While in New Zealand on our honeymoon, my husband and I decided (after thorough research) to rent a campervan for the first half of our trip. New Zealand is the type of place you really have to immerse yourself in to truly appreciate all it has to offer. After tons of research, I agreed that campervan travel was the best way to go for us to see as much as we could possibly could in the time we had. Plus, we have never done that before and we're always up for a new adventure! We decided to book it for half of the trip in case we hated it. Turns out, I actually loved it and probably could have gone on for the rest of the trip that way, but my husband felt otherwise.
Let's start from the beginning. In order to decide what campervan you want, you need to decide whether or not you want to freedom camp. Freedom camping means camping anywhere you please along your journey, as long as there is no sign forbidding it. This means that if you have been driving for a while and decide you need to stop for the night, just find a place to (safely) pull off on the side of the road and rest for the night. If you want to freedom camp, your vehicle must be self-contained. A self-contained vehicle is one that does not need to rely on outside resources to function which means you have a toilet and water. If your vehicle is not self-contained, freedom camping is not allowed and you must stay in campgrounds where you would have access to water and toilet facilities. We decided that we wanted to be free to stop anywhere our hearts desired so we went with a self-contained van.
The next thing you would need to decide is how much space you need. The roads in New Zealand are very windy, narrow, and hilly. I wanted to be sure we would feel comfortable driving a large van (on the "wrong" side of the road, no less). I didn't want to be stressed about the van and unable to enjoy the ride. It was just the two of us so we went with the smallest self-contained van Britz had which actually ended up being larger than I thought which gave us more space to move around in the van and it still handled great on the roads. Keep in mind that if you choose a large van, there will be roads you may not be able to safely access and you may have trouble going up hills or maneuvering around small parking lots.
To be honest, the last thing I considered when choosing our van was price point. Of course, I wanted to save money wherever we could as we knew this would be an expensive trip (mainly because we wanted to do EVERYTHING), but I also knew that if this would be our home and our transportation for 6 days, I wanted to be sure it had what we needed to make the most out of our once-in-a-lifetime trip. As I mentioned above, there are tons of campervan rental companies out there and they are all very similar. We used motorhomerepublic.com to browse all of our options and compare brands and prices.
We ended up going with a company called Britz. I'd say about 90% of the reason we chose them is because their vans didn't look flashy or weren't painted in a bright color that made us stand out as tourists. Campervan travels are very common in New Zealand and there are several companies out there who paint their entire vans in a bright color and that's just not our style, but some people love it! We were pleasantly surprised with the quality of the van we rented and how much space there was.
Until next time!