Kidspot caught up with Lisa Boltman, mum of three, to talk about her family’s first campervan trip and what surprised them about campervanning.
If you’ve never taken a campervan holiday to see the sights of New Zealand then you may be a bit apprehensive about what to expect on your first trip. Before you pile the family into a campervan and head away, check out some helpful advice and handy tips from a fellow parent to make your first foray as successful as possible.
Lisa, her partner and their three boys aged 8, 10, and 12 years old, hired a six berth Maui campervan in October 2020 and did an eight day round trip from Christchurch, taking in Hokitika, Fox Glacier, Queenstown, Geraldine and Dunedin.
“We had an amazing time as a family exploring and adventuring a part of New Zealand we hadn’t spent much time in before. Campervanning makes it easy and affordable to travel as a family and discover all this beautiful country has to offer.” Lisa Boltman
First time campervanners
Being first time campervanners, Lisa said that she was slightly concerned about the amount of travel they were undertaking with three active boys. But the kids coped well and they were keen to stop and explore the “in-between bits” of their route. Lisa said that the ability to pull over basically anywhere was a surprising highlight, allowing the family to swim in lakes and rivers, skim stones across streams, or set up the included table and chairs to enjoy a picnic in a roadside stop.
The campervan itself was also a highlight for the kids. Lisa likened it to a big Wendy house on wheels! The kids loved discovering all of the nooks and crannies and while the TV got them excited, the self-contained shower and toilet blew their minds. The family were still discovering hidden cubbies for storage on day two!
Lisa was surprised by the amount of space inside the campervan and the beds were great with plenty of blankets supplied. Kids being kids, they always wanted the top bunk above the driver and, in fact, one night all three of them slept up there.
They had no issues with being too cold or too hot and Lisa was pleased to have several days of cleaning products and toilet paper provided. There was a good supply of kitchen bits and bobs too and even nice wine glasses.
Driving the campervan
Even though the Boltman family were getting around in the largest-size campervan, Lisa said that driving was actually quite easy, just like driving a van. Although she hadn’t intended to do any driving, by day two Lisa was keen to have her turn behind the wheel.
On their first day in the campervan they arrived later than expected at the campground, after sunset and with the office closed. Trying to set up in the dark and having not fully watched the Maui “How To” video they accidentally set up their electricity charger incorrectly and ran down the power. However, they treated it as a learning experience and after that first time they had no issues hooking up to the campground electricity to keep everything charged up.
Devices were a godsend while doing the long travelling days. Her youngest did struggle a little to see out the windows as they’re higher than in a car so Lisa thought taking along a booster seat might be handy.
The Boltman family enjoyed some amazing experiences in the South Island including riding the Skyline Queenstown Luge and a helicopter trip on to the Fox Glacier. But the campgrounds themselves were a major highlight of the trip for the kids too. They enjoyed having fun on the playgrounds, driving go karts, splashing in the pools and being able to connect with other kids.
The onboard self-contained toilet was handy at night, rather than having to make their way outside to the campground facilities (which they used during the day).
Apart from the first night’s booking, Lisa didn’t prebook any campgrounds. With the lack of overseas tourists they were able to find campground spaces easily and could be fairly flexible with their itinerary.
Campervanning tips from the Boltmans
- Don’t pack too many clothes
- Avoid big bulky bags
- Bring torches for twilight walks
- Take out the full insurance for peace of mind
- Watch the campervan guide to hooking up the electricity!
Lisa said that the family had such a great time that they could have easily done a longer trip and they are already planning their next campervan tour of the top of the South Island.
Main image provided by Tourism Holidings Limited. All other images provided by Lisa Boltman.
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Written by Kidspot NZ in partnership with Tourism New Zealand.