Modern gypsies advocate life on the road

KIWI ADVENTURE: Richard and Lana Stewart at the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association's national Easter rally this weekend.
KIWI ADVENTURE: Richard and Lana Stewart at the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association's national Easter rally this weekend.

Queensland couple Lana and Richard Stewart have nailed the good life.

For the last three years the pair have spent six winter months working hard at their IT business in their bricks and mortar home in Hervey Bay.

Then, come the beginning of the hot summer months, it's time to pack up their bags and laptops.

They cross the Tasman, pick up their fully fitted-out motorhome stored in Taupo and continue their love affair with New Zealand.

"And off we go," Mrs Stewart says.

This weekend the 60-year-olds were parked up in the middle of Pukekura Raceway after it was transformed into a motor caravan city.

Around them, 797 motor caravans from all over New Zealand were neatly lined up, their 1545 occupants here to enjoy the 57th New Zealand Motor Caravan Association's national Easter rally.

For six months the Stewarts tour New Zealand, following cycle racing events throughout the country.

"My husband is a keen racing cyclist so he comes here for the training. It's not very hilly where we are. Here it's hilly and tough and the summer here is beautiful. He gets nice and fit for the season.

"You see something new every day. I love it."

They have high praise for what they say is a superbly well-run and friendly rally.

"The organisation has been unbelievable," Mr Stewart said. Just watching how efficiently almost 800 motor caravans were directed to their parks on the first day was impressive, they say.

The Stewarts are always keen to return to Taranaki as part of their ongoing love affair with this country.

Mr Stewart has taken part in the round the mountain cycle races and they enjoy events such as the TSB Festival of Lights in Pukekura Park.

There was a slight hiccup in their adventures yesterday when Mr Stewart attempted a Mt Taranaki climb with a few Taranaki cycling mates but the bunch got beaten by the weather.

"It turned to custard, as you Kiwis say. Discretion became the better part of valour."

The couple head off to Taupo when the caravans disperse at midday today.

Mr Stewart takes on the 100km Taupo to Rotorua Flyer later this week, then it's time to pack up and head home to reality. Till next year.

Taranaki branch rally organiser Basil Dodunski, of Bell Block, and his team were delighted yesterday with the excellent feedback from caravaners and the public.

They set themselves the double challenge to promote Taranaki and make the rally memorable.

The motto for the weekend was "We were there", Mr Dodunski said yesterday.

"The idea of the motto was: If you weren't here, you missed the best," Mr Dodunski said yesterday. He was content they had nailed it. "I'm thrilled."

He praised Terry and Anne Moratti, who organised all the entertainment, including six bands, a champagne breakfast, a church service, and last night's Grand Ole Oprey.

The temporary new settlement became a hive of industry for the holiday weekend.

Events included shuttle buses ferrying people into town and further afield, children's activities, and workshops and trade displays for the caravaners and general public.

National president Bruce Stanger said the annual rallies were a great place for everyone to enjoy themselves where the caravaners took advantage of what they did best, travelling to a different area each year.

The association, with 50,000 members, now represented 1 per cent of the New Zealand population, Mr Stanger said.

Next year's rally is in Mosgiel hosted by the Otago branch.

Taranaki Daily News