Taking time is not something we do in everyday life very often. Living in the moment (as cliche as it sounds) is something we need to remind ourselves to do. It’s not about the destination, its all about the journey.
I remember my first road trip in a campervan… that’s because it was only a couple of weeks ago. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been on a ton of road trips, but they all involved sleeping in the back seat of a car, having a restless night and waking up with an aching body from being seriously restricted by the space available. Or impatiently pitching a tent at a campground in the dark instead of building bonfires, toasting marshmallows and having that celebratory ‘we’ve arrived’ beer when you pull up at your destination.
Packing my bag for this trip was a relatively carefree ordeal. Chucking in clothing and bathroom items, I was pretty much set for my roady. I usually have a ‘MacGyver’ mind-set when I’m in the outdoors, if something is left behind I can usually fashion something to take its place – I’m not overly fussy, I’m too excited to be outdoors! I’ve been known to fashion kitchen utensils out of twigs, sticks and rocks. I suspected, however, this road trip wouldn’t require this set of skills – the campervan had everything we needed, including a fully-equipped camping kitchen!
My boyfriend was so excited to drive, I didn’t get much of a chance to get behind the steering wheel apart from some navigating around the campground we stayed at. It was super easy to handle, and there’s something homely about driving around with your bed all self-contained – this must be how turtles feel! Riding shotgun I was in charge of all the important stuff – snacks, maps and music! We set off on the southern highway in New Zealand’s North Island, escaping the big city for some nature and fresh mountain air on the Tongariro Crossing.
Everyone knows to overestimate your driving time when you’re on holiday – this is the best piece of advice I can give you! It takes 4 hours and 23 minutes to get from Auckland to the Tongariro National Park, but not when your road tripping. Nine hours later we rolled up halfway down the North Island to arrive at our campground for the night – that’s double the estimated driving time! Throw in a fish and chip break on the wharf in Raglan, some antique shopping, a stop to buy organic blueberries on the roadside, and a couple of sightseeing stops – the day flies by. This is what road trips are about, after all!
Parking up we cooked up some burritos in the back of our JUCY Cabana, set up our bed for the night – easy as 1, 2 3 – and got ready for our 5.30am start to climb the famous Tongariro Crossing (it features that big mountain that Lord of the Rings made famous… Mount Doom!). Bellies full and eyes tired, we stretched out in the double bed in the back of our camper to catch some z’s. What an awesome sleep! I dreamt about Lord of the Rings all night, and woke up to clear skies. The crossing was AMAZING, but that’s a whole other story.
Arriving back from the 8-hour hike to our home on wheels was a life saver. With no energy to pack up a tent, all we had to do was fold away the bed and we were ready to go! We set off an hour down the road to soak in some mineral hot pools and finish the day with warm noodle dinner at a freedom camping site down by a beautiful river. What a dream! I could definitely see myself hitting the road for an extended period of time!
Just as we set off for our adventure, we left it, taking our time heading back home stopping to buy honey comb and local fruit, and of course doubling the estimated driving time! After all, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey… the JUCY journey.