Free sausage sizzles to reward responsible campers
There remains a fair bit of confusion around freedom camping in New Zealand, and recently there has been a lot of negative media attention around those that flout the rules. At CamperMate we take our responsibility to educate tourists pretty seriously so I decided to hit the road in a campervan supplied by Maui and in conjunction with the Department of Conservation, Holiday Parks Association and NZMCA to cook some free sausage sizzles at popular camping hotspots around the South Island, in a roady called 'The Great CamperMate Sausage Sizzle'. The idea was to reward responsible campers with a free sausage sizzle at mainly DOC campsites, and turn up to some other free council designated campsites and find out what is going on out there in the real world. It was awesome to see how many people were already actively using the CamperMate app, not only to find campsites but also all the other items that are on the app too. Word of mouth seems to be pretty strong out there amongst tourists as connections are happening daily and discussing things like where to find good campsites, what to do and things like that. The first sausage sizzle was at the 12 Mile Delta Department of Conservation site, 11kms out of Queenstown where we were a bit fresh on serving up the queue of people that formed. Everyone was in a great mood though, so the vibe was friendly and relaxed and also provided a great opportunity to discussing camping in New Zealand. The next day it was onto the Queenstown Lakes District Council site Lake Hayes, which is about a 20 minute drive from Queenstown and restricted to self-contained campervans. This site had a number of domestic travellers and who spent a large chunk of the year travelling around New Zealand in their campervan. One friendly bloke had been using CamperMate regularly for two years, he saw the amount of change over this time which is always a valued piece of feedback. The next stop was the Lake Hawea Holiday Park, an awesome spot that you'll drive past if you're driving between Haast and Wanaka. It's located right on the lake and is popular with mainly kiwi campers that reserve their spot every year. Mike, the owner is a real character and was on promotional duty. He warned me of the bad weather that was forecast and sure enough about two hours later it started bucketing down. I love Haast, depsite all it's sandflies. It's remote and little to no cell phone coverage. It's the sort of spot you can relax in and the rain in a way was rather relaxing in a large spacious campervan. This was my view for that afternoon! With wifi connected and sausages all stocked up, it wasn't all that bad! The following day it was onward with the trip up the coast where the rain remained steady until arriving in Franz Josef. It is amazing to see how much it has retreated..Wow. The small window of sunshine in the evening meant that I could get one sausage sizzle in at the Otto's/Macdonald campsite 15kms north of Franz. It's a little daunting just pulling up to a site and announcing 'hey, free sausage sizzle' but within 10 mins or so people were coming to see what was going on. This site had an awesome vibe, and provided a great opportunity to see what these guys thought about freedom camping in New Zealand and what problems they were having. It started to rain about 30 minutes into the sausage sizzle, so it was time to pack up and I stayed in Franz Josef's Rainforest retreat, an awesome place with great wifi and great facilities. I like to have one campground that I know is good when I arrive into a town, and for me this is it in Franz. The following morning it was onto the big one! The Franz Josef Glacier carpark where I spent over two hours powering through sausages to hungry people that had completed the hour and a half long walk. This depleted my sausage supply so had to stock up! The trip was now to head toward Nelson and Picton to the DOC campsites Pelorus Bridge campsite and also Momorangi, both awesome campsites popular with both domestic and international tourists alike. Below: Pelorus Bridge Department of Conservation campsite Below: Momorangi Department of Conservation campsite The journey then continues onto Kaikoura and through to Arthurs Pass where I'll stop in at some popular sites like Lake Pearson and Iveagh Bay. Join me on Facebook or Twitter to follow the trip!