19 September 2012

It was hard to decide whether to go into Christchurch city. It wasn't somewhere I knew well before the earthquakes, nor felt any particular attachment to. There was also this exaggerated Kiwi sense of politeness holding me back - after all, it's rude to stare. But, in the end, we felt it was something we should see, an experience we need a real sense of, beyond the photos and newsreels.

We started off by having coffee at Re:START Mall. It's all bright and cheerful and feels like it should give you hope. But it somehow didn't, partly because it was so empty.

Full of sunshine and bright colours, but not people.
And then you turn around and remember why the mall exists in the first place.
We then walked part of the red zone perimeter. Nothing seems quite real, and yet reality keeps slapping you in the face. Piles of rubble, vast empty tracts, building that look undamaged next to devastation.

Strange juxtaposition of spring; new leaves, punting on the Avon,
a ruined church.

So many buildings gone.
We've seen many versions of this scene, but the reality is raw and painful.
Before long we didn't have the heart to see more. If just an hour in the city affected us like this, how do the people of Christchurch manage to carry on? How do they live with the sadness, the uncertainty, the fear?

Where do they find hope?

More Christchurch photos

Don't mind us

10 July 2012

Nice of you to drop in and see us at Te Puru Holiday Park today.

Of course I'm happy to give you a map and directions to the Top 10 Holiday Park at Hot Water Beach.

Yeah, yeah, while you're here, feel free to let your kids play in our playground for 20 minutes or so.

Oh sure, you may as well use the toilets while you're here.

After all, we're not trying to run a business.

I can't decide

A very clever name or just a bit of a shocker?

Which way next?

22 June 2012

We find ourselves at something of a crossroads.

In the last 18 months we have worked at some wonderful places - and most places we've worked at more than once. There's something special about getting to know the people and feeling you're becoming part of a community.

It would be easy to build up a 'work cirucit', returning to the same places and jobs year after year.

But is this really why we gave up our 'regular' jobs and built a home with wheels?

This time three years ago we were at Outward Bound - an experience we credit with helping us find the courage to make such a big change to our lifestyle.

Having proved wrong our fears of not finding enough work to fund our life on the road, do we now have the courage to let go of our safe options and find work in other places? It's like making a continual series of fresh starts.

One thing we have learned, though, is how much work there is around for people who are willing to ask for it - and just get stuck in and do it.

The South Island beckons. We realise it's not going away, but we'd really like to get there this year. So planning and the job search has started - we'd like to have something organised before taking such a big step.

Mind you, driving over the Desert Road in the snow last week did have us wondering how well the bus will handle a South Island winter.


11 February 2011

We've been for some lovely walks in the last few days.

The longest was the Kawakawa Bay walk from Kinloch, four hours return. Fairly easy walking, although we didn't wear our boots, so felt the distance more than we should have.

Started mid-afternoon, so it wasn't too hot - but the cicadas were still outrageously loud. Beautiful views and lovely bush.

Glad we had the walking poles, should have worn our boots as well

Kawakawa Bay from the highest point on the track

Not quite enticing enough to get us swimming

No sign of these folk, but freshly washed undies hanging in a tree to dry

A couple of days later we did the Waitonga Falls track on Mt Ruapehu. Much shorter, very different scenery and nowhere near as much noise from the insects.

Better prepared - boots AND sunblock
More spectacular after some rain, perhaps!

The mountain with its head in the clouds and feet in the bog

Beautiful tree and welcome bridge

Boardwalk protecting the bog

Determined old bird

2 February 2012

We had a lovely visit from Mum and Aunty Rob last week. At 78, you'd think Mum would be happy with gentle strolls on the beach. But there are better views to be seen if you go a little higher.

So up the hill she climbed, using Craig's walking poles - of course now she has got some for herself.

When I grow up, I want to be like my Mum.

Loving those poles.

She may not have made it all the way to the top, but it's a mighty big hill.

With her beloved Poor Knights Islands in the background.

Bye bye bridge

24 December 2011

The first time we took the bus over the old (one lane) Kopu bridge will also be the last time - the flash new bridge is now open for business, with a lane for each direction of travel.

No doubt fading memories will make people think fondly of the old bridge, but it really was the stuff of holiday-makers' nightmares. One lane, very long, and blocking their way to all those lovely Coromandel beaches.

Many hours were lost sitting in cars on the side of the road, baking in the summer heat. Waiting for a chance to cross the bridge, constantly doing the mental arithmetic to work out the revised arrival time at the bach, or how much daylight would be left to pitch the tent in.

We drove over the old bridge on the day the new bridge was opened up for foot traffic and hordes of people were taking their chance to walk over and have a look around.

In a few months, people will barely remember the excitement, and very few will even bother to look down at the old bridge as they whizz by.

Waiting our turn to cross

The old bridge looks dreadfully worn next to the new one

A very small queue waiting on the other side, compared to what would be
seen in summer

The right hose

25 November 2011

It was tough to come up with a title for this post that didn't sound like a double entendre!

Making sure we can get fresh water is very high on our list of priorities, so having the right hose is essential. It has to be robust, safe for drinking water and long enough to get water from the tap to the bus.

Until now we have carried two garden hoses - one that copes with most situations and an extra piece for when more length is called for. The trouble is these take up a lot of room. The only place they fit was in the engine bay - and the heat from the engine is a problem if they're not stowed just right. In fact both hoses are quite a bit shorter than they used to be, as Craig has trimmed off the melted bits.

Now our search for a better hose has been rewarded by the discovery of the 'handi-hose'. It is 15m long, rolls flat onto a reel and is safe for drinking water. It takes up so little room it doesn't even need to go in the engine bay, fitting into our power cord storage instead.

It does have a couple of disadvantages, neither of which were deal-breakers. You have to unwind the whole 15m even if you're only 4m from the tap, and it has to be laid right out as any kinks will stop the water flow.

Rolled up into a handy package that weighs less than 3kg.

Filling time, with the hose carefully laid out to avoid kinks.

We got our hose from Foxton RV Accessories and it cost just under $100. There are a couple of other stockists in NZ as well.


24 November 2011

In a world of over-whelmingly white vans, how lovely to see this.

Home run

22 November 2011

New porch floor for Nicky...

We've spent the last couple of weeks at 'home' in Wellington; it feels less and less like home each time we return. It's wonderful to catch up with our kids, other family and friends, though.

Craig got to use his beloved nail gun, doing some maintenance work on his daughter's house. She has a great place for us to park the bus outside her house, very quiet and out of the way.
...and gates, complete with beer bottle decorations.

We also went on our version of a shopping spree. This involves a visit to the storage unit to pick up more clothes (and shoes!) for summer. At the same time we got rid of stuff we've been carrying with us but haven't really needed, like the printer that's never been used in 10 months. Plus we loaded up with all the other summer stuff like kayaks, fishing rods and all the paraphernalia that go with them.

So no we're back on the road again, heading for Whitianga for a week or so, before we head north for the summer.

I helped out at the Santa Parade - which really is mostly about the waiting!

Summer can't be far away - this tui was gorging on flax flowers right
outside the bus door.

Saving the best for last

29 October 2011

It has taken a week to recover enough energy to post about finals' weekend.

Our camp is now closed, the fences and buildings removed and before long no-one will quite remember we were there.

We had the most amazing time running the Westhaven Campervan Park. Incredible people came through our door every day. Some of them came back time and again and felt like family.

And we were honoured to work with some very cool people; too many to mention but very dear to us nonetheless.

Here are just a few photos from the last weekend. There are so many photos they can't all be posted here, but over the next day or two I will post links to some albums in the sidebar, so keep an eye out for them.

And there is no denying, the All Blacks gave us the perfect finish to the whole wonderful experience.
The cutest fan!

Maori Nesian - the band one of our guards brought in to
entertain the guests who thought of this as home.

Resting up before the final?

So many happy campers.

This week's dress-ups

17 September 2011

Someone couldn't work out how to put his daffodil on!

This is better - and now we can't see his undies.

Simon and friends dressed for the game...

...and their camper dressed for the tour.

Quarter finals

13 October 2011

Each weekend seems to get bigger and busier. Quite a different feeling this weekend, now we've reached the knockout stage.

Many of our guests have been here two or three times now, and many more will be with us for the next two weekends, too. Noticeably fewer of them are existing on a shoestring budget - if they could afford tickets to the quarters, semis and finals, then moeny for the rest of it wasn't much of a worry.

The overall feeling is still party mode, but some are starting to look a bit jaded after weeks of travel, drinking and restaurant eating.

Quote of the week from the Argentinians:
Happy night, sad morning.

Adam from TV One did live weather forecasts from the park
on Saturday, with plenty of help from the Argentinians.

What else would you do with all this space but play rugby?

English Dave and friends enjoying a beer...

...supplied by the friendly folk from The Long Room in Ponsonby.

Pretty sure the guy in pink is in costume, but the Scotsman looked
like that most of the time.

These two were even more cheerful after France vs England game.

These guys, not so much.

And Sunday morning brought us the Whakatane tourism people with
sausages for breakfast for all.