The story begins back in November 2017 when we booked our flights to New Zealand, we would be spending 19 days in the land of the long white cloud. We had absolutely no idea what our plans where, how we would get around, where we would stay and at that point we still weren’t sure we would attempt to see both islands.
About two days after booking our flights I saw a post shared on Facebook by the amazing Travel Mad Mum, they had just been touring the the gorgeous west coast of the USA in the most awesome looking campervan I had ever seen. After reading the review and discovering that the company was huge in New Zealand, we knew that was how we were going to see NZ….in a JUCY Camper! These bright green and purple vans as it turns out are quite an institution in NZ .
Now Karen and Co at Travel Mad Mum hired the fabulous Trailblazer Camper but after much deliberation we decided that it was too small for nearly three weeks so after going through the different vans that JUCY offer we eventually decided on the JUCY Condo. I have since learned that JUCY no longer offer the Trailblazer in NZ, it has been replaced by the awesome Compass!
Back to our camper. We decided on the Condo because it was 4 berth camper that was fully self contained, meaning that it had a toilet and grey water tank. Essential if you plan to freedom camp (I’ll discuss that a little later). We booked to collect the camper from Christchurch Airport and couldn’t quite believe that we were going to be touring NZ in a camper with a seven year old in tow!
Table of Contents
Collecting the Camper
After arriving into Christchurch on an early morning flight from Auckland we followed the very helpful instructions for collecting the camper. Basically you need to exit the airport from the domestic side and head to the car hire/campervan shuttle bus stop. The JUCY shuttle comes every 20 minutes and takes around 5 minutes get to the office where you collect.
Collection was pretty straight forward, there is quite alot of paperwork to complete. A full vehicle inspection needs to be done by the hirer to ensure you note any damage. Just don’t do what we did and inspect the WRONG camper! We even loaded all our stuff into the wrong one but that’s a story for another time.
The staff at JUCY were amazing and so helpful. They gave us a full tour and showed us how everything worked. L was so excited he basically didn’t stop talking and asking questions through the entire tour.
Within half and hour we were on the road in our very own JUCY Camper heading to our first campsite.
The Camper Lowdown
Our camper was a 4 berth meaning that it slept and seated up to four people. The Condo’s are converted high top Toyota Hiace vans. Let’s talk about what’s inside.
JUCY provides all the linen you will need. Duvets, covers, pillows, bath towels, tea towels and even slippers. Here’s a tip, make sure you put the duvet and pillows into the covers when it’s daylight. It’s is not easy in the dark.
The camper kitchen is self contained with a two burner gas stove, sink with running water and fridge. Crockery and cutlery is provided as well. Four of everything! There’s even wine glasses. Basically there is everything you’ll need to cook up a storm. When not in sleep mode the camper has a bench seat, two single seats and table making a nice little dining area.
In sleep mode the bench seat and two belted seats become the first lower double bed and the second bed pulls out across the lower bed. Initially our plan was for L to sleep in the top bed but best laid plans, we ALL ended up in the bottom bed….every night!
Lots of handy pockets are located on the walls for storage, we used these for toiletries and the next days clothes etc. There are several usb ports and sockets in the van which is amazing for charging technology, essential for long drives with kids and the heater on those cold nights. There was also had a 22 inch TV with built in DVD player.
There is a large luggage storage area located under the bench seat. This was kind of my only bug bear because if we weren’t organised and had already made the bed it was really difficult to access what we needed. We ended up storing most of our stuff in the bed area above the drivers cab. As L wasn’t sleeping up there we utilised the space. In hindsight we had too much stuff.
Our camper had a cassette toilet which we rarely used. But it did come in handy driving across Lindis Pass when nature called.
Where We Stayed
We chose to stay in holiday parks every night. I know some would say that’s a cop out in NZ particularly with freedom camping being available (see below), but we really wanted decent bathroom facilities and electricity. We chose Top 10 Holiday Parks mainly because we knew that the facilities were great for kids and families. We purchased Top 10 membership which gives you lots of discounts on attraction, activities, ferry crossings, restaurants and most importantly 10% discount on campsites. It’s well worth the membership fee of $49 for two years. On average we paid $40-$45 per night (I imagine this would increase in summer, we travelled in Autumn).
We really couldn’t fault these parks. We generally prepared all of our meals in kitchens because they were fantastic. The bathrooms were always clean and most parks had playgrounds and even indoor pools for small (and big) people. By far our favourite park was the Christchurch Top 10, it was amazing!
You can choose to freedom camp in NZ, basically there are designated areas that are free to park up and camp. As long as you have a toilet and grey water tank (your own water supply and somewhere to store waste water) you are ok to park in the freedom sites. Your camper must have a self contained sticker visible or you could risk being booted out by rangers. Generally there are no washing facilities at the freedom sites. Its a great way to save some pennies though!
Lets Talk Money
One of the main attractions for us if I’m brutally honest was the per day hire costs of the JUCY Condo. I thought that I would share exactly what it cost us to hire with JUCY. For 17 days hire including the full insurance waiver the total cost was $1225.84NZD (approx £615). We chose to pay the additional $30 per day insurance as it reduced the deposit and excess to zero (yes $0).
Now to talk fuel costs. Our camper was full petrol, many campers are diesel and now they are even introducing dual fuel campers. I can’t tell you that the JUCY Condo is fuel efficient because it’s really not. Due to the weight and maximum speed being around 80km/ph old JUCY seemed to devour the petrol at an astonishing rate. As an example (I will detail full costs in another post), from empty the camper cost about $130 (approx £65) to fill. A full tank would do less than 400km! When you’re driving over 3000km the costs soon stack up. I don’t know how it compares to other campers and motor homes as we have never hired one before this.
Where can you hire a JUCY Camper?
At the moment you can hire with JUCY in New Zealand, Australia and the USA. JUCY hires campers and cars but they vary location to location.
In NZ you can hire from seven main centres including Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.
Don’t forget to check out JUCY Snooze for budget friendly accommodation and JUCY Cruise for great tours of Milford Sound. The JUCY website is an excellent resource for packing tips, itineraries, discount offers and driving advice.
Did we love the JUCY Condo? We did but there was things we didn’t like. The fuel costs being the main one, the other was the lack of power. We continually had to pull over to let other drivers pass us. You will not set any driving records in this thing.
Would we recommend the JUCY Condo? Yes, overall we had a really amazing experience. I would say that I think anymore than three adults would be very very tight. Two adults and two children would be just about right but four adults would be a squash. They are a great company and they are definitely for the budget conscious. The fact that you can waive the deposit and the excess for an extra $30 per day is great for peace of mind.
I really hope we get to opportunity to hire another JUCY camper in the future. We’d love to give the Trailblazer a go in the US. They are so memorable and you’ll always find a friend on the road. Other JUCY drivers tend to wave, it’s a thing!
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Disclaimer – this is not a sponsored post. Our opinions and thoughts are our own.