My husband and I have long had a passion for camping and exploring in places a bit off the beaten track. We have done plenty of it in the eleven years we have known each other and though the addition of Oliver to the mix slowed us down a little it never stopped us. Luckily he has just as much of a love for it as we do. So naturally we were dying to take the bus somewhere we had never been before.
The opportunity presented itself this week when we had to head to Hamilton to see if we could have a towbar fitted on the bus so we could tow a car with us when we head off on our big trip. We convoyed over to Te Awamutu after work and spent our first night freedom camping in the carpark at Lake Ngaroto, our first experience of what will probably be many at freedom camping. Unfortunately our trip to Hamilton didn’t give us the answer we wanted, to fit a towbar to our bus would be a very expensive job if they could do it at all, so the dream of all travelling in our bus together just has to shift slightly and we will convoy together instead.
A short scenic drive from Hamilton out to the Arapuni lakes and around to Lake Arohena was enough to cheer us up. Oliver informed me as I was following behind Wayne in the bus that I shouldn’t lose sight of Daddy because he was our ‘favourite friend’ and we did not want to lose him. On seeing him manoeuver the bus down a winding, steep and narrow dirt road to our campsite I agreed that he was rather a handy chap to keep with us!
We secured a park right by the water as the camp only had a few other occupants and fairly quickly enjoyed an afternoon dip in the lake. After years of tenting the ease of travelling in the bus feels very luxurious, within minutes of arriving and unlatching a few drawers, moving a couple of containers we are all set up. No tents to set up, no cars and trailers to unpack. A part of me fears going back to tenting will be very hard after this experience is over.
Best view so far from the bus windows, not bad at all to wake up to this.
Lake Arohena was far more picturesque than I had imagined. It’s a DOC (department of conservation) campsite so fairly basic, this one had the luxury of flushing toilets, a small shelter with some sinks and running water probably intended for cleaning fish as we were told by other campers it was a great spot for trout fishing and a few picnic tables and fireplaces for outdoor fires. definitely a great place to forget about the disappointment of not being able to tow our car and truly begin to appreciate how wonderful this new life in our bus is going to be.
The next day one very excited Oliver had his togs on and his Dad in the water with him before I had even washed the breakfast dishes. We didn’t have to go far or do all that much before it was time to tidy up and leave this little slice of paradise with a promise that we will definitely be back.