NZ journey: High 10 ideas for campervan journey

If you wish to keep away from planes and public transport for some time, however are nonetheless eager to spend the remainder of summer season exploring, why not attempt a campervan vacation? Picture / Provided

There are few higher methods to get pleasure from New Zealand than from the entrance seat of a campervan, taking within the views at your personal tempo. With a lot nation to discover and loads of locations with out good public transportation hyperlinks, van journey permits you the liberty to discover the depths of what makes Aotearoa a bucket-list vacation spot for a lot of.

Whether or not you are a seasoned campervan traveller or are hitting the highway for the primary time, listed here are just a few tricks to take into account when planning a multi-day campervan exploration in New Zealand. Hit the open highway earlier than the top of summer season, or lower out and hold the following tips for future holidays to come back.

Ashlyn enjoying a platter and hot cup of tea after a cold-weather SUP in Akaroa. Photo / CJ Duncan
Ashlyn having fun with a platter and sizzling cup of tea after a cold-weather SUP in Akaroa. Picture / CJ Duncan

Resolve what you need out of the journey

Is that this journey for hitting as many sights as potential or are you selecting just a few locations to remain for some time? Your journey intention will dictate the size, packing record, and each day actions you select. That is a necessary choice to make so you’ll be able to set expectations and hold you and your travelling companions on the identical web page.

When my accomplice and I plan multi-day van journeys, we resolve on what ratio of leisure to exercise we would like, and this helps us plan our journey accordingly.


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Plan your tough itinerary

A tough define of the place you wish to go is essential, bearing in mind the intention you acknowledged above. Plan your tough route round desired actions and any must-sees alongside the way in which. Additionally, take into account what number of hours you wish to drive every day and plan for just a few no-driving days.

Final yr, my accomplice and I deliberate a highway journey from Christchurch to Northland and nearly instantly deserted the ultimate vacation spot as soon as we hit Taranaki. We realised shortly our total vacation could be spent with lengthy driving days, making for exhausted camp nights and little time to sightsee. Whereas being within the van is a part of the enjoyable, it should not be the one half.

Hold your itinerary versatile. The climate in New Zealand is fickle, and you may wish to chase the solar. Make an inventory of “must-sees” and “be cool to sees” and plan a tough route round these, permitting for issues to be added and dropped off alongside the way in which.


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Drying wet gear after a morning swim and SUP in Marlborough. Photo / CJ Duncan
Drying moist gear after a morning swim and SUP in Marlborough. Picture / CJ Duncan

Do take into account what van works for you

Assuming you do not have already got a van and are planning on renting one, chances are you’ll be overwhelmed with choices. Haven’t any concern! I personally advocate one thing extra compact than your typical caravan or trailer, as a van permits you to be extra agile on the highway, discover higher tenting spots, and do what you got here to do — get pleasure from nature!

I journey in a transformed 1995 Toyota Hiace, which makes for an intimate journey, but additionally permits me to park usually at supermarkets and traverse tough campsite entrances with ease. What I lose in house I make up for in accessibility.

Additionally resolve should you’re pleased with a hybrid sleep/eat station, or should you want to not arrange and tear down your mattress every morning. You may wish to take into account an indoor kitchen if the climate is supposed to be dangerous, as having the ability to get up in a kitchen and prepare dinner your self a heat meal could make all of the distinction between loving or hating van life.

Not all campsites are created equal

My favorite factor about van journey is discovering an excellent campsite. After I discover someplace with a superb view and relaxed vibe, my accomplice and I’ll usually ebook in just a few nights to permit ourselves to totally calm down. Opening a bottle of wine and making a platter from native meals, all whereas taking within the view is the rationale I van journey.

There are various campsite choices out there in New Zealand and those you select rely in your consolation stage with tenting. DoC presents probably the most primary and infrequently probably the most plentiful choices. Some are extraordinarily rustic — and low cost — and solely provide a protracted drop bathroom, whereas others have full cooking shelters, flush bathrooms, and are nestled into gorgeous spots.


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In case you’re on the lookout for one thing with extra creature comforts, hunt down personal campsites. From electrical energy and dump stations to full working kitchens, children’ play areas, and showers, there are many campsites that can make van tenting really feel downright luxurious.

In case you want inspiration, go to to search out the nation’s 10 finest campsites, as voted by Herald readers.

Enjoying the extra campsite space at The Barn in Mārahau. Photo / Ashlyn Oswalt
Having fun with the additional campsite house at The Barn in Mārahau. Picture / Ashlyn Oswalt

You do not have to tough it

Did my meals platter and bottle of wine sound…not like tenting? Whereas I like a superb backcountry, grunty hike, I want my van journey to be snug. After we van camp, my accomplice and I are adamant about our creature comforts and I swear they may enable you extend your journey and assist hold your sanity. We pack our pillows and quilt from residence, a French press, and all of the condiments from our fridge as a result of there isn’t any must tough it while you’ve obtained a van.

If you wish to camp with simply the fundamentals, be my visitor, however I want to really feel at residence on the highway.

Remember to organise

All the things wants a house in a van. Regardless that the house is small, it is essential to offer all the pieces its designated spot, because it’ll prevent time and annoyance while you’re scrambling round on the lookout for that particular factor.

If you’re hiring a campervan, you will discover most fashions include surprisingly spacious storage choices, permitting you to unpack on day one and hold litter to an absolute minimal.


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My van has loads of storage, however most of it is not simply accessible. I’ve to take down the mattress or desk to entry my larger models, which implies I put issues I want much less in there. I’ve rearranged glove compartments and centre consoles for fast entry to cameras, maps, hand sanitiser and snacks, and I ensure that our books are at all times on the prepared.

My accomplice and I’ve separate picket packing containers for our garments, which we roll after which stand upright, so we will simply see what article of clothes we’re grabbing. We have additionally arrange a foolproof system for our garbage, compost, and recycling, which has allowed us to prepare dinner a meal and clear up with ease.

Do eat as you do at residence

My accomplice is a superb prepare dinner and I’m a wonderful eater, so we’ve got no plans of consuming dehydrated meals on our journeys, ever. We make comparable meals to these we’d at residence and whereas this takes extra time than throwing sausages on the barbecue, it means we’ve got wholesome, contemporary meals and typically leftovers, which we put in takeaway containers.

I am repulsed by slimy spinach and sweaty cheese, so our 30L fridge is important for us. If you do not have a fridge, commit to purchasing much less and buying extra so your components stay contemporary. Additionally, should you’re eager, take into account going vegetarian when tenting. It saves a number of clear up time and the potential of changing into sick from undercooked meat.

Each time we will, we store at native farmers’ markets to top off on veges, eggs, and snacks. I replenish glass containers with grains at bulk shops and pack loads of canned items so we at all times have staples. Additionally, do not underestimate spices and seasonings. These will make your camp meal style like a restaurant dinner.

Lastly, there’s nothing improper with a platter for dinner and you’ll completely combine a cocktail in a van. Belief me, I am a professional.


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Trapper the dog and Ashlyn enjoying a platter at the dog-friendly DoC campsite in Cape Palliser. Photo / CJ Duncan
Trapper the canine and Ashlyn having fun with a platter on the dog-friendly DoC campsite in Cape Palliser. Picture / CJ Duncan

Do plan for quiet actions

Typically, downtime whereas tenting is nice — you are not tempted to scrub or backyard! — however oftentimes this leads to boredom. In case you’re like me and may’t calm down by merely sitting quietly (I am envious of these that may), I recommend you pack some actions to your quiet occasions.

Easy, space-saving gadgets like books, magazines and card video games work completely for lazing within the solar, whereas inflatable SUPs, slacklines, and frisbees will hold you lively. I additionally at all times deliver flippers and goggles since you by no means know while you’ll discover a patch of clear water to discover.

Midday dip and SUP at a parking lot in Lake Taupō. Photo / CJ Duncan
Noon dip and SUP at a car parking zone in Lake Taupō. Picture / CJ Duncan

Do consider a little bit of chore time

Whereas van life is all about embracing minimalism, it is vital to do not forget that your house is small. Each day clean-ups might be a necessary ritual to maintain you sane.

Whereas on our North Island highway journey, my accomplice and I hit a breaking level round day 9. Our sheets have been coated in sand and stained from our canine’s muddy paws, our garments have been beginning to tackle a sweaty stench, and wet climate compelled us to spend extra nights cooking within the van than anticipated. We determined to splurge on an expensive evening at a personal Rotorua campsite, buying and selling in a night of sightseeing for laundry, and had entry to a personal sizzling pool! The splurge left us feeling refreshed and able to deal with the remainder of the journey with gusto.

Do find time for the bizarre

One of many largest classes I’ve realized when travelling in a van is to decelerate. Detours are half the enjoyable and there are a number of wacky stops alongside the highways and hidden down grime roads in New Zealand. Embrace these drained moments by pulling over and exploring. We have made loads of detours for grime roads that look fascinating and normally break for icecream. If there’s nothing good to cease for, pull over and make your self a cup of espresso — you are travelling with a kitchen, in spite of everything.

In conclusion…

In case you’re on the lookout for a brand new option to see New Zealand this summer season, or wish to journey a bit slower however really see slightly extra, journey in a van. You may discover time to see what makes this nation a dream vacation spot, at your personal tempo, and together with your creature comforts in tow.


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This story initially appeared in New Zealand Herald Journey right here.

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