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If you are traveling New Zealand on a budget, a small campervan can be cheap and a lot more comfortable than tenting.
If you want to see a good section of the country and are moving on every couple of days you will soon get over having to pack down the tent and put all of your gear away to move on to the next place.
Also, in winter tenting can be a little bit uncomfortable and cold, and in summer in the peak season it can sometimes be hard to find a spot in some camping grounds in the more popular areas. I have found most camping grounds seem to hold open a couple of spots for campers and with one of the smaller 2 berth campervns you normally have no trouble finding a great spot to stop off over night
The other great thing is with one of the smaller campers you can head in to some really cool out of the way spots and camp by lakes.There is somewhat of a drive at present to limit freedom camping around New Zealand. This is because in the past a few travellers including even Kiwis themselves have left behind their rubbish in some of the more out of the way spots so the councils around the country have stopped people camping in some areas
But you will find that there are many spots in many of the main tourist areas where the council will let you park up for the night and they have a toilet and even a shower that you can use and it is all free. The other cheap option is to try some of the Department of Conservation camp sites. They have some fantastic spots and some have power sites as well.
There are a number of spots on the coasts around New Zealand where you can freedom camp, but some are only suitable if you have a self contained camper that has its own toilet etc.
But it is my experience after many campervan trips around both New Zealand and Aussie with and with out kids you are better off braving the cold and using the facilities in the camp ground or stopping off at a petrol station to use the toilet rather then using the old portable option and carrying it around with you. I mean come on, it;s a small space guys!
I also found the campervan is great when going to venues that the kids wanted to visit. It is true to say that some time travelling with kids in a camper can get a bit stressful at times, but I found pulling up to the likes of the reserve in Whangamata over the Christmas period where they had a whole lot of activities for the kids and setting them loose for a few hours while my wife and I set up the picnic table and had lunch and couple of drinks right out side was just great. We did this many times at many different spots and having all your gear on board made it nice and easy. We could pack up in a few minutes and be on our way to the next location. Also being able to stop for a break any time we wanted any where we wanted was a bonus rather than having to power on to make it to some accommodation, which in the high season you have to book in advance.
The other main reason for it being cheaper was for that reason the trip in itself was part of the adventure. Instead of stopping off at McDonald;s we were able to stop off by a lake, have some lunch or even go for a swim, and all it cost was a couple of sandwiches and cold drinks we already had on board.
Many times we would arrive at a camping ground in the late afternoon and within a couple of minutes be set up and the bar would be open. The guy next to me in a few cases would arrive with his tent and the kitchen sink to boot and spend the next few hours setting up his site by which time I would be well in to my 6th beer at least! Sorry but camping in tents and carting all of that stuff around is just not for me. Besides after a day in one spot it is time to move on anyway. Staying in a camp ground for weeks at a time does not float my boat at all!
Most of the campervans run on diesel and the one we hired from Sweet As Campers included road tax and kms. We managed to travel the whole country in 21 days and meet some real characters and visit some awesome spots with out spending a fortune. I have compared the costs to a fly drive holiday and found in most cases you are better off with a campervan. So next time you are planning your New Zealand holiday I would recommend you try the campervan option The Sweet As Campers are very cool and I would recommend them to anyone wanting something a bit different from the normal run of the mill van that the bigger companies supply.