We approach moving into our home for the next 55 days with a combination of experience, realism and some trepidation. Experience because we know we enjoyed three months living in a smaller van when we were in Australia, realism because we know we have to change the way we behave and manage our day-to-day lives in a small confined space (everything takes longer and has to be planned methodically for example) and trepidation because we know that not everything will go smoothly.
A taxi takes us back towards the airport where get there we see our names on the welcome board at Wilderness Motorhomes
On the other side of yard stands our home, cleaned and ready for the off. In Australia our van soon became known as Bruce (as did the satnav voice), here for obvious reasons, the van introduces herself as Eppie but one
suspects she does not know she is named after a character in Silas Marner whose particular phrase is “Eppie in the Toal Hole” (I provide this information having spoken to the educated source who is travelling with me)
Although the amount of paperwork is small, most of it having been completed over the internet before hand, the briefing requires us to take in and remember a lot of new things including how to operate the van, deal with emptying black waste (best not to wonder where that comes from just now), grey waste from the sinks and shower, refilling the water tanks, tuning the TV (yes we have a TV not that New Zealand TV seems to be worth watching), heating the water, heating the van etc etc etc.
Our bags get tossed into the back, we spend $240 in the supermarket buying everything we might need and probably something we do not and then programme our satnav with our destination - Orewa which is about 40kms North.
Driving a van of this size is quite easy because it is of a similar size and power to a Transit and about one hour later, having crossed the Auckland Bridge
we arrive at our camp site.
January is of course towards the end of the summer holidays in New Zealand and the campsite we have chosen is only accepting people who have bookings – thankfully we ignored the advice we were given when we first started planning this trip “don’t worry, there will be plenty of places everywhere in New Zealand” and had booked ahead and for the sum of $36 we are able to manoeuvre Eppie into a very tightly packed campsite.
When we were in Australia, it took us about four days to work out where to put everything and where to stow the cases. We are determined here to do this immediately
because the psychological boost you get from having everything organised and put away is quite enormous. It was a surprisingly easy task, possibly because the van had all sorts of hidden storage spaces and a very large fridge. By the time everything is stored, we actually have
space to spare which is a bit of a shock.
The only downside we have discovered so far in the van is that unless you duck when walking from the back of the van into the driving area at the front, you hit your head very hard – three times today! Also, we cannot get the rear radio to work – not that we want to listen to the radio just now because the fifth test is over and England have soundly defeated Australia and the Ashes are secure – but there are further defeats for Australia scheduled for the next few weeks!
The last task of the day is to get a New Zealand mobile number courtesy of Vodafone – so if you want to call us on our NZ mobile, just dial 00 64 210 820 3123 but remember we are 13 hours ahead of you and therefore we might be in bed!
In contrast to our last van, we can cook inside Eppie on a four ring hob (plus grill); keep frozen food in the small ice box;
and store wine in the wine rack (empty when we picked the van up but we soon dealt with that)
Being able to cook real meals and use a sink with hot and cold running water is really quite a luxury.