New Zealand with Kids
It is is an amazing place to visit and it’s so easy to get around and the people are so lovely and open. It also happens to be extremely child friendly, you will see a lot of smiles on peoples faces when you have your child around. And traveling by campervan is really the only way to go around and see it all!
Should I get a large Motorhome or rather a small Van?
First and foremost – every passenger ( that counts in the kids) needs to have a seat and a belt! Sounds like a no brainer for most but not everywhere in the world does the law require it and in such places, a baby on the lap is totally fine.
Sorry, not over here, if you’re traveling with two adults and two kids, you need to have 4 seats with seat belts.
The smallest “family vans” are the so called 2+1 models, usually based on a Toyota Hiace or a VW. A drivers seat and a passenger bench with a lap belt in the middle are pretty much standard for those. That means that in vans with no airbag , the child seat needs to be fitted on the passenger side with the 3 point belt. The middle seat is then used by one of the parents – giving the available space, that might be a bit tight and therefore not an ideal set up for everyone. Some companies like Happy Camper installed a special tether system in their vans that allows for the middle seat to have baby seats fixed. That works generally really well, only with rear facing baby capsules shifting gears with the gear stick on the dash is a bit tight.
Those 2+1 vans come usually with a large double bed in the rear with a smaller bed above. The upper bed has a weight restriction (60-100kg max) and can work very well as additional storage or as an “escape” option for one of the parents. And before you ask: nope, there are no nets provided to secure a baby up there – the risk of a child falling out is just to high.
The available floor space generally does not allow for a separate baby bed ( Porta Cod) but some companies offer an high chair as an bookable extra.
Next one up is the 4 berth size, most vans have the kids seated in the back with two seats in the front cabin. One large double bed converts the seating area and a second one above the drivers cabin. If you have larger kids with no risk of falling out – they will love it up there. With a baby, you probably have it sleeping with you in the larger double, but at least you have a decent sized bed as a backup for your self. A smaller alternative are the Jucy Condo models (basically a Toyota Hiace as with the 2+1) but with a second upper double bed. A bit cheaper then the 4 berth but you compromise in space and headroom…
For a family of four a 6 berth is a perfect size. Parking in some town centers might be a little challenging but in most places its not an issue.
You have the rear seating and the top bed as in a 4 berth but additional dining area that converts to another double if needed. If you don`t use it for sleeping, you have a seating/reading/dining area all day even if you leave the rear bed set up. They come usually with a larger shower/toilet area and a gas or diesel heating system which is handy if you plan to travel during winter.
Bedding, Linen, Towels , Cutlery, Pots&Pans etc are usually included in the rates – only a few charge extra for linen – it will be stated in the quote you get from us. After arrival you need to pass through Customs and Immigration – keep an eye out for the desk for families, NZ is child friendly, even the Immigration! Once you have cleared those and got your luggage back, you are ready for the pick up which is included in the quote. Some supplier wait for your call to come and get you, others have a shuttle that goes around in intervals – we will include that information for you as well.
The handover at the depot will take about an hour, make sure you understand how everything works and that you take a look around the vehicle before you sign the damage sheet.
Shopping for groceries
In NZ we have three major chains Pak`n Save, Countdown and New World – cheapest to dearest for a regular basket. You find baby products for all ages, milk powder, nappies and ready made meals in glasses on the shelves so there is no reason to bring more then you need for the flight with you. Additionally to the big three, there are 4Plus markets or dairies all over the place.
yes, of course you find all the familiar names if you prefer to eat there. Definitively, try our NZ own local burger chain < Burger Fuel> -according to many ( us included) , the best burger you can buy in NZ! But make sure to order some Fish`n Chips in a small, local shop and have it straight on the beach! You will love the freshness of the fish and the newspaper wrapped food will become pretty addictive!