Reflect on First Year Caravanning in New Zealand - Travelling K
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Reflect on First Year Caravanning in New Zealand

I’ve had the caravan for one year. One year!

For this post and video – I’m reflecting on the past year with the caravan and sharing what I’m doing now and what I want to do for the next year.

Why did I decide on a caravan?

I was flat sharing with 3 other people and starting to want my own place. I was saving for a house in Auckland (New Zealand), but finally realised I couldn’t afford anything. Renting a place on my own seemed like a crazy amount too. I started thinking about living out of Auckland, but wasn’t sure where I would want to be. The idea of a mobile home started to intrigue me.

I was watching a lot of videos on YouTube about Vanlife and Tiny Houses. Caravans and motorhomes seemed more practical, as they were like tiny apartments that were easy to move. After looking at all the second-hand caravan and motorhome dealers in the city, I realised that anything with a motor suddenly became too expensive. That’s why I decided on a caravan.

Recap of last year

I had never driven with a caravan and only ever towed a trailer once. But I went for it anyway.

I bought a 4×4 car and went on a road trip to find my home. All the dealers seemed to be in the South island, so I’d planned my trip to visit as many caravan dealers while heading down the country as possible.

I didn’t get far, as my car battery died in Tauranga (3 hours out of Auckland). I called the car rescue company and was taken to the closest mechanic. Luckily, they were able to fix it that day and I was on the road again.

Read more about this adventure in: Hunt for the Caravan Part 1 & Part 2.

I eventually arrived in Nelson where there were a couple of caravan dealers in the area. When I saw my caravan, I thought it was out of my price-range. The dealer asked my limit, and his agreed to my price!

That night, I didn’t sleep very well…

I was wondering if I was doing the right thing, worrying that this was the wrong direction to go down. But I’d packed up my life for this idea – I was going for it.

Picking up the caravan, I nervously drove it 3 blocks to the nearest campground, convinced I was going to side-swipe a car or scratch the curb. It was so strange not being able to see out the back window.

Admitting to the campground staff that I’d literally just bought the caravan, they gave me a campsite where I could just drive straight on. No reversing required.


I stayed there for a week, just getting use to how everything worked. The fresh water, grey water, stove, gas, windows, fridge. I was glad there were plenty of shops in the area as I seemed to find something else I needed every day. I was setting up my first home.

Eventually, I hit the road and travelled around the South Island for 3 months, learning how to reverse and when I needed to go into a lower gear for those steep hills. I got use to packing and unpacking the caravan. Overall a steep learning curve.

How do I afford this lifestyle?

It’s something I’m still struggling with.

For most of the year I’ve travelled, run out of money, gone back to Auckland, freelanced, saved, gone for a trip and repeated. I’m a graphic designer, which does make it easier to freelance, but all my connections are in Auckland and most companies wanted me in their office.

Luckily a previous workmate needed a part-time graphic designer in Hawkes Bay. I’ve been here a month so far and it’s been great! Love being away from Auckland in a beautiful setting with no traffic and earning money!

This means I’ll have the time to really focus on making weekly videos.

50 videos

On a side note – I’ve just reached 50 videos on YouTube! Crazy to think I’ve filmed and edited that amount.

What next?

I plan to just keep doing what I’m doing. Keep living and learning in the caravan. Keep sharing my experiences and show off the beautiful locations.

There are lots of little DIY projects I plan to tackle.

I also want to start interviewing more people living this lifestyle.

Is there anything in particular you’d like me to make a video on? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. Frank says:

    Well done and good to see you so happy. Sure the things that go wrong or are difficult that you overcome are also enjoyed, I wish you many happy days and cups of tea.

  2. Tasha Priddle says:

    Stupendous video chick! found myself getting emotional for you lol, what a lot of milestones you have met in a year! Love how REAL your blogs are, no filters necessary – you life is effin cool. Lotsa luv!

  3. sue de Bievre says:

    Love these videos!

  4. robbie Nagle says:

    Your adventures are great to read, honest and genuine. I live in Vietnam and come back to visit NZ for 20 days a year and appreciate all the things you talk about. Did alot of travelling around NZ when younger and hope to do it again one day.Take care and keep up the great blog !!

    • TravellingK says:

      Thank you! I do try to be honest. I’m sure Vietnam is an exciting place to live – I’ve visited briefly and loved how friendly everyone was.

  5. Miranda says:

    Good for you! I’m so impressed and now wondering if I can do it with my 2 1/2 year old, hmm….. Looking forward to more videos!

    • TravellingK says:

      Thank you! That’s great to hear. Ohh so you’re considering this as an option? I know there are a few mothers on the road through a Facebook Group I’m in – so sounds do-able!

  6. alan says:

    Karen, I read a really interesting post you had on your site about the types of people you see living full time in RV’s. I’ve searched all over your website and I cant find it. Can you direct me to it please, I found it very interesting. Thanks Alan

    • TravellingK says:

      It was well hidden under New Zealand 😛
      Anything you would add to it now?

      • alan says:

        Thanks Karen, that’s the one. Yes I agree, but like you, I’m definitely NOT any of those. In fact I’ve not come across anyone like myself, except perhaps yourself in some ways. If I were to describe myself, I’d say:
        “university educated, debt free, all new 47ft rig from front to back, latest technology, fully self-contained, independent of external hookups for two weeks can go anywhere, stay almost anywhere. Prefer to stay on my own away from people, getting back to nature as an escape from people. No tattoos, no piercings, no long dirty hair, dresses well not extremely casual in appearance”. Let me know if you come across anyone in like this? haha

  7. alan says:

    Hi Karen, I’ve been spending a lot of my spare time in your website lately, it’s full of tremendously useful information. I was particularly interested in this article about “how do I afford this lifestyle” and watched your two videos on the subject. It’s very interesting comparing my situation with yours, for myself, this is the cheapest lifestyle imaginable. Looking at my year ahead and how I will be living, my costs are considerably less than yours. Particularly, because I don’t stay in paid campgrounds. The DOC and NZMCA grounds for $3 per day are excellent and one can save a lot of money using these and regional “self-contained” sites. Also, the other benefit is one does not have the “freedom camping” security concerns, that you mention frequently. Perhaps this maybe an option for you going forward. All you would need is more water capacity and a generator and you will be able to save a lot of money. If you look at what you are spending in private motorhome camp grounds, by staying in the NZMCA and DOC sites exclusively, the savings would pay for your generator in 120 days or less. Also, by folding down the back seats in your SUV you could put in 10, 10 litre plastic water containers, giving you an extra 100 litres of water. My background is in devising efficient processes and systems and I save a lot of money by living my life this way. If you want some help or suggestions for lowering your costs let me know.

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