New Zealand Camping Tips: Ignore at Your Peril

It’s like Forrest Gump said, or would have said if he was giving out New Zealand camping tips.

“Camping in New Zealand is like a box of chocolates. Ya never know what you’re gonna get.”

Hindsight is 20/20. And there will always be things that you would have done differently. The only way to prepare  is to use others’ hindsight as your foresight.

The following is my hindsight. The points outlaid are a combination of what I prepared for wisely and what I wish I’d known before taking a 30-day camping trip from the toe to the tip of NZ.

New Zealand Camping Tips

Raid The Warehouse

Every country has a one-for-all department store that has everything you need at ‘Low!Low!’ prices. For New Zealand, that place is ‘The Warehouse.’ Items to stuff in your trolley include:

Plastic dishes and cutlery: Enamel tableware works really well. It’s tough as an ox, and better for the environment than paper/plastic disposables.

new zealand camping dishes
New Zealand Camping Tips: Always bring a healthy packed lunch

And in case you didn’t quite grasp the magnitude of that bag of marshmallows, here’s a closer look…

new zealand camping tips nz-giant marshmallows
New Zealand camping tips: Size Matters

If you’re not staying in Department of Conservation (DOC) campsites, you’ll undoubtedly have access to a fully equipped kitchen, complete with microwave, T.V and lounge area. But where is the adventure in that? Get yourself a camping stove and eat in the wilderness like the Neanderthal you once were. We found a two-ring stove worked fine for up to four people. However, we would suggest a larger frying pan…

new zealand camping tips nz-stove
New Zealand camping tips: Size Matters

Throw caution to the Wind

Self igniting stoves are an ideal option because the greatest enemy to New Zealand camping is not its wildlife, but it’s bloody wind. Luckily,  there are a few tricks to keeping it at bay and giving you a quiet night’s sleep:

  • Choose a spot that is enclosed in trees. The closer you are to the corner, the better.
  • Tie a sheet of Tarpaulin  between two trees, letting it act as a wind shield
  • Strategically Park your car diagonally in front of your tent to block the direction of the wind.

Stop Everywhere

New Zealand is full of hidden gems, and it’s worth checking out as many places as you can fit in, even if they’re not scheduled in your diary.

We happened across this street of creative mailboxes in Arthur’s Point, Queenstown…

Camping tips NZ: Go off the beaten track
Camping tips NZ: Go off the beaten track

Other mailboxes included ripped apart appliances, number plates, beer pumps and roadworks signs.

camping tips nz-hidden gems 2

Another usual place we stumbled across was Demolition World in Invercargill. It’s like a scrapyard of movie sets from different eras of NZ that has been run over by chickens. Literally…there’s chickens everywhere.

new zealand camping

Reconstructions of shops like this…

demolition world invercargill
New Zealand camping tips: Off the beaten track

Abandoned Vintage cars…

demo world nz
New Zealand camping tips: Off the beaten track

It’s weird, wonderful and even a little eerie…

demolition world nz
New Zealand camping tips: Off the beaten track

If you find yourself travelling through a town called Ross, jump out of the car and have a gawk at this cool house…

camping tips nz-ross
New Zealand camping tips: Off the beaten track
new zealand camping ross
New Zealand camping tips: off the beaten track

Get Out Alive

If you don’t get eaten alive by a bear, or your best friend, you will get eaten alive by sandflies. Sandflies are vampirical little flies that suck on your blood and leave you scratching furiously in the middle of the night, leaving you with hive like lumps all over your arms and legs. I never thought I’d ever wish genocide on an entire species, but whaddaya a know. There’s a killer in all of us. Take precautions or pay the price. I did the latter:(

  1. Avoid wearing dark or warm colours. Black, blue, red, green…all no-no’s. If you’re really mean, you could encourage your fellow campers to wear dark clothes, using them as human shields throughout the day. It’s a war, after all.
  2. Cover yourself up. The best way to avoid getting bitten is to cover up as much as possible. Sandflies tend to congregate on lower ground so pay particular attention to your ankles and feet. A hat with a brim is a good idea to protect your face.
  3. Spray Away. Don’t leave the car without generous applications of bug spray. And keep the windows up or they’ll be all over your car. And when you open the car to get out, do it quickly. Sprays with DEET tend to be more effective than natural, botanical remedies. Some people recommend buying locally produced spray as it’s formulated specifically for sandflies in that area.
  4. Keep Moving. Sandflies are slow, and won’t chase you if you run. You will often see people flailing their arms around, and running in circles to avoid them. Head’s up: They’re not crazy. They’re smart.

It’s cheesy and it’s cliche but it is true that the most important thing to bring is a positive attitude and a sense of adventure. You will be too warm sometimes. You will be too cold. You’ll get bitten. You’ll get bruised and you’ll argue with the people you love more than anything in the world.

But that’s OK.

Because you’ll appreciate the story afterwards. I hope you you’ve found at least one of these New Zealand camping tips helpful. And if you need help finding a campervan, these guys will sort you out with a lowest price guarantee.

Happy Camping!

About keeva

Wandering freelance copywriter from Ireland. Trying to squeeze in as much travel into my twenties as I can. Right now, that involves a lot of camping in New Zealand, my home away from home.

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