Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a Spaceship! This is a new and very economical type of campervan that has a number of advantages over a traditional motorhome or campervan. For anyone wanting a self-drive trip in New Zealand touring on a budget they are well worth a look.
What is a Spaceship?
A Spaceship is essentially a cross between a car and a campervan. The vehicles are modified Toyota 'people movers'; the model is called Lucida, Estima, Previa or Tarago, depending on which country you come from. These modifications provide sleeping and living accommodation. The company describes them as "The swiss army knife of campers - Like a good car to drive with more useful features than a campervan" and that is a pretty good summary.
Spaceship Camper Design and Features
From the outside a Spaceship looks like an ordinary car. Inside however, the layout is quite different. Behind the driving seats are the following:
A double seat. This can be swivelled around to create more room and to accommodate the bed and/or a table
Behind this seat there is a large boxed area. Cushions fold out to create a roomy double bed with ample headroom for sitting. The bed may be extended to the outside by opening the rear hatch door and using an awning. In the winter, or on colder nights, the rear door can be closed and the bed set up fully inside.
Under the bed is a lockable storage box, another storage container for food and utensils and a battery powered fridge
Other features include a water tank, portable cooker, DVD player, CD player/radio with Ipod connector
Also included: all linen (including duvet), plates, cups and cooking utensils, side and back awnings for indoor/outdoor living
While most Spaceships are designed to sleep two, there is also a four-berth option. In these, a container fastened to the roof becomes sleeping accommodation for two. It might be a great option for a family with two young(ish) children.
Basically, there is everything you need for your camping trip! Optional extras include a table and chairs, thermos flask, GPS and extra linen - and even a solar shower.
Note: There are three different models of Spaceship and some of the features above may not apply to all. Select the appropriate specification when you book.
Spaceship Camper Advantages
Easy to drive. As a Spaceship is essentially a car, this is a lot more comfortable and manouverable than most bigger campers. All models have automatic transmission.
Great visibility. For a car, the sitting positions are high and the windows enable both driver and pass.
Economical. The daily rate is lower than a conventional campervan. In addition, fuel consumption is nicely conservative.
Excellent customer service and backup. The team all seem very helpful. There is also a tollfree 0800 telephone number to call anytime with any queries about your trip.
The Spaceship community. With their bright and distinctive orange and white colorings, you'll easily spot other Spaceships wherever you go and, odd as it may seem, you'll find yourself giving them a friendly wave as you drive by. This sense of community is extended even further by the Space Station network; these are designated points throughout the country where you can receive advice and even swap DVDs from their collection.
We didn't find any disadvantages with the Spaceship. Obviously space is limited but it is actually roomier than you might expect.
Where to Stay with a Spaceship
A Spaceship is ideal for staying over at campgrounds or holiday parks, which are plentiful throughout New Zealand. The Department of Conservation (DOC) also maintains a network of campsites; these have more basic facilities than commercial camping areas, but they are often in stunning locations.
Because Spaceships are not equipped with toilets or showers they are not “self contained.” Therefore it is not advisable – and in many cases not legal – to “freedom camp” (which means parking anywhere overnight).
All Spaceships come with an excellent set of booklets giving details of where and how to stay around New Zealand.
Read More: Freedom Camping in New Zealand
A Spaceship costs more than a rental car but much less than a standard motorhome. The daily rate varies from between $45 and $109 per day. Fuel, insurance and campsite charges are extra.
Our Experience with a Spaceship
We spent nine days traveling around the South Island in a Spaceship. It was trouble free and was one of the most enjoyable trips we have had.
In 2006 Spaceship earned the New Zealand Tourism Award for Innovation and it's not hard to see why. There is no better way to see New Zealand than at your own pace, and a Spaceship provides one of the most fun and economical ways to do this.Spaceships also operate in Australia and the UK. UK Spaceships can be driven in Europe.