Motorhome enthusiast has world at his wheels
Ever dreamed of escaping the rat race and driving off into the sunset?
Frederick Church did just that last November, and now travels the country in his seven-metre converted Hino Rainbow bus.
"Something crops up and I'll say ‘oh yeah, I'll just tootle over there for a couple of weeks'," he said.
"The open highway is my home now, and I can see me doing this for as long as I can."
The Fredrock Cafe, as his bus is known, is one of more than 400 campervans and motorhomes parked up at Mystery Creek this weekend for the rally attached to the Camper Care NZ Motorhome and Caravan Show.
It's the first year at the venue and there are more rallygoers than ever, event manager Michele Connell said.
About 15,000 punters are expected at the show over the weekend - some from as far away as the UK - and hundreds of campervans are on display, she said.
They range from lovingly restored dinky 50s caravans to the $130,000 Cedar Creek Cottage - a luxury park-up option with leather armchairs, central heating, and a king-size bed.
Mr Church is a "newbie" in the motorhome world, and has been on the road since November last year.
The nomadic lifestyle had always appealed but his great escape began after a long-term relationship broke down.
He was "sort of in the depths of a bit of crap" and his sister - also a motorhome fan- suggested he try his dream.
"It was sort of that eureka moment. ‘S..t, well why don't I?' " he said.
Taking a step out of the mainstream can be scary, he said, but he's loving it.
He cooks, he bakes, and has such a large freezer he thinks he could last about four weeks off the grid - if he were careful with his water supply.
Finding the perfect vehicle took months of searching and set him back about $56,000.
Once he kitted it out with a kayak loader and some camping, tramping, and fishing gear the total was around $70,000.
But he has already used the rods to catch a snapper to supplement his food, he said.
Trip-wise, fuel is a major cost, but accommodation costs on his recent eight-week trip up north averaged out at about $1.20 a night thanks to his year-long DOC pass and some free park-up areas.
The worst-case scenario was that he had to find a job, he said, but there were plenty of ways to make ends meet - like seasonal work or helping at a camping ground.
And while Mr Church loves the new lifestyle, he misses "decent internet access". But the regular blogger gets by with a wireless hot-spot from a T stick.
You have to be the right kind of person to make the lifestyle work, he said. A bit mechanically minded, able to manage the "boredom factor", and safety-conscious if travelling alone.
"It's an amazing experience . . . I wouldn't go back for anything now. You meet so many amazing people wherever you stop."
The Camper Care NZ Motorhome and Caravan Show is at Mystery Creek from 9am to 5pm Saturday on 1 March and from 9am to 4pm Sunday 2 March.
Entry is $15 for adults and a multi-day pass is $20. Children 16 and under a free if with an adult.
To follow Mr Church's adventures, visit openroadnz.blogspot.co.nz