I am fresh off the boat back home in Wanaka after my very first New Zealand campervan trip around the South Island with Jucy Rentals, the hippest car rental company around (seriously look at their vans!)
Campervan road trips are a New Zealand pastime here, and I can’t believe it took me almost a year before I made one happen. Better late than never right?
I think one reason it took me so long to go on another roadtrip was because there was SO MUCH I wanted to see and do, I had no idea how and where to start.
So I kind of winged it and flew by the seat of my pants, which is one of the beautiful things about New Zealand – you can get away with that here, especially in winter because there are no people. Anywhere.
I roughly built my Great Jucy Winter Roadie (copyright pending) in two ways – through the awesome community of you guys on my social media channels piping in and giving me suggestions and tips AND also with my favoritest of favorites travel app – Trover. Seriously, if you don’t have it, go download it now.
I’ve waxed poetic before about how Trover succeeds where other social media platforms fail, but for me as a traveler, I couldn’t think of a better or more visual tool to help me plan my trip. Also it’s simple, and I am one of *those* people that demands simplicity in apps.
Know what I mean?
For those that might not be familiar, Trover is a travel planning app “by travelers for travelers” so you don’t have to deal with weeding through spammy irrelevant nonsense when trying to piece together an itinerary.
Through lists of photos tagged with their locations, you can search in advance by location for ideas for spots to visit or check what’s around you when you’re on the road.
Trover has become a compass for me. Right Liz, thatta way!
I’ve talked about Trover on here before, almost as an introduction when I was trying to plan a trip around Queensland, Australia, but this time I was going to put it to the serious test and use it to help outline my trip in advance, as well as use it once I got on the road.
A two week road trip around the South Island was the perfect chance to put Trover to the test to both get ideas of where to go and also add my own tips and tricks to the list.
So I’ve come up with 4 key ways of how I used Trover to make my Great Winter Roadie rock!
1. Brainstorming ideas
So on Trover not only can you add your own original content, you can also come up with lists for places and ideas of places you want to visit one day but haven’t been to yet. So everywhere basically.
I’m still a bit old school, and knowing that I would likely not have internet when I needed it on the road as I was heading to some really remote places, I left Trover open on my computer the days leading up to my departure and coming up with a tentative itinerary in my notebook as well as online.
With a rough outline of key things I wanted to see and do on the trip (baby seals, penguins, and big mountains) I curated a list of places and suggestions from other Trover users called New Zealand Dreams (South Island). Begin swooning!
Nothing gets me more excited about a trip than visuals! And the possibility of penguins!
It’s really easy make a list on Trover, you just use the search bar at the top and type in the name of an area you are interested in, skim the photos and click “add to list” on the ones you want to save for later. Or if you don’t know where you want to go, scroll through people’s photos you follow and save them that way.
I think if I had to put my finger on one thing about Trover that I liked the most that I wasn’t expecting is that it’s all user-generated content as opposed to images on Pinterest that you don’t really know are real or fake or if they are correctly labeled. Because Trover is by travelers for travelers, every photo shared is an original by the user, so you know you are getting first hand information, as opposed to something that’s been pinned, Tumbled, reshared and reloaded by god knows who from god knows where.
This means if I click on the photo, the information is usually spot on and correctly geotagged, saving me so much work and time!
2. Narrow down according to the map
Once I had list together of the million places I wanted to visit on the South Island, I switched over to the map feature to begin to wrap my head around the idea of where all these places were actually located and how feasible it would be to see them in 2 weeks.
Can I even begin to tell you how awesome it is to have everywhere you want to go pinned onto a map for you? Holy hell where have you been all my life?!
Luckily since I had the Jucy van and because it was off-season in the dead of winter, I could wing it and not really plan out where I would be every day, instead just have a rough idea.
I don’t like to be locked in on specific dates when traveling if I can help it.
Once I realized where things were on the map, I decided I would make a big counterclockwise loop starting at Doubtful Sound and ending at Fox Glacier. Everything else was up for grabs.
Let’s hit the road!
3. Search nearby on the road
Most travelers turn towards the ever-present omni-god that is Google nowadays before and during a trip to get ideas of where to go. Not that I can complain since that’s my job now – thank you all!
And while I didn’t always have internet on the road because approximately 50% of New Zealand is a a blackhole of no 3G, 4G or any G really, I made sure that most evenings I could connect to post stuff from my trip, sketch out ideas for the next day, and you know, work a little bit.
The search feature on your phone can let you browse places and ideas near you, and further you scroll down, the further away you get with a little miles ticker at the top. So helpful!
This saved me a number of times on the road for both planning in advance and on the day of. For example in the Catlins, to get an idea of how far away I was from something I would use this feature. Ok first I’ll do the waterfalls, then sunset at the lighthouse.
This was also how I found the awesome South Pole sign at Slope Point in the Catlins! As soon as I saw the photo, I knew I had to go there.
Same with the penguins.
Once I was on the east coast, I really had no concept of how far the cities were from a each other, and what the highlights were for each. This was how I made a little detour to Middle Earth!
I knew Mt. Sunday the filming location was a couple hours from Christchurch near the mountains but I had no idea where it was or even if it was possible to get to on my own. When I was searching for ideas near Christchurch it popped up! Wahoo! It DOES exist!
A 2.5 hour detour and I was in Rohan! Thank you Trover for enabling me to live out all my nerdy fantasies and more!
4. Fill in the blanks with your own tips
There were also many places I got to visit that I didn’t hear about or find on Trover, but now that I am part of the community and because I am always keen to share my travel secret and tips with others, I am slowly but surely adding my places to Trover that will hopefully benefit other people in the future.
Whether I am elaborating on someone else’s tips or generating my own “new” content, I know that it can have a much broader and stronger impact on people planning to come to New Zealand to travel around.
Also the types of people who interact and engage on Trover tend to be the kind of travelers I want to be friends with, so I don’t feel any worries or concerns about sharing some of my best-kept secrets on there, knowing they’ll fall into good hands.
Check out some of my favorite spots and tips I’ve come up with on my epic trip around the South Island on my new off the beaten path list here!
Some places I found on Trover, some were recommended to me, and the rest I found on my own. The best combination!
Have you joined the Trover community yet? How have you planned trips in the past?
Porpoise Bay in the Catlins
Jack’s Blowhole track in the Catlins
Purakaunui Falls in the Catlins
Roaring Bay near Nugget Point penguin view point
Nugget Point in the Catlins
Tunnel Beach in Dunedin
Lake on the way to Mt. Sunday
Tourist drive from Akaroa to Lyttleton
Llama trekking near Kaikoura
Baby seals in Ohau near Kaikoura
Back road driving from Kaikoura to Hamner Springs
Charming Creek walk near Ngakawau
Charming Creek walk near Ngakawau
Kea Point in Arthur’s Pass
Franz Josef Glacier Walk
Gillespies Beach near Fox Glacier
Mt. Cook reflected in Lake Matheson in Fox Glacier
Trying the local whitebait near Haast
The Blue Pools near Haast
Driving over the Crown Range from Wanaka to Queenstown