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Thoughts after two months on the road

No TV

As of this writing, we’ve officially been Wing’n It for 61 days and 7 hours. With our little Mitsubishi Canter diesel puttering away, we’ve explored around the Bay of Islands, Whangarei, Auckland and the Waitakere, the Coromandel peninsula, Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty. We have camped by marina boatyards, bridges, city streets, driveways, parks, forests, and beach after beach after beach. Right now, we’re freedom camping at a small reserve in Rotorua (the home of geysers, boiling mud, and steaming, sulfur-emitting hot pools). Earlier today, our family went on a walk together here along a small but thundering river, water-falling and pouring down a small gorge into a series of peaceful-looking pools that look perfect for swimming.

Except for that it’s still winter here (a fact that doesn’t deter local surfers any). And while our friends back home are enjoying the hottest summer on record, New Zealand is having one of their coldest winters ever. Temperatures are supposed to drop to nearly 0°C tonight which is a wee chilly in a tiny motorhome with no heater. But this is when the camper’s small size most comes in handy: four bodies sharing 100 square feet keeps the temperature inside….tolerable. It at least keeps ice from forming on the windscreen. Michael and I still sleep with our sub-zero mummy bags zipped together with two blankets on top. And flannel pants, a fleece shirt, and wool socks. It appears a year of central heating has made me a bit soft.

But spring will be here in less than three weeks and the sky tells me that’s true; the sun has warmth again and the bluish white sunlight I remember of New Zealand is growing in intensity. Truth be told, we’ve had feelers out ever since we arrived for jobs, a place to stay for a little while. We even got a P.O. box up in Paihia. But life in this old, small van has been growing on us. It is the simplest we’ve ever lived: the most basic clothing for all, a truly minimalist galley, a few drawing supplies, games, Legos, and Kindles for the girls. Our routine is down pat: every three days we find a dumping station and empty the graywater tank and Porta-Potti and fill up our tiny 60L water tank. I go to the store and stock up on meat, vegetables, dark chocolate, and Pinot Noir. Then we open up the road atlas I got used at an Auckland library for NZ$0.75 and we decide where to drive next.

It’s not a bad gig, not at all. Because while some things are scarce, such as the aforementioned heat, along with internet (it took me 4 days just to find a cell signal strong enough to actually upload this post), interior (and–cough–personal) space, and good hoppy beer, we are rich once again in the things that truly matter: the wonder that is exploring a stunning island at the bottom of the South Pacific Ocean and the time to do it together as a family. I think we’ll keep going.

Camping near the Whangarei bridge.

Camping near the Whangarei bridge.

Auckland: our most favorite waterfront in the world. Except maybe Wellington. Or Pahia. Or Mt. Maunganui...

Auckland: our most favorite waterfront in the world. Except maybe Wellington. Or Pahia. Or Mt. Maunganui…

Breakfast with a view (Firth of Thames)

Breakfast with a view (Firth of Thames)

With a negative outflow of cash, we stop to pan for gold in the Coromandel (no dice however).

With a negative outflow of cash, we stop to pan for gold in the Coromandel (no dice however).

Lego night

Lego night

Million dollar view...for free. (Mercury Bay)

Million dollar view…for free. (Mercury Bay)

We had stunning Cathedral Cove nearly to ourselves. One of the prime benefits of wintertime roadtripping.

We had stunning Cathedral Cove nearly to ourselves. One of the prime benefits of wintertime roadtripping.

Winter will not deter the surf sisters.

Winter will not deter the surf sisters.

Now that we're officially permanent residents of New Zealand, off go the shoes.

Now that we’re officially permanent residents of New Zealand, off go the shoes.

18 days until spring...and we're counting down each one.

18 days until spring…and we’re counting down each one.

We explored amazing Karangahake gorge, complete with old gold mining tunnels and ruins. Amazing!

We explored amazing Karangahake gorge, complete with old gold mining tunnels and ruins. Amazing!

Learning continues even though we're still officially on summer break (Holly reads her Bob Books to Michael)

Learning continues even though we’re still officially on summer break (Holly reads her Bob Books to Michael)

We woke up on Papamoa beach near Tauranga to a beautiful sunny day...and so did this NZ fur seal

We woke up on Papamoa beach near Tauranga to a beautiful sunny day…and so did this NZ fur seal

Wing'n It girls at the summit of Mt. Maunganui near Tauranga

Wing’n It girls at the summit of Mt. Maunganui near Tauranga

We love steamy, smelly Rotovegas

We love steamy, smelly Rotovegas

You can spend a fortune in Rotorua, or just go to the park in the middle of town and enjoy the free sights and mineral foot baths.

You can spend a fortune in Rotorua, or just go to the park in the middle of town and enjoy the free sights and mineral foot baths.

Oh how we love libraries. Books, wifi, HEAT.

Oh how we love libraries. Books, wifi, HEAT.

Wintertime beauty, Lake Rotorua

Wintertime beauty, Lake Rotorua

10 Comments

  1. Michelle says:

    Beautiful pictures! We’ve been in our RV for almost 3 weeks now. Loving it!

  2. Katie says:

    I love that you called it Rotovegas!! 🙂

  3. Nita says:

    Wow! What great pictures and what a great life. So enjoy your sharing your life with all of us.

  4. Katja says:

    Sounds great although you’re having one of the coldest winters. Amazing photos and awesome views. Can only imagine how good it must be just travelling NZ with heaps of time to enjoy without thinking about a holiday end or other stuff. Wish we could do the same one day. Hope spring is arriving very soon for you!

  5. Lovely pics! Holly looks so old!

  6. Kyra says:

    Lovely writing. Great photos. Miss you!

  7. Hi Guys! Looks like you are having a really good time back in NZ. We miss the travling life, but right now we are expecting a little toddler at any minute. =) In a few years we’ll go for another trip! All the best to you all! // Eiliv and Emilie

    1. Sara says:

      That is so exciting you guys! You’re about to embark on a whole new journey of a different kind…the most wonderful of all! Congratulations! 🙂

  8. Paul Lambert says:

    LUCKY YOU

  9. Stacey says:

    Awesome update! Sounds like you guys are living a life so many others dream about. Your kids are going to have some amazing memories when they get older. Keep on blogging….I love following your family adventures. 🙂