Waving goodbye to the UK we touched down 24 hours later in Brisbane, marking the start of our ‘international’ JUCY adventure. Matt and I jumped into a taxi and headed to the Brisbane JUCY branch where we were given an introduction to our camper who we decided would be called Betsy. She came complete with everything we needed for our trip, including a dooner (the Aussie word for duvet and my favourite Aussie word!) pillows, towels, crockery, cutlery, pots and pans. The small kitchen unit at the back of the van had a sink, storage cupboard, cool box, a gas stove and not forgetting a kettle for a good brew. It also came with two chairs, perfect for alfresco dining.
We were so excited to be in Australia, with the introduction complete we hit the road. The first stop was a supermarket to stock up on essentials and treats for our trip, the most important ones being Tim Tam biscuits, Bundaberg ginger beer and Bundaberg Rum! Kangaroo steak with veggies for the first nights meal was a tasty welcome to the land of down under. Some very good friends of ours were getting married near their home in the Glass House Mountains so we planned our trip around this. We drove to the Sunshine Coast first stopping at Mooloolaba, where we relaxed on the beach, followed by a night up in the mountains in Mapleton. Here a highlight for me was stargazing by candlelight and listening to the fruit bats in the trees above us. Back on the Sunshine Coast for two nights we Paddle Boarded in Noosa and attended the stag and hen parties. Returning to the Hinterland for two more nights, it was all about National Park walking and waterfall spotting. We watched our friends say their ‘I dos’, then waved goodbye to Australia and boarded a flight to New Zealand for the next part of our adventure.
Arriving in Christchurch after a three hour flight from Brisbane the change in temperature was instantly noticeable so it was off with the flip flops and on with the Ugg boots before I had even left the airport terminal! Our next camper was ready and waiting for us, we named him Boris. Boris came with snow chains and was very similar to Betsy, so we felt instantly at home. The first stop was two nights at Lake Tekapo at a fantastic campsite; I loved waking up in the morning to such an incredible and uninterrupted view of soapy blue water and snow-capped mountains. It was such a peaceful location and a perfect area to relax in. Next on the agenda was Queenstown, a very cosmopolitan place to hang out in and perfect for adrenaline junkies. We stayed there for two nights and took in the atmosphere, sampling the local food and drink as we went.
From Queenstown we booked a days snowboarding at Cardrona, which was just awesome. Following on from Queenstown we ventured to Te Anau for a trip to a glow worm cave. The next day saw us heading to Milford Sound, the drive was just incredible and one I won’t forget in a hurry. JUCY Cruise was our choice of vessel with such a sunny day the sound was just out of this world and there weren’t too many sand flies around either. From Milford Sound we drove back to Queenstown for the night before driving to Franz Josef Glacier the following day. At Franz Josef we booked onto a helicopter flight over the glaciers, this was the icing on the cake of the trip for me! The flight also included a snow landing high above the glaciers, it was incredible. We completed our trip by driving up the west coast, stopping for the night in Hokitika; the coast was an interesting change of scenery. Continuing on the final leg of our journey we followed the route to Arthur’s Pass back through the mountains, stopping at some awesome viewpoints and making friends with Kea.
If you are planning your own Jucy roadie here are a few of my top tips:
-In both Australia and New Zealand we rocked up at most campsites without booking and got a pitch no problem at all. So don’t worry too much about booking these in advance, even the ones that were pretty much full still managed to squeeze us in.
-Campsites in both countries had great kitchen facilities, with ovens, microwaves fridges and tables to sit at. Some even had barbeques for outdoor cooking. (Although it was a little chilly for this in New Zealand.) It is worth mentioning that National Park campgrounds don’t tend to have any cooking facilities or drinking water so if you are planning to pitch up at any of those for the night make sure you have water supplies with you. Of course our JUCY had everything we needed to cook independently which we did most of the time but in New Zealand it got pretty cold in the evenings so it was nice to warm up by cooking indoors sometimes if we had the chance! I also loved hanging out in the kitchens and chatting to other travellers, it was great to hear about their journeys and adventures and to swap advice on where to go, what to do or what to avoid! The kitchens were also perfect for charging all my gadgets.
-If you are hitting the road during the winter in New Zealand make sure you pack a hot water bottle to keep warm at night!
- A few essentials I reccommend to pack for your van include a torch; a USB car charger, (brilliant for charging phones, cameras and laptops on the road) antibacterial wipes, and sealed bags for food storage.
-My number one tip for the road is if you pass a fellow JUCY van make sure you wave! We had a lot of fun waving and were always disappointed when we didn’t get a wave back; no one likes a grumpy JUCY camper!
-It may sound obvious but make sure that you keep an eye on your fuel gauge and fuel up when you can as both in Australia and New Zealand it can sometimes be hours before you come across another fuel station.
- The same can be said for toilets, sometimes they are few and far between so make sure you take the opportunity to stop in larger towns or whenever you see the important signs!
Combining our JUCY adventure across two countries took a bit of planning, I didn’t want to pack too much as sleeping in a campervan meant there would be limited space for luggage. With that in mind I planned to pack the bare minimum but at the same time dividing our time between too different countries meant packing for two different climates, from the mild winter of Australia (Being from the UK it felt mild to me!) to the chilly winter of New Zealand. So the challenge was on and I’m proud to say I stood up to it pretty well, managing to squeeze my Ugg boots, winter jacket, jumpers and beanie hat in along with shorts, vest tops and flip flops all into a cabin sized wheelie bag!
Having your own set of wheels gives you the freedom to go anywhere you like and to make your own adventures. Life on the open road is an awesome way to explore and a road trip in a campervan makes you self-sufficient too. We saw and did so much on our JUCY adventure and in a short time frame, we had seven days in Australia and ten in New Zealand. Even if you don’t have much time for a holiday you don’t have to travel for months, hire a JUCY camper and hit the road, you can do and see a lot in a short space of time. Our trip was fantastic and we loved every minute in our JUCY camper!
Check out the adventure on YouTube: Down Under in Aussie & NZ with JUCY!