Saturday, 30 May 2015

Tips: Campervanning in New Zealand

Choose Your Campervan

There are many types of campervans out there in the market. There's really elaborate ones which are huge, comes with a spacious shower, kitchenette and sitting area. There's also really simple ones, very much like the one we rented, which is basically just a simple car with a bed at the back.

Types of Camervans
It really depends on your budget, driving skills and need for luxury. For us, we choose Spaceships which is basically a seven-seater car with all the back seats removed. A bed and a mini fridge are placed in instead.

Despite having a license and driven a car with manual transmission, we were not experienced driving a manual car on steep mountainous slopes. We live in a city where everything is almost flat and we drive an Automatic car. We wanted something which will be easy to drive while navigating foreign land.

Camper with side awning.
Also, we've heard stories on how windy (and now experienced) New Zealand can be. We didn't want to drive a vehicle which is too high (and catches the win) and difficult for us to handle, on top of the mountain pass no less.

Besides, there were only two of us, and we felt Spaceship has sufficient space for us!

This being said, we were unable to freedom camp because we do not have a toilet attached to our camper.


If you decide to get the luxurious camper, you will not have a problem charging your electronics. There are multiple electrical outlets for you to plug in and use! However, if like us, you decide on getting a simpler camper, there will be no electrical outlet.

Electrical outlets
You possibly could get those phone charges where you can plug into your cigarette lighter compartment, however, I had a camera to charge almost every night and no car mart had anything of that sort.

We rented an external power cord (240 volt mains plug) for NZ$60 for the duration of our trip. Park  in a powered campsite and you're good to go! As we had quite a few electronics, we stopped at the nearest DIY store and bought an extension cord so we could charge four electronics at once.

I didn't take a photo of our electrical cord so I grabbed this from online. *Sorry* As you can see, the power cord is the orange wire.


The Spaceship rental comes with a portable stove, gas canister, pots and a kettle. As we had to park in a Camper Park every night, we had the luxury of a proper and clean toilet as well as well equipped kitchens to cook breakfasts and dinners. G insisted on getting an extra gas canisters as he was afraid that we'd run out of gas to cook our food eventually. We never used the second gas canister and barely finished the first one.

Cooking our dinner
If like us, you plan on staying in a Camper Park, forget about the second canister! You have proper kitchen facilities to use and wash up! We only used the gas canister and portable stove at the Camper Park at Lake Wanaka and Franz Josef because the kitchen was quite a distance to our camp lot (and also because we wanted to use the stove).

Also, we saved a lot on cooking our breakfasts and dinners! We grocery shopped about every two days, or if we felt like we were pigs and finished all the food the night before. We bought meat, fish, vegetables, lots of perishables! Don't be afraid that you can't find a supermarket. There are at least a well stocked one in every city!

Travel time

Because we basically lived in our car, our travel time is flexible. We could take a break anytime we were tired. We also didn't go through the hassle of packing a small bag every night, if we were to rent a normal car and stay in motels. The car was our home and it was so fun!

Looking for Campsites

If you get a camper without a toilet, you're not allowed to freedom camp. Obviously, there will be no place for you to shower and do your business. Such acts in public are highly frowned upon by locals and even the police!

Campers of all shapes and sized
You’ll also see signs stating ‘No overnight camping’. Some of these are situated in places that only very disrespectful people would attempt to park up for the night (and sadly have attempted), such as outside someone’s beachfront house on a private road.

Also, at the rental office, you will be able to pick up a guide book on the various campsites around the country where you can park for the night. It will include the location, address, phone numbers and prices. On occasions, we were undecided on which campsite to choose from, we just drove right up to the campsite, checked it out and just choose our favourite!

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