The below are a few camper van essentials. Some are specific to New Zealand but most might be beneficial for any novice camper van traveller. We’re currently touring New Zealand in a 3-berth Nissan camper for 5 weeks.
1. USB charger
A car-lighter based USB adapter can be bought at any petrol station for between $5 and $10. Typically this runs at either 2.1 amp or 1.1 amp or both. 2.1 amp charges your phone extremely fast and should be used on the phone that is being used for guiding the van by GPS. The other will easily charge another device. In a world of so many electrical items, keeping them is extremely important and this really is a camper van essential.
2. Phone holder
You might get lucky and have a camper with a phone holder or convenient place to lean up your phone. However if it’s not secure the twisty New Zealand roads will send your phone flying about the cockpit like a chicken in a hurricane. Buy a phone holder that attaches to your windscreen for $8 and never worry about it again.
3. Audio lead
First of all ask your rental company if they have one available. If not, you can buy one for $10. Perfect for connecting your Spotify to your CD player in the camper. Try to connect your GPS device if it’s the same phone. This way you will still hear the directions even when blasting guns n roses.
4. Self contained sticker
Self-Contained campers are simply treated better than other campers. Check with your rental company at the start and make sure you have the little blue certification sticker. I believe you only need a portable toilet, water supply and a sink with evacuation hose. Get this sticker, then take advantage of freedom camping sites with flushable toilets. Saves on the washing up if you know what I mean.
5. New Zealand SIM card
Cheap – spark will give you 3gb data, 200mins and 200 texts for 2 months for $49. This is very handy for booking accommodation and tours while on the road. Get your shotgun seat passenger to make the calls obviously. Not only this but you get 1GB free data at many wifi hotspots around the country.
6. Ice for that chilly-box
Ice can be picked up at most gas stations and supermarkets. You’ll need to empty and refill at least every 2 days (unless you’re in the middle of winter). In summer this is 100% a campervan essential and we found ourselves buying an unbelievable amount of ice!
7. Zip-lock bags
Useful for your chill box. Make sure all your fridge-dwelling items are stowed away in ziplock bags. It saves your items getting wet and spoiling in the water, or your open breakfast materials making everything smell like smokey bacon.
8. Camper Van Apps
There are two FREE camper van apps you seriously need. We use both of these everyday and they are definitely camper van essentials. The most useful aspect of both are the reviews of the campsites. Read them carefully!
CamperMate – This shows you pretty much everything, activities, petrol stations, free & paid camp sites. We use it to make sure that our freedom campsites come equipped with a public toilet nearby – preferably one that is open 24/7.
Camping NZ is a slimmed-down version of CamperMate. It shows you camp sites, free or paid as well as some activities nearby. Sometimes it also shows you offers for nearby activities.
For more advice on your New Zealand adventures read this post which has even more road trip tips!