The Advantages of Buying a Motorhome vs a Boat


After years of recreational boating, Peta Stavelli of Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations magazine, returned to motorhoming. As a potential buyer, you might also be asking yourself — how do these two kinds of recreational investments differ?


North Island beach camping


I used to think there was nothing half as much fun as messing around in boats. After all, I’d spent many years living remotely, using a boat every day like most people use their car.

So what made me switch to becoming a land-locked, land-lubber who loved motorhomes?


The main thing

First and foremost, the thing I love most about motorhoming is the ability to see the whole picture as opposed to just part of it.

Sure, there’s nothing quite like being tucked up in a secluded bay with water so clear you can see the crayfish crawling along the bottom. I’d swap that any day for the joy of turning down a new road and parking up on the shoreline where I don’t have to worry about maintaining an anchor watch.


Comparing apples with apples

That’s just my experience, though. When you’re tossing up which big ticket item to buy to match your own recreational needs for freedom and exploration, you want a more comprehensive comparison.

Let’s begin with the similarities, such as that both:

  • Come in similar sizes usually five to eight metres long
  • Can offer most of your home comfort and maximise your storage needs
  • Need fuel to run
  • Are built from the outside in.


However, boats are built hull first whilst motorhomes are built beginning with the cab-chassis.


Freedom camping


Getting up to speed

If you're intimidated by the size of motorhomes and are wondering if you could learn to drive one on the open road, let me just say this if you can drive a car, you can drive a motorhome in New Zealand.

Find out more about the length of motorhomes.

Conversely, in order to stay safe on the high seas, you must:

  • Learn recreational boating rules
  • Understand navigational charts
  • Become aware of changeable marine conditions.


You'll also need safety equipment like lifejackets, a life-raft, radio equipment and emergency flares.


Ferry in Auckland


Storage and maintenance

Boaties joke that B.O.A.T actually stands for Bring Out Another Thousand. If you’ve been in a chandlery recently, I am sure you’ll agree. Then there’s the cost of moorings and marina berths. Add to those hefty outlays, annual maintenance.

If you can’t store your motorhome at home, you’ll also have to shell out for storage but at least you won’t have to worry about the weather or whether your mooring will hold.



Protection from the weather

Whether we’re travelling by road or sea, our focus when planning should always include local knowledge of weather conditions. However, there’s another factor of difference between motorhomes and boats, and that’s the ability to travel across the seasons.

Personally, I hate cold flecks of salt spray stinging my face during a winter run on the water just as much as I love returning to the warmth of the camper after a brisk winter walk beside a lake.

Most premium recreational vehicles are well-insulated and come with excellent heating or air-conditioning units for cross-seasonal comfort.

Get more information on how to best heat your motorhome.


Garage storage room


Launching a new life as a live-aboard

When my sons were teenagers, I considered buying a motor-launch to live aboard. I wanted to engender in them the same love and respect for the sea I had however the thought of rowing home at night in appalling conditions was the final undoing of my grand scheme.

Space-wise, while there’s not much difference between a boat and motorhome, the cost of marine insurance can be staggering. And unless you buy a classic boat, which if well-maintained might retain its value, depreciation with a boat is generally greater than for a motorhome.

Find out all you need to know about motorhome depreciation.


Beach walk


Be part of the picture

A biker friend once told me the difference between motorbikes and cars is that one (the car) allows you to see the picture while the other puts you in the picture.

Perhaps, if you prefer to pit yourself against the elements, the same could be said of boats. But for me, I’d say that swapping boating for motorhoming has allowed me to see more so much more of the picture.


Begin your journey towards adventure

Check out our range of premium German motorhomes that offer freedom, comfort — and more of the picture.




Buyers' Guide Choosing a Motorhome