Aotearoa, New Zealand, the land of the long white cloud, is filled to the brim with epic road trips and indescribable camping locations. It is no secret how much we love our Jayco JRV Campervan. The freedom, comfort, and ease of packing up and hitting the road were made more accessible with Jayco. Everything we need is right here, in our home on wheels. I knew the day that we picked up the Jayco, it would be the start of something beautiful, and boy, has it been a ride!
We have seen it all in our campervan, from beachfront coffees, backcountry roads, and iconic kiwi campsites. But, I am not the only one leaning into the nomadic side of life. Someone else shares a similar passion to me, and he lives right here on the South Island of New Zealand.
Introducing my dear friend, Kyle, aka Bare Kiwi. With a thirst for life and adventure, it is no surprise that his life has taken him to all corners of the world, documenting everything on route. A few months before Jayco came into my life, Kyle had already signed sealed, and Jayco delivered on an off-road machine for Kyle & Lisa. Their Jayco All Terrain Caravan pulled to epic locations in their trusty Ford truck has a story or two to tell for sure… So let’s get stuck in and compare our two humble abodes on wheels.
Let’s start with the obvious, one you tow, one you drive. Kyle is a caravan enthusiast, and I have been brought up with campervans in my life, so Jayco nailed it when matching these two vehicles to us. I asked Kyle some questions so we could share the van life stoke with you!
What has been your favourite Jayco adventure?
Sophie: Oh wow. Every day is an adventure in the Jayco, but if I have to pick one. We packed up the van for four weeks on the road at Christmas. We travelled from Queenstown, up the East Coast, through to the Abel Tasman, and back down the West Coast. It was incredible. We saw so much, met like-minded people, and camped in some stunning locations. Having the van meant we could pull up wherever we wanted to sleep the night.
Kyle: The “No Caravans or towing vehicles” Rainbow road! Don’t worry, we called the high station farm owners before entering this adventure. All signs on the Rainbow Road state, “No Towing vehicles allowed,” But when we explained we had a Jayco Outback, his reply was ‘She’ll be right’ we even took my wife’s mum and dad for their first caravan road trip on this one haha. She was tight in a few spots and extremely bumpy in some sections, but slow and steady wins the race. This kind of road is what the Outback series is truly built for.
Where is the best campsite in New Zealand where you have stayed the night?
Sophie: Okay, so there are three that stand out to me, but I will choose one. Off the back of our month-long Christmas trip, we added a few days on and swung through The Catlin’s on the south coast of the South Island. Purakaunui Bay (PK Bay to the locals) is wild, magic, wow, and more wow. With an awesome surf break, beachfront camping spots, and a sunrise that blew my little socks off, we could have stayed here for days on end. Highly recommend getting off the beaten track here in NZ!
Kyle: Screw you, sophie, that’s our one! Haha, and we even towed right out to the point cause that’s what bogans with flash toys do. Okay then, our second choice: This is a tough call between Totetarnui or Paturau Beach, Both in Golden Bay at the top of the South Island. Totetaranui is the only DOC campsite you can drive to in the Abel Tasman NP. It’s a massive campsite, but don’t let that put you off the place, it just means there’s something there for everyone, if you want other families to absorb your kids or hideaway in a corner on your own, it’s all there. With fire pits all over the place and some of the best of the Abel Tasman hikes on tap. However, Paturau is a real locals adventure right on the West Coast down an extremely long windy, dusty road. It’s real camping, no freshwater supply or toilets, just the real deal, but that’s why I love it there. I also don’t want to give away more than that.
What is your favourite feature in your Jayco?
Sophie: My favourite feature is the back lounge and bedroom area. I love how you have a lounge, dining, and sleep area all in one. The transition from day to night is so quick and easy, and the additional storage under the seats means we can keep all our duvet, sheets, and pillows in one place. There is nothing finer than throwing the doors open and starting the day with a coffee in hand and the sound of the ocean nearby.
Kyle: The JTECH Independent Suspension and solid build has been a real game-changer to caravan life. In the words of Tony from Jayco Canterbury. You’ll give up before the caravan does. I think it’s fair to say we’ve gone places you would never dream of towing, and ‘she loves it” Oh yeah, I better mention the hot shower with unreal pressure and endless gas hot water is always a treat when backcountry.
Do you have a bucket list destination for your campervan/caravan?
Sophie: The list is never-ending. So much goodness to explore here in New Zealand. I am itching to get the van up north and spend a month meandering the roads of the North Island. With glaciers, lakes, mountains, and endless beaches, I think the experience would be epic and a photographer’s dream.
Kyle: We had planned to get up North, but a few things got in that way… COVID19, but we will get onto 90mile beach is this year’s goal.
What would be your number one van life tip?
Sophie: Take your time. There is no rush ever when in a van. Take it slow, take in the sights and ALWAYS take the back roads. After all, gravel roads lead to the best adventure. I always say to people don’t be afraid to explore off the beaten path. New Zealand is a treasure trove of incredible scenery, hidden campsites, and places to explore.
Kyle: Work on your wave, I’m either full hand single wave like opening a jar in the air or one finger waver, so work on that with fellow caravaners and don’t be a snob. But my biggest tip is to stop and chill before parking up, get out and go for a walk around. You never know what holes of nasty are hiding in the long grass. Good communication with your partner when backing up is key. It’s not hard, but like a boat ramp, everyone is watching, hoping for a fail, and you can feel it, so relax, you’re in a caravan, and everyone can see that, so they’ve already given you a wide berth and more time.
Is your Jayco liveable for an extended period of time?
Sophie: Absolutely. With plenty of storage, a bathroom, fridge, and full kitchen set up, we could easily and comfortably live in our Jayco for a very long time. Every day we toy with the conversation of just hitting the full road time and seeing what happens… maybe I could be tempted after the winter here in Queenstown!?
Kyle: We basically live in our full-time now. We do have a house in Motueka but are on the road so much it’s our home away from home. I even spent a winter in Queenstown in it, where the campsite taps froze, but our Jayco (100% factory spec, no added insulation) was perfect!
Where in New Zealand is best for a road trip?
Sophie: New Zealand’s national parks take the cake. They are incredibly diverse, stunning, and a mecca for anyone that loves a real adventure. My top two locations would be Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, a visit to the iconic White Horse Campground and sunrise at The Tasman Lake should be high on your list here. Magic at every turn, and to be in the company of New Zealand’s tallest mountain… well, that alone is a privilege. My other location would be Fiordland National Park. Unpredictable, insane weather patterns and 1.2 million hectares of temperate rainforest. For hikers, Fiordland is the place to be. You really can’t go wrong with Great Walks, day hikes, short strolls, and campsites nestled in the bush. You really can’t go wrong. I also think Milford Sound should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Kyle: West Coast of the South Island for sure! The road there is the destination with everything so close. This is why we love Caravan life. You can park up in places like Gentle Annie on the Mokihinui river or down in Fox Glacier for a few days and then go exploring. My biggest tip for the coast is to stop! Just stop every time you see a lookout or something random stop. Even the bars fly slow on the coast, so should you.
Tell us something we won’t know about your Jayco?
Sophie: What can I tell you… Did you know the JRV has a full bathroom set up? There are three seats up front, a bathroom with shower and toilet, a full kitchen with gas cookers, a fridge, storage, and handy living space at the back, transforming into a bedroom. The back doors open and pin back, which is epic when you have uninterrupted sunrise views to sip your coffee with. We often get asked what’s inside our Jayco… to which I instantly invite people for a little walk-through tour.
Kyle: I think I already mentioned how insanely good the shower is but let me repeat it! The Outback has great outside living with a fold-down leaner and outdoor power points! There is also an outside tap for washing your feet after the beach or like us in summer general outside living. We BBQ and live outside a lot in summer.
That’s a wrap on our JRV vs Caravan tour… what team are you?