The Rules For A True Vanlife Adventure On New Zealand’s South Island

Jess Kearney // @jesskearney_

“What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been?”

People ask travel writers this all the time. Until recently, I’ve never had a clear answer. It’s not for a lack of sample size either. Having made landfall on all seven continents within a calendar year, I should be well equipped with a response. Yet whenever folks ask, my go-to answers have always seemed canned.

“There are just so many…”

No more. Having recently returned from a tour of New Zealand’s South Island, I can firmly proclaim an end to this affliction. This is the place for me. If you’ll accept the common idea of New Zealand as a verdant paradise, then please believe that the less-inhabited South Island is the freaking Garden of Eden. It’s small enough to squeeze into two weeks and large enough to encompass a variety of terrains (beach vs. mountains), climates (tropical vs. alpine), and activities (sipping on wine at a world-class vineyard vs. sea kayaking with seals).

In fact, you can enjoy much of this variance in a single day. Especially if you have wheels.

This spring, my girlfriend, Jess, and I had ten days to burn while returning to the US from Brisbane, Australia. After reading an article by Uproxx’s travel editor, Steve Bramucci, about renting a van to cruise the East Coast of Australia, we decided to go full #vanlife. Here’s our self-styled “rules” for making your own South Island adventure an epic one.