A fair amount of organisation goes into a successful New Zealand campervan holiday. There is a lot to think about – including the distraction of being in such an amazing country – so it is not surprising that people tend to forget silly, little things. Here is a list of ten common things that catch campervanners out:
1) The toaster will not work unless the campervan is connected to a powered site.
It is amazing how many people fall into this trap, perhaps because they see that the fridge is on and automatically assume that the toaster, the kettle and the microwave should be on as well. The fridge can run off the campervan battery and the stove is gas-powered, so food can be stored and prepared when the campervan is ‘on the road’ and not plugged in, but the other appliances use too much power for the battery alone. If you want to make a cup of tea without having to boil the water on the stove, you have to stay at a campsite that has powered sites and plug your campervan into one.
2) In New Zealand, people drive on the left-hand side of the road.
Most of the world drives on the right-hand side of the road, and tourists sometimes make the silly mistake of doing this in New Zealand. This has led to fatal collisions in the past. Campervans are large vehicles and have the potential to cause chaos, particularly on New Zealand’s narrow, windy roads.
3) Make sure you have insect repellent handy.
In summer, New Zealand is notorious for its mosquitoes, but perhaps worse are the sandflies, especially on the West Coast of the South Island. It is far too stifling to sleep with the windows closed and one should not rely on fly screens – I have seen sandflies struggling to squeeze themselves through the tiny holes in the mesh and succeeding. They are both vicious and determined.
4) Make sure the person sleeping above the cabin is not someone who tosses and turns.
The sleeping space above the cabin may be awkward to climb into, but it is easy to fall out of. Also, the person sleeping there should be wary of bumping their head – this seems an obvious hazard to watch out for, yet it is one that is rarely avoided.
5) Do not empty the wastewater tank into a stream.
The incorrect discharge of wastewater from campervans is all too common in New Zealand and damages the health of the environment. Those responsible face a hefty fine if caught. All campervanners should empty their wastewater tanks at designated dump stations only – there are plenty around.
6) Do not park your campervan on someone’s driveway.
In the countryside, people often have very long driveways, which tourists in campervans can easily mistake for quiet side roads, using them as places to park up for the night. Aside from the fact that you should not park in the middle of narrow country lanes anyway, it is best to check where you are on a map. If you are on someone’s driveway, you could always knock on their door and ask them if they mind you spending one night on their land.
7) Do not try to drive a campervan on a beach or off-road track.
This includes Ninety Mile Beach, even though it is officially a highway. You will probably get stuck and/or damage the campervan.
8) Beware of draining the battery.
Using the fridge, turning on the lights, flushing the toilet and turning on the taps will all drain a campervan’s auxiliary battery. The battery will charge while the campervan is being driven and while it is connected to a powered site, but you will want to be careful if you are planning on spending more than a day camping somewhere that does not have powered sites.
9) Make sure you put all the crockery and utensils away before driving off.
You should always double-check to make sure everything is secure.
10) Remember to keep your campervan locked at all times.
If it gets stolen, you lose your personal items, your accommodation and your transport all in one. Such a thing is bound to put a damper on your holiday.
Article by Abigail Simpson, author of POMS AWAY! A British Immigrant’s View of New Zealand