Make a plan, start the van
Getting behind the wheel of a campervan and exploring remote parts of New Zealand is one of my favourite ways to travel.
Campervan touring offers the freedom to travel wherever you want, whenever you want and at a relatively low cost.
It's also great fun being a tourist in your own country. Many New Zealanders are quick to book overseas holidays when some of the best experiences to be had are in our own backyard.
Before you set out on a campervan adventure here are some things to consider.
Buy or rent?
This depends on your budget, length of holiday and what level of luxury you want. Buying a van could cost you anything from a couple of grand on Trade Me to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a top-of-the-line vehicle from a dealer. Jucy Rentals charge between $25 and $50 a day if you book a year in advance - pretty good value for money.
Packing the essentials
What I love about campervans is you can throw your surfboard, ski gear, fishing rods and any other toys you might need in the back and still have a bed to sleep on. However, there are some necessities you'll need to ensure a truly cruisy trip. If you're cooking on a gas stove a collection of utensils, plates, bowls, cups, a pot and pan are all essentials.
An extension cord and power strip come in handy when parked at powered campsites, as does a head torch for those night trips to the toilets. Your campervan floor is like a dirt magnet so pack a brush and shovel.
Bungee cords can stop things like canned food sliding around and some rope doubles as a portable washing line and a way to tie things down. A can of petrol will save you a lot of time and energy if you get low on gas in the middle of nowhere.
Plan your journey (with a real map)
It's best to do your research and map out where you plan to stay each night and what you want to see along the way. Use a fold-out map because you never know when your phone battery might die or lose reception.
Many towns don't have campsites and you don't want to be driving around late at night looking for a safe place to park. This is more difficult these days with strict laws around where freedom camping is permitted.
It pays to give yourself at least a day or two at a destination before getting on the road again, that way you can really enjoy what a destination has to offer.
Protect your valuables
Campervans can be a goldmine for thieves. Make sure you lock your vehicle at all times, including when sleeping. If you're hiring a campervan ask for one with an alarm; if you own a campervan, install one. Ask yourself if you really need to take your iPhone, laptop and designer sunnies. Make sure all valuables are hidden out of sight, in hard to reach places.
This is an obvious one. Set out early in the day, drive to the conditions, don't speed, don't drink and drive, take a rest if you're tired and avoid driving at night. You've got a portable bedroom - use it. Also, let someone know when you're expected to arrive at your destination and exactly what route you will be taking.
Hiring the right vehicle
Check the vendor provides 24 hour AA roadside assistance. If your van breaks down, the AA will fix it anywhere in New Zealand.
Also, if you're under 21 it's vital to check if they will even rent you a campervan. Most New Zealand rental companies require you to be 21 or older. If you are under 21 and allowed to rent, ensure there are no surcharges.