WIth nearly 31,000 New Zealanders searching campervans and rentals on Google, here are some tips for Winter Campervanning from the experts at Quirky Campers New Zealand.
- Do it – campervanning in winter is cheaper and quieter. The daily rental cost of a campervan from June – October can be up to 70% cheaper than the peak summer months. Not only that, it’s quieter. Camping spots are easier to book and there’s less traffic on the road. This can make campervanning much more pleasurable. It’s also a great opportunity to take your pet as many places, particularly beaches, have much fewer restrictions on dog access during the winter months.
- Plan for the weather. As Alfred Wainwright said “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”. Remember to pack clothing you can layer up in, bring your waterproof gear, sturdy footwear, hats, gloves and chunky socks. When you’d rather not be out in the elements, look up indoor attractions – wineries, galleries, museums, escape rooms, leisure centres and good pubs. And if you’re staying put, relax with a book, crack out the games, watch a downloaded movie or get cooking!
- Keep warm and dry. Most campervans are insulated (it pays to check) but you can take your winter getaway to a whole new level if your campervan has heating. And we’re not just talking about the hot-air blowers in the cab that work when the engine is running! The most effective and efficient are diesel and LPG heaters. At the more dreamy, romantic, and primal end are the log burners. They are lovely but do require a little more work to build a fire and keep it topped up with wood. And then there are portable electric heaters. Again, these will warm the space quickly and easily… if you can plug them in. Most run off 230V power so if your chosen van comes with one, check your options on when you can use it. Do you need to be plugged in at a campsite or can you use it anytime? Also, remember to ventilate – it’s tempting to close all the windows and vents so you don’t let the heat out, but you don’t want condensation so crack one or two windows open.
- Drive carefully. Winter can bring more hazardous conditions so try to pick the most suitable van for your trip in the first place. It’s not the time to opt for a manual drive vehicle when you’re most familiar with an automatic. You need to feel comfortable and confident with the size of your campervan so that you’re not putting yourself or others in danger when manoeuvring. Our roads can be twisty, hilly and narrow which will slow you down even more so remember to take your time and drive to the conditions. Check if you’ll need snow chains and find out if there are any planned or unplanned road closures.
- Pick an area and stay awhile. While we’re advocating a campervan trip, it doesn’t mean you need to clock up hundreds – or thousands! – of kilometres. Keeping your travelling distances down makes sense in winter when driving conditions can be more challenging. So why not pick a region to explore and stay relatively local? It’s a great way to really experience what an area has to offer. Before booking your van, do some research on local events. Maybe a comedy or open-mic night, a concert, pub quiz or a well-reviewed restaurant?
- Take some home comforts. Think hotties, mulled wine spices and downloaded movies. Anything you need to nestle in and feel extra cosy when you return from exploring the outdoors. A customised camper makes the experience even better!