Travel Around New Zealand In A Campervan

I’m very pleased I never read or heard about the terrifying story of Peter Falconio before I chose my mode of travel for New Zealand. Peter Falconio was travelling with his girlfriend around the area of Alice Springs in Oz in 2001 when they were stopped by a man waving at them. His girlfriend had her hands tied together and a bag placed over her head, but she managed to escape, running from the man who’d flagged her down and hiding in the bushes while he searched for her with his torch. She managed to survive – but the body of boyfriend Falconio was never found.

Even though this terrifying movie-esque incident happened ten years prior to myself and my best friend booking our trip around the world, I hadn’t heard about it. Or perhaps I’d blocked it from my memory. And I’m glad that I did, because there is no better way to explore the beautiful vastness that is New Zealand than in a camper van. Fact.

Unadulterated freedom is what you’re guaranteed when you hire a campervan. You can also pee anywhere, at any time and stop to take photograph no. 33092039209 of the epic scenery. We made great campervanning memories, my best friend and I. From driving into boulders; getting wedged in the entrance of a multi-storey car park because I forgot – again – just how tall our vehicle was so that there was a moment of panic and I very nearly burst into tears of hysteria and panic; getting settled into what we thought was a perfectly reasonable campsite but turned out to be weed-smoking group of loons who stared at us vacantly and who all seemed to be permanently living there as their caravans were pegged into the ground.

There was also the time I nearly drove us into a ditch and the time I was so cold and scared of awakening other campsiters that I peed into one of our bowls! (Don’t worry, I sterilised it with boiling hot water afterwards). Caravanning pretty much sets you up to make friends instantly; there is a kind of bond that you all feel so that when you see a fellow caravenner you beep the horn and wave maniacally at them. Even better if you both meet and you’re stationary, because then you can discuss your adventures, offer tips and share tea and biscuits with people from random parts of the world out on the same quest as yourselves.

The island of New Zealand is your oyster. You can stick a pin in the map and, if you have the inclination, you can drive there in no time. You can have tea breaks at any moment you please and in the evenings you can whip up a storm in the (mini) kitchen that you have right next to the bed. It’s a delight. That’s not to say that I wasn’t looking forward DESPERATELY to a boiling hot shower after nearly 3 weeks of driving and wearing the same clothes over and over again. That taught us tonever underestimate how cold the NZ winters get. In a caravan, in winter, you willneed 3-4 layers. Do not, I repeat do not, think you can sleep in  a flimsy strap top and shorts at nighttime. You will freeze your tits off.