If you are going to visit New Zealand there is only one way to do it…
In a campervan!
We rented from Escape Campervans, which is a company best known for their uniquely painted vans. They have hundreds of different vans with a wide range of colors and themes- from Bob Marley to Pacman. We made our decision based on the recommendation of a friend living in New Zealand, but there are hundreds of other companies that provide similar products with their own style.
Knowing that the van would be our home for the next 31 days, Chris and I were excited and nervous on January 16th as we approached the garage to pick up the vehicle. After what seemed like hours of signing papers and going over the dozen scenarios that insurance doesn’t cover, the kiwi behind the counter finally walked us out to show us our new ride…
(I should mention here that although Escape has hundreds of really spectacularly painted vehicles, you do not necessarily get to choose the one that you take for home)
Chris and I had expressed our concern about the theme of the van that we would get earlier that day, but assured one another that no matter which van we got, “we would love it because it was our van”…
That was until we saw that they had matched us with “Liberty“; the obnoxious USA themed van that screams “Watch out! Arrogant Americans coming through”!
One side of the van features the Statue of Liberty hovering over NYC with a disgusted look on her face, while the other side has, none other than, a bald eagle painted with a red, white and blue shield.
You really can’t get much more ‘Merican than that and we were mortified! Don’t get me wrong- if we were roadtripping across the United States this would have been a pretty wicked option- but we had visions of being inconspicuous Americans while we were traveling and didn’t want to bring too much attention to ourselves.
The van, who we halfheartedly named Margaret (but never referred to her by name out of our love/hate relationship), ended up being a popular topic of conversation with people along the trip but, believe it or not, she ended up growing on us.
Vehicle by day and apartment by night, the van was our home on wheels. The backseats of the van had been removed to create the bed, kitchen, and storage compartments. You could even rearrange the vehicle into a dining area, which proved to be quite useful for breakfast and dinner. From the moment we drove the van off of the lot, we were holding our breath waiting to break down, get a flat tire, or crack the windshield, but we had absolutely zero issues with the van (well… technical issues…we’ll explain later) which was quite remarkable!
The majority of our time was spent in the van and after 31 days and over 6,000 kilometers (3,728 miles), we grew quite attached. Although the paint job was not quite what we had expected, overall, she exceeded our expectations.
We will never forget, “that time that we lived in a van for a month”.