For a campervan holiday, Eli Orzessek has six top tips.
1 Choosing a campervan
Whether you're renting or buying, choose a campervan that's right for you— whether that's a standard van that's been kitted out with the basics, or a luxury vehicle with all the bells and whistles. Be sure it's something you'd feel confident driving— if you've only driven an automatic, now is not the time to start learning a manual.
2 Pack the essentials
It's best to bring your belongings in soft luggage, which can be stored more easily, taking up less space. While phones with GPS have brought us into the future of route-planning, it's a good idea to take a road atlas along as well— there are still plenty of areas in New Zealand with patchy or non existent mobile coverage and big pages are easier to read than a small screen. If you're renting, many campervans provide bedding, but depending on the season you're travelling, you may want to bring extra. In winter, a sleeping bag should provide the extra insulation you'll need.
3 Make a plan for your meals
You don't necessarily need to stick to it religiously, but it's best to make sure you have the supplies you'll need along the way, especially when you're far from the shops. Extra snacks are also a godsend. One thing you won't want to forget is a flashlight— whether it's for late-night bathroom breaks, or to investigate some rustling outside.
4 Plan a route—but take advantage of flexibility
While it's a good idea to have a vague plan of where you're going to go and when, don't be afraid to be spontaneous — that's the beauty of campervan travel. Arrived at a camping spot to find the view is a bit overrated? Move on to a new place. Been recommended a great hiking trail by someone you met along the way? Go for it!
5 Mix up your camping spots
New Zealand has a wealth of places to stay, from 5-star luxury camping grounds to basic DOC campsites. Mix it up along the way for a range of experiences— there are times you'll definitely want to take advantage of the proper bathroom facilities at a decent campsite, while sometimes you'll just want to go right off the beaten track. But if you're going for a "freedom camping" option, make sure you're allowed to. Some DOC sites also only allow self-contained vans, so be sure to check in advance.
6 Be good on the roads
If you've never driven a campervan before, it can take some getting used to. Make sure you're aware of the height of your vehicle, especially when passing under low hanging branches, or driving into carparks or drive-thrus. Depending on the size of your camper, it may be classed as a heavy vehicle, so your speed limits may be reduced— be sure to check this before you leave. And when you're on the road, try not to be that annoying campervan driver who holds everyone up— be polite, pull over and let other cars pass you.