A friend of mine popped me an idea about writing a post about how 6 people, 6 different personalities, managed to heap into 1 campervan and travel around New Zealand for 15 days. Basically, 3 Boys 3 Girls 1 Campervan 1 Road Trip.
Well, we survived and had the most epic road trip in our lives!
It was quite an adventure I must admit..
Parking by the side of the coast at Omaru
Things you never thought would matter crops up:
- Coordinating timings to pack bags in our cramp spaces
- Varying takes of how spaghetti should be arranged in the very small cupboard
- Empty orange juice glasses in the sink with varying tolerance levels of when it was a good time to wash.
- Crawling, climbing and squeezing past each other to navigate around the vehicle
- Vehicle overweight with too much water!
And the list goes on…
There a lot of top destinations around the world for Campervan road trip holidays, but decided on campervan in New Zealand as we heard so much incredible stories about the scenery, the skydiving and postcard perfect sceneries. So we bought our pricey air tickets and made our way there.
We kick start the trip from Christchurch airport on Christmas Eve 2014. After our very long check-in and orientation of our vehicle, the ’on the go ’ toilet and its waste disposal procedures, we were on our way to ….…the grocery store!
We bought tons of food and gallons of water
Packing and storing! It was a jam/ bottleneck going in and out the 1 small door
Grocery shopping was real fun and we had 2 truckloads of food to stuff into our ’already very packed’ and not to mention overweight vehicle.
After forming some sort of a factory line system, we got our dry foods and juices and random things like protein shakes all stuffed into every available space in the! ‘kitchen’ and ‘kitchen floor’, which was also right next to the boys ‘bedroom’.
And we are on off to our first destination on our campervan in New Zealand!
Most of these campervan companies do not provide personal insurance. Before you embark on this epic road trip in a campervan, make sure you have got yourself covered by good travel insurance!
Our first campervan site – near Mount Cook. Spot our little caravan/ motorhome rental amidst a backdrop of jaw-dropping mountainous scenery
Most camping sites in New Zealand require you to book in advance during peak periods. However, there are always ways to save some costs and park at free places ( also known as freedom camping), just like my pals from Vicigo who did that in USA. For these form of camping, please ensure that you have sufficient RV battery to power you through when you do not have a charge point.
Anyway, some tips to make your campervan/ rv trip the best possible with the buddies you have.
3 Boys 3 Girls 1 Campervan New Zealand 1 Road Trip
1. Useful Tip: You in your small corner, and I in mine
Always compromise and accommodate. Everyone needs to feel comfortable and relax at some point of time because we are pretty much in this thing for all 15 days, so find a good spot in the campervan that you can call your own.
My gals cam-whoring at the back of the New Zealand RV
2. Take turns to drive the campervan and try not to scare your friends
Road trips in New Zealand is loads of fun with friends. We had 6 of us, so we could all take turns to drive in different shifts. I also did a road trip in Spain with my boyfriend where we had to take turns even though it was a right hand drive and a manual car where I wasn’t as familiar with. But it comes with practise!
Safe Driving in New Zealand on a Road Trip
There will be some of us who are less experience than others on the road, but we all learn to take special precaution to watch the bends/ blind spots, turning slowly in windy cliff paths and more. There has been many cases off accidents and deaths on the roads due to travellers not being familiar with the road conditions in this country.
The winds can be strong and the bends are quite tight along the stretch near Lake Wakatipu and Lake Wanaka for example. Especially given you are a large vehicle, always take into consideration the drift that your vehicle will have at the sharp bends.
Even if accidents do happen and it is not your fault, ensure you are covered by good travel insurance in the event anything not so pleasant on the road happens.
3. Washing food down the Campervan sink in your camper van is a no-no
Don’t wash your salad/ remaining food down the sink unless you want to choke it and have the whiff of rotting vegetation following you the rest of the road trip. They tend to resurface especially when you start driving or facing a bit of a bumpy road. Trust me..its not enjoyable.
However, its loads of fun cooking together with your friends and share the load of the preparations. Its best to allocated tasks of who is in charge of what, so that the person gets better at it and know all the No-Gos and mistakes to avoid.
3 Boys 3 Girls 1 Campervan 1 Road Trip
What to do in ‘New Zealand ? Find out about the affordable and unaffordable activities here
For the full list of travel quotes, check it out here
4. List of 7 Important things needed for ever New Zealand RV trip:
- Toilet deodoran spray to kill the smell
- Bug spray for the hundred of moths that
likesto fly in toyour cosy cabin
- S Hooks to hang the dozen and one
thingsyou may have ( clothes, towels, speakers, backpack, waterbottles etc)
- Sweets and sour treats to keep your driver AND co-driver awake
- DVD of Lord of the rings and the soundtrack to add to the mood of driving through ‘middle earth’ This one is awesome ( Some vehicles do not have DVD players, so you can perhaps prepare music in a thumbdrive/ USB!)
- Selfie stick to take the most random of things from outside your vehicle window (but be careful of cars coming in the oppositie direction!)
- CAMERA!! Stop, smell the lavenders and spam photos and jump shots
5. Cooking Rules and Arrangements
We mostly stayed in campervan parks and sites throughout the New Zealand Campervan trip, and a lot of these places have cooking facilities, some of which even have huge facilities like a dining area to eat. Remember to delegate amongst you all who prepares what, what meals would you all like in advance so that you can do all the grocery shopping at 1 shot. Of coz, you do have a campervan so you can head out to grab some items anytime. The only issue is parking.
Fancy planning to visit New Zealand in Winter? Do you know that it is one of the best ski destinations in the world?
6. Parking Rules for Campervans in New Zealand
This is one a tricky one that I would usually say..take calculated risks and don’t be a nuisance in public spaces. Campervans are huge and they usually take big spaces in parking lots. A campervan usually takes up 2 lots, and when we were in Queenstown city, we had some trouble finding parking at times. But all in all, I wouldn’t say we had an immense amount of trouble getting parking wherever we go around the South Island.
If you want to minimize hassle, most campervan parks in these bigger towns; if you book in advance; are quite well located and you can just walk from your camping grounds/ sites to the main areas.
7. Get along and accommodate each other
To conclude, going on a camper van trip or overseas road trip with friends is a really incredible experience. Do spend time to get to know your pals before your trip if you haven’t travelled with them before and don’t worry too much. Prepare to enjoy and make the best of it even if you face conflicts and disagreements along the way.
If you do not know everyone before you start your epic New Zealand Campervan Trip, best to arrange some meetups and dinner before that so that everyone can get to know each other a bit more, their personalities and travel style, and do the planning together. Its always more fun when you plan trips with people who you know understands you a bit better.
CARAVAN TIP ALERT:
Picking the right campervan for your New Zealand trip is very important, depending on your needs, size of group and other requirements. For us, we took a 6-berth as there are 6 full grown adults, but couples or small families with little ones might onlt need a 4 berth perhaps.
The plus point about a 6 berth is that it has its own toilet and shower, and these come in useful when you are desperate or want to do freedom camping ( which is camping in a spot that is not a registered campsite)
Should you be keen to compare some options for campervan/ caravan rental for New Zealand and Australia, feel free to check out Drive A Campervan for the biggest range of motorhome rental vehicles – Maui, Britz, Apollo, Mighty, Kiwi and more.
Hence, I hope you enjoyed this blog entry about our motorhome adventures in New Zealand. Follow me on Facebook, Youtube and Instagram for more stories.
If you love road trips like me, why not consider a few other awesome destinations I have been:
1. UK Road Trip
2. Spain Road Trip
3. South Africa Road Trip
Don’t forget to check out the New Zealand travel insurance before you depart!
Bonus Feature: Suggestions on Hiking Trails to Take in New Zealand
- Kepler Trek
This trek is an incredibly scenic hiking trail not to be missed in NZ as you go about in your campervan ride. If you only have very limited time in NZ in the South Island and have to pick only 1 of the many stunning NZ Great Walks, this Kepler Trek & the Milford Trek are voted the best 2 hiking trails which has a good blend of scenic yet not too daunting for a beginner to an intermediate hiker (of all ages).
- Milford Sound Trek
Milford sound has a record of 150 years, where you can witness the most stunning fjords and alpine snow-capped mountains. It starts at the head of Te Anau Lake, where the entire enjoyable journey is greeted with long suspension bridges, boardwalks and through mountain passes and valleys. One of the best photo moments in the hike will be to witness the magnificent Sutherland Falls. Remember to reserve battery to capture shots at that moment.
- Routeburn Track
If you love forests, you’ve got to love this hike. It takes on average 2-3 days to complete the full trail. Some of the key sights on the hike is Lake Howden, Lake Mackenzie, Conical Hill and Routeburn Falls. As with all the hikes, the best time of the year to do it is between November to April which is spring and summer season.
- Corromandel Peninsula
- Lake Tekapo
- Heaphy Track
- Routeburn Track
- Queen Charlotte Trek
- Tongariro Northern Circuit in North Island
- Dusky Track
Other countries Great for Campervan Trips
- Slovenia Bled Lake
- America Arizona and Other National Parks
- Australia Great Ocean Road
- Salto Sea, California
- Monument Valley on the Utah/Arizona
- Full List of Top Campervan destinations
To check out the full list of adventures and photo gallery, read on.
James VanceAugust 8, 2018 at 10:29 am
Lydia, you’re brave for trying this with six people in the same van. However, it looks like you had fun. We’ve always considered renting a van somewhere, and your tips are good information for a future rental for us. And New Zealand is the perfect place to try it. ~James
Lydia YangAugust 8, 2018 at 12:50 pm
Thanks, James. Renting a van is an exceptional experience and NZ can’t be more perfect for it. 🙂
LomondJune 11, 2019 at 2:16 pm
I’ve read travellers blog stating NZ as a pretty fascinating place that everyone must visit at least once.
Lydia YangJune 13, 2019 at 4:31 pm
Thanks for your sharing Lomond! I beg to differ though, NZ is so beautiful that once you have been there, you would want to go back!
Ahmad Shazali ZakariaJuly 16, 2019 at 10:20 am
What a great read. Your insights on what is like to travel in a camper-van makes me wished I had read this before I was planning my NZ trip way back in 2014.
Lydia YangJuly 16, 2019 at 2:51 pm
Thank you Ahmad:)
NZ is awesome isn’t it, don’t you wish you could go back there again??