Living in a van for five weeks and some number days so far has taught me a few things. For example, I have redefined what clean means. Rinsing my breakfast bowl in cold water... That's good enough for dishwashing. Showering once every three days. Good enough as well. Wearing the same jeans for two weeks. A-okay. Eating steaks that were dropped in the dirt. It's fine. Boiling water for coffee in a dirty Trangia bowl. No worries... the aero press will filter the out the particles. Hiking shoes with a horrid smell. Just tuck 'em in the foot well. Problem solved.
Although I am admittedly yearning for proper cleanliness, I wouldn't do New Zealand any other way! And that's because van life allows you to do hikes like this one basically for free. We camped just near Tongariro Alpine Pass the night before and woke up early to avoid the mobs of people that get bussed in from Taupo. We pumped out something like 25k and 1k in elevation while tromping up and around the volcanoes and lakes. It was a memorable day for sure! Without doubt, it is one of my favorite parts of the North Island.