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Some Guy’s Driveway, Whangarei

It wasn’t a conventional place to stay the night, but it worked.

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WHANGAREI, New Zealand- We needed to shower. The kids needed their clothes washed. We had to come in from the wilds for a night. Out there in the Puketi Forest and at Cape Reinga was nice, but sometimes you just need to wash the dirt off of you. We’d been traveling around New Zealand, living out of a camper van, for five or six nights. It was time to top up in the clean department.

We turned to Airbnb, and found some guy who lets travelers camp in his “garden” and use his facilities for $30.

As I looked over at the grote that was starting to cover my poor wife, it seemed worth it.

We found the guy’s house.

And found him leaving it.

He rolled down the window of his car as he passed us in his driveway, and informed us that we caught us at a really bad time before driving away.

A bad time? What, do you mean check in time?

We then discovered that camping in his garden actually meant camping in his driveway.

But it all worked out. The guy’s elderly parents hooked us up with an extension cord to charge our electronics and we were able to access his shower, washing machine, and WIFI. No complaints.

Showering for the first time in five days of travel is an incredible experience in and of itself. The layered remnants of road literally peel off of you like some kind of expelled exoskeleton and emerging feeling as if you were just unboxed and new.

Some lady invited us up to her property on top of a hill to look at her baby lambs. She thought the kids would like them. We went up there but only found some old sheep.

I feel as if I’m being a little too hard on Petra. She’s just a kid. But she has the tendency of being extremely careless, extremely in her own world … to the point of putting herself in danger or otherwise making her life less-than-enjoyable. She walks around talking to herself, daydreaming. I had to stop her the other day as she strolled out into oncoming traffic. She left the new camera that I just bought her on the sink of a public bathroom. The only reason why we recovered it was because I just happened to go into the stall ten minutes later.

But I scold her too often. Although I know that I really can’t back off here, as what I’m trying to teach her is essential, but I need to find another strategy to get through. What I’m doing isn’t working.

My filming habits irritates my family. I have a full slate of cameras that I use for work, but when traveling with my family I also use them to document the experience as well and every once in a while upload the videos to our YouTube channel. While this filming could be something we all do together as kind of a family project, it’s not. Spurred on by the sentiment of my wife, Petra has started moaning when I go around filming. Sometimes they intentionally ruin my shots — like by mooning me, and things like this.

However, Petra is taking an interest in photographing her travels. She has an inherent like for electronics, and she understands them well. Someday she will be on my side.

Traveling and camping is to focus on the essentials of existing. You walk up, dress, make food, eat, wash your dishes, brush your teeth, break camp, travel around for a few hours, find a place to sleep, make camp, make food, eat, wash your dishes, brush your teeth, set up camp for the night, go to sleep. You have to work together with other people to get what you need to live well and be happy, a huge part of your recreation time is spent simply talking with people.

Travel is really just a way to connect with the fundamentals of life.

Click on the thumbnails below for larger images and a gallery.


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Filed under: New Zealand, Travel Diary

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3719 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

6 comments… add one

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  • becida September 1, 2017, 8:14 am

    Traveling & camping is good but sometimes I need to just sit for a few days. There is a lot to be said for getting up a couple days in a row & not having to pack up & go. I’m doing that right now…
    I’m enjoying your New Zealand travels.

    Link Reply
    • VagabondJourney September 1, 2017, 9:17 am

      Thanks! Where are you now?

      Link Reply
      • becida September 1, 2017, 12:28 pm

        Butte Montana, I realized that this is the Labor day weekend, probably not the best weekend to go you Yellowstone NP, Monday will be better.
        I also realized that I was tired, time for a or two day of not moving. It being the last BIG weekend of the summer maybe sitting until Monday is a real good decision! Good decision or not, we’re here until Monday.

      • VagabondJourney September 1, 2017, 12:46 pm

        Excellent. Where are you going next? How are you traveling?

      • becida September 1, 2017, 10:41 pm

        Going to Yellowstone on Monday, as the crowds go home then on to Grand Forks ND to work the sugar beet harvest.
        We’re in a real RV, we picked it up last week, we still have the camper van we’d been in for the last year. Can’t sell it until we go back to Georgia & pick up the title.

      • VagabondJourney September 2, 2017, 7:17 am

        Cool. I’ve never known anyone who actually went to ND to work the sugar beet harvest. Many talk about it, few actually do it. Let me know how that works out.