Campervan FAIL

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a hostel where we booked an 8-bed dorm room. Believe it or not, this is preferable to sleeping in the campervan we rented.

New Zealand is all about camping. There are campsites and all sorts of campervans everywhere. It’s what the locals do for vacations, and what the tourists do to see the country. The whole campervan thing was an aspect of the trip I was really looking forward to, and yet…


It’s been unseasonably cold in New Zealand. Usually it’s in the 70’s during the day and in the 50’s at night. But on many nights, it’s gotten down to 35. Hence, my first problem – being too cold to sleep. (Oh and I had on all kinds of layers – even my jacket and hat!)


The campervan we rented is the smallest campervan around. This is a real plus for driving, with tight turns around and up the mountains, steep inclines and declines. It’s also a whole lot cheaper than the bigger vans. But when it comes to sleeping, it provides just enough space to even make it possible. Hence, my second problem – feeling like I’m sleeping in a coffin.


Okay, I wasn’t expecting a million-dollar mattress here, but what they give you is really just a block of foam. Hence, my third problem – waking up with intense back pain each day.

On top of all that, the main sliding door stopped working two days in and we had to swap it out for different one. So the spaceship was more like a sunken ship. While New Zealand fulfilled every expectation, the campervan was a huge disappointment.

I reached a breaking point 10 days ago. I had gotten maybe three hours of sleep over the last two nights and had to cancel our plans to go on this amazing bike ride, which really bummed me out.

I realized something had to change. I was not only physically and mentally burned out from the situation, but now it was impacting our trip in a big way.

We’re still using the campervan to get around – it’s already paid for and it’s useful to have the refrigerator and extra room for stuff. In addition to the occasional hostel, we’re finding simple cabins at the campsites for around $24 more than it would cost us for a campervan site, so that’s good.

Below are a few photos. The car comes with two things not pictured here – an awning you can attach to the side and one you can attach to the rear – providing more space and air to sleep. (But this would only be possible on a warm night.)