The great Kiwi camping weekend

22:09, Sep 02 2012

Camping is one of those great Kiwi pastimes, and having grown up camping first with all four of the family jammed into a two-man canvas pup tent, then later graduating to Nana's Sprite pop-top caravan, I am glad that I've kept  up my love for roughing it.

Living and working in a mostly urban environment can make it difficult sometimes to remember what it's all about, so whenever we get the chance, the bloke, the dog and I head off camping to Kaikoura for a weekend's R&R and a bit of communing with nature.

This is a ritual we have enjoyed for the past few years, and despite a few other trips here and there, we find ourselves drawn to Kaikoura whenever we get the opportunity to head away.

Of course, we are a bit blessed in our camping manoeuvres, because we have Morrison, our van (geddit?) that is kitted out to take us away for a night or a weekend with little to no hassle.

I bought Morrison off Trademe a few years ago, after reminiscing fondly about our camping adventures as kids, looking online for a caravan, and just chancing upon an ex-rental van that is all ready for camping adventures. And let's be honest, with an incredible graffiti art paint job of native birds, I couldn't really not buy it, could I?


It's not necessarily a luxury vehicle and we are lucky to make 100kmh on the downhill, but we pull off to the side of the road regularly, getting happy toots from the vehicles wanting to pass us and like the tortoise, we get there in the end.

The reason that we keep being drawn back to Kaikoura is that it's just so full of life. We can head up there on a Friday evening, make a coffee on the beach on a Saturday morning (we love to stay at the Peketa Beach campground)  and sip it while watching Hector's dolphins frolic in close to the shore.  This weekend we discovered a forest walk, which entailed traversing a couple of paddocks full of frisky young calves (tip: fingers look like udders to thirsty calves, look out!) before slogging up a hill into the bush, which was filled with fantails and bellbirds. Later on, a quick re-jig of the van to turn our sleeping arrangements into a table and chairs, giving enough room for the dog to stretch out, and we headed up the coast on the lookout for good snorkelling spots.

I'm proud to say that this weekend, despite rather chilly temperatures (it doesn't seem to worry the bloke, he'll get in at any temperature), I bravely got in the water and bagged my first couple of paua for the season. Just for the record, we only have one catch bag (which currently is a chookfeed sack), so I had to stick my paua down the front of my wetsuit, which is squelchy and unnerving once they decide to move around!

The bloke introduced me to snorkelling for paua and I thoroughly enjoy it. We are very fussy about the paua we collect, and this time we put back three good-sized ones because we had enough for ourselves and the family. While we're in snorkelling, we see all kinds of things in the cool, (mostly) clear waters off the Kaikoura coast, including seals (we try to stay well out of their way), fish, crayfish and the odd octopus. Snorkelling around reminds us that we are small in the big scheme of things, and this time while it was good to grab a feed of paua, it was also good to see how many were there that would be left behind. I also love the fact that while I'm pottering around the rocks in the water, every time I stick my head up to measure a paua, I can hear a cacophony of bellbirds from the bush-covered hillsides directly behind me.

We had a great time snorkelling around the rocks this weekend, and we were both enjoying a nip of brandy afterwards to warm up when the bloke looked at me and said, "You know, love, I've been thinking about it, and I honestly don't reckon it gets much better than this."

This time, I couldn't think of a reason to argue with him at all.

Nemo is a happy camper too.

What about you guys? Do you enjoy camping? What are your favourite spots?