New Zealand might possibly be one the most backpacker friendly countries in the world. Ireland and Scotland were brilliant places to work and live, yet as a nomadic backpacker, they were difficult places to take up short-term residence.
In New Zealand, everything from applying for a visa, to clearing customs, to opening a bank account, to even obtaining the government issued tax ID number has been an absolute breeze. Surely buying a vehicle would be a challenging and time-consuming process? Not in New Zealand.
Prior to my arrival in Auckland, I hadn’t established much a plan. Do a bit of traveling, see some of the country, and then look for a job. I assumed Nicole and I would get around the country on planes, trains, and buses – that is, until I met Max. He rolled into my life and I couldn’t let him roll away.
Nicole and I were getting ready to leave our Auckland hostel to check out some sights, when I came across a listing on a NZ backpacking website listing a campervan for sale. It was short on specifics, but sounded like a lovely van and a great way to see the country. Nicole called and found out the make, year, and price. The guy selling the van asked where we were calling from, and as Nicole told him our hostel’s address, the phone cut off.
No worries. It sounded like a great van but seemed to be a bit out of our budget. As we were getting ready to leave the hostel – not five minutes later – a white van pulled into the parking lot. We went outside to meet who we learned was Max. That was it. We wouldn’t let this van get away.
On the outside, Max apppears to be nothing special. He is 1986 Toyota Hiace and very closely resembles a workers van. Inside, he is a backpackers dream. Equipped with a queen size bed, heaps of storage, a gas cooker, curtains, an upholstered ceiling, a table, and room to stretch out – you couldn’t possibly ask for more.
After doing some research, checking out a couple of van lots around Auckland, and crunching some numbers, we decided to go for it. We would save money on accommodation, have our own transport around New Zealand, and be able to see every corner of the country we desired.
After arranging payment to Max’s previous owners, all it took was a quick trip to the Post Shop to file for a change of ownership, re-register Max for a couple months, and take out an insurance policy. We pointed Max south out of Auckland, and away we went.