Travelling By Campervan: Ups and Downs

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Having fun on the beach...


Last week we featured a great post from Laura Smith, who shared a great money-saving tip for any backpacker thinking of travelling to Australia and/or New Zealand.

But Laura had so much to say we couldn’t fit it all into one post. So without further ado, here’s the second part of Laura’s guide to “campervanning”, which covers some of the trickier aspects of travelling solo, plus the highlights from her trip…

Go Your Own Way

Hiring a campervan allows you to set your own route. Fancy pulling into a rural vineyard or cheese factory? You can do that. On a tour bus? Not so much. Tour companies often only stop at major tourist attractions, but if it’s the real country you want to get to see then this is the only real option.

I found myself in beautiful destinations so remote they weren’t featured on maps, eating dinner with friendly locals who took me in for the night, and pulling over to see whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Travelling this way allows you to build those unique memories that make trips abroad something you will remember forever. Plus, you never have to worry about carrying your luggage!

One place in particular was very memorable. It was one of the few days where I had pre-arranged something and had to arrive by a certain time, covering a large distance. I was in an increasing hurry but at the same time couldn’t resist pulling over and satisfying my curiosity over what was below a viewing point on the side of the road.

What I found was a view that could have jumped out of a Disney movie. A crystal turquoise stream surrounded by green fields and snow-capped mountains confirmed that driving was the only way to see this part of the world

Sounds Perfect: What’s the Catch?

As for the downside of solo travel, there are a few things to bear in mind:

  • Driving is tiring. There will be times when you know you have to reach a point on the map but all you want to do is climb into the back and sleep. Take a driving buddy with you where you can – most hostels have notice boards where you can advertise for this sort of thing.
  • Facilities on board don’t cater for every need. Toilets, for instance. If a long road is ahead, plan well. Showers can also make a fun game of finding, but most hostels and campsites en route will allow you to use theirs for a small fee. Alternatively, if outdoor temperatures allow, take advantage of the free showers by most Australian beaches. A morning wash with a view is a great start to the day!

Make Sure You Don’t Miss

Hot water beach at Whitianga, New Zealand

Rent a spade from the cafe and dig yourself a pool amongst the many others that travel here to take part in the natural phenomenon.

Glow worm caves at Waitomo, New Zealand

For the adrenaline junkie Waitomo is a perfect stop-off for caving, climbing, abseiling and general outdoor exploring. The glow worm caves here were one of the best experiences I had in my three months away.

Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

This is something it is sensible to plan ahead for. Good weather conditions are needed to climb the glacier, but the experience is worth it, much like a dip in the outdoor hot pools afterwards – perfect for a warm rest before heading on for the night.

Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

Here it is possible to enjoy horse riding along the beach, kayaking to spot the wild seals that reside in the area or just take part in one of the many treks that go through this stunning national park.

White Island, Whakatane, New Zealand

While a trip to the volcanic island is pricey, the boat ride there with the opportunity to spot numerous pods of dolphins make it a day to remember for a long time, as will the smell from the sulphur rocks if you don’t wash your clothes soon afterwards.

Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

This small area is a perfect place to spend the night. There isn’t a whole lot to do here but the lake is a stunning one, and the nearby cafe does great breakfasts to send you on your way the next day.

Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

The town of Wanaka is beautiful in the summer. Fans of photography will appreciate the chance to see this at sunset too, while during the day the collection of sandwich shops and ice cream parlours make it a refreshing stop.

Anglesea Golf Club, Great Ocean Road, Australia

Make this your first stop heading from Melbourne and make friends with the wild kangaroos here while stocking up on driving supplies.

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia

This is a destination with a real ‘wow’ factor. The beach here is protected, and the apostles make it an unforgettable stop on the road.

Byron Bay, Gold Coast, Australia

Byron Bay is home to a lot of Australian tourists that have made this small town a must to visit. It has one of the East coast’s best beaches and a vibe around the place that makes you wish you could stay.

If you’re thinking of hiring a campervan or looking for a relocation deal, here are some useful sites:

Have you got any tips for travelling around Australia and New Zealand to share? Feel free to comment below…

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