How to keep the kids from going crazy on long campervan trips!


We’ve covered 1929kms over the last 9 days of our trip- that’s a lot of hours on the road! For our kids, that’s a lot of hours raised to the power of 10! So how have we kept them from going crazy?

  • Make sure you have plenty of fuel on board and take brief refuelling stops – fuel for their stomachs that is! We have clearly brought a couple of hobbits along with us. Although we feed them hearty breakfast and lunch, they seem to need second breakfast, elevenses, morning tea and afternoon tea!
  • For trips of 3-4 hours+, plan a stop or two for them to break up the journey and run off some energy. A decent playground, a beach, a picnic spot.
  • Have decent music playing. It’s harder for them to moan when they’re singing along to their favourite tracks.
  • If it keeps them sane, it keeps you sane. On previous trips we’ve taken a DVD player so that the kids can watch movies on the long journeys. This time it’s iPads. It’s the only time that they have unlimited access to their iPads, but it works.
  • We weren’t expecting this, but since I’ve been blogging about our trip, the boys have decided that they should too. Who’d have thought they’d have wanted to write during their trip?! We’d tried encouraging the boys to keep journals on previous trips but their interest soon evaporated. Although a blog is similar to a diary/journal writing, – blogging potentially has an audience and therefore a more tangible purpose. This purpose, it seems, has unlocked their enthusiasm to write, edit and publish!
  • Finally, if all of these tips are starting to wear thin, draw the curtain between the front cab and them and turn the music up loud.  See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil!

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools

There’s something for everyone here.  A variety of naturally heated mineral pools to soak in, hydroslides and children’s water play areas, a lazy river, a large freshwater swimming pool and private sauna, steam room and thermal pools to hire.  At $100 for a 2-day pass for a family of 4 (same price for family of 5 too), they are reasonably priced with the hydroslides and SuperBowl ride an additional $10 pp each day.  The pools are set against a stunning alpine backdrop and are beautifully landscaped and maintained.  The Tea Kiosk Cafe has a good selection of snacks and drinks which are no more expensive than outside the complex.

Top tip: if you’re not a fan of unavoidable footsie playing or rubbing shoulders with near- naked strangers, avoid the public holidays!  Our best time here was late autumn when the snow started to fall around us whilst we soaked in the pools!

Blue Lake TOP 10 Holiday Park

If you love camping grounds with full facilities this may be for you but at $91 for 2 x adults and 2 x children it’s not for us.  We chose it because it is directly across from the beautiful Blue Lake (Lake Tikitapu) in Rotorua so thought it would be an idyllic spot.  It’s certainly handy for accessing the lake and the walking/mountain biking trails, it has not 1 but 2 children’s play areas both with spring-free trampolines plus a jumping pillow, the kitchen area is spacious and spotless and the bathrooms are also spotlessly clean.  There is a cafe on site and the reception people are friendly and informative.  However, the fact that apart from price, it was otherwise faultless, helped us to realise that commercial camping was not for us… freedom camping here we come!!

Stress-free morning dressing!

Having become quickly frustrated with the morning madness of getting dressed in the camper I devised some simple tricks to making waking up with a family less stressful!

  • Have changes of undies, socks and PJs easily accessible for the kids so that they can can manage this themselves without wailing “Muuuum, where are my undies?” “Muuum I’ve worn these PJs for 3 (OK sometimes more like 7!)  nights now I need clean ones!!”
  • Organise the kids clothes into 1 x shorts/2 x t-shirts and roll them up together.  This means that 1) if you’re like me, you’ll be pleased that they co-ordinate!, 2) they are easy to access and 3) rolling them up both eliminates creasing and maximises use of storage.
  • If your camper hasn’t got them already, consider putting 2 x clothes pegs (his n’ hers) within arm-reach of your own bed.  Get your “wake-up” clothes ready the night before so that you’re not fumbling around first-thing trying to find something to wear.

Okurukuru Winery, New Plymouth

We were recommended this place and were so glad we we took the advice.  For self-contained vehicles it is completely free to park overnight providing you dine here and wine-tasting is optional… don’t mind if we do!!  The meal was sensational- if you’re spoilt for choice (as I was) I recommend the “Coastal Prime Beef Cheek, Free Range Pork Belly and Te Popo Lamb Rump served with Kaitake Vegetables, Oven Baked Potatoes and Jus” – in other words, trying it all!  The wine tasting of  Okurukuru Pinotage and Rosé (on-site crafted) plus  a selection of wines crafted at the winery’s other property situated in Marlborough are generously poured for $10 for 4 tastings.

The restaurant has stunning wide ocean views.  The outside area is perfect for sitting outside on a sunny day and even better for children to run around and enjoy the the play area.  Even better, you get to continue appreciating the views from the comfort of your camper and there’s even a cute picnic table and benches to use.  We’ll definitely be back!

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