We both had a few weeks off work over the Christmas break (I can hear those in the USA gasping now!) so decided that was the best time to head off for our first proper trip in the van.
Obviously here in New Zealand, Christmas falls in our summertime. This has been quite a thing to get used to for us, coming from England which was mostly just cold and grey in December. There weren’t many classic movie-scene snowy Christmas Days in my memories – mostly just cold and grey!
Here in NZ they tend to have a large (commercial) build-up to Christmas – as in most countries – but we find they do Christmas for just a day or two and then BAM… it’s summer holiday time!
A lot of local businesses close for the holidays. Not just for the statutory holidays or a few days either side, but close for the summer holidays. A couple of weeks, maybe more. We were amazed in our first few years here that the normally busy town we lived near simply emptied during January. Two, maybe three, days after Christmas and the streets were empty. Supermarkets were the busiest places and you could still park almost by the front door and bump into nobody whilst there! And if you needed any work done; a mechanic for your car, a sparky to wire in a new electrical thing, or any such kind of task – then you’re pretty much out of luck – unless you have a mate, who has a mate, who knows someone that has NOT gone away on holiday and can *maybe* get to you in a week or two.
Cars, trailers, boats, campervans and any other types of wheeled vehicle (this is New Zealand – you see things here you literally couldn’t imagine!) get loaded up for the big summer roadie. Tents and beach games are loaded into cars along with the average 2.4 children and a hairy dog or two. Surfboards and/or bikes are strapped to roof racks – trailers are hitched up, and the compulsory roadtrip snacks are put up the front to be handed out when the ‘are we there yet’ moans get loud or frequent.
I realise this scene could be repeated anywere around the world and you’re thinking this is nothing new. And it’s not. It’s just it still surprises me that it’s full on focus for Christmas for a month, or even more, and then as soon as we get Boxing Day over it appears that a large majority of the country whips the decorations down and disappears to the beach.. or the lake… or wherever their holiday spot is that year. And I love it!
And while I don’t really want to blog about that horrible C word I have to recognise that we are very VERY lucky here in NZ that we can currently freely travel and do all those fabulous summer holiday things that we want to do. All except get on a plane and fly to have a holiday somewhere else. But why would we want to when we have all of this amazing country to explore.
A few days after Christmas we disappeared on our summer holiday – in the campervan! Actually four days after Christmas in our household – and we didn’t rip the festive decorations down before we left as some of the family stayed at home and would have been quite upset by that move!
This was to be our first proper holiday in the van. Up to now The Hubbie and I had only managed to get one night away in it. So it was quite exciting to load it up and do a mini ‘moving-in’ session, finding out what would fit into all the cupboards and little storage spots etc. I was amazed by how much it actually did take. I filled two small lockers with my personal clothes (packing for all seasons as anyone sensible should always do in New Zealand!) and I didn’t get through half of them in the ten nights we were away!
The fridge also took more than I expected it to, along with the kitchen/pantry drawers, and then we still had a really large storage area underneath the rear seats – that we access via the rear doors – where we could throw outdoor seats, tables, bike helmets, BBQ etc.
Overall I was very impressed with how much stuff it held but at the same time we’re trying not to clutter it up with too many things that we’ll leave to mount up in there. We’d rather stick to doing a small pack-in every time we want to go away, just leaving absolute basics to live in there all the time.
Once loaded up, included our two bikes on the bike rack, we filled up the fresh water tank and set off.
Our camper has a pretty large solar panel and house battery set up (please don’t ask me what size in term of watts or whatever technical lingo is appropriate – I have no idea!) which means we don’t need to stay on a campsite with power to hook up to. Yay!
And one of the best things about campervanning in NZ is the huge number of motorhome-friendly towns, villages, businesses, pubs, tourist attractions etc. that have dedicated spaces for motorhome overnight parking.
Important to note here is that in the majority of cases, vans need to be fully self-contained to be able to stay in a lot of these ‘freedom camping’ spots. This is all done via the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association – the NZMCA. For a vehicle to be officially approved as self-contained it is physically checked to ensure it complies with the Association’s requirements to meet the ‘ablutionary and sanitary needs of the occupants for a minimum of three days without requiring any external services or discharging waste’.
I won’t harp on too much now about self-contained vehicles. I’ve posted about Freedom Camping in NZ in the past, and even though it was way back in 2012 I don’t think much has changed since I wrote: The Good, the Bad and The Ugly about Freedom Camping
I’ll leave it there for today but here’s a taster of what’s to come soon; our ten-night break took us the following overnight camping spots and some amazing nearby adventures in each destination – all to be blogged about very soon!
- Tongaporutu / Three Sisters
- New Plymouth
- Ohawe Beach, South Taranaki
- Whanganui – site 1
- Whanganui – site 2
- Kapiti Coast
- Putangirua / Cape Palliser
So SO many apologies are owed to my long time committed readers of this blog.
I abandoned you.
The belated news is that just over a year ago we actually sold the Kiwi Blog Bus 😦
We were all sad to see it go after having many happy holiday around New Zealand and enjoyed the wonderful convenience of travelling in a bus / campervan.
However – we were still travelling, but in another direction.
We moved to a lifestyle block.
We are the very proud owners of a tiny two bedroom cottage on an acre and a bit of prime NZ land.
Slowly but surely, aided by funds from the sale of the Blog Bus, we are doing up our do-er upper with the addition of some KiwiAnnison favourites: a huge veggie garden, a tractor shed (full of tractors!), a paddock for the miniature horse, a field full of Christmas trees and chooks… etc….
And for Kiwi Blog Bus fans – I may still dip in here and write up a few travel stories from the good old bus days, or just general NZ travel tales I think you may just be interested in.
I won’t finish with a goodbye as hopefully this is the recommencement of something that lots of you will stick by my side on.
See you soon
On our approach to the Bay of Islands I noted that we were to drive near Kawakawa.
As this was the infamous home of the Hundertwasser Toilets, I duly prodded the driver and requested (for his benefit of course) that we take a driving break in the locality of this tourist attraction.
I wish I hadn’t bothered. Read More…
Just a brief post as we’re almost ready to set off on our New Year trip.
The Kiwi Blog Bus is stocked up and groaning under the weight of all the Christmas leftovers.
The togs, towels & jandals are loaded. The body boards are strapped to the roof.
We’ve purchased a Read More…
In the spirit of the Olympics ….
(or just because I cannot think what else to blog about today!) this post is about the best of The Kiwi Blog Bus and the winning entries to date.
The positions for most popular post:
Gold medal goes to Waterworks: surely the best fun you can have with recycled objects?! Read More…
I just looked in my diary and I have a note that it is exactly six months since I first posted on this blog!
So…. 107 posts later…. 14,213 hits…. visitors from 104 countries … 460 followers… and …..
I’m still totally addicted to it all !!
I love travelling, seeing new places….. seeing old places, taking photographs
I love writing and sharing my (often useless) banter with you all
I love how so many of you like to get back in touch with me about anything or nothing in particular
I love my Kiwi Blog Bus and long may it continue.
Thank you to all my readers, followers and one-off visitors
I hope you found something here that you liked or were inspired by
I hope that something I wrote about has helped you make a great decision of your own
I hope that you can travel to wonderful places, see beautiful sights and meet amazing people
“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr Seuss
I’ve made it to 100 blog posts!
It is 19 weeks today since I first pressed that big blue “Publish” button and launched the Kiwi Blog Bus on the big world-wide web.
If you have followed me since early on then you’ll remember my amazement when the blog quickly took off and established a (small and friendly!) readership around the globe!
The blog stats became the first thing I checked online each day and the flag counter was closely monitored as it ticked its way upwards (it’s currently on 92).
I love to blog about our travels in the Kiwi Blog Bus and have managed a few short, brief posts while we’ve been on the road; tackling the longer more detailed descriptions from home at a later date.
Winter has snuck up on us now in New Zealand and we may not be out on the road quite so much until it warms up a bit (having no heating at all in the bus!).
I will continue to post from The Kiwi Annison Archives as we’ve still quite a selection of trips to tell you about and heaps and heaps of photographs to work through.
But the other reason for this post is to mention that I have now graduated (Diploma in Journalism) and found full-time employment (yay!) so I have to admit the free time I had for blogging is beginning to dwindle a little!
I hope to still get a post up every week and perhaps you’d like to become one of my blog ‘followers’ just to make sure you don’t miss it!
Thank you and hope you stay tuned.
Today I’m in the mood for a rant… so, sorry no nice pretty pictures, but sometimes things just have to be said.
Regular readers will know that our two dogs, Jess and Pip the travelling dogs, come with us in the Kiwi Blog Bus on every trip.
This of course means we have to exercise them and pick up after them – which we do without fail.
We are responsible dog owners and walk them on leads in permitted areas only, we take them off the leads when we are on mostly empty beaches or big spacious fields/dog parks etc. Many beaches have strict rules about what time of year dogs are allowed on, or if it’s in the evenings only. Read More…
I read in the news today that here in New Zealand we have apparently just experienced one of the warmest Aprils on records.
(April’s record breaking sunshine. )
I must admit we had a pretty crappy summer this year but I can vouch that Autumn has so far made up for it.
New Zealand is supposed to have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons – but the weather can be very changeable and we often get four seasons in one day.
As in this well-known kiwi song by Crowded House…