Going on a family camping trip should not by synonymous with being bored and miserable.
So say the McMillan family from Hamilton, who have become masters at the art of glamping - glamorous camping.
Wendy, Hamish and their children Madi, Tom and Jake take everything including a kitchen sink with them when they head to the Mercury Bay Holiday Park in Whitianga, their summertime destination for the past five years.
"When the weather turns crappy, you don't want to have the kids sitting around wondering what to do with their time," Mr McMillan said. "You want to them to be happy, and having a fun time on their holiday."
That means equipping the tent with a fridge, a freezer, a miniature kitchen, a television, computer - all the mod-cons and comforts of home. There is even, thanks to a neighbouring glamper who works in the flooring trade, carpet on the floor.
"I think most people would rather go glamping than camping," Mrs McMillan said. "One year we came here for 15 days and it rained for 13. It would be easy to go a little stir crazy in a situation like that."
With their tent set up like a small, four-room house, it would be a small step to simply rent a bach for the summertime - but the McMillans say they want to stay in the communal environment of a camping ground, where the kids can roam from tent site to tent site, picking up friends along the way.
They are eating as well as they do at home too.
"Tonight it's butter-fried leg of lamb" Mr McMillan said.
"The first year we came here we had nothing but sausages and steaks, and we watched all these other campers around us cooking roasts and all sorts of other things."
"That first year we definitely ended up suffering from food envy," Mrs McMillan said. "We have gotten better and better at using the barbecue. The other day we found out we could cook pizzas in it."
Another surprise glamping phenomenon was that the children suddenly became a lot better at washing dishes in the miniature kitchen.
It was Tom's 10th birthday when the Times came calling at their campsite, and the family would be celebrating with a session on the high-ropes course at Whitianga attraction Combat Zone.
"We are going to stick around here until January 8, then we are going straight to the camping ground at Bowentown for a stint. You want to be comfortable if you are going to be away from home for that long."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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