Many months earlier when I started planning a trip to New Zealand I mulled about a plan of renting a camper van to travel the country. I read online how easy it is to freedom camp in your van if you have a self contained model. It is a romantic ideal but I had a few people warn me about safety. I also don’t do well with not knowing in advance where I am going to sleep for the night. I decided to enjoy New Zealand by car instead.
As it came closer to my New Zealand trip I still had very little of my itinerary booked besides a plane ticket in and out of the country and a couple nights traveling with my aunt. For the rest of my trip I considered taking the bus around South Island since I am told it is cheap and easy. The problem is I really crave my freedom to visit where I want and when I want and not be limited by the bus route. I am also not thrilled with the idea of unpacking and repacking almost daily and continuing to damage my shoulders by wearing all my belongings on my back.
After meeting with a friend in Melbourne Australia I am once more encouraged on the campervan idea. So many people successfully manage campervan life all the time; plus I already had opposite road driving experience during my time in Australia. I had decided to rent a campervan.
When it came to booking campervans I found a number of websites that do rentals. Some have multiple drop off points with no one-way penalty and some requiring a roundtrip to return. I thought about renting the van for South Island only and renting a car on the North Island. When I finally tried to book, I found many places and models were already sold out (15 days out). Perhaps this is one of those things best booked in way in advance. Finally I found a good match: price is average (a little bit of an upgrade to what I originally wanted) and I decide to use it for both North Island and South, using the ferry to take it across islands. Once I book my changeable ferry ticket I am all set.
I will book some hotels along the way to break it up but I’ll be mostly sleeping and living in a van (down by the river sometimes) for the next couple weeks.
I still have some anxiety about campsites being fully booked but one thing I have learned during my travels is that I can pretty much handle anything as long as I remain calm. I am just going to take that advice and live one day at a time.
I spend extra on the GPS which periodically stops working….more on that later.