hey guys .. i just came back from an amazing roadtrip through new zealand !! after all i know i am not a pro when it comes to camping or van life in general but i did it i enjoyed it & i would love to share my experiences with you. if you were already thinking about hiring a camper van in new zealand .. definitely do it !! there is no comparable experience in life i guess .. just pure freedom independence & happiness :)) for those who didn’t make plans to go visiting new zealand yet: you’ll love it .. the other end of the world is not only down under but also pretty much on top when it comes to spectacular scenery !! but let me start right from on the beginning: i travelled both islands of new zealand & found the southern one much more interesting even though the northern island has its highlights too. however i can highly recommend exploring the south of new zealand by car as the distances are not that big & the roads are leading through the most beautiful nature !! furthermore the highways are in perfect condition & there is not a lot of traffic anyways .. so even if you never drove on the left hnd side of the road before .. no worries you’ll get used to it pretty quick :)) most of the people are travelling new zealand in spring or summer because of the temperature & the blooming flowers but also the prices are blooming in this time of the year !! that’s why we decided to hire a camper van during low season which starts in may & can be compared with autumn back in germany. means: it can be very cold BUT if you are well organised & put enough effort into the planning you will be totally alright !! so here a few of my tipps & tricks for van life in new zealand:
1. finding the right camper van: the most important part of the whole roadtrip & also the most difficult one. meanwhile there are hundreds of different camper van hires in new zealand offering `the best van for your trip´ .. but how to find the perfect deal ?! first of all you have to take it slow & take your time. when we arrived in `Christchurch´ we planned on finding our van in one or two days but in the end it took us 4 days of searching & comparing. it is so worth it investing a little bit more of your time in before hand instead of regretting your choice afterwards !! as most of the travellers coming to `Christchurch´ we stayed in the `Jucy Snooze´ hostel which is the perfect place for planning your next steps. not only does if offer a free airport shuttle but it also takes you to the `Jucy Camper Van Rentals´ which is pretty cool but also very smart of them. most of the people are hiring the `Jucy Camper Vans´ because of that .. they do it the easy way. these vans are probably not bad at all but still there are so many other options worth checking out !! we went to at least 1o different camper van rentals all over town & there are still so much more. but how to find out which one is the best ?! the most important thing is to know what you want & sometimes that’s not that easy. let me tell you about a few choices you should make before going on camper van hunting: selfcontained or non selfcontained ?! for all those who don’t know what i am talking about: a camper van is selfcontained if it doesn’t require any external services for waste discharging ablutionary or sanitary needs for a minimum of 3 days. short & sweet: it has to have for example a toilet a waste disposal water facilities a waste water tank etc. if this is provided you get a blue sticker on your van which is required for overnight camping on most campgrounds. especially for freedom camping this is a MUST HAVE otherwise you might get fined !! they are pretty strict with this in new zealand & the fines can be really really expensive .. so better don’t even try :)) so with a selfcontained van you can stay at every campground without having to worry but they are also more expensive than the non selfcontained ones. on the other hand the most beautiful freedom campinggrounds are for selfcontained vans only !! i would recommend getting a selfcontained one if you want to experience the real camper van life .. but this always depends on your standards :)) furthermore you should also check the gas mileage of the vehicle. fuel is super expensive in new zealand so make sure the van is not to heavy & doesn’t consume too much gas !! another very important point to look at are all the extra costs: sometimes the price of the camper van doesn’t include things like additional driver fee cooking equipment camping gear bedding or drop off & location fee. so be careful & check in advance what’s included & what’s not .. no question is too stupid :)) but most of the time the camper itself is not even the most expensive part .. the vehicle insurance can cost you from 2o to 5o $ per day !! i would always take a full insurance just in case but you can also roll the dice :)) as you can see there are quite a few things to be aware of when it comes to hiring a camper van & this might take you a while so keep calm & don’t hurry .. you’ll find the right one for sure !! we found `Escape Camper Van Rentals´ to offer the best price performance ratio .. no we didn’t just take it because it looked fancy :)) to get an overview about all the different camper vans `motorhomerepublic.com´ is quite a well structured & trustworthy website & gives you a good first impression of all the possibilities you have. oh & one hot tipp at the end: if you are travelling in low season like us you might get special discounts free winter packages or simply a better price because there are not a lot of people hiring a van at that time of the year .. remember asking doesn’t cost anything !!
2. finding the right campground: when you finally found your van & you are all happy & excited the journey can finally begin !! just make sure you got enough water & food stock with you .. just in case .. new zealand can be quite lonely sometimes haha :)) also toilet paper a usb adapter dry shampoo or a torch might save your life at some point .. i’m just saying !! before hitting the road make sure you refuel the van & especially that you tank up the right fuel .. no bad surprises wanted :)) and then you can finally hit the road jack but always remember to keep left !! it might also be helpful to plan the route in advance so you don’t have to rush at some point. however new zealand isn’t that big .. small but sweet !! just enjoy the view have a good time & stay save :)) but at the end of the day you always have to find a place to stay as you are not allowed to camp anywhere in the wilderness. therefore i can recommend using one of these two apps: `wikicamps.nz´ or `campermate´ which show you all the campsites in new zealand with exact descriptions ratings & pictures. my personal favourite was the second app as it was very well structured & you could even download the map offline !! some campgrounds are better equipped than others so just make sure you got everything you need :)) another sneaky tipp of mine: there are hot showers on some campgrounds which give you 3 min of hat water for around 4$. this isn’t a lot but still .. if you want a long hot shower just sneak into a hostel & use their showers .. they won’t even notice i swear :)) also if you don’t want to pay the campground fees make sure you arrive when it’s dark & leave before 9 am .. this is bad i know but it works. but enough of my professional tipps haha .. that’s pretty much how we survived & i hope you do aswell :))