My first real taste of camper-van life was nearly 2 years ago when my buddy La & I made a last minute decision to visit the South Island of New Zealand on a budget during the “peak” season where we would spend New Years Eve. The peak season in NZ South Island doesn’t mean traffic & crowds, but it does mean the “conservative & practical” camper-vans book up quickly. So we ended up spending 10 days driving around in a bat-winged, black-velvel-lined, kinky-mirror-ceilinged, “novelty” camper-van with “Live the fantasy” written all over it, hired from a company called “Dragon Wagons”.
Needless to say we got a lot of polite sideways glances, and some more obvious comments of encouragement from the local teenage boys. Despite its ‘fancy’ appearance, it barely got to 80kph, essentially each night it was like going to sleep in a fancy, rich vampire’s coffin, we woke up most mornings with crooked necks and backs, and at times we really had little confidence that it would make it up and over the mountain passes.
But inspite of the “quirky” features, we had an awesome time. The van was well equipped with a little kitchen, fridge & cooking utensils, so we mostly cooked in the van and ate “on the road”.
Punakaiki at Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks).
We stopped off at South Westland Salmon Farm near the west coast and picked up a couple of pieces of the most beautiful salmon fillets I’ve seen. We cooked it up when we arrived at our campsite for the night on Lake Hawea, but I reackon it would have made awesome sashimi, too.
Our last night on the road we took Rick Stein’s advice and treated ourselves to a dinner at the famous Fleurs Place, meaning we woke up on our last morning overlooking the magical Moeraki Bay. All we needed for brekki was a picnic table by the side of the road.