Here’s a list of my Top Ten Tips for Campervans and Campsites in New Zealand. These tips include everything from Do’s & Dont’s, to Suggestions, to What to Know and Buy.
If you have been reading my blogs, you would know I’m a HARD SELLER of solo travel. However, ummmmm unless you have lotsa experience travelling alone and absolutely love your company I DO NOT recommend solo travel for Campervaning. It can be very fatiguing and lonely while driving alone! However; Campervans are the absolute best way to explore New Zealand as the whole country is absolutely designed for comfort in campervans and multiple options of Campsites. Here’s a low down on everything you need to do, prep and have for a joyous campervan experience.
1. Company: Yup! Who you travel with is the most important part.. remember you will be driving and living in the same Campervan.. you must be sure you can put up with the chosen one through it all. Driving itself is a topic of friction amongst most, so when in unknown terrain and stuck in a car; you and your company need to Synergise. I don’t think it is optimal for newly weds cause its pretty hands on and non luxury but I highly HIGHLY recommend it for couples who have been married/together for long. Again, according to me… when couples have been together for long.. a lot gets lost! The love and passion is all there but just under the thin layer of dust, of constant running and time schedules. Conversations become more transactional instead of dreaming together, reminiscing, singing songs together and talking about the more meaty things of the relationship. Now with 5-8 hours of driving everyday as a functional team; and limited technology and distractions, you have no choice but talk to each other and just… romance again you know! I mean.. my husband was with me only for the first few days and then I did this on my own and the truth is… I miss him when I travel .. ya… but I never missed him as much as I did in this trip ever before. We realized what a great team we were again. We spoke about past.. our present.. our future.. what had gone missing.. what we both needed more of from each other and realized that we missed talking to each other the most! Due to the pressures of managing jobs, home, social obligations etc, our conversations had become extremely.. ummm.. what to eat, how was your day, daily chores and what plans for weekend. Remember when we were dating how our conversations were always Magic and we all would talk for hours… when couple live together too long I think that’s what goes missing and then that monotony trickles into every other part of our lives. Speaking only for me and my experience… this trip was amazing for us! We found love again and even though it’s been a while since we came back… the spark is back again!
Families with kids: Ok I saw families with like 8-9 month old kids managing in a campervan easily and that was like WOW for me. So I would go and tell them so and was curious how they were managing keeping a kid in the car for so long and they said.. maybe first couple of days they are adjusting but post that.. they were enjoying the drive as much. The young ones would get busy reading maps and planning routes and playing in nature and a roadtrip like this was so important to connect our kids with nature. So ya! I agree and recommend Campervan life for families! Try to leave the Ipad and video games behind.. haha!
2. Simple Life: Each campervan comes with a stove, few plates, few side plates, few spoons, forks, knives, wine glasses, couple of pans, a frying pan, a kettle, a toaster and a small heater. One of my biggest learning from the Campervan life.. that’s all I needed! Coming back home to all the choices of everything else which I probably used couple of times a year seemed so unnecessary and a waste of money now!
3. Suitcase: I recommend you don’t carry the huge suitcases cause you really wanna be smart with your space management and while small suitcases can be tucked anywhere big ones may be harder to adjust. A backpack or soft-bag is ideal. I’m a hard seller of travelling light so next is a list of avoidables and must haves for a trip to New Zealand.
4. Dress Up: Lets do this point by point:
– Shoes: Please don’t keep any heels or fancy shoes. You will be driving or walking.. you don’t need fancy at all. Keep a max of 3 options; high boots, ankle lenghts and sneakers. Remember it’s a small island and weather changes pretty drastically.. pretty quickly. These 3 options will cover all bases. Keep a pair of slip ons/slippers to be comfy while driving!
– Jackets: Being a blogger I need variety for my pics and yet managed in a suitcase of 20 kgs for a month long trip.. So can YOU! haha! I recommend you pick up a ‘Down Jacket’. Pick the reversible ones with a cover pouch. So basically you will have 4 jackets color options and Down Jackets are super light and wind n’ wet resistant. The carry pouch ones roll up in a travel friendly size to perfection!
– Tees: Depending on the number of days you are going for add a +2 if it’s upto 10 days but for any longer duration, 14 is the MAX. They will barely be seen under your jackets and the ones who are staying longer, launder (more info coming up)
– Lowers: Men- 4 max! Carry chinos and cool tracky bottoms instead of jeans.. more comfy!
Women: Carry jeggings, leggings and tracky bottoms. 8 MAX!
– Woolens: 2 pairs of gloves and caps is a must! Get 1 fun and one basic 🙂 3-4 basic pullovers, 2 hoodies and 2 woolen mufflers/scarves. Ok mayyyyybe a cream and a black polo-neck jumper too!
– Undergarments: 10.. each.. max! Including everything along with socks!
It’s the absolute same for kids.. your kids look adorable even without an expansive wardrobe I promise! 🙂 You need to be sensible with your space management in Campervans! Less is truly.. physically MORE!
5. Groceries: Ok pack some of your comfort food, including Maggi (haha!). Things you will need to stock up on are:
– Salt, Pepper, Sugar
– Cooking Oil/ butter
– Bread, eggs or whatever breakfast suits you (cornflakes, muesli)
– Carton milk
– Lotsa snacks (you can get most from duty free, this will help avoid conflict later)
– Cleaning stuff for utensils and Campervan
– Fruits and nuts
– Lotsa Sandwich Pouch (these are re-sealable plastic bags perfect for packing sandwiches and any other stuff you’d wanna eat along the way)
– Oh pick the streaky bacon if you do eat bacon.. it’s a bit of fuss to cook but yummmm and perfect for long drives!
– Quick cook noodles
– Sandfly repellent (NZ has these exteremely annoying sandflies in some places and their stings are super scratchy, so just keep one handy)
– Water soluble wet wipes (for ahemm.. Loo use.. haha!)
6. Apps: You actually only need Google maps and Campermate. Even though the GPS is great for reminders on speed limits and route planning, I found shorter smarter routes on my Google maps.. so just double check plans. Campermate is your ultimate guide.. help… savior and MATE 🙂 Once you download the app you can then see all Campsites in the area you would like to camp for the night.
There will be 3 colors of pins..
– Green ones are the free campsits.. most amazing locations.. these sites are by the DOC (Dept. of Conservation)
– Blue are the Low Cost campsites and will vary from abot $10-15 per person per night
– Purple ones are the expensive ones with the best facilities ofcourse and vary from $20-30 per person per night
While selecting a Campersite; ensure you check all the facilities they provide in Icons and the reviews! Do check till what time they are open and if you are arriving late.. ensure they know and they leave the instructions for you somewhere. The numbers and email ids are also mentioned 🙂
Campermate will also give you lotsa other help like closest petrol station, ATM, Groceries, Things to do and pretty much everything else!
7. Campsites– Some of them are chains, ensure you pick up their membership card if you are staying for long and their locations are on your plan. I stayed at Holiday Top 10 for most of my stays. They came with powered sites (so your campervan will need to be connected to a power site to get the sockets working). All you do is park at the location reserved for you and plug in 🙂 the plugs are always a bit tight so keep a pair of gloves handy!
– Kitchen: There are open kitchen areas so you can prepare some warm food here of your choice. Eat a good Dinner and breakfast and pack some lunch as well (if you can) in the morning! Please ensure you keep everything back where you pick from, and leave the kitchen clean and dry after use!
– Showers: Most Purple ones have limitless showers but some have timers for hot showers for a Dollar or 2. These give you hot water for 7-10 minutes. But all of them are very well maintained and the campers also leave them super clean..
– Laundry: Campsites also have laundromats, so you can wash, dry and iron your clothes here. Most operate on a couple of dollars. Good tip.. mix your washing powder with warm water really well and add to clothes… this works better than throwing in the powder 🙂
– Entertainment: Some have gaming rooms, TV rooms etc. I mostly used to pick up DVDs and play in my Campervan.
– Kid’s Play Area: Campsites have lovely Play Areas and even Spa pools.. ensure you get your money’s worth here.. haha!
8. Fuel and Cleaning: Most gas stations are self service. Most of us are not used to filling up petrol or diesel in the cars ourselves, so ask someone to show you and be careful. You can fill up the fuel and pay inside the shops at the gas station… just remember which booth you take it from and make payments. There are buckets with cleaning solutions at most stations, ensure you clean your windshields regularly. Yup! Do it yourself. If you are using Diesel.. you will need to pay a Diesel Tax later. Ask the rental company for the details.
9. Mobiles: Ok pre-paid cards are pretty expensive for data so ensure you download the app for the network you choose and pick a bundle after reading every detail. Keep most apps you don’t need on the road on the offline mode. Campsites sometimes give coupons for free internet usage but its barely 1-3 MB so just be wise if you are on a budget.
10. Add-Ons: These are not compulsory but good to have.. Torch, foldable chairs, umbrella, beach towels. Keep a pouch for your medicines and mosquito repellents. Pick up the quick drying towels if you can.
Important– If you are in a self contained Campervan (with a toilet and shower.. these will be small but again totally functional) you can pretty much stay at any of the sites as you can cook and use your facilities. But ensure if you have stayed at the free site, you stay at the Blue or Purple sites next night with a dumping station to clean out. Ok I know how it sounds but TRUST me it’s all so hygienic that it’s almost cool. Lemme explain! When ever you use the toilet in the Campervan, first of all you have to open the loo up by a lever on the side so the Toilet cassette is open and you close it soon after you flush.. this keeps everything in the cassette sealed up! So there is no smell or spilling when you drive. When you have access to a dumping station, just youtube the instructions or simply pull out the cassette and empty in dumping station… flush… rinse with fresh water and it’s done… It’s a smell-less.. no scrub process! Hello! I managed being a solo woman traveller.. you all can do it! And I can’t stress enough; it was totally clean and no fuss!
Hope this had helped and you can read about Road Rules in this Blog.
Do share your feedback and lemme know how helpful this was after your trip :). I cried when I had to return my home for a month…. it was so hard letting go of my Campervan… I will always miss her!