Hi my name is Colleen Hammonds. In 2012 myself (teacher) and husband Dave (engineer) hired a motorhome and travelled in the United States. We joined an organisation called Harvest Hosts, which enabled us to park overnight for free at berry farms, lavender farms etc and even a date farm in an oasis right on the edge of Death Valley.
The idea of fresh, local food combined with the popularity of motorhome travel for visitors, launched me into action! With the help and support of family and friends I have travelled from the far north of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island talking and meeting with each one of the Okay2stay hosts.
Now this blog will tell the stories behind the my journeys around New Zealand meeting all these wonderful people and finding beautiful places for you to park your self contained motorhome overnight.
Get the best from Okay2stay – 5 top tips
Okay2stay is especially for foodies travelling in self-contained motorhomes. People for whom the idea of buying delicious local food and wine and parking overnight in a vineyard or under the olive trees really appeals. Here are 5 tips for getting the very best out of your Okay2stay membership and making your New Zealand motorhome holiday one to remember.
1 Plan ahead so you don’t miss anything!
Plan ahead – especially if you are on a tight schedule of just a couple of weeks. By joining Okay2stay at the planning stage of your trip you will be able to find hosts listings at leisure, check out their websites and salivate over their yummy products. Some people prefer the freedom of planning on the fly, but for me, having the luxury of a fast internet connection at home and time to research, reassures me that I am not going to miss out on anything!
2 Play favourites with your hosts
Once you find the Okay2stay hosts you would like to visit at your destination or along the way, save them to your Favourites. That way you can quickly scroll through all of their basic details and click through to their full host pages. It makes checking up on the important details like who to contact, seasonal listings and opening hours really easy. For instance, a lot of berry farms are only open in the summer and some wineries close or have reduced cellar door hours in the winter. All of this will be mentioned in the listings and you can also link through to check on their websites. From Favourites, host details can also be saved to pdf for viewing when you are on the road and not able to connect to the internet.
3 Check out your van’s heating
Check that your van has independent heating – very important in winter! All hired motorhomes should come with electric heating, but you will have to be plugged in to power at a campground to use it. Okay2stay hosts provide you with a unique place to park but they do not have facilities for you to plug in to power. If you are planning on travelling in the cooler months make sure the van you are booking has either diesel or gas heating as well as electric. You will want to be warm and cosy when you sit down to enjoy that beautiful bottle of wine!
4 Carry some cash
Some Okay2stay hosts will have little shops, cellar doors or cafes with EFTPOS or credit card facilities, but many will just be small cash-only businesses and you won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to buy those home-grown vegies, free range eggs or to pick-your-own strawberries
5 Be realistic about driving in NZ
Make a realistic itinerary – don’t underestimate how long it will take to get to your next destination, especially in peak holiday traffic times! Of the approximately 95,000 km of roads in NZ, only 200 km is motorway and this is in and out of the four main cities. Most New Zealand roads are developed from the original bullock tracks laid down 150 years ago. These routes took the easy but longer way around the swamps, lakes and mountains; and carved narrow winding paths over the hills. We’ve come a wee way since then and all our state highways are now sealed, but they are mostly single lanes each way with limited passing opportunities, a lot of one-lane bridges and definitely not laid out in straight lines! Our roads are through beautiful, ever-changing scenery (and weather) – so allow plenty of time to stop and enjoy. Check out this helpful little video from Campermate.