If you’ve read my latest post, you will know I’ve just returned from a week of travelling the South Island of New Zealand by camper van. We hired our camper van from Road Runner Rentals, and although only having 4 people on board we opted for a 6 berth which meant we wouldn’t all be on top of one another. Honestly this may seem like a minor factor but you have to keep in mind that the camper van is not only your mode of transport, it’s also where you will be living for a given amount of time and so fundamentally, most of your trip will be spent in it and if you’ve got a tiny van it will be easy to get on top of one another and frustrations will soon be showing.
Depending on how you’re travelling really influences where you’re going to stay. For example, if you’re flying into your destination and won’t have a car in the area, choosing accommodation can be relatively easily because you don’t have to worry about the likes of picking somewhere that has parking availability. However, it becomes more difficult when you’re roaming around the country in this massive camper van because you have to factor in a few things. New Zealand is pretty strict when it comes to freedom camping – putting up tents or parking up camper vans in areas not designated for camping – as you’ll find signs around the towns that strictly say ‘no camping’ or ‘no overnight parking’. This means you really do have to book in some where like a holiday park or camp site to avoid getting in trouble.
Now because I was travelling between cities, some in which I have relatives living in them, my accommodation situations varied. For the first 3 nights of the trip we were based in Nelson where my uncle lives which meant we had the freedom of parking the camper van on his front lawn and not having to worry about booking a camp site or holiday park. The same was the case for our final night in New Zealand as we stayed with my mum’s cousin in Loburn. A score for our wallets and a score for convenience!
However, freedom camping was not on the plates for Franz Josef or Queenstown. We didn’t book ahead for Franz Josef, and were lucky enough to just rock up and have a spot available. However, although it’s not common to take camper vans around during winter, our travels occurred near the peak season for Queenstown so we didn’t want to risk not having somewhere organised, therefore we booked some where to stay early so as not to miss out.
This was honestly one of the nicest holiday parks I’ve stayed in. It’s situated amongst a scenic rain-forest and was relatively cheap for what it offers. Obviously being in the camper van we opted for a powered park site, and were lucky enough to get one close to the bathroom and kitchen facilities – which was handy given the constant rain. Aside from access to the bathrooms and kitchen facilities included in the price of the park site (which for some holiday parks you have to pay extra in order to use these facilities), we had access to the Monsoon bar and restaurant in which we had dinner and then played pool at to pass the time, spa pools and sauna (however we didn’t get a chance to utilise these), BBQ area and playground etc etc. Many in which we didn’t use because they were not necessary given the season but also because of limited time. It was a truly lovely place to park up for the night and in the morning we awoke to a wonderful view of the surrounding mountains just peeping through the rain-forest.
Given that it was situated in Queenstown the price automatically jacked up. Although not as picturesque as the rain-forest location, Creeksyde was just as lovely to stay at. Again we were lucky enough to be close to the bathroom, kitchen and laundry facilities which came in handy when the dreaded rains came in. The bathrooms were quite amusing to enter as they were well decorated. The women’s hosted a pond image on the floor, with the walls covered in wallpaper to resemble a spa, and each toilet and shower cubicle hosted a different theme ranging from advertising winery tours, to zip-lining and even panoramic views from the top of the Skyline. Quirky things that stuck in your mind which no doubt you would giggle to others over – perfect advertising scheme!
The location of Creeksyde was definitely a highlight. A mere 10 minutes walk got you to the gondola of the Skyline, 15 minutes and you were in the heart of town, everything so close and easily accessible – it was great considering the nippy weather that you didn’t want to be walking in for long. The location was also helpful if wanting to spend a night out on the town, you didn’t have to walk far to get home. Overall once set up we didn’t have to drive the camper van anywhere or grab taxis which was great.
Another handy factor was that a supermarket was just around the corner, meaning no long distances when it came to carrying your groceries home and if you’d forgotten something, no problem it’s only around the corner.