Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

(thxx, Shaunee! ;)

That's what I'm often tempted to yell while hanging out of the open side door of our campervan...

On day 2 in Auckland our mission was clear and we willingly accepted it: Buy a campervan!

Mario had been researching them extensively online for months and had a good idea of what to expect in terms of options and prices. It's very common here for backpackers to buy and sell specially converted vans as a means to explore the country. Our first port of call was therefore to visit the bigger Auckland hostels. We made a list of must-have criteria to whittle down the file-load of adverts to a shortlist of 6. Reply texts from all stating that their vans were still very much available (in some cases, a week after the ad was first placed) indicated that it was very much a buyer's market. Ah, the joys of the shoulder season!

We also visited the Backpackers' Campervan market (that's how big it is here!) but quickly realised that most of them were overpriced and either smelly or grotty or both! We suspect that this is a last resort for backpackers who didn't manage to sell the van themselves probably because they were overpriced/smelly/grotty. So desperate are some backpackers that we saw a couple sitting on the high street with A4 posters attached to their chests that read: "Van for sale". The market seem to have quite a good business going - they charge to rent a parking space AND get a cut of the final selling price - sounds like a win-win deal... for them!

The van we finally bought from a German couple for NZ$450 less than advertised is an automatic 1989 Toyota Hiace. Reminiscent of the old school Cape Town taxi vans. Mario is the taxi driver and I'm the "gaardjie" (the guy who hangs out of the door punting for customers and takes your money!). But our taxi doesn't have 20 people squeezed into it! Instead the back area is converted into a bed, it has electric windows (the passenger side doesn't work!), has both a sun-roof and moon-roof, and comes fully equipped with crockery, cutlery, gas stove, bedding, a tent, fold-up chairs, cassettes (!), map books, a box of random camping stuff, PLUS fishing rod, snorkels, and even a guitar! We have a history of inheriting "homes" with stuff! ;-D

Later we showed off our campervan and all its wares to Sue and her folks, patting ourselves on the back for such a wise buy. Mario mentioned that one of the few things the van is missing is a table. Being Mr D.I.Y. Laurie sprung into action and between the two fo them built us one! As serendipity would have it, Laurie had built a bird-feeder for Dot earlier that day and had a piece of chipboard to spare. The value-adding has begun...

Next day we bought a power inverter that lets us charge our laptop, camera and phone via the cigarette lighter and a cooler bag/ice packs and stocked up on food supplies (to add to the 2-minute noodles and mixed herbs that came with the van!) for the long road ahead.

All in all we love our campervan and its contents - even the Fleetwood Mac cassette! It's our car/bed/cupboard/kitchen - our home for the next few months. We've started to personalise our van with the obligatory SA flag and an evil eye (compliments of Michelle ;-) to ward off the evil mozzies. We inherited 2 dashboard mascots - *** but there's a new kid on the block, a special stone called Stoney. We found him on Waipu Cove beach and he needed a home so we decided to share ours with him.

We even gave the van (yes, it's a him!) a name. He actually had a series of names starting with Mr Boombastic. Rob's suggestion was Dee Mario Cart. Finally we settled on Mr T as in "taxi" because that's our association and because it happens to rhymes with Lee.

And so the adventures of Dee, Mr Lee & Mr T begins...

"Kap aan, driver!"
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Louise Hodgkinson on

Is it sad and worrying that I am now listening to Fleetwood Mac on you tube! Have an amazing time...where next...stinky rotorua? You must do the Tongariro crossing...even if you have to wait for clear weather. Love the Blog...very jealous...keep it coming! xx

emma on

hey you two, we are missing you! So you are off road tripping in MS! Sounds amazing! Xx

Shaunee on

Yaaay!! I laughed when I saw your blog post title :-)
Glad you guys are having a blast in NZ.
Are you going to fit a Cape Town taxi style music system?
4 x 15" sub woofers are a must! :-D

thelees on

We're skudding old skool with cassette player and radio for the cultural experience ;-)

thelees on

Thxxx, Emma! Have fun in Costa Rica! x

thelees on

very sad, inDEEd! ;-) glad you're enjoying the blog. we're off to rotorua this coming week, will try to hold my breath! hope you're well ;-D

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