Day 170: Campervan Living in NZ

So, after much research and talking to friends and new contacts, we decided to go the Campervan route in New Zealand.  With two adults, four kids, and so much to see and do in New Zealand, we thought it would be crazy to keep moving from hotel to hotel, unpacking, packing, and inevitably leaving something behind at each destination!  So…here’s a little bit of our experience.  Enjoy.

Our first Okay To Stay experience

With campervans, you can either pay to stay at a campsite (which often provides showers and restrooms, as well as electrical plug ins and dump sites) or do what is called “Freedom Camping”, which is definitely more preferable, as you can be parked by some beautiful sites.  One other option, which we also took advantage of, was Okay to Stay.  This site provides the opportunity to stay in the parking lots or driveways of local businesses for free, provided you patronize their business.

For example, you could stay at a winery and purchase wines, or at an orchard, and leave with fresh preserves.  You get the idea. You are generally not provided with anything, and must be in a self-contained camper, meaning you have restroom and shower facilities onboard. Above is our very first night in New Zealand.  We stayed at the Coatesville Lavender Farm.  The setting was beautiful, set up high overlooking the valley.  And we walked away with some delicious Guava and Plum homemade jelly as well as Lavender moisturizer.  The owner also gave us a tour of her cute bed and breakfast, and demonstrated how she created her products.

Next, we chose the Flaxmill Bay Campground, located right across from gorgeous beaches and within 10-15 minutes of Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove water taxi. (Photos of these locations to follow shortly).

Gorgeous park-like setting with clean pay showers ($2.00 NZD for 4 minutes) and toilets, as well as an incredibly sweet couple running things.  Pictured above are Rose and Simon, who spent a good part of the morning talking with us about New Zealand as well as their future plans to travel.  An excellent and sweet pair who shared some great tips with us while staying in the Coromandel area.

Our next choice was to stay at another Okay to Stay property in Rotorua, a fantastic orchard with amazing rose and fruit gardens.  Below are some of the sites we got to enjoy before departing.  Too bad I couldn’t also capture the scents.  Wow!

Since we had arrived so late at night after enjoying a lovely Indian dinner in Rotorua, we stopped in to thank the owners in the morning.  It was a pleasure to meet Carl and Cherry.  We had a lovely chat.  Below is our new friend, Carl.  Unfortunately, we caught Cherry in her bathrobe, so she wouldn’t consent to a photo.  I don’t blame her.  🙂

Kind Carl from Te Peau Orchards, Rotorua

After saying good-bye to Carl and Cherry, we headed to Taupo, where we had the pleasure of doing a little Freedom Camping for two nights, right on Ferry Road by Lake Taupo.  What a gorgeous setting with spectacular sunsets.  Below is a photo of our very first night.

And last but not least, a few campervan life photos.  More to follow as we head to South Island tomorrow.  Just to be sure, it hasn’t been all roses and chocolates.  There have definitely been some challenges.  For example, with six people and all of our luggage, space is a bit cramped, but it’s also been cozy at times, especially at night, when we’ve made a cup of hot chocolate and are sitting around chatting as the sun sets over the lake.

Other challenges?  Well, yesterday we decided to have our first campervan showers.  Up until now, we’d been using the showers at camp sites.  Ryan went first and raved about the heat and the water pressure, so I was feeling a bit more brave.  However, halfway through my shower, after being all soaped up, the water completely disappeared.  We’ve also had a bit of trouble with heating up the water, so we’ll need to have that fixed when we arrive in Christchurch, but until then, we’ll make due.  Ah…the joys of campervan living.  I’m sure there will be more fun adventures, but let’s hope there aren’t too many more!

5 Comments on “Day 170: Campervan Living in NZ

    • Hi Laura! How are you? I love Okay to Stay too. We’ve met some really neat people along the way. Hey, we just put out our Hobbiton blogpost. That’s one I thought you’d love! 🙂

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