Grey nomads

Last modified date

Today was our transition from quality accommodation in Queenstown to life on the road in a campervan. My plan was to fly to Auckland, pick up our campervan from Britz around midday and drive about 3 hours south to Mokau. I had located a camping ground at Seaview and booked a site for the night. 

The day started according to plan. We were up early, showered, ate breakfast, packed, loaded the car, refueled and got to the airport by about 7:30 am. Ace Rentals was not open at that hour but a notice by the door instructed us to park the car, lock it, and put the key in the secure key drop box. We looked in vain for the box until I walked to the end of the building and as I got back to the office spotted the box behind a garden bench chair by the door. We moved the chair and the box fell open. Not very secure but we obediently put the key in the box and pushed the chair back to hold it closed.

Check in at the airport was simple. Then we sat and waited until the security line opened and passed through to the departure lounge. That was all done in good time for our 9:25 am flight so we settled down to wait the hour to boarding time.

That hour eventually extended to about 4 hours. The incoming aircraft had been unable to land because of cross winds. After a couple of attempts it was diverted to Invercargill where it refueled before returning. Initially there was going to be a 30 minute delay but that was pregressively extended. Why it took so long to fly on to Invercargill, land, refuel, and fly back we will never know. Several other aircraft landed , disembarked passengers, boarded more, and took off again while we waited. 

It was after midday when we finally got airborne. I had emailed our prospective camp site to let them know we would not be there tonight since it was too far to make it in what daylight would be left.

Sometime after 2:00 pm we landed at Auckland. Baggage was slow and then we had to wait for the Yellow Bus to take us to Britz. It circulates around the airport terminals, several hotels, Apollo, and Britz every 20 to 30 minutes. I managed to find a number to call and ask if we should wait or take a taxi but nobody knew at what point in its circuit the bus might be. We waited.

When the bus arrived it travelled via the international terminal, 4 hotels, and Apollo before arriving at Britz. That took 20 minutes so it was after 3:30 when we began proceedings to collect our van. That is not a quick process. There is paperwork (despite checking in online weeks ago), an orientation, and more. It was close to 4:30 pm by the time we were ready to roll.

Majella likes to drive and had done all the driving in Queenstown but she declined the opportunity to drive our Mercedes van so off I went. We were going to stop about 30 minutes over and switch drivers so I could navigate us to a suitable camping ground. Instead we stopped, identified a target camping ground, and I drove on with Majella navigating.

It was a bit after 5:30 pm and raining when we pulled into the camping ground by Lake Hakanoa at Huntly. We booked in for a powered site and I managed to get the van into position. That was a brief respite because we needed dinner and more.

We drove into town and bought takeaway Chinese, intending to head back to the campsite to eat it. However, we needed other provisions and decided to go to Countdown supermarket to get those. We ate our dinner in the back of the van in the car park before venturing in to buy provisions.

With breakfast and more organised we headed back to the campsite where we managed to reverse into the space in the dark and get power connected. We think we have the bedding arrangements and other basics sorted. Give us a few days and we may be converted to the grey nomad life.