I think the title says it all- I loved my Jucy campervan rental and can not imagine seeing New Zealand any other way. It handled the winding nature of New Zealand’s roads perfectly, and was extremely comfortable, both for sleeping and for sitting in working on the computer, the two things I most need from my lodging when traveling.
Since I was travelling by myself, I opted for the smallest model available, the Jucy Cabana. For 1 or 2 people, this vehicle is the perfect size, about that of a standard North American minivan. The middle of the vehicle has two bench-style seats facing each other.
The middle of the van serves as both bedroom and workspace. While driving, I left it in the two bench seat configuration. On nights I was camping, I would set up the table when I got into my campsite so I could eat and work on the computer at the table.
When I was ready for bed, I would move my day pack and all of the other things kept in the back while driving to the two front seats so I could set the bed up.
Each of the side windows comes with a curtain that rolls up during the day and is snapped tight, and is rolled down, and snapped to a different snap to provide some privacy for the ‘bedroom’ area in back. The back window does not come with one of these curtains, but I had a large suitcase that I used to block it off by setting it up in the ‘kitchen’ area.
Opening the back door of the van reveals ‘the kitchen’ area. There is a mini sink for washing dishes, two separate storage areas for all of the included cooking necessities and a mini-cooler, which runs off of the campervan’s main battery while the vehicle is running, and off of an auxiliary battery when it is not. The cooler is especially handy- on my long road trips in the US, I was forced to keep buying bags of ice to add to my cooler. This can get expensive as well as inconvenient having to drain the water from the coller all the time.
There is also a one-burner stove for cooking that pulls out from just below the mini-coller. Most of the campgrounds I stayed in had excellent shared kitchen facilites, so I only used the one-burner a handful of times, but I most appreciated the ability to pull of to the side of the road anywhere and whip myself up a satisfactory hot meal.
The one complaint I had with the Cabana is that it did not come with any power outlets inside of the vehicle. Some of the larger models do offer this feature, but the Cabana did not. Unpowered spaces at campgrounds are less expensive than powered ones, but I like to be able to work on my laptop and charge my camera batteries in my vehicle each night, so I, after a couple days without power, bought a power cord that I could plug in to the powered spots at campgrounds. The cord was not cheap, running over $150USD, but I really felt like it was worth it to me. It was also fairly hard to track down, but I was so glad I did.
Beside being a comfortable place to bed down for the night, I loved the flexibility that driving myself offered. I know a lot of people who get around New Zealand perfectly well using public transportation and the country’s excellent hop-on/hop-off bus network. For my style of travel, it was perfect not having to worry about bus schedules. I also had the option of visiting places that even the buses didn’t go (specifically Cape Reinga).
It was nice to have the table in the back when witing out rain, which I did a couple of times. One time, I sat in the back and had lunch. Another I worked on the computer for a little while. A third time I unfolded the bed and took a short nap.
I didn’t feel guilty, either, about the number of nights I spent in hostels. The campervan wasn’t too much more expensive than a normal rental car, and hostel lodging wasn’t too much more than that of a powered site in a campground.
As I said in the opening, I can not imagine a better way to travel around New Zealand. Certain bus passes would save some money, and for many who travel, especially young backpackers and the RTW travelers, but, for me personally, I wouldn’t go any other way. I can also whole-heartedly endorse Jucy, the company I used. They were competitively priced and provided excellent customer service. In my rental agreement there was a list of all the discounts I could take advantage of just from choosing them as my rental company. They offered a discounted rate on the Interislander Ferry, which their customer service also took care of booking for me.