Ultimate Motorhome Holiday Competition Entry

Submitted by Devin Walford of New Zealand
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6 Friends, 1 CHEAPA CAMPA, and plenty of adventure!!!

Well I can now say that I've slept in a campervan.  It wasn't the worst night of sleep but I've definitely had better.  Lindsey and I slept in the back bed, Cameron and Caitlin snuggled on the side bed, and Chris and Trenton got the "pent house", the bed that is above the front of the car.

We were all exhausted so it was a little difficult to wake up but we managed.  I definitely wasn't expecting it to get so cold in New Zealand.  I woke up and thought I was in Alaska in an igloo.  (It actually reminded me a lot of waking up at home in NJ where my mom sets the thermostat to 62° when we sleep but don't get me started.)   We got ready for the day, brushed our teeth and what not.  It was Monday and we hadn't showered since Saturday so we were feeling a little gross.  I washed my hair under a spicket that was outside our camping grounds.  It was freezing but we all know my crazy hair needed some intense taming.

We then drove for about 20 minutes to the actual lake, Lake Tekapo.  There were a fair number of people there taking in the beautiful surroundings as well.  The lake was stunning.  The water was so clean and clear.  We walked around and took pictures for a while.  Overlooking the lake is a tiny little church.  From the inside you could view the lake and the cross at the altar provided for a stunning picture.  We ended up meeting a nice family from Australia who was traveling for the holidays.  They offered to take our picture so all six of us could be in it together.  After, we talked to them for a little while longer.  They gave us some great travel tips and we were on our way.

Our next stop was to find a bathroom.  We didn't have to travel too far.  Right near the lake there was a little touristy strip of stores.  We decided we weren't going to use the bathroom on the campervan because we didn't want to deal with having to clean out the tank upon returning.  So we found a bathroom and grabbed a bite to eat.  We also got some bare essentials, bread, instant coffee, peanut butter, jelly, spaghetti, pasta sauce, granola bars, and of course Tim-Tams.

It was then time to say bye to Lake Tekapo and hit the road.  Our next stop on the trip, Wanaka.  We were enjoying our time on the road as usual, singing songs, laughing at Trenton and his dance moves, when all the sudden Chris began to slow down.  Before we knew it we were in a parking lot with a huge sign that read "Driver Reviver".  Confused, I asked what we were doing.  Chris explained he has seen a sign for free food and coffee.  Although we just ate we couldn’t pass up the offer.  There were people left and right greeting us and welcoming to the “Driver Reviver” station.  We were told that it was a new program State was putting on to help prevent accidents on the road due to tired drivers.  (I guess you could say State is equivalent to our AAA.)  They had these two coffee vans where you could order basically anything you wanted and they’d make it for you on the spot.  When I heard free coffee I was most certainly not expecting this.  I ended up getting a chai latte thanks to Lindsey’s suggestion.  I haven’t been the same since, I’m obsessed.  I also had the best apple ever.  Yes people, I can eat apples now.  It was amazing.  Seriously, best apple ever.  They also had bottled water, lollypops, chocolates, and handy road maps up for grabs.  We were sure to grab a “few” extras for the rest of our adventure.

After that nice little detour, we were back on the road headed to Wanaka.  I think we got caught up in the whole adventure and forgot that our campervan needed gas.  We ended up having to take a road in the opposite direction Wanaka to get to the closest gas station.  It was a nice little scenic detour to say the least but we lost some time.  When we got to Wanaka I was absolutely blown away.  I wish I knew the right words to describe it but I don’t think there are any.  Even the pictures don’t do justice.  It is definitely my new favorite place.  The entire town was picturesque.  I could definitely see myself living there one day.  Our plan was to go to Puzzling World, a place that had illusion rooms and The Great Maze.  But by the time we got to Wanaka, Puzzling World was closed so we decided to push that back to Tuesday.  Instead, we parked and walked around the town a bit.  The boys wanted to try the local brewed beer so we went to a local restaurant and grabbed a drink and relaxed.

In order to understand the rest of the adventure story I guess it’s important to give some background information about the campervan.  Our campervan dubbed the name ‘Second String’ came equipped with a shower, toilet, stove, microwave, TV, DVD player, air conditioner, space heater, sink, toaster oven, etc.  Sounds amazing, right?  Well many of those great amenities would only work when you were powered up.  In other words they would only work when the campervan was plugged in at a campervan park.  You would think after spending so much money on renting a campervan these campervan parks would be relatively cheap.  Wrong.  They ran about $16 per person per night.  So, there was no way we were spending the night in one of those for the entire week.  Plus, we wanted to be able to wake up surrounded by nature and beautiful scenery, not a trailer park. Case closed.

So we found ourselves driving around Wanaka trying to find a place to pull off and sleep for the night.  I was told by the STA travel agent that it was illegal to park along the side of the road in New Zealand and I made sure to pass that information along to the rest of the crew.  Well we drove and drove and drove and everywhere we seemed to pull off at had signs that read, “Strictly NO Camping”.  We even managed to crack the fiberglass side panel of the campervan but I’ll save that story for later.  They were even complete with a little picture of a campervan with a huge slash through it.  Renting campervans and driving around New Zealand is apparently a very popular thing to do.  So we were getting restless trying to find a spot.  As soon as we were about to drive way out of Wanaka we saw another campervan up along this dirt side road and well decided that it would be okay.  Brilliant idea.  We had a place to stay for the nice close to the lake and for free!

Cameron, Caitlin, Lindsey, and I attempted to take showers.  We only have a limited water supply so we all took 3 minute showers with the warmest water ever.  NOT.  The water heater takes forever to heat the water so we just roughed it and took cold showers.  They were much needed… not that I felt much cleaner after.  We star gazed for a little while after and then decided to hit the hay.

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Meeting Our CHEAPA CAMPA!!!!!

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