Seven Things I Learned from My First Night in a Camper Van

Our home for the next week in New Zealand -- a Maui camper van.

As most of you probably know, I’m not exactly what you would call a rv-camper van type of a person. That said, I realize that a lot of my readers are, so I decided to check out the accessible options for folks on the South Island of New Zealand. And to do that, we had to just jump in and hit the road. And as newbies we learned a few things from out first night.

First and foremost, standard camper vans are not adequate for most wheelchair-users; however they may be OK for some slow walkers. We have a two person camper van from Maui rentals, and it’s cozy. If you can manage the one step up, you can probably do it. You can configure the beds as twins, which is probably the best choice if you need a little help getting up. Otherwise you have to crawl out the bottom of the king-sized configuration.

Bathroom wise things are tight. I expect one could use the toilet/shower compartment as a shower in a pinch, but you’d probably have to sit down on the toilet in order to do it. The good news is, the campground showers and toilets are nicely accessible; in fact that is what I used this morning. The roll-in shower has grab bars and a hand-held shower and there’s plenty of room to move. There’s also a plastic chair which can either be used to set your stuff on, or as a shower chair. All in all the facilities are nicely accessible, plus most campgrounds also have accessible cottage/motel options.

Full time wheelers will want to rent an accessible camper van, from a specialty dealer on the North Island; however you’ll probably still want to take advantage of the roomier campground shower facilities. So all in all, the camper van experience is very doable for wheelers and slow walkers.

With that in mind, here are a few things I learned from my first night in a camper van.

  • Toilet paper is not included in the camper van. Plan accordingly.
  • The side mirror of the camper van is extremely flexible, even when it “taps” a solid object. And that’s a very good thing!
  • It’s a good idea to double check and make sure all cabinets are latched before you hit the road. A Very good idea!
  • If you get up early — say 6AM — you’ll have the whole shower room to yourself.
  • Make sure you have adapters for your electrical appliances before you head off to the shower room.
  • Handi-wipes make good washcloths in a pinch.
  • Kiwis are extremely friendly and helpful — even to newbie rv-ers!

In any case, I’m looking forward to checking out more accessible campgrounds and tourist attractions on this visit, for Emerging Horizons readers. And I’ll pop in with an update here and there. But right now, I’m headed off to the accessible hot springs.

Adventure awaits!

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