Surprisingly, what scares me the most about spending 2 weeks campervanning in New Zealand with a set of parents-in-law is not how I would get along with them. Oh I get along just fine with them. Nope, what scares the hell out of me is actually how, or rather, where I am going to hide my control freak alter ego. We’re talking about an approximately 6 x 2 x 2-meter box, where the four of us will sleep, cook, eat, and shit together for 2 weeks. Just putting it into words was already enough to make me sweat a little. Thank God the temperature would be somewhere near zero by the time we’re there 😛
Oh yeah, I am a control freak alright. Take my kitchen for example. It’s my personal little haven. Everything that is in there has been arranged in the exact manner that I want them to be and I don’t really appreciate people messing up with any of them. My husband can testify to how obsessed I can be every time he hangs the tong on the wrong hook or places the spatula in the wrong drawer. I even have my own preference of how my plates and bowls are supposed to be stacked on the dish drying rack. For that reason alone, I hardly invite other people to cook with me in my kitchen. If I’m cooking, then I’m cooking alone. If I want someone else to cook, I will steer myself away from him and let him do his things (I would probably be gnawing on my fingernails silently worrying over how messed up my kitchen would be afterwards :-P). Which brings me back to my earlier thought; 6 x 2 x 2-meter box, 4 adults, 2 weeks, hmmm…… I’m gonna need a distraction to stop myself from worrying over the pots and the pans, the plates and the bowls, the cutleries, the glasses, the condiments, the leftovers, the dishcloth, the…. STOP IT!!!
Now, putting my fear aside, NZ is definitely high on my list of must-visits, along with Machu Picchu, the Aegean Sea, Petra, Bora Bora and probably about 100 other places 😉 I think I’m gonna have to be a cat with 9 lives if I’m ever gonna fulfill the list. But really, have you ever known anyone who has watched The Lord of the Rings and not want to visit NZ?
So why the campervan, you asked. Well, when you’re traversing a stretch of no man’s land (literally) save for the sheep, what better way to do it than in a self-contained campervan? You could choose to fall asleep on the beach right after watching the yellow-eyed penguins waddle back to their nest. Or you could wake up on a grassy field and eat you bacon-and-eggs’ breakfast next to a meekly bleating sheep. Baaaa…. baaa….. In short, with a campervan you can be wherever you want to be whenever you want to.
While the rental cost of a campervan for 2 is probably quite comparable to renting an economy car and sleeping in motels, a campervan for 4 is definitely cheaper than that. This is simply because the cost of getting a 4-berth campervan is not twice that of a 2-berth. On top of that, with a fully-functioning kitchen and a fridge on board, the “home-cooked” meals are surely going to save you more than just a couple of bucks. Hence, considering the total cost per person, getting a campervan instead of a car when you’re traveling in a group of 4 or bigger is more economical.
When it came to choosing a rental provider, we chose Wilderness Motorhomes. Wikitravel actually has an extensive list of providers in NZ that you could peruse, but with just a simple check on Rankers, a website dedicated to providing customer reviews on all NZ-related activities, you would know that Wilderness is the most recommended provider in the country with the highest customer satisfaction. Firstly and most importantly, they are really big on customer service; before, throughout, and after. We haven’t even started our journey yet and we’ve already had so many wonderful things to rave about from our personal experiences with them while completing our booking. Secondly, they offer competitive rates. I won’t say that their campervans are the cheapest, but with the quality of the vehicles and the services that customers receive, their prices are definitely value for money. Lastly, their rates are already all-inclusive of a lot of extra charges that you would have to pay if you book with other providers. These are extra charges for things such as snow chain, child car seat, extra driver fee, location fee, vehicle registration fee, and several more. At the end of the day, you won’t see any hidden costs when you collect your vehicle and make a full payment at Wilderness.
With transportation and accommodation checked off, it’s time to map out the itinerary. We’re doing South Island and South Island alone. No disrespect to North Island, but with a fairly limited time on hand I would rather concentrate on one area than rush from one place to another everyday just for the sake of covering everything. Besides, I need a little excuse to go back to NZ again someday, don’t I? 😉
The first half of our 14-days’ trip will be dedicated to the places regular tourists commonly visit when they go to South Island. Christchurch and the Canterbury, the glaciers and the West Coast, Wanaka, Queenstown and the Fiordland. I’m personally more excited about the second half. Instead of going up to Mount Cook like what others usually do, we’re going down to NZ’s third island, Stewart Island. Yay! To top it, we’ll be going back to Christchurch via the Catlins afterwards. Yay again! The Catlins is probably not as off-the-beaten-path as it used to be anymore, but I’m still hoping we won’t be seeing that many people considering winter is generally low season. Besides, I’m sure there will be more crowds up in Mount Cook on any day than in the Catlins or Stewart Island.
With just 4 weeks to go, I’m already so looking forward to this trip that I have started creating a long supermarket shopping list. What shall I stock up
my our kitchen with? Yum yum… salt, pepper, garlic, onions, eggs, bacon, tomatoes, potatoes, all sorts of pasta, lots of herbs, wines, beers, erm… some more wines and some more beers. Oh, and duh – don’t forget the cheeses!
Honestly as I sat in our rental Toyota Corolla cruising along the roads of Lofoten nearly a year ago, I thought this had got to be the most beautiful landscape on earth. I simply couldn’t imagine any views more breathtaking than those I saw there. Lofoten had snow-capped peaks, coastal drives full of hairpin turns, Mordor look-alike black cliffs, and the Shire look-alike green valleys. Over on the mainland, Norway had fjords with thundering waterfalls and icy glaciers. Between Norway and the countless National Geographic-worthy pictures of NZ that I’ve seen, I am skeptical if seeing the actual South Island with my own pair of eyes is still going to amaze me as much as it has amazed millions of travelers before me. With all the marvelous things that everyone who had been to NZ had raved about, I have built up such a high expectation of the place that I’m afraid it might fall short of.
Between my own high expectation and my control freak alter ego, I have a lot to ponder on for the next few weeks. So before I go, let me leave you all with a little something to drool over. Here’s a video of the interior of Burstner Ixeo 664, the exact campervan model that we’re renting from Wilderness. It has one permanent double bed at the back of the vehicle and another double bed stored over the ceiling that can be lowered down at bedtime. To see its actual day and night layout, check out the 360 degrees virtual tour on Wilderness website.
If I don’t come back at the end of my trip, look for me among the sheep 😉 Baa… baa….