I didn't think I would drive our rented motorhome as we are short of time for me to get used to it on this trip. I drove our Mitsubishi Canter 14 years ago, also a rented motorhome in Australia but this beast is six berth, 7.7 m long and 3.3 m high) and although it is the same make as the van Henry drives 50,000 miles a year in, it is wider and longer and it's automatic. Even he struggled at first, fishing around for gears that weren't there and putting his foot on the brake thinking it was the clutch causing sudden, alarming stops - that's when you discover what isn't secured properly.
So be warned even if you are an experienced driver. A previous driver of our Britz motorhome had had a scrape that caused damage all the way down the side of the vehicle in various places. Awareness of the height and width is important when negotiating overhanging branches for example.
On the Air New Zealand flight there was a useful video called Drive Safe. They are right to point out that the roads can be winding and you need to allow plenty of time. This is hard to do as there is so much to see and it is spread out across the country. Better to allow three to four weeks on the South Island if you have the time/money. Better to have two drivers as well.
So far I have driven the vehicle three times and found it easier than expected. That said, I was being cautious. Things do bounce about quite a bit too, which seems to be normal.
This six-berth beast may seem big but all motorhomes have their faults and on the interior the space between the 'kitchen' area and the washroom/rear seating area is tight, which can be very irritating when people want to pass. I can't imagine six adults in here. Adults and children maybe.
Henry had a complaint about the lack of Bluetooth connectivity through the radio. He needed it when he was driving as all motorhomes make a din when on the road and it would have relieved the boredom on a long journey. The radio was a very basic AM/FM radio with a lack of reception too. He also found a lack of arm rest a bit irritating.
You can charge your phone in one USB port and there is a 12v socket in the cab which you can plug an inverter into. The plugholes do not work unless you are plugged into electrical hookup though.
You are advised not to bring hard suitcases, just fold-up bags to put under the seats. We brought a couple of small hard bags which we have been able to stow in the alcove sleeping area as it is capacious. In fact, the bedding and towels (all brown in colour) get stored up here in the daytime. Freya commented that she was acting like a dung beetle as she pushed her duvet up there this morning.
After a week. we had a problem with the kitchen tap in our motorhome. When we put the pump on, water came out of the tap even when it was turned off.
It was handy that we were in Queenstown as there is a depot there. One of only a handful on both islands. However, they couldn't get hold of another tap quickly enough. They had a go at fixing it which improved things but the system was still making a noise like a badly played didgeridoo. There also was an airlock we never even mentioned, that caused water to come up both sinks and be very slow to drain from the tiny washroom one.
So it was a pleasant surprise when Britz said they would give us money back on our credit
card for the cost of a few holiday parks. Much needed if you are struggling to use your water.