The Beginners Guide to Embracing the Great Outdoors
Sorry Europe. You may have The Alps, but New Zealand boasts the kind of scenery that made Peter Jackson and his location scouts go weak at the knees. And as far as we’re concerned, the absolute best way to soak it all up is to get out there and sleep under the stars.
It can be a little intimidating, so to get you started and inspired we’ve put together a ‘how to’ guide covering everything you need to know about camping and caravanning for beginners.
Every year New Zealand hosts a handful of fantastic camping and caravanning shows, so get out there and hit them up. They’re bona fide places to get inspired, and find out more about what the camping lifestyle is all about. There’s absolutely no obligation to buy, though we can’t promise you won’t walk out with some shiny new purchases. And we wouldn’t blame you! Events like the NZ Motorhome, Caravan & Leisure Show are a great place to snap up incredible deals, especially if you’re just getting started.
Don’t scrimp on gear
Camping can be an amazingly affordable way to relax, unwind and get an all-important nature fix. But if you’re not already equipped with the basics, be prepared to invest a little cash in getting set up. There are some things you can cut costs on, but if you really want to enjoy your experience, good gear is an absolute must. Remember, quality over quantity is key. We’re talking a comfortable waterproof tent, warm sleeping bags and good quality air mattresses at the very minimum.
‘Glamorous camping’ may get a bad rap from diehard outdoor adventurers, but as far as we’re concerned there’s nothing better than sipping on a Waiheke Island red decanted into a pair of camp-friendly stainless steel wine glasses. Sure, roughing it Bear Grylls style sounds exciting in theory, but ultimately glamping is all about embracing home comforts. If you love snuggling up in your feather duvet every night, throw it in the backseat of the car. If you enjoy home cooked gourmet meals, prepare food in advance and heat it up on a camp stove. Love the ambience of fairy lights? Pick up a solar powered set and string them around your site. Dreaming of a fully equipped motorhome that’s fancier than some of Auckland’s inner city apartments? Go for it!
Write a checklist
Everyone loves a good list, right? Make life markedly easier for yourself by writing up a camping or caravanning checklist that you can refer back to every time you hit the road. It’ll take the stress out of the planning process, and ensure you don’t arrive at a site and realise you forgot the matches.
Share the cost with friends and family on-board
If you can’t afford to invest in your own motorhome, why not share the love and see if you can get any of you family or friends on board? Plenty of couples choose to share the cost of boats and holiday homes, so why not caravans? With a structured time share system in place, you can enjoy campervan holidays, without having to cover the entire cost of a vehicle.
Establish a routine
Camping can be wonderfully easy, but it can also be a major headache if you’re not prepared. Avoid stress, confusion and marriage shattering arguments by establishing set-up and pack-up routines. Allocate everyone in your party jobs, and try to stick to them each time you head out. It makes things so much easier, and maximises the time you get to spend reclining in your luxury fold-out camping chair.
Research your destinations
Spontaneity is a beautiful thing, but it can also be disastrous. If you’re just starting your love affair with camping and caravanning it pays to be organised, and prepared. Read up on where you’re heading, and get the intel on everything from weather and road conditions to facilities and local attractions. Looking for inspiration? Check out this Kathmandu countdown covering some of the most stunning campsites New Zealand has to offer.
Test your equipment
An all too common rookie error is not testing your equipment before you leave. The last thing you want is to arrive at a stunning lakeside destination, only to find that you’re missing tent pegs, your stove is broken or your light didn’t come with batteries.
It goes without saying – there is nothing quite as frustrating as setting up camp in the dark. So do your best to get on the road early, and arrive at your campsite with plenty of light to spare. At the very least, it’s a fantastic excuse to crack open a beer and watch the sun go down, without having to frantically set up your tent.
Light it up
If you’re new to camping, we can’t stress enough the importance of a good lighting system. Headlamps are an absolute godsend, and will help you find everything from spatulas to the outhouse. Around camp it’s also a good idea to have plenty of lighting available for things like food prep, card games and cleaning up. Battery powered table lanterns are easy and affordable, with some campers choosing to upgrade to gas powered lamps.
Stay close to home
We live in what’s arguably the most beautiful country on the planet, so why not embrace the fact that there are probably gorgeous camping and caravanning destinations in your own backyard. Yes, you can definitely travel for hours to reach coveted spots. But the chances are that there’s a stellar outdoor destination just an hour or so from where you live. Close to home trips are far less stressful than organising big tours, and also mean you can enjoy a camping holiday on nothing more than a weekend.
As far as we’re concerned, five star hotels don’t even come close to the five thousand star hotels you’ll enjoy when camping or caravanning under the night sky. So embrace your adventurous streak, hit up your local outdoors shop and start exploring!