Customer Adventure Series

Rhino-Rack catches up with Overland NZ

16 Aug 2021

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Overland NZ was formed on a long drive home from Cape Reinga to Wellington. Since early 2018, they have been sharing their amazing adventures around the country and inspiring people to explore New Zealand. We recently caught up with Daniel from Overland NZ to find out what the crew has been up to, his favourite spots to go 4WDing, and how Rhino-Rack complements his own adventures.


Let's start by introducing Overland NZ!

Overland NZ started off with myself, Daniel, and my now-wife Chloe. We were cruising back from a trip to the Far North a few years ago and started chatting about how people always ask us where we go and how we do it. We decided to set up an Instagram account when we got home so we could share our tips with friends and family, and it took off from there.

Chloe grew up travelling all over New Zealand with her family and camping. She was the person who initially convinced me to go on a two-week trip to the South Island, sleeping in the back of my old Hilux Surf. Took a few days to get into it but after a week on the road through some amazing spots, the photographer in me was hooked on this style of travel.

Since that first trip, we’ve gotten married, acquired a dog and recently had a baby too! So our travels have evolved as our family’s grown. Day-to-day I’m a software developer and Chloe’s a development manager so we’ve got fairly busy lives balancing our normal jobs and Overland NZ content.

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Daniel, Chloe, Theo and their pup Pepper (Image from @OverlandNZ)
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Skippers Canyon (Image from @OverlandNZ)

What do you love about overlanding and how often do you Make Space For Adventure?

We work and live in the city so overlanding is our escape from the day-to-day grind. Getting out of the city and waking up in the middle of nowhere is what we live for. It is a trade-off though and comes at the cost of getting stuff done around the house for example. We spend a lot of time planning how to use our annual leave wisely and lining it up with public holidays so we can get away from home for as long as possible on each trip. We try our best to get away at least once a month for weekend trips with a few multi-week trips thrown in throughout the year where possible. 


Where was your last adventure, where are you now, and where to next?

Our last proper adventure was early April this year. We booked a last-minute trip down south with a two-month-old to see how it would go. It was awesome and very different from our usual trips. Travelling with a kid that young meant we had to adapt to shorter days on the road and more stops, but it was well worth it. 

We’re currently in our ‘winter hibernation' mode. In July and August, we go on day trips closer to home as it’s not fun camping when it’s freezing cold and when it gets dark earlier. We are using this time to gather up ideas for where we’ll be off to come summer and work on things behind the scenes for Overland NZ.

As for our next trip, I’m hoping for the stars to align for a very specific snow trip I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Otherwise, it’ll be the odd random trip from now until October. It will be Theo’s first time camping so we want to do something cool.

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Macetown (Image from @OverlandNZ)
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Kaweka Ranges (Image from @OverlandNZ)

Tell us a bit about your rig. How long have you had it for? How many km has it clocked?

We have a 2013 Toyota Hilux. The Hilux has been our workhorse for the past 3 and a half years. We purchased it with around 70,000kms clocked and it now has around 115,000kms. It was completely stock when we bought it and was immaculate with a full-service history from one owner - the perfect platform to build my ‘vision’ on.

We did the basics (tyres/wheels/suspension and tent) when we bought it and left it at that for 18 months or so while we explored the country. We wanted to prove you didn’t need a massively decked out vehicle to get started and see some amazing spots.

Eventually, we completed the setup with a decent 12-volt system, roof tray, awning, winch and bullbar. The 12-volt system lets us run a fridge and camp lights and allows us to be more comfortable on long trips - it’s amazing how good fresh food is! Given we travel solo most of the time, the winch adds that peace of mind and offers another choice to get ourselves free if we get into trouble.


What Rhino-Rack gear do you have? How do they complement your adventures?

We’re running the Rhino-Rack Pioneer Platform along with a few goodies up on the roof! Having a large, flat surface to store things on is amazingly useful - keeps the spade and Maxtrax out of the way, but easily accessible when we need them. The platform has also allowed me to mount a light bar easily on the vehicle for those night runs. We also have the Sunseeker 2.0 Awning which has made way more difference to our camping experience than I expected - having the whole passengers side of the vehicle covered and out of the weather is awesome, especially when set up with the Sunseeker Awning Side Wall

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The gear (Image from @OverlandNZ)
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Camping setup (Image from @OverlandNZ)

Where is your number one spot to go overlanding/4wding in the North Island?

It’s a battle between the Central Plateau and the Far North. Both offer a completely different trip. The Central Plateau is cold and volcanic all year round, while the Far North is full of beaches and sun.

For a short weekend trip, the Central Plateau offers everything you could want. For a longer trip, I don’t think you can beat the Far North. There’s so much to see and do up there and has some of the best stretches of beach in New Zealand. I love driving up 90 Mile Beach - there’s something amazing about jumping on the beach and cruising for an hour and seeing the sights along the way. 


In March 2020, you went on a solo trip to the South Island. Tell us a little about that trip and what inspired you to do it solo?

March 2020... I boarded the ferry south when COVID was getting into full swing here in New Zealand. I very nearly didn’t go but decided I’d regret not going more than I’d regret going. The goal was to do two weeks travelling fairly solo down the length of the South Island, filming my trip along the way for Youtube and bringing everyone along on the adventure. I’ve always wanted (and still do, as I never really finished the trip I had planned) to do a long solo trip. As much as I love travelling with family and mates, there’s something special about having complete control over where you go and when. It makes filming easier too as I can spend 15 minutes getting that three-second drone shot without everyone else sitting around waiting.

In March I headed down Rainbow Road as Molesworth Station was shut, stayed the night at the stunning Lake Tennyson campsite before heading south through Lees Valley then off to Macaulay River before heading alongside Lake Tekapo for the night. The Macaulay Valley was pretty stunning! The next day I got back into reception and had a text from Chloe saying “Got you a flight, you need to be in Christchurch tomorrow night” - while I hadn’t seen the news, I had a pretty good idea of what had happened and knew my trip was over.

Chloe and I flew back down to Christchurch a few months later to pick up the Hilux and finish the trip. Though quite different than I had originally planned, it was great seeing the South Island in winter. Driving in the snow isn’t something I’d ever done before.

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Rainbow Road camping (Image from @OverlandNZ)
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Macaulay Valley (Image from @OverlandNZ)

Do you have any tips or advice for anyone looking to get started with overlanding?

Start small, keep it simple and make the most of what you already have. It’s so easy to get caught up in what you see on social media and think that you need all the gear to head away for a weekend of exploring. I know I may sound a tad hypocritical given our truck is nicely kitted out, but we started super simple. Our first 4wd vehicle was an ancient, almost stock Hilux Surf. We slept in the back of it, took drink bottles for water and ate canned food that we could heat up on a little camping stove. We did a few big trips like that and had an absolute blast. The more we travelled, the more we started tweaking things as we found we were needing them.

Every trip doesn’t need to be a big multi-week adventure covering thousands of km. Sometimes a quick overnighter or a weekend away can be just as fulfilling, not to mention far easier to do. I’ve lost count of the number of times we get home on a Friday after work, jump in the truck and get a few hours under our belts before spending Saturday and Sunday morning looking around before making the push back home for work on Monday.


What's next for Overland NZ?

Our goal has always been and continues to be, to inspire people to get out there and see their own backyards. We enjoy getting messages from people telling us about their most recent trip and that they used the information we’ve provided to plan it out. It makes all the hard work of producing the content worth it.

The ultimate goal is to turn Overland NZ into full-time travel for at least one of us - it’d be great to be able to turn multiple passions into a proper job. Even after a 10-hour day on the road, stopping every 5 minutes to film something or grab a photo, the excitement is real.

Later this year, all going well, our new vehicle arrives. While we’re not giving away too much just yet, it’s going to be a rush to get it set up to hit the road this summer. We’re currently planning out what our summer looks like and how big of a trip we can pull off. It’s still early days, but we’re hoping to do our longest stint on the road yet, all while filming the adventure for Youtube and having a 1-year-old and dog with us.


Now that you know Overland NZ a little bit more, don't forget to follow their journey.

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Tukino Skifield (Image from @OverlandNZ)
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Tora Campsite (Image from @OverlandNZ)