Our five month camper van road trip in New Zealand has been a journey we will never forget. With a bed in the back, we have vowed we will be tent camping no more unless we are in the backcountry. Hey, we camped in a tent for four months on our US road trip. We did our time.
We woke up to new, stunning New Zealand views every morning. We are sold! Forget a house, we are dreaming of living in a campervan! We were outside all the time. We fell asleep next to bubbling brooks and woke up to views we would never have in a house or hotel. We had most of our meals outside soaking in beautiful vistas of coastlines and mountain ranges for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have even stumbled upon the southern lights and an eclipse just because we have been more in tune with nature. It’s been incredible!
We have had our fair share of catastrophes and fails, though. How 'bout that time...
We had our nightmare on the Forgotten HighwaY
We should have known we were setting out for bad news. The name is the Forgotten World Highway for a reason. There’s nothing on it. Well, to be honest, we knew there were four campsites along the route, so we thought we would be okay.
We passed the first two in the daylight and thought we could make it to the next one. One thing we have learned about New Zealand is the distance on maps is incredibly deceptive. In reality, it takes three times longer than you estimate due to the winding and curving roads. Well, this was just the case this time, too. We underestimated our timing.
By now it was dark and we finally got to the next campsite option. Our headlights hit the locked gate. No access. Okay, moving on. We made it to the next site. This is it! We are home for the night. No, no campsite here. It was midnight at this point, we had been driving for hours and Adam finally just pulled over at a rest stop in the pitch black. I looked over and our van was situated on a decline with a cliff only feet away.
As we got into bed, I asked, “Is the parking break on?” My mind was racing of the what if’s. Ladies, you get this. Adam, knowing me too well said, “Lindsey, if we roll, we’ll roll into the tree." Oh, great, we'll just roll into the tree on the edge of the cliff. Hell no! I scrambled out of bed, jumped into the drivers seat and steamed down the never ending Forgotten Highway. Adam stayed in the back snuggled up all cosy in bed.
Driving further and further there was nothing. We were in rural New Zealand and good luck to anyone trying to read road signs in the dark. I kept politely asking for Adam to help me find the next campsite. Silence. “Oh, you’re going to play that game?” I have never been so livid. He always expects me to navigate for him and the time I’m powering through to get us to a safe spot to sleep, he’s not helping me! I’m talking to him, he’s not responding.
I know he’s awake. I turn on the music just to ensure he can't sleep. Again, I ask him to help me. I’m missing turn offs and signs for new camp sites because I can’t see the gosh darn signs. He’s still not talking. I crank up the music, loud, blasting it as loud as the knob will go. It's so loud, I can’t even think straight. I’m fuming at him! I keep missing turns and I don’t know where to go. I keep pulling over to look at maps, but keep missing signs. Oh, sweet Adam is still in the back, cuddled up, cozy and silent. Can you believe him?!?
At this point I’m crying from frustration and exhaustion. I don’t know where to go and when I need Adam’s help, he’s not showing up to help me. Desperate, I just pull into a motel parking lot and fall into the bed in the back of Bernie. If we had a house, I would have kicked Adam out that night. The couch wouldn’t have even been an option.
And the night we were attacked and kicked out of our campsite by the vicious flock of keA
Remember that time we were invaded by thousands of ENORMOUS beetles
So, we pulled into a green, grassy campsite in a beautiful gorge with a river flowing through and a historic bridge as a backdrop. I started pulling out our camping chairs and tv table to get ready to make dinner. I unfolded our little pink camping chair and immediately went peddling backwards screaming! The chair was covered with tens, hundreds, thousands of black beetles all 2 inches long! (Okay, I know I’m exaggerating, but there were tons! They were HUGE!)
I screamed and started freaking out at Adam. My fright turned to rage and even got stubborn Adam to clean off every one of them as he laughed hysterically. He started flicking them off the chair right next to the van. “What are you thinking?!? Not next to the van!!!” I made him go as far away as possible to execute those buggers. I had the whole campsite gaping at my hysterics.
Dinner was delayed as I pulled everything out of the van and scoured every nook and cranny of every item in every box until I was satisfied that every single beetle had been exterminated. Adam had left the pink chair out all night at a beach the night before and these nocturnal beetles found comfort in the seat of the folded pink chair in the morning. Unknown to us, we shoved the chair and the hundreds of beetles into the van and transported them all day! Disgusting! Thankfully, they were subdued during their transport, so many didn’t escape the chair’s boundaries. Thank God I found them before they became active that night as we slept right above them! Ah! I cringe at the thought.
My meticulous cleanse wasn’t thorough enough, though. We found remnants of other beetles throughout the van in the days to come. You bet no item has been left outside or will ever be left outside ever again!
Oh, and how many nights did we compete to see who could kill more sandflies and mosquitos?
Can't forget the Flood of 2015
All right, so Adam, our beloved, intellectual, college edumucated CPA, has a history of making terribly illogical decisions when storing large amounts of liquid. On our US roadtrip, he insisted on storing a gallon of Gain washing detergent in a Ziploc bag stored in the exact spot that we were shoving our gear in and out every morning and every night. Ziploc, I believe in you, but not that much. Turns out, I was right. The bag exploded.
Round two: New Zealand. With Bernie, we inherited an unused thick plastic camping bag that boasted it could hold 5 gallons of water. I doubted that from the moment we layed eyes on it. We already lived through this. So, we argued. Adam didn’t budge, so I gave up. The bag made it the first two months. Surprisingly, the plastic bag got a hole in it! What? Can you believe it? Poor Bernie’s carpet and everything stored under the bed were soaked for weeks.
Every chance we got we hauled everything out of the van and had it air dry. Wonderful Nancy and David on the sheep farm even tried a heater and fan on it for days. We won’t make that decision again. I’m putting my foot down.
These are the true, imperfect tales of #nuventures. I hear they say, "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger." I'll hang onto that.
These accounts are unbiased, with no name calling or blame, and are objective in all aspects.