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Posted by on May 30, 2013

Random Thoughts – Winter Weather, Holiday Parks and Wifi in New Zealand


Our lives these days are not very glamorous. Winter is coming in the South Island of New Zealand and the days are frigid, with threats of rain and snow at a moment’s notice. Before embarking on a hike the other day we were told not to underestimate the storm that was expected to be blowing in. We also don’t change our clothes all that often because it’s too cold to wear anything but lots of layers.

The storm did come!

The storm did come!

By day we roll in our 2002 Toyota camper van.  At night, we find a “holiday park,” where we typically find people in much more spacious and luxurious accommodations than our two-person van.

Howl's Caste vs. the nicer camper vans in the parks.

Howl’s Castle vs. the nicer camper vans in the parks.

We haven’t enjoyed a meal at a proper sit-down restaurant in 10 days because eating out is basically cost-prohibitive on our budget. So why aren’t we totally miserable? Because travel in New Zealand is tailored to people driving around in camper vans and the holiday parks must have nice accommodations or people will find another one since they’re everywhere. We reserve powered sites so we can have lights and a much-needed electric heater during the night. And all of the parks have kitchens where you can cook meals and living areas where you can watch TV, play cards or surf the Web. Bathrooms are typically clean with decent showers. The one we’re currently staying in even has a hot tub. It’s basically a more luxurious way of camping and a great way of touring around the country. We typically pay $30+ for a campsite, or half as much as we would pay to stay in a private room in a hostel, and 1/3 as much as a cheap hotel. Even though it’s off-season, the parks are still fairly crowded, mostly with people from New Zealand or Australia. find a domain . There are few Americans.

One of the holiday park men's bathrooms.

One of the more creative men’s bathrooms in a NZ holiday park.

I’ve found a new sport! It’s called Net Ball. It’s similar to basketball except there’s no backboard. And it’s only played by women. Some women staying at our holiday park the other day were looking for a Net Ball game on the television. I asked them why no backboards and they said, “It’s too easy.” Apparently there is a big Net Ball rivalry between New Zealand and Australia. I’m hoping to play at some point during the trip.

Net ball court at a Queenstown primary school.

Net ball court at a Queenstown primary school.

Levels of Jill’s nervousness when I drive. Mildly Nervous: right arm holding onto the seat. Very Nervous: left arm holding the handle affixed to the door. Not Nervous: Sings along to the music that’s playing.

We’re also spending a lot of time in libraries because of free Wifi. The holiday parks will typically try to gouge you on Wifi so we use them as little as possible. One of Jill’s pet peeves in California was that libraries are not open on Sundays, a day she says when people actually have the time to use them. But in New Zealand, we found the library in the town we were staying on Sunday was open and boy was she happy.  That happiness was fleeting however, as the library in the next town we traveled to proudly announced they did not have Wifi and were charging for Internet use on their computers (and they were closed on Sunday). We spent the next half hour trying to find Wifi in a pub, cafe, anywhere without any luck before finally locating one. We can’t understand why more businesses do not have Wifi since it would obviously drive customers in. Between writing the blog, making appointments at wineries and trying to keep up with friends and family through e-mail or Facebook, our lives continue to be heavily influenced by how and when we can get online. We bought a pocket Wifi device that just needs phone service to provide access to the Internet, but found it eats through data so we limit how much we use it.

The woman at the campground just informed us that it’s supposed to get down to -7 tonight. After she left, Jill said “What is -7?” I have no idea.

It’s 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Oh, did I mention that after 35 days in a camper van in New Zealand that we’re doing another 24 in Australia? Good times! We’re trying to decide whether to pay up to get something a little nicer than the van we’re traveling in now. Fortunately, we were told by some Australians that New Zealand is even more expensive than Australia, especially gas and food at the grocery store.



  1. Where are you two gypsies off to after your 30 or so day’s in Australia? I know that won’t be for another month and a half or so. I sure hope it is somewhere nice and warm. 🙂 Sure do enjoy reading all your posts. Today is Jen’s Birthday…we miss our Jill and Dave. I know, I know,,,you are on a once in a life adventure. We still miss you. Stay warm. xo

    • Hi Patti – after Australia we’re on to London, then a Norway cruise with Dave’s parents before hopping around Europe! Thanks for being our most faithful reader! 🙂