Vanlife Pt.4: Trailer Parked

Winter has finally arrived in New Zealand and despite warm northerly winds still coming through, we’ve prepared ourselves for the day when the snow will finally stick around (fingers crossed!).

With changing seasons, a change in our vanlife routine has also occurred. As much as we enjoyed the freedom of driving around and exploring the north island with no itinerary or schedule, our current plans for the south island are a bit different. We’ve decided to become a bit more stable by working again and grounding ourselves in one spot for the time being at a holiday park in Wanaka.

It wasn’t in the cards for us to bother with finding the already limited available accommodation for the winter in Wanaka. We had just finished renovating the inside of our van, and decided to stick it out for the rest of the year living in our tiny home on wheels. Living in a trailer park seemed an easier and less popular option for travellers coming to visit/ live/ or work in the city for the season. As exciting and almost refreshing it is to change things up, this revised routine and next chapter of our vanlife comes with its obvious pros and unfortunate cons.

1. Amenities: full kitchen/ living area (that I don’t have to clean!), bathrooms, unlimited Wi-Fi, spas (hot tubs)/ sauna, laundry, dry room for ski gear and a wax room, in addition to power for our van to run a heater. We also tend to take advantage of other perks being more permanent guests; the addition of a tent/ awning for more space, inside storage for our bikes and gear, access to tools in order to fix our vehicle, and being able to use the holiday parks address for sending or receiving mail.

2. Petrol: Wanaka tends to have some of the highest prices of petrol on the south island. We’re pretty set on working for the majority of the winter season, therefore road trips around the country have become limited for the time being, but in turn saves us heaps of cash keeping our van parked in one spot.

3. Bulk Food: With more space for cooking and storing our food, we’re able to purchase double of what we would originally have bought at the grocery store. The bills may seem higher, but in the long run our food lasts longer and our visits to New World are few times per month vs. once a week. Its also been nice having the option of purchasing more produce and poultry without the fear of food going bad or having to eat certain things the day bought.

4. Local Vibes: Being able to work with and getting to know the local community has it advantages. For the first few months we would meet travellers, fellow bikers and locals, but never had enough time to get to know many people on a personal level. Its been a nice change going out for some grub, drinks, and the occasional hitch back to our place so conveniently on the opposite side of all the town’s amenities.

5. Making Money: The obvious pro is we’re making some cash while travelling now. Its was a nice break not having to work to live, but with our year of vanlife in New Zealand it’s time to take advantage of having a work holiday visa and take the stress off of having to touch our Canadian dough, in addition to banking some of our paychecks aside for when we finally hit the open road again!

1. Sharing Space: It’s one thing to have to live and share a space with a few roommates, but for us our roommates consist all that choose to stay at the trailer park, which changes on a daily basis. Things get a bit crazy and loud sometimes, but we’ve adapted to it now and figured out a system where our personal goods arn’t tampered with. We tend to be helpful and local in the sense of knowing what oven top works best, how to start up and keep the fire going, and the awkward mention of needing to bring in or hire from the front you’re own kitchen cookware for cooking.

2. Staying Warm: For the majority, we’re plenty warm having the right winter attire, solid sleeping bags, and a heater in the van, which almost makes this new way of vanlife too easy! With that said, we still struggle with the early morning hop out of the our warm van to the kitchen for a bowl of muesli (granola). It’s not as convenient having our amenities separated or having to walk in the cold to and from work, but the winters here so far isn’t nearly as cold as back home so we take the mild cold temps on as a challenge.

3. Rent: With all the perks of living at a holiday park there comes an unfortunate cost, and its monthly rent. For the first 4 months we lived rent free and probably saved ourselves close to the amount spent on our van itself. Fortunately, being able to work in New Zealand the rent dent taken from our paychecks balances out with the fact that we can live a bit more comfortable for the next 4 months. Its not our ideal way of vanlife for the winter, but the option to have running water and a warm shower everyday isn’t terrible either.

Despite the few cons and working for the summer, this new chapter of vanlife works for us. When we decide to move on, the majority of our stuff is already packed and the need of getting our damage deposit back or leaving our renter sufficient time to find another tenant isn’t an issue. There’s no deposit and the trailer park itself has no trouble filling up on a nightly basis. All parties are happy in the end, especially for us when the majority of short term travellers often leave free leftover food provisions for the taking 🙂

Posted by Marisa

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