JUCY Campervan 101

Full disclosure, we were completely new to camping when we rented our JUCY Chaser, so if you are an experienced camper this post may be less useful. Here I describe everything we wish we would have known or done differently prior to setting out on our month long camper van adventure in New Zealand, and provide a packing list at the bottom!

  • When you pick up your JUCY be sure to check out the corner of the JUCY office where there is a “take/leave table” – when we arrived, the area was full of free items campers had left after their trip. We had no idea this existed! We managed to grab two small rugs (doormats that helped keep dirt contained), toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, clothes detergent, instant coffee, cooking essentials (oils, soy sauce, salt, pepper, etc.), Tupperware, water bottles and more!
  • JUCY provides you with many supplies – bedding, towels, sheets, plates, wine glasses, cups, bowls etc., and if you’re lucky previous campers will have left supplies in the JUCY office you can pick up. In addition to items we grabbed at the JUCY office, we ended up needing to purchase the following items throughout our trip:
    • Sponges for cleaning dishes
    • Rope for making a clothes drying line (generally clothes driers cost 4 NZD for 20 – 40 minutes, so having a clothes line can save money, and provide an alternative solution if the dryers are occupied)
    • Pasta strainer (they make collapsible strainers, which I recommend)
    • 12V PC car charger – this charges a laptop from the cigarette lighter. These can be purchased off amazon before you travel. For Mac users, I recommend this type of 12V Computer car charger.
  • The ceiling lights on the roof of your camper aren’t controlled by a light switch on the wall, simply tap them on the indented spot to turn theimg_5353.jpgm on (Notes: your lights must be turned on via your power control panel)
  • When you pick-up your JUCY you might be briefed that to secure your toilet tank (aka black water tank) simply “throw it in, and snap it in place”. In some models, the tank needs to be carefully aligned, or some “matter” will not actually make it in to the tank. This isn’t fun. I recommend the first few times pouring water in your toilet to ensure you have properly aligned your tank… cleaning up your own, or your travel partner’s “stuff” gets old quickly.
  • Two weeks in to our trip, our sink drain pipe loosened itself and water ran everywhere under the sink. We managed to fix this by simply tightening the screw in the drain.
  • Make sure you have wide tape to close off your ceiling vent on the West Coast of the South Island – an area known for Sand Flies! Swarms of sand flies will come in if it isn’t covered, and tape is a great way to keep them out!
  • Inside your fridge there is a freezer tucked behind a door on the upper portion of the fridge.

 

Campervan Packing List

  • Long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and tall socks to hide your skin from sand flies! Yoga pants / compression pants work well, as does a long sleeved athletic shirt. You will want to cover as much of your skin as possible!
  • Duct tape
  • Pick up at least two empty boxes from the grocery store when you arrive (most NZ stores keep them in front after check out). We used one for our “breakfast box”, one for hardware, and another for our “lunch/dinner box”. They help you stay organized, which is important when living in a tight space for multiple weeks.
  • Rubber bands, bag clips, zip lock bags, dish sponges, dish soap
  • If you are bringing a laptop, a 12V to computer charger adapter will charge your machine from the cigarette lighter of your camper or vehicle! There were numerous instances where had I not purchased this charger, I wouldn’t have been able to take care of work, book excursions, or check on reservations for camp sites. I recommend this PC laptop car charger, and this for a Mac laptop car charger.
  • All items mentioned in the first two bullets of this post!

 

 

New Zealand: To Campervan or not?

New Zealand: To Campervan or not?

Nowadays experiencing New Zealand via a campervan is a popular travel option.  As discussed below, it’s likely not the cheapest way to see the country, but it is more flexible than the typical rental car/motel option. Campervans allow one to camp in a wide range of outdoor environments, from urban to almost back-country (obviously a road is needed to the campsite!).  Assuming one is interested in sleeping in remoter areas of NZ than motels will allow, but without being a back-country tramper, it’s a great way to go!

What to consider when planning your New Zealand Campervan Adventure

There are two main questions to ask yourself. What route will you take, and in what vehicle will you travel? When beginning to plan your trip, both questions can seem overwhelming.

  1. What route will you take? When thinking of what route to take you have to determine where you will begin and end your trip, and where you will stay each night. A full breakdown of our route and where we stayed each night, can be found in this blog post: New Zealand: Month-long Campervan Route and Lodging Information.
    • Pick-up/Drop-off Camper Rental Locations: Consider flying in or out of Christchurch, as flights into this airport are often cheaper than others. We recommend doing the time/cost trade of touring in a single direction (paying Cook Strait ferry price once), as opposed to making a loop and flying in and out of the same airport (paying Cook Straight ferry price twice). Ultimately, we flew in to Christchurch and toured the South Island for three weeks and the North Island for two weeks, ending our trip and flying out of Auckland.
    • Where will you park your campervan at night?
      • There are three basic types of camp sites: Freedom Camping Sites, DOC Sites, and Privately Owned “Holiday Parks”. Having a self-contained camper enables you to park in any of the aforementioned site types. Renting a non-self-contained vehicle limits you to only private parks and some DOC sites. DOC sites are run by the New Zealand Dept. of Conservation (DOC), and are often ½ the price of the holiday parks, but do not generally offer more than a toilet, so no power, shower, laundry, kitchen or dumping facilities. Freedom camping allows one to park and camp overnight for “free” in many areas of public land in NZ, and can be an awesome way to both find a stunning campsite and save money. Some freedom camping areas are restricted to self-contained campers. If you’re new to camping, I’d recommend a powered site once every three days. That way you will have the ability to dump your tanks and take a warm shower! See my post on our route and lodging (New Zealand: Month-long Campervan Route and Lodging Information) for a complete breakdown of the sites we selected and their price per night.
      • Download the Campermate and/or ViewRanger App ASAP. Be sure to also download the offline maps/data in Campermate as well as in Google Maps, so you can access information without service. These resources give tons of useful information about campsites, groceries, fuel locations, etc. We used Campermate daily. We also heard the app Flush was really useful, as it maps all public bathrooms!
    • Useful Route Planning Tip 1: Give yourself a day or two in your campervan pickup location to learn your vehicle and stock up on items you need: groceries, hardware, rental bikes. We started our adventure in Christchurch, so a night at the Godley Head DOC site was perfect for giving our vehicle a test drive near our pickup location. Good thing we did, because we had trouble with our toilet, and had to go back to the JUCY office in Christchurch!
    • Useful Route Planning Tip 2: Make sure your route includes the following locations (trust us – you won’t want to miss these!): Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Mount Sunday (Edoras), Mount Cook (Lonely Mountain), Kenepuru Head Sound (stay at the DOC Site or Freedom Camp here), Cook Strait crossing via ferry, Wellington (Weta Cave and Victoria Peak for LOTR fans), Hobbiton, Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and Cape Reinga.
    • Useful Tips to read before your journey: Click here for a list of things we wish we would have known, including must have items to pack or pick up when you arrive in NZ!
  2. What vehicle will you rent? There are MANY vehicle types and companies to choose from. As previously mentioned, I recommend selecting a self-contained vehicle, which enables you to freedom camp.
    • We spotted more than 25 camper rental companies on the road (yes – we tallied every vehicle we passed on the road during our last three weeks!). With Britz, Maui and JUCY being the three most frequently sited rented campervan on the road. The table includes a breakdown of the vehicles we spotted:NZ campervan stats.png
    • While there are many companies to choose from, we ended up selecting JUCY Rentals and we rented the JUCY Chaser. It ultimately cost about $175 USD/day to rent for five weeks – you will need to also factor in the additional cost of insurance, fuel, sites, and food when budgeting. Some rental companies offer add-ons like insurance, extra tables, chairs, bikes, etc. We didn’t select any add-ons, but did rent bikes from Natural High, which enable one way bike rentals. If you’re interested in a cost breakdown of the trip check out this blog post: The Economics of a Month-long Campervan Adventure through New Zealand.
      • Note on renting bikes in New Zealand: Most of the roads are two lane high ways without shoulders. This is particularly true outside of the major cities. The JUCY Chaser doesn’t come with a bike rack on the back, so we had to store the bikes inside our camper. Some companies like Britz do offer campers with bike racks, and rent bikes with their campers.
    • Insurance – It’s easier cheaper to take non-JUCY insurance. We went with Tripcover, and paid $313 for $4000 worth of coverage (including luggage in the event something was stolen from the camper and damage to the camper) as opposed to the insurance offered via JUCY, which was far more expensive.

Campervan Recipe Ideas

Campervan Recipe Ideas

During our five-week New Zealand campervan adventure, we enjoyed cooking in our camper, as well as a week-long spontaneous raw food diet. Below is a list of recipes for when you’ve had the last ramen, or PB&J, that you can stand and need to spruce things up a bit!

Recipe Links:

Simple Recipe Ideas:

  • Greek salad – mix cubed feta, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced and quartered cucumber, kalamata olives or olive tapenade, EVOO + balsamic vinegar and voila! You can add cubed avocado for more protein as well.
  • Smoked salmon with side of tzatziki and avocado or exchange the avocado for olive tapenade.
  • More to come!

Recipe: Raw Italian Pesto Salad Bowl

This raw salad is vegan (depending on your choice of pesto), paleo, quick to make and delicious! The first seven ingredients are the same as the Recipe: Raw Tofu Asian Salad Bowl, but instead of tofu/soy sauce simply add pesto!

Ingredients: IMG_E2163.JPG

  • Baby Kale (or the leaf base of your choice)
  • ½ Avocado cubed
  • Cherry tomatoes halved
  • Raw Alfalfa sprouts
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Carrot, beet and cabbage salad (mix available at most grocery stores)
  • Pesto – there are a variety of types (traditional non-vegan,

Instructions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and enjoy!
  2. For more protein, add a thickly shaven parmesan cheese.

Recipe: Raw Tofu Asian Salad Bowl

You may think, “Raw tofu? Yuck!”, but don’t be too quick to judge! This recipe is incredibly quick to make, delicious and healthy! I came up with this bowl during our week-long raw diet while living in a campervan in New Zealand for five weeks. It is vegan, gluten free, raw and paleo, and great for campervan living!

IMG_E2184 (2).JPG

Ingredients:

  • Baby Kale (or the leaf base of your choice)
  • ½ Avocado cubed
  • Cherry tomatoes halved
  • Raw Alfalfa sprouts
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Carrot, beet and cabbage salad (mix available at most grocery stores)
  • Raw bean sprouts
  • Raw tofu
  • Soy Sauce

Instructions:

  1. Unpackage, pat dry with a paper towel, then cube the tofu.
  2. Place cubed tofu in bowl and pour soy sauce over to marinate. Mix the tofu and soy sauce in the bowl to evenly coat
  3. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and enjoy!
  4. For more dressing pour any remaining soy sauce from the tofu marinate over your salad.
  5. For more protein, add a soft boiled egg (or two!)