Entertainment on the road
There is plenty to see and do while travelling around New Zealand during the daytime, but it can get a little lonely in the evenings. Luckily I enjoy reading and there are plenty of entertainment options on my laptop – especially if there is internet access. Below are some of the ways to keep entertained in the evenings.
I’m a big book reader, but printed books are too heavy and bulky to logically have in a caravan. I have a Kindle and my smart phone to read. When connected to the internet, I can read anything I want! Technology is sometimes a wonderful thing. Below are my tips for reading on the road.
Kindle / Amazon / .mobi
A Kindle is an e-reader specifically for Amazon books or .mobi books. My Kindle Reader battery lasts forever after recharging it through my laptop and can store more books than I would ever want to read. I have an older version which doesn’t light up and was tricky when I didn’t have solar panels and half the caravan lights wouldn’t turn on.
- The format for Kindle is a .mobi file.
- You can add .mobi files to the Kindle Reader when it is connected to your laptop – it’s just like it’s a USB stick.
- There is a Kindle app for your phone.
- Some Amazon books are free.
- If you join Kindle Unlimited, they have a huge amount of free books to pick from. They currently have a 30 day free trial. The downside – not all my favourite authors are included.
- If you have a book that’s not in a .mobi format, you can change it on this Cloud Convert website. You do need an online storage account with places like DropBox or Google Drive for it to work. They are both free!
iBooks / .epub
iBooks is the app I have on my iphone to read .epub books. To be honest, there are so many different e-book apps out there – take your pick.
iBooks is linked to iTunes and you can buy books through them – exactly like Amazon.
The .epub file type is a very popular format for books not related to Amazon.
I usually find a book is either an .epub or .mobi file, so having this app means I can read a book here or using my Kindle app. The iBooks app also opens PDFs, but the font is usually extremely small. You can change the file format using Cloud Convert website.
This is the app that is connected to libraries around the world. I have an Auckland Library card and am able to ‘check-out’ a book from the Auckland Library and read it instantly from anywhere.
Once you have the app, click on ‘Add a library’ and follow the instructions. You must already have joined the library you are adding. Once linked, you can search their books.
It’s just like a public library, with some books available and some checked-out, where you can join a waiting list for when the e-book has been returned. Once you select an e-book, you can read it for a couple of weeks before it’s automatically returned. Another advantage, as I always forget to return physical books on time.
Goodreads is a great website and app for finding new books to read. People have made lists of their favourite books, which means if you already like a few books on their list, you are likely to enjoy the rest. On the computer, they have a ‘readers also enjoyed’ section in the right panel that is great to explore.
Transfer e-book from laptop to iphone
I had a very complicated system recently, but I see that DropBox now links to many apps. Below are the steps I use to transfer an e-book from my laptop to my iphone.
- Setup a DropBox account for free.
- Downloaded the DropBox app onto your phone.
- From your laptop, add e-books to your DropBox.
- From your phone, go to the DropBox app, find the book and tap file to open.
- Tap the 3 dots in the top right and select ‘Export’.
- Tap ‘Open in…’ and select your e-reader – Kindle or iBooks depending on format of file.
TV shows & Movies
You now no longer need a TV to watch TV shows and movies. I haven’t had a TV in years! Instead I watch everything on my laptop. Below I highlight the many different streaming options.
It’s interesting how TV has changed in recent years and all these new alternatives are popping up, where you no longer have ads and you can start watching whenever you like.
The well known option, Netflix finally became available to Kiwis in 2015. Netflix came up with the idea of people paying per month and allowing viewers to watch whatever they what by streaming TV shows and movies over the internet. Interestingly, they now make their own TV shows and movies. The New Zealand version has a huge amount of documentaries.
You can get a free month trial, then it’s NZ$11.49 per month for the basic plan and you can stop any time. Spark is also offering a deal.
You can get a free month trial, then it’s NZ$12.99 per month and you can stop any time.
Neon is owned by SKY Television and connected to Vodafone. You can binge watch Game of Thrones to your hearts content! They have some great TV series, like the Walking Dead and Westworld… you’re learning what my favourite shows are.
You can also get a free month trial, then it’s NZ$20 per month and you can stop any time.
It’s surprisingly cheap at NZ$4.25 a month for the first 6 months and you can stop any time.
I find YouTube just gets better and better. Once you’ve logged in and started using it more, YouTube learns what you like to watch and recommends new channels. Subscribe to the ones you’re interest in, then you’ll know when they upload a new video. In-fact I recommend subscribing to my channel!
Some great channels about moveable homes are:
Bus Life NZ – A new find for me. They are a kiwi family travelling around New Zealand in a bus.
Kombi Life – A guy bought a VW van and has been travelling from the very bottom of South America, all the way to Alaska. He’s had plenty of adventures along the way and this channel really inspired me to visit South America. His next adventure is buying a boat.
Finding Simon – A Canadian guy travelling around America and Canada in a van and posts a video EVERY SINGLE DAY! I struggle to post once a week, if that! He’s selling the van and plans to travel across Canada on a bike, before saving for a boat.
Gone with the Wynns – An American couple that lived in an RV for years before changing to living in a sail boat.
Pippi Peterson – An American girl living in a bus. I really admire how she lives and love her happy attitude.
Exploring Alternatives – This has grown from an America couple sharing their van life experience, to showing different peoples alternative living. I’ve found many interesting channels through them.
Dylan Magaster – He has videos of all types of unique ways people are living. From van to ship to bus to tiny house. His videos feel more like documentaries.
Living Big in a Tiny House – A kiwi guy interviewing people who have built tiny houses. He’s doing very well and has branched out to destinations beyond New Zealand. I love the idea of a tiny house… very similar in concept to a caravan, but a little more home like.
Kristen Dirksen – She has a huge range of alternative homes. There are so many unique and quirky ideas out there. When I was trying to decide where to live after deciding I couldn’t afford a house in Auckland, I binge watched this channel.
Do you have a channel you would suggest? I’d love to hear about it. Please leave the link in the comments below.
TVNZ OnDemand is the New Zealand version of OnDemand with a selection of TV shows and the odd movie you can view from your laptop or smart phone. Some TV shows are only viewable for a few days, while some have the whole season available. They have all the trashy TV you could possibly want – just like at home. Oh, and it’s free!
A couple that stand out:
Country Calendar, a TV show about New Zealand farmers and other rural stories. They have multiple series online.
George Clarkes Amazing Spaces is about the world’s most innovative small space designs. The episodes only stay viewable for 4 weeks.
You can now watch TVNZ 1, 2 and Duke Live. We really do live in an age where televisions are becoming redundant. As long as you have the internet and a laptop, you’re set.
Internet on the road
To be able to access all of these options, you need good internet. It took me a while to fine an option that worked for me. I’d found the big internet providers needed their modem to stay at one physical address, or they’d freeze your account. I tried hot-spotting from my phone, but raced through the tiny amount of data. Then I found Wireless Nation – it’s an internet provider with a modem that can be moved around New Zealand.
Whew, a long list of options to keep you entertained on the road. I hope you’ve found this helpful. Do you have any other options you would recommend to people? Feel free to comment below.