Escaping Winter: Tips for First-Time Motorhome Snowbirds

Winter in New Zealand normally runs from June to August, and sometimes up to October. And, when winter hits, you’ve basically only had two options: you can either endure the cold (and heavy snow in certain areas such as Canterbury), or you can temporarily flee somewhere warmer like Rotorua. If you have a motorhome and a plan to travel somewhere cozier, then you should definitely try being a snowbird this winter.

Snowbirds are more popular in Canada and in the US, and they migrate temporarily (from 1-2 weeks, or even a month) to southern areas to avoid the snow and cold during the winter months. So, if you’re looking to escape winter in your motorhome for the first time, make sure to follow these tips:

Plan and Prepare

As with any activity, you should have a plan. Plot out when you’re leaving, what to bring, and where you’ll be staying for your winter escape. You should also plan out the activities you’ll be doing, and what kind of experience you’d want — would you prefer a peaceful and quiet staycation or perhaps travelling frequently to tourist spots in the areas you’ll be going and staying at? Make sure to pack-up all the essentials, including a paper map, first-aid kits, and medical records. Roadside toolkits and general repair tools would also come in handy. You can also opt to buy clothing enough for the entire stay, or find a local laundry shop in the areas you’ll be travelling to.

Service Suspension and Mailing

First off, suspend everything except electricity — from trash collection, newspaper delivery, telephone, internet, cable services — in order to avoid paying for unnecessary and unusable services. It’s recommended to leave some lights on to prevent robbers and other criminals from thinking that no one’s around. Then, set up mail hold or forwarding (to wherever you’ll be staying). Certain documents such as bank and credit card statements may not be allowed to be forwarded, so set up a seasonal address.

Winterise/Winter-proof Your Permanent Home

Turning off main switch

For first-timers, you may end up being overly excited about the notion of travelling south and enjoying the beach or warmer locales in your motorhome. But you shouldn’t forget your permanent home — the one you’ll be travelling back to and living in a couple of weeks. Every door and window should be shut, and any drafts should be sealed off — basically just ensure that the cold and moisture doesn’t enter your house. Next, unplug everything inside your home, shut off plumbing, and turn down the heat. Also, make sure to empty your refrigerator of food if you’re unplugging it. If you can, get a part-time caretaker (perhaps a friend or relative, or hire one) to check on your house every few days.

Maintenance and Repair

Man using laptop in camper van

Many snowbirds own a motorhome for the sole purpose of migrating to warmer places during winter. If you’re a first-time motorhome snowbird, you have to make it a point to tune-up your motorhome before and after the trip. Just make sure to regularly bring your motorhome to a service shop that is experienced in or specialisesin RV repair and maintenance to ensure that everything works and looks well, from the engine up to the bodywork to the gas and electrical systems. And even if you just bought your motorhome, it wouldn’t harm you to have it checked to ensure everything’s in working order before your trip.


Travelling to and staying in warmer areas during the winter in your motorhome can be an amazing and exciting experience, as long as you’ve done all the necessary preparations, which is why it’s best to remember these tips when you’re about to have your first winter escape.