrived at the south island!
Avoiding the Rain
Heading south for our last week of adventures made sure that we avoided the rain and Wilderness graciously let us change our return location from Auckland to Christchurch. (Thank you guys!)
Rain can wreck a vacation, but with our RV, we just drove around it! 🙂