Wake up call


They flap a bit in strong winds, they sometimes get a little bit of condensation inside, and ours are big and require some ‘oomph’ to get in and out of the trailer. But our OzTent RV3 canvas contraptions are fantastic. Really easy to erect and secure, and very dry. We endured three days of torrential rain in our RV3 on our research trip, and despite 140 mm (5.5 inches) of warm summer rain over one 24 hr period, we were completely dry inside. We’ll show you how to put them up and bring them down, and some of the little tricks to ensure it feels like home from day one.

Putting Up and Pulling Down the Tent

There are so many incredible landscapes throughout New Zealand that we could easily have spent each of our 45/90 nights on tour in a different beauty spot. But we appreciate that erecting your comfy canvas home every night could become a bit of a drag. So, you’ll be glad to hear that the vast majority of our stays are for two nights or more – giving you time to explore the area without having to break camp every morning. Indeed, we only put up our tents in the afternoon and pull them down the next day a total of 10 times across the whole 90-day tour (7 times in the 45-day South Island tour). Again, we want you to relax and enjoy New Zealand as much as you possibly can.


No escaping it. It’s why New Zealand is so green. We’ve chosen not to run our tours in winter, when most of our wet, cold Southerly weather can blanket the country in cloud, rain and snow. But things definitely start to warm up and bloom in September, and Spring, Summer and Autumn in New Zealand are stunning. It will still rain, of course… showers, typically, but they can get heavy and may last for a day or two at a time. Don’t let that stop you – bring a good, waterproof coat (and maybe some waterproof trousers). It’s just a bit of water.

Natural Phenomena

New Zealand's nickname of the 'Shaky Isles' is well founded. We sit on part of the 'Ring of Fire', a string of volcanoes and sites of seismic activity that line the edges of the Pacific Ocean. Tremors are an almost daily occurrence here, though most are too light to feel. Nonetheless, our itinerary includes visits to many regions where earthquakes and volcanic explosions have been severe enough to reshape the land and affect the lives of the people who call it home. Indeed, one of the lodges that we stay in lies in the shadow of an active volcano and is nestled beside a ‘projected’ lahar flow. Hence, along the way, we will continually check the digital alerts and updates released by New Zealand's excellent Earthquake Commission, GNS Science, Department of Conservation, and Civil Defence organisations, and follow all warnings they may release.


Snakes never made it to New Zealand. And neither did elephants, bears, tigers, pandas or Pink Fairy Armadillos. Which is probably why the North and South Islands were such a paradise for birds. With no rodents, large reptiles or mammals to hunt and eat them, New Zealand’s birdlife was prolific. But the arrival of humans over the last one thousand years, and the animals they subsequently introduced to New Zealand, changed that somewhat. Despite this, New Zealand still has about 300 different species of birds, some found nowhere else in the world, and our passengers will enjoy encounters with many of these while overlanding across the country. In addition, our passengers will have ample opportunities to see seals, sea lions, dolphins and whales. Watch out for two Australian visitors too that have managed to settle in and call New Zealand home – possums and wallabies.

Insects & creepy crawlies

New Zealand doesn’t have any snakes, scorpions, or large spiders, so you don't need to be as careful walking in the long grass or going into the bush here as you might in other regions of the world. But we do have sandflies and mosquitoes, and the sandflies in particular can be annoying, with a bite that some people find very itchy. Bring a repellent and be prepared to scratch the odd itch here and there.

Fellow Passengers

Overlanders tend to be an interesting, well-rounded set of individuals who generally enjoy meeting new people and tend to make for fascinating travel colleagues. But there is no denying it, there may be that odd person on the tour that will get on your wick occasionally. A bit like being on the Big Brother tv show.... except on a bus! Snoring, farting, B.O., 'attitude'.... it can all get a bit much sometimes.At ZigZag, we've tried to minimise the need to interact with your fellow adventurists when you really don't want to, by giving each passenger their own tent and spreading the seats in our van as far apart as we can. There are a few hostels and lodges throughout the tour where you share rooms and facilities, but these are only for a few nights here and there - for the most part, it's you, your tent, your snug stretcher bed, and nature.

Toilets & Ablutions

Having each experienced overland tours where we had to wash with wet wipes for a week at a time, we wanted to make sure that our ZigZag itinerary provided a little more comfort. Thus, we have forgone real ‘bush/wild camping’ experiences in some of the country’s more isolated spots and have instead selected camp sites just down the road that provide ‘sit down’ toilets and showers. Please understand that a couple of the camp sites are primitive, and the toilets will be of the ‘long drop’ variety. You may have to supply your own toilet paper here and there too. And the showers, though hot, may stop after 4 or 5 minutes in order to conserve water in some areas. But we feel this is a preferable alternative to that of having a van full of passengers smelling like ‘jungle funk’.


 On other overland tours that we travelled on, we found that shopping for food and other group cooking responsibilities often had to take precedence over sightseeing and doing fun, touristy things. We didn't want that to be the case at ZigZag, so we have decided to 'do the food' for you. No group cooking, no group shopping - we provide your breakfasts (97% of them) and the majority of your dinners (70% of them) and you buy and/or prepare the other meals yourself.

For the 90-day Spring and Autumn tours, we provide the following:

  • 63 dinners, 4 lunches, 86 breakfasts

For the 45-day Summer tour, we provide the following:

  • 30 Dinners, 45 breakfasts

Dinners typically consist of a nutritious variety of meats, seasonal vegetables and ‘carbs’ (pasta, rice, lentils, cous cous, potatoes and kumara). We endeavour to make them as tasty as possible, and provide our passengers the option to individually ‘spice’ their serving up prior to tucking in. 

We stop at shops, cafes and bakeries that we feel offer a good, affordable range of lunch (and coffee) options every day. We also regularly visit supermarkets and convenience stores, where you are welcome to purchase supplies for your own lunches, dinners and snacks.

We also make sure we remind you which nights you need to get your own dinner. On these nights, there is always a range of affordable dinner options nearby. And if you want to cook for yourself, rather than eat out, you can use the campground kitchen facilities and our cooking equipment where required.

Please note that we could never be confused with ‘MasterChef’s’, but we can put some tasty kai (Māori for ‘food’) together and will ensure that we are all eating nutritiously and well right throughout the tour.

Those with specific dietary requirements are catered for to the best of our ability, but it can be a little difficult to buy a range of specialised food in some of the smaller community stores that we visit. Please contact us prior to booking to chat about this further. Similarly, if you are a ‘particular‘ eater/simply do not like certain foods, then please think about bringing alternatives.Breakfasts typically consist of cereal options, milk, soy milk, toasting bread, fresh fruit, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, butter and a range of spreads. We may choose to provide you with a ‘breakfast box’ on the few occasions where we are travelling early. Otherwise, breakfast is served each morning around the ‘trailer’ kitchen (or in the camp kitchen if the weather is poor).

Early mornings, late evenings

Our ZigZag tours range from 16 days to 90 days across the whole of New Zealand. And with so many fantastic things to see and do, we have to keep the van wheels turning constantly. But we pledged to each other when we began to build our epic itinerary that we would minimise the number of early starts and late arrivals into and out of our campgrounds - travel is exhilarating and, in our experience, the best thing you can do in life, but it can be tiring - we wanted to reduce that as much as possible.

To that end, we created an itinerary that we believe provides a bit more time in the morning to do stuff (walk, swim, climb mountains, snore) than other tours do. On the 90 day ZigZag tours, we pack down our tents and hit the road:

  • At 10am = 74 days
  • Between 9am and 9:30am = 12 days
  • Before 9am = 4 days

Similarly, we arrive in to camp before 4:30pm in the afternoon on all but three of our travel days.We want you to relax and enjoy New Zealand as much as you possibly can.


      New Zealand has such a variety of landscapes and regional beauty spots that it is nearly impossible to include a ‘dull driving day’ in the itinerary. But there are a few days where we are ‘relocating’ from one particular area to another, and your time in the van will be a little longer. Be assured that we will still have stops along the way for photos, toilets, lunches, and coffees.

      To get you in the mood, here’s a few of the scenic routes that we’ll be zigzagging on and around on our epic tour:

      • The Twin Coast Discovery
      • The Pacific Coast Highway
      • The Thermal Explorer Highway
      • The Volcanic Loop Highway
      • The Forgotten World Highway
      • The Surf Highway 45
      • The ‘East Coast 35’
      • The Thames Coastal Road
      • The Manawatu Scenic Route
      • The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail
      • The Alpine Pacific Touring Route
      • The Great Alpine Highway incl. Arthurs Pass
      • The Alpine Traverse incl. Lewis Pass
      • The Inland Scenic Route 72
      • The Southern Scenic Route
      • The Southern Heritage Route
      • The Great Coast Road
      • The West Coast Touring Route incl. Haast Pass
      • The Treasured Pathway

      ‘Locked in’ Itinerary

      As much as we would like to be able to 'freewheel' around New Zealand with no set timeframes to restrict where and when we go, the realities of travelling as a group, even a small one, means that we have to book our campsites ahead of time, particularly in the busy summer months. Thus, we maintain a ‘set’ itinerary, with specific dates and times locked in for all of our ZigZag tours. The advantage to this system is that our passengers can reserve and/or purchase additional tourism activities ahead of the tour. This is necessary in some places, as some of the more popular tourism operations across New Zealand are often booked up days and weeks in advance.

      On paying a deposit, you will be able to access a copy of our in-depth itinerary which outlines the specific timetable (dates/times/campsites) for your tour. These will be set and can be relied upon to book activities (and alternative accommodation if desired) in advance. The itinerary will only change where circumstances force us to do so whilst on the road – force majeure, dangerous conditions, government warnings, etc.

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