We're going on holiday... in a campervan

Hardcore fans of Peppa Pig will recognise the title.

Picked up the camper today. Left our luggage at the hostel and headed to the airport, where the rental company's offices were. My god what a huge beast of a vehicle! We were upgraded and I think this, more luxurious, version is a bit bigger than the already big 4-person camper we had hired (gone were the dreams of a VW microbus if we wanted to have shower and toilet for 4 people). It is about the size of a small bus, and quite tall. That, plus the left-hand driving, had me pretty terrified. Luckily Esther is a truck driver at heart, though even she was in awe.

But first we had a bit of a problem. We needed to leave a 7500 NZD deposit on our credit cards. I had just bought the LA flights on one, the limit was pants on the other, and all the rest were back at Queenstown. Finally, between the two cards we had (and after 4 attempts and a lot of pressing buttons on the calculator), we just made the payment. I must be just a couple of Euros from the limit on both.

So finally, after a quick camper tutorial and stop at the supermarket, way later than planned, we headed off into the sunset towards Greymouth. We didn't get far. Not long after picking up our bags and food from Queenstown we realised how late it was and stopped at a nearby DOC (government-run) campsite. These are much cheaper but also much more basic - only (latrine style) toilets: no showers, power, or even waste disposal. We are planning on doing 2 nights DOC, 1 night commercial (mostly because of the battery), only that initially we have 3 nights DOC so we have to go easy on the lights.

There are loads of things to think about in a campervan. Apart from your usual vehicle stuff like petrol, oil and battery you have a hell of a lot more. First is the house battery. It partially charges when you drive, but what it really likes is a proper powered site (every three days is recommended). Not being hooked up to a power line also means not plugs (ie, no non-USB charging - camera, and speakers - for USB we have an adaptor in the car lighter) and no microwave or toaster (but we have  gas grill). No house battery means no fridge, no house lights (but we have torches) and no TV/DVD (we will mostly be using the tablets anyway). I think the pump still works though. Then you have the clean water tank and corresponding grey water - you should aim to fill one and empty the other every day or so (there are plenty of places for doing this, like petrol stations, not only camp sites). The toilet is a chemical/flush thingy separate from the clean/grey water tanks - you have to make sure there is enough water for the flush and empty the deposit (and chuck in a new chemical tablet) about once a week. Finally you have the gas, a couple of small canisters that last a few days each.

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