Tiaki Promise: while travelling in a campervan

Tiaki is a Māori word that means to care for people and place. As the promise acknowledges, Aotearaoa New Zealand is special, and everyone who lives and travels here has a responsibility to look after it.

In Te Ao Māori (the Māori worldview), it’s everyone’s responsibility to protect and preserve the environment, rather than just conserve it for future use. According to the Māori creation story, we are all born of Papatūānuku (Earth Mother) and Ranginui (Sky Father) and therefore have an ancestral duty to maintain their mauri (life forces). Essentially that means doing all we can to be responsible travellers and look after the land, sea and sky of this beautiful country.

What is the Tiaki Promise?

Launched in November 2018, the Tiaki Promise is a set of guiding principles for visitors to follow, showing us how to contribute to preserving and protecting the land as kaitiaki (guardians of the land). It was created by seven private and public sector organisations who came together to create a commitment we can all make, to care for New Zealand, for now and for future generations.

While travelling in New Zealand, I will
Care for land, sea and nature, treading lightly and leaving no trace
Travel safely, showing care and consideration for all
Respect culture, travelling with an open heart and mind

We’ve made the promise – and whether you are in a Quirky Camper or not, here’s a practical guide to following the principles when travelling in a campervan.

Drive Carefully

A good start here is to pick the most suitable van for your trip in the first place. It’s not the time to opt for a manual drive vehicle when you’re most familiar with an automatic. And you need to feel comfortable and confident with the size of your campervan so that you’re not putting yourself or others in danger when manoeuvring.

Use a route planning app or satnav if you can, to help you avoid road closures and possibly divert around queues and incidents. You just might need to ignore the estimated time of arrival (ETA) as remember, you’re in a bigger, heavier, slower vehicle. It’s not a race! If you need to call it a day earlier than expected, pull over and search for a nearby campsite on one of our recommended camping apps.

The roads in NZ can twisty, hilly and narrow which will slow you down even more so remember take your time and drive to the conditions. It’s the best thing you can do care for the roads, yourself and the other drivers around you. It can be all too easy to feel pressured to speed up when there are cars behind you but simply pull over in a safe place and let them pass. And don’t worry if they honk their horns! That means “thanks”!

If you’re completely new to driving in New Zealand, check out our top tips for a first time campervan trip which outlines the main considerations when driving and links to more information about New Zealand road rules.

Be Prepared

It’s easy to throw caution to the wind and think it’s all part of the adventure, by not planning ahead. We don’t want to take the fun out of your trip but there a few simple things you can do to make sure you’re not caught out!

  • Download one of the camping apps so that you can plan where you’ll park up – whether that’s a campsite or a freedom camping spot – and also know where the public toilets are on the way! The apps have a wealth of information including where to find dump stations and fresh water and feedback about places to stay over so you know what to expect.
  • Go self-contained. All our campervans are self-contained. This means you’ve got the necessary facilities on board to responsibly freedom camp – rubbish bin, toilet, grey water storage etc.
  • Watch the weather. There’s a reason this country is so green and lush. Rain. Driving for many hours in bad weather is extremely tiring and brings its own risks – especially in a less familiar vehicle. Better to hunker down somewhere, take a break and let it pass.

Show Respect

The best way to show respect while travelling in a campervan is to follow local regulations. Particularly when it comes to freedom camping. There are specific places you can and can’t stay overnight, and often a limit on how many nights you can stay in one place. Again, this is where the camping apps come into their own and comments from other travellers will tell you by what times the spots fill up by and where to try next if the freedom camping spots are full.

Even if you’re on a campsite, respect the rules. There are usually curfews on noise and plenty of guidance on using the facilities, where to park and how fast to drive around the site.

Then there’s the broader respect for New Zealand people. And how better to show this than learning about Māori culture and learning some useful Te Reo Māori words for the road!

Protect Nature

You won’t be spending all your time in your campervan (although you may want to in a Quirky Camper!) so when you’re out and about, follow these common sense tips to look after this precious piece of paradise.

  • When out walking and tramping, especially in Department of Conversation (DOC) and controlled areas, stick to the tracks, close gates behind you and follow guidelines to clean and spray your shoes/boots and equipment. This is so important when you’re moving across the country and could spread pests via debris if not cleaned off properly.
  • It’s cliché but true “take only photographs, leave only footprints”; you will discover beautiful finds in nature but leave them there. Leave the driftwood, silver fern fronds and any other natural souvenir!
  • Make a donation. Many of the most beautiful places in NZ are completely free to enjoy. Some places may invite you to leave a donation but you can also choose one of the many conservation projects to contribute to.

Keep New Zealand Clean

Quite simply leave no trace or litter. Be a responsible vanlifer and recycle where you can, avoid single use plastic, take any litter with you, and pick up any you see too! There are no excuses for leaving a mess.

If you’d like to experience hiring a beautiful and hand-crafted campervan check out the price and availability our Quirky Campers.