Theft from campervans at trail heads?
Replies: 14 - Last Post: Aug 22, 2012 2:44 AM Last Post By: HKP90
Aug 19, 2012 10:47 AM
Theft from campervans at trail heads?Hey everyone,
I'm coming over to NZ in Oct on a WHV and will be buying a campervan plus a few toys ASAP. I plan on free camping in most places, lots of hiking, boating, and riding on remote beaches and trails. BTW, my van will be fully self contained and I practice leave no trace. My question is, are there any known areas like certain trail heads or beaches where theft from cars is common? I realize New Zealand is an extremely safe country, however after my truck was broken into near a National Park in Canada, you never know for sure. After a quick look at crime stats, it seems like theft is somewhat common. What concerns me most is the fact that I will have a small 125-250cc dirt bike on a rack and a inflatable zodiac with outboard on the top rack. The boat and motor will likely be locked in a luggage carrier but they are easy to get into. We all know any bike can easily be stolen with a truck. Any place I should be more cautious of or specific precautions I should take?
Aug 19, 2012 1:15 PM
1I am a resident of Australia so cannot answer your question in detail. However I can tell you that this is a problem. There are for example notices at the Routeburn Track carpark not to leave valuables in the car as there has been theft. At the end of the Kepler the carpark was closed while the police were investigating a car break-in trying to find fingerprints (I suppose). So if this is what happens with cars I think a campervan would be an obvious target.
Aug 19, 2012 4:39 PM
2Unfortunately yes it can be a problem especially free camping, and especially if you are in, believe it or not, carparks, known areas for criminals.
I know it cost's more but I would consider DOC or department of conservation camps and std motorcamps, holiday parks. They tend to be a little more secure.
Here is a couple of sites you may refer to
And seeing you are coming from the us this may be handy too.
have a great time
Aug 19, 2012 7:00 PM
3I don't know of anywhere that would be particularly bad but I do think it would be a bit foolhardy to leave things like a dirt bike and an inflatable on the outside of your van if you are parked at any trailhead (I'm assuming that you plan to do at least day walks or possibly overnighters?)
also if you are planning on free camping you'd be wise to look into getting your van certified as self-contained. This means that you can stay in one of the many areas that have been designated for free camping - you must be a CSC vehicle to be able to stay here though; otherwise you could (and probably would) get fined.
Aug 19, 2012 8:25 PM
Aug 19, 2012 8:27 PM
Aug 19, 2012 8:32 PM
Aug 19, 2012 9:15 PM
7Thanks for the tips everyone. It's such a shame to hear these things about thefts and how people view free campers. I regularly "stealth camp" in the US and most of the time, reactions are positive when confronted especially when they see trash bags and smell whatever I'm cooking that day. My van will comply with CSC requirements as I don't plan on buying cheap one at the backpacker market. As far as leaving bikes and luggage on racks unattended, people travel all over the US and Canada like this. Some specific places are known to have trouble, that's why I'm asking. The boat would be inside a locked container on a rack on top.
What I still can't decide is whether to buy a stock van and mod it myself or to buy a campervan. Ideally, would be a Toyota Haice 4x4, long wheel base with the hightop. It could be fun to have a project if I had the place to build it, which if utilized Helpx, I could likely have in exchange for work. Maybe find someone who needs help with a home project and has tools already, I would work for the use of tools and space in the yard. In the end it would probably cost me about the same. Though with the right tools I could build a badass campervan to my specifications and possibly make a profit.
The only reason I am so interested in free camping is the freedom of finding remote spots and peace&quiet. It's not security I'm worried about while at the site, it's when I leave. There will really be nothing of value in the van besides the bike and boat. My electronics and cash/papers will always come with me. I'm fine with staying at campsites as long as it's not too crowded, that's just not camping to me. Then again, plenty of theft happens at campsites as well. I plan on getting full coverage insurance on the van and whatever they'll give me on a dirt bike that old. Hopefully I can find a policy that will cover some personal property.
Do the more expensive campervans sell faster than the cheaper ones? From a financial loss standpoint, would I be better off buying an expensive or cheap one since I plan on adding to it and selling it within a year?
Aug 19, 2012 9:33 PM
8it's such a shame... how people view free campers
it's how many free campers behave in this country that is the shame. But perhaps that's what you meant?
You may be ok if the boat is in a locked compartment. I was thinking you meant it would be just attached to the top somehow. many people do travel like this - but we'd be irresponsible to tell you that you wouldn't have any problems. Many people do park for long periods of time at trailheads and have no problems at all - we've done it many times - but you can always be unlucky. i doubt it would be very different elsewhere, with the possible addition of the isolation and lack of population here in NZ, and so less people to be hanging around keeping an eye on things.
From a campervan point of view: We had almost exactly what you were talking about - toyota hi-ace hi top long wheel base, but it was fitted from new in japan as a campervan. We sold it after owning it for a few years for I think $1500 more than we paid for it but it wasn't cheap when we bought it. Some things to bear in mind:
smaller two-berth campers are not as common as bigger 4 berth ones, but are in high demand. That's one of the reasons we did so well with ours. I don't think you'd have any difficulty at all selling a well-fitted out, two-berth, fully or mostly self-contained camper. In this category, both the more expensive and the cheaper ones sell quickly. Different markets though.
Being totally self-contained is a huge bonus especially with the recent (necessary) crack-down on freedom camping.
if you are capable of modifying a van from scratch yourself, and doing a tidy job of it, that could be a very good option.
Aug 19, 2012 9:38 PM
Aug 19, 2012 9:43 PM
10this is fairly similar to the one we used to have. But there are plenty on Trade Me that are in a more basic configuration for around the $10k mark. It depends what kind of budget you have. I wouldn't be too concerned about buying one and not being able to sell it for a decent price though; especially if it's tidy & kept that way.
You can also see on Trade Me how much you'll pay for a decent hi-ace van to convert - and you can also see several on TM that people have done themselves.
Aug 20, 2012 1:17 AM
11NZ is a very safe place, but theft from vehicles at trailheads is one of their problems. I've seen plenty of carparks with a coating of broken window glass, and remember chatting to one of the river tour operators near Queenstown who said that they leave their van with the doors unlocked and the glovebox open to make it clear that there is nothing inside.
campervans are obviously vulnerable as they have all your possessions, and if it is late in the day you clearly aren't coming back that evening.
particularly vulnerable spots, so I was told at the time, include the Tongariro crossing track ends, the Raspberry Creek car park (despite being an hour down a rough road from Wanaka), round Rotorua and Taupo (Craters of the Moon now has volunteers to keep an eye on cars) the Waikeromoana track ends and, to be honest, many others. There was also a spate of thefts along the Fox-Wanaka road, where people only stop for about twenty minutes at each car park and head off to look at the waterfall - apparently they did catch the foreigners responsible in the end.
so I really suggest taking up the suggestion of a secure car park (Campsite, hostel - doesn't need to be locked, just to have people around) and transport to and from the trail heads.
didn't happen to me but a) I was only doing day walks and b) always had a saloon with nothing left visible, and nothing valuable in it. Not that that helps AFTER they've smashed your windows.
regarding van sale; never expect to make a profit and consider when the tourist season is; easier to sell in October to December, very difficult from late February on when most are leaving. Regard what you spend on the van as what you didn't spend on rental, and anything you get for it as a bonus.
regarding free camping mess - what the others have said. Such a shame to see toilet paper and worse abandoned at car parks, usually with a heap of empty cans too.
Aug 21, 2012 8:03 PM
12regarding van sale... consider when the tourist season is; easier to sell in October to December, very difficult from late February on when most are leaving. Regard what you spend on the van as what you didn't spend on rental, and anything you get for it as a bonus.
I disagree on this point; if you have a good quality two berth camper (properly fitted out and maintained), you won't have much difficulty getting rid of it at any time of year provided you're realistic with your price. They are very popular. We had about 20 inquiries about ours in the first few days we advertised it on Trademe; a guy drove all the way up from Napier to see it (and he wasn't the first who was planning a big drive to see it), was the first to view, and bought it for our asking price. I've heard similar stories from others; and also know someone who runs a campervan sale/repair business.
Aug 22, 2012 2:14 AM
13#12 - interesting, I think your magic words are 'realistic' when it comes to price, along with 'good quality'and 'well maintained' I've seen loads of tourists sitting on their clapped out vans in Auckland with the flight approaching, and still hoping for several thousand dollars for it because it has a tent and a mattress. Something that has had loads of backpacker owners can also be a liability.
Aug 22, 2012 2:44 AM
14I think that when we were there we heard that Kaitaia had a particular problem with thefts, with folk stopping off there for trips up to Cape Reinga.
It was pretty common for there to be coaches/buses from towns to the bottom of trail heads too- I am thinking in particular of the Tongariro from Taupo. At least this way you could leave the vehicle in a busy area where it's less likely to get broken into.
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