Campervan, caravan, RV, motor home-whatever you want to call it.
It is amazing really, that we managed to fit 7 full-sized adults into a 6 berth (this could be illegal, but I am not sure). Three major concern in my head before we arrived NZ was 1) storage space, 2) would I have space to hair dry my hair, and 3) 7 adults, really?
5 nights in the caravan turned out to be one of the most fun experience I’ve ever had, but hands on being with the right company played a major role. Think road trips, junk food, card games, lots of laughter and naps. Would I recommend caravan experience to people? BIG YES. Would you suffocate? No. Was it comfortable? Surprisingly, yes.
Before you get all excited for your caravan adventure, here’s a few pointers worth taking note of.
1) There is something for everyone
Whether you’re travelling alone, a couple, or a group of 4, there is a caravan size that will fit your needs. The difference will be the type of vehicles, sizes, prices and whether it is self-contained.
2) Self-contained vs non self-contained?
Self-contained technically means you can live within the vehicle. You can sleep, poop, cook, shower and have fresh water supply. There are kitchen and toilet in it.
Despite being self-contained, no one in our group showered in them because 1) its so tiny, 2) the fresh water tank can’t possibly cater to MY shower-let alone 6 other adults, and 3) the campsites’ facilities are way more convenient.
3) Mobile homes, but that doesn’t mean that you can park anywhere
New Zealand is particular on where you park your car, so be mindful where you spend the night at. Here’s an app I relied on, to kind of figure out where I’ll be parking and spending the night at.
4) Your campsites matter, especially if you would like to use the power points in the caravan
There are three types of campsites you should take note of:
1) Free campsites-self-explanatory: Park and spend the night here.
2) Non-powered sites. You pay the Holiday Park’s fees (charged per head), with access to the common facilities at the park, which usually includes toilets, hot showers, kitchen, bbq pit and laundry.
3) Powered sites. Similar to number 2, with the addition that your parking spot would have a power source for you to plug to your caravan in order to use the power points in your caravan (highly crucial for kids these days, we gotta charge them cameras and powerbanks) and dumping station.
The only campsites we stayed at are powered sites with dumping station. New Zealand’s campsites are very well facilitated. Laundry are a mere NZD2-4, hot showers are available and so clean! We only used the kitchen to do the dishes, despite it being well equipped with kitchen pots and utensils. Some even had rice cookers (the things we Asians take note of). Bear in mind that the power points in the caravans cannot be used unless a power source is plugged to the caravan.
5) Dumping station: Cleaning up your waste
You might be on a holiday, but you will need to clean up after your waste on your own. Self-contained caravans means that you can literally shit in your car, but if you really think about it, these waste would have to go somewhere right? All your waste goes into a little container in which you would have to dump them out at a dumping station. Sounds rather disgusting but you will be given a certain kind of chemical that can ‘melt’ the poop into liquid form and eliminate odours. Your shower and kitchen sink’s waste goes into another waste container. Drain them out. Easy peasy.
6) Can you cook while the car is moving?
Mayyyybe. Personally I don’t think it’s a good idea. Did not actually tried turning on the gas while the car was moving (it is so dangerous to even walk when the car is moving!), but I had a few attempts of making sandwiches while the caravan was moving. For a super hilly and winding road New Zealand had, it is not the best idea. Your plates and bread will start sliding left, right and center.
7) Heater consumes diesel, not electricity
We learn this the hard way as we had turned on the heater and realized when it was abit too late that the heater was consuming the diesel. So if you’re on a budget, you might just want to cuddle under the comforters instead of turning on the heater.
8) Allocate more time than planned
We had used Furkot to help us plan our roadtrip, but not even one trip was ever on schedule despite leaving on time. Caravans are heavier vehicles than cars, hence unable to move as fast-so you might want to spare additional time for each of your trip.
9) Book fast!
Caravans sells out fast and it can get expensive-so you might want to plan up your itinerary real quick. Booking a caravan+camp site fees by theory should cost you less than hiring a car+motel.