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We chose our holiday carefully because it was to be a complete change of lifestyle as we intended to be on the road for 12 months. Having made our decision we put our house on the market. Within three days it was sold and our plan went into action. We bought a huge 4-wheel drive vehicle and a near new luxury 22’6 caravan into which we piled the essential gear.
We soon discovered that some of this was unnecessary, so it was packed in the ‘take-back’ boxes and put into storage with our other worldly goods.
We set off in early in the year travelling from one end of the country to the other. The constantly changing scenery never failed to astonish me and I wrote copious notes to help me recall it later. Often as we struck up a conversation with strangers they invariably said, ‘I’d love to do what you’re doing’ to which we generally replied, ‘Well, just do it’. We drove mostly on country roads rather than main highways, thereby discovering some of this country’s best kept secrets. Wonderful beaches – often deserted – where the sea sparkled like silver and the azure sky swept down to meet it on the horizon. I found myself waxing lyrical on many occasions as I endeavoured to put my thoughts into words.
Motor camps became our temporary homes and often we were given discounts for staying more than 2 weeks, or 2 months as the case may be. We saved quite a few dollars using this strategy as we didn’t have a stringent timetable. The camps had good amenities and we met plenty of other people travelling around the country. One couple had begun by intending to be away for a couple of months but were still travelling after 10 years. They loved the idea of being able to move when and where they pleased. It’s certainly a laid-back way of life, as there’s not much to do in the gardening arena and a caravan is hardly conducive to spending hours in the kitchen!
I discovered exchange bookshops in most towns so always had a good read on hand. My trusty Laptop helped me record daily events and I intended to turn my notes into a complete journal when our travelling days were over.
After settling in to each camp we spent the following days fully exploring the surrounding areas. Some of the small towns have remarkably historical museums so we learned a great deal about them.
In September we decided to travel South but this time without the caravan so for the next six weeks we stayed in motor camp cabins, which were very convenient. Never did we allow the weather to influence us regarding where we wanted to go or what we wanted to do. Over the whole year we didn’t spend more than a couple of days on end stuck in the caravan. Even the rain in the Far North could not dampen our spirits or stop us fishing from the wharf especially when we could see the John Dory lazily following our bait!
Travelling in one’s own country may not show another culture, or the magnificence of old architecture, but we certainly saw what makes New Zealand the place to be. Snow capped mountains with the incredible view from the topmost peaks, lush beech forests, thick native bush, glassy lakes, unspoiled and unpolluted beaches, broad blue harbours, windswept desert-like areas, places where the land ends and is met by the sea and much, much more. We saw coal mines, gold mines (in working order) a blossom parade, llamas, miniature horses, peacocks (even a white one), a pure white heron that travels each year from way down South to the Far North, and millions of sheep!
We had an outstanding twelve months - seeing all we wanted to see and doing all we wanted to do. Our Time Out around both Islands of this extraordinary country, Aoteoroa, was superb – and as the saying goes – ‘Don’t leave town till you’ve seen the country!’ Certainly, don’t leave this country until you’ve really seen it. Pleasures and treasures abound and I still feel, as I did over 40 years ago when I first arrived - ‘New Zealand – it’s like the rest of the world rolled together.’