Travelling New Zealand in a Campervan was definitely one of the best decisions that we’ve made for this road trip.
We really enjoyed travelling in a campervan despite the slight squeeziness (thankfully us being asians, it’s not that big a problem for us unless of course you’re claustrophobic) and the chore of having to empty out our waste tank every few days (but it’s not as bad as we initially thought it would be). You’ll see that most people travel in a campervan in NZ and to us, it’s really one of the best way of experiencing New Zealand.
So how does this whole “travelling in a campervan’ thing work?
First of all, let me give you a better idea of what the interior of a campervan looks like. Yes that’s me in the background in the midst of preparing our lunch, looking very unglam. But hey! Cooking our own meals in the campervan was definitely one of the highlights of our NZ trip!
Basically, in the day, the sofa seats that you see in the pictures above will get transformed into a bed at night. The same sofa seating area will also be the dining area. The narrow corridor of the campervan will be where you’ll do your cooking and washing.
Here’s a peak into our superbly small toilet (beware, it’s a little gross! Unfortunately, this is the only photo I have of the toilet). As you can see, you can either choose to stand up to take a shower or sit down to do your business. It was indeed a challenge getting changed into our clothes in this very small space.
Let me explain the flooded toilet as shown in the photo above. There are 2 waste tanks in the campervan that you’ll have to empty out every 2-3 days when it’s maybe around 3/4 full. 1 waste tank is for human excretion. And the other waste tank is for what goes into your sink (eg. the water that goes down the drain when you shower, or the water that you used to wash your dishes, etc).
And so this is what happens when you do not empty out your tank diligently in time. You get a flooded campervan. Trust me, not a very good experience. Lesson learnt. Empty out both tanks whenever you can. Don’t wait and think that it can wait till the next waste dump site.
So one question that we get very often is, how do you empty out your waste?!
It’s actually really simple! The campervan will come with a packet of blue crystals thingy which you’ll have to pour into the container that stores your waste. These magical blue crystals help to take away any stench of your waste and at the same time, it colourizes it to blue! (Hence making it look less gross.) You can easily get these crystals off the shelf at petrol stations or supermarkets.
There are many places in NZ designated for you to dump your waste. Campervan Parks are aplenty and each will definitely have a dump station. You should be able to find dump stations along the roads, just look out for the dump site sign as shown below!
To empty out the waste tank, find a dumpsite and pour out its contents into the sewage hole. Flush out the tank with water, add in the magical blue crystals and tada, you’re done!
So next question often posed to us is, where do you park your campervan at night? There are basically 2 ways.
1. Freedom camping (budget method)
Freedom camping means parking your campervan for free at non designated campsites with no facilities. Sometimes you can park your van along the road as long as it does not obstruct traffic. However bearing in mind that there’s a no freedom camping rule of 2km away from town centre. Most of the time to save cost, we’ll usually freedom camp. But just make sure that your campervan is sufficiently charged to last throughout the night (you’ll need power to charge your electronics and heater to keep you warm.) Also ensure that your waste tanks are empty or near empty. You don’t want to end up with a flooded campervan the next morning. Usually for us, we’ll alternate between staying in a holiday park and freedom camping.
2. Holiday Parks
Staying in a holiday park is pretty awesome. Some parks even have hot tubs which we happily soaked in during the colder nights. Okay but more importantly, there are charging points for you to charge your campervan, dump sites for you to empty out the tanks and water points to refill the water container in the campervan.
Some common facilities that you can find in most campervan parks:
- Shower facilities
- Shared kitchen
- Laundry services
- Water points
- Charging points
- Heat pools/hot tubs
- Swimming pools
- Mini mart
But of course, it varies from park to park and also there are different budgets for each park. On an average, it’ll cost around $10-$15/night for a powered site. Hot tub is a bonus. Heheh.
Campervan – we rented ours from Maui, rental cost is around NZ1260 for about 27 days. (SG and NZ’s exchange rate at that time was almost the same. 1NZ = 1.0186SG.) We also bought insurance for our campervan which cost another NZ 126. So total around 3k NZ$ after adding in the other miscellaneous costs. Insurance is definitely recommended. You don’t know what might happen to your van during the trip and it’s best to travel with a peace of mind.
That said, of course there are many other ways of experiencing NZ. You can rent a car, take a bus, or hop on local tours. It’s all up to your individual preferences 🙂 But our vote definitely goes to the Campervan!
Do share with us your experience in the comments below if you’ve travelled in a campervan before too!