My journey began in Rangiora in Te Waipounamu/South Island of Aotearoa in the height of summer with only a small backpack full of clothes. The country was preparing for an Omicron wave when I took off and the Roads were unusually quiet since the international borders had closed a couple of years ago. The only travellers on the road were locals or trapped foreigners.
Feeling excitedly overwhelmed I headed South with my head buzzing with all the new information I needed to absorb such as driving the vehicle itself, the overnight parks permitted and the exterior and interior workings of my new home and the new codes of conduct and etiquette.
If you ever see a motorhome on the side of the road with a yellow cloth on the wing mirror that’s an indication they are needing assistance. Green on the dashboard means they are single. Truckers call us the white maggots and it takes four months to get from Kaikoura to Christchurch not two hours.
I learned very quickly that small towns welcomed motorhomers because the money they don’t spend in accommodation they spend in small town economies.
While driving through the Haast Pass I heard a crash. Eventually I was able to pull over. The coffee grinds had spilt so I moped the floor with my tears... yeah right. It was moccona... 30 minute rule applies.
I found a freedom camp and looked dubiously down the steep gravel entrance knowing I have a front wheel drive. A man and his dogs emerged and assured me it would be fine. I got to the bottom and there were few homes down there and no cell reception, so I decided to leave. That gut feeling I had, proved to be right as I skidded twice in my attempt to exit. Reversing to the bottom for the second time I changed gears to manual and despite some wheel spins I made it out with heart pounding.
I confess though that as I drove through the Haast Pass on the West Coast side I burst into tears at the untouched beauty of the place that I remembered as a child. There is no cell coverage in much of the West Coast and it is quite an experience to think that no one knows where you are. I went for a small bush walk and realized that I could vanish and not a soul knew I was here.
There are a few driveways on my bucket list to pull up in. I managed to visit a friend in Hokitika twice. I've since heard she's moving but she won't say where :)
I had plans to make my home stand out. However, a deep gash was not one of the designs on the drawing board. It was the corner of my brother's house that beat me. I'm gutted I gutted his gutter.