Keep your cool, enjoy the views and let other drivers get past you, writes campervan-convert Jarrod Wright.
We had our first holiday in a campervan in January - we can't recommend the experience enough. Our 3-year-old loved every second of it, as did we.
Here are a few tips for young players ...
• Book early. We procrastinated on the booking side of things and paid a lot more than we would have had we booked when we finalised our plans.
• Have a good look at the van and think about how you'll use it. After a bit of consideration, we found our second-choice van was actually far more suitable for our needs than our first pick.
• Plan your journey. There is a lot of information out there and the more research you do, the better the result. The AA, rankers.co.nz and the NZ Camping app have plenty of information.
• Mix up where you stay. There are loads of options, from roadside spots, to DoC campsites and private motor camps, all with their own merits. Research will help you to make a good decision.
• Keep an eye on your battery usage. A good drive will charge the battery but you really should plan to stop at a powered site every few days. Again the Camping NZ app has all the information you need, including costs.
• Have a plan B for every destination; it might be full or not how you imagined it. We had planned to stay at a site near Tekapo, but the road wasn't suitable for our campervan so we went to our second pick which ended up being one of the most wonderful places we stayed.
• Turn off the LPG before you go anywhere. This is an easy one to forget. Although I only did it once, the thought of our campervan exploding on the road was enough to make sure I didn't forget again.
• Be careful in windy conditions. These vehicles are big, tall and hardly aerodynamic. We had a scary drive along a ridgeline where I had the wheel on an angle the whole time to compensate for the wind.
• Dump all your waste before dropping the van back at the end of your trip. As for dump stations, know where they are as chemical toilets fill up faster than you think.
• Speaking of which, visit a dump station before a long drive. Ditch all your grey water and empty that toilet to improve driveability and keep fuel consumption low without all that excess weight.
• Be considerate of other road users. The last thing you want while enjoying the amazing scenery is feeling the pressure of angry drivers queued behind you. Pull over, there's no rush. Hey, you've got a house with you; have a break and enjoy a cuppa with a view.
• If you are travelling with children, arrive at your site early so you can set up before dinner (it doesn't take long) lest you experience the wrath of hungry, grumpy kids. This applies to tired adults too - you really want to avoid the "hangry" (hungry-angry) travelling partner. Again, you have everything with you so you can pull over any time for a meal at a scenic spot.
• Don't stretch yourself - be adaptable. Trying to cover the entire country in two weeks isn't going to be relaxing. We kept ourselves to a chunk of the South Island and even scaled that back towards the end, realising if we kept to the plan we would spend the last few days doing nothing but driving.
Travelling by campervan really is one of the best ways to see the country, and after our first experience we are planning to do it again next summer.
Further information: The Covi SuperShow will have major motorhome and caravan brands on display at the ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane, this weekend.