If like a lot of people you live in a city it’s also more than likely that you barely know your neighbours. The chances of sitting down with some of them each night for a round of drinks and a discussion about the day are just about non-existent. For those in the motorhome community getting to know your neighbours is only part of getting around in your motorhome.
Last year when we updated our motorhome and hit the road on a much more regular basis than the 4 or 5 days a year we had been reduced to when we owned an ran our own business. We started getting to places that we hadn’t been too before, and we began spending more than one night at some of the locations.
Our first real experience with a happy hour was when freedom camping at Whananaki and a small group invited us over to join them for nibbles and drinks an experience we enjoyed. The chance to hear about places other people have visited good or bad is such a valuable part of this.
Of course, we still returned to, Puriri Bay, our favourite DOC camp in Northland which I have covered in various blogs, both last year and just recently. It was here that we met John and Gaylene and their motorhome “The sad bastard and the Mrs” who will feature later in this story. It was John who told us about the freedom camping area at Ramp Road on the Karikari Peninsula in Northland.
Sarah and I have never been the most social people in the world, so it was something of a shock the first time we had another motorhomer invite themselves over for happy hour. Actually, it was probably more the fact that he wanted to start at 4pm when to us wine o’clock begins at 5 but then that’s all part of the more relaxed lifestyle for some and something that we had to learn to get used too.
When we started our trip to the South Island earlier this year, we were still adapting to the motorhome lifestyle. We probably didn’t make the most of the social opportunities that presented themselves. But as we started to get used to the relaxed lifestyle and threw off the shackles of the city that we started to interact with other motorhomers.
First cab off the rank so to speak were Dave and Nita who we met at Solly’s Farm a Park over Property north of Collingwood. We had quite a chat with both of them and discovered that Dave was the area chairman for the EBOP NZMCA with both of them very keen motorhomers who while we didn’t know it at the time would have quite a bit of influence on our travels.
When we made it to the Gore A&P Showgrounds, we met a couple of sets of people that we would meet again later Adrian and Sally who together with their dog Zac was doing a tour of the south. Adrian was having some gearbox issues with his bus and having just had the handbrake sorted on our motorhome I was able to recommend Transport Repairs as the place to get it sorted.
We also met Jim and Julie, who when we arrived at Gabriel’s Gully made us feel welcome by inviting us to join them for their happy hour. Jim explained to me that it was not something that they usually did; however, it was such a glorious evening that he had to do something.
Not long afterwards it was onto Middlemarch to ride the famed Otago Rail Trail it was here that we met Brian who introduced himself to us and then ended up riding the whole trail with us. Later, when we caught up with him at home in Oxford, he invited us to his house for dinner and free camping in his driveway.
After finishing the Rail Trail, we spent a couple of very wet days at the NZMCA Park in Lumsden here we met Fred and Christine (sorry no photo of them) who like us drive a Dethleffs motorhome. During the discussions with Fred about all things motorhoming Fred told me about a little group they have for Dethleffs owners and would I like to be kept informed about the next get together, which I responded in the affirmative. Another person who would have an influence on future gatherings.
In Loburn we met Aileen and Stewart who had parked on one side of us. We would catch up with them later in the year in Ruakaka. On the other side of us, Roland and Gloria parked their Autotrail and proving what a small world it is, it turns out that Roland and Stewart used to work with each other.
And I cannot write about our visit south without mentioning Renee and Geoff who we first met at Marfells beach, then again at Peski’s in Geraldine. Later at the NZMCA Park in Christchurch and then we met them on the road in the Lewis Pass when we pulled into the same rest area for a bite to eat.
Back at the top of the south, we met Adrian and Sally again at the new NZMCA Park in Motueka and spent a few days getting to know each other. We had a hilarious time on the eve of Sarah’s birthday when we sprung them trying to decorate the front of our van late in the evening.
Returning to the North Island at the end of May, we had made so many new friends, met some real characters and made various promises to catch up along the road.
So it was back in the north that we had no sooner settled into the Park in Plimmerton than Reene and Geoff came to visit. Then a few weeks later an email arrived from Fred and Christine inviting us to the Dethleffs gathering being held at Mahinepua where we ran into John, who also owns a Dethleffs motorhome, that we had also met briefly in Blenheim.
Then in August Dave and Nita invited us to join them on an adventure to Te Araroa for the opening of the NZMCA Park there. It was on this journey that we met up with Brenda and Dennis, who are an inspiration to both of us, still out and about in their 80’s making the most of the motorhome lifestyle.
We had enjoyed our time with Adrian and Sally so much that we decided in September to go visit them in Hastings and spent a few days catching up with both of them while exploring the sights of both Napier and Hastings. I think that one of the beautiful things about the motorhome lifestyle is the chance to visit but take your own bed with you so that when you want to retreat to your personal space, it’s an easy thing to do.
And then recently as those who have been following my blog will know, We again caught up with Dave and Nita when they invited us to join them on the EBOP Safari around Taranaki with another group of people that we got to know.
A couple of weeks ago we returned to Puriri Bay where we talked with Ken and Malcolm long time visitors to the bay who like us had heard that John (John and Gaylene) who we met last year was suffering from some significant health issues and was waiting on a bypass. This, however, didn’t stop them from sending John photos of the fish they had caught and him from commenting on my blog about how it was unfair that we were there and he wasn’t.
Now we are back at Ramp Road in the far north another of John’s favourite spots, again spending time with Adrian and Sally and Chalky who we met here last year, who we discover also know John. Yesterday John was transferred by ambulance from Whangarei to Auckland hospital, and I want you to know that we are all thinking of you. You have made an impression on all of us.
Motorhoming is part of the community, and over the last year, Sarah and I have discovered what a caring bunch of people are in this community, and we are enjoying being part of it. The whole experience is so much more than just going from place to place, looking at the views or doing the tourist things it’s about the people as well.
To the others, we have met it’s been a great pleasure meeting you all, and we look forward to catching up again.
To view the places we have visited click here to see them on Google maps. You can click the links to read the blog about that area.
To view the ratings for other places and camps, we have stayed click here
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