Campervan on scenic highway in New Zealand © onsuda

Campervanning: the spontaneous way to travel


If the idea of a guided tour brings you out in spots, you’ll be wanting to bring yourself to the spots you most want to see.

And if you don’t want to be chained down by a chain of motels, or locked into an itinerary — ‘if it’s Tuesday it must be Westport’ kinda stuff — then you will want to get yourself ahead by getting behind the large wheel of a campervan.

New Zealand caters well to the campervanner, be it Kombi or pop-top cruiser. There are campsites aplenty, in all the right places, and while there are few campervan-only designated sites, since when was it a downer to hook up with the tenting population? The gas barbie replaces the work watercooler, and you get to hear about all the hidden spots not on the map. (And probably about their mosquito bites, the flat tyre and the lost iPhone, too, but that’s all part of the joy, right?) There are loads of sites, powered and unpowered, and some of them in the most unimaginably beautiful spots. DoC (Department of Conservation) has less amenity-rich camping sites in some of the country’s wildest and most exciting national parks, too. That’s a privilege, Pru.

New Zealand roads are generally good, although there will always be a call for improvement and much care is needed in some areas.

Just because you can get your big ole Mercedes pop-top up there doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

As it is anywhere, campervanning is a great spontaneous way to travel. Something grabs your attention, you just pull off the road and take a look. Then if you want to stay there . . . well, find the nearest campsite and hook yourself up. Or somewhere that you’ve planned a two-day stop for suddenly requires a four-day layover because it’s so damned good . . . well, again, just drop your automotive anchor, so to speak. If it’s independence and spontaneity you crave, it’s a bloody fine way to see this mighty fine country.

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