Jean and I have just bought a motorhome.
Actually, Jean bought it and I tagged along on a long weekend to Christchurch to help pick it up and drive it home to Matamata.
To say I was reluctant would be a slight understatement. We were incredibly lucky to be gifted some money, some of which ended up going towards this rather cavalier purchase. I’m not really a camping, caravanning, motorhoming sort of person, so I wasn’t sold on the idea. I’m probably still not completely, but Jean pulled rank on this one so here we are.
We bought the thing sight unseen. The price was okay and we had it fully checked out before we handed over any dough so we felt comfortable enough. As we’d already booked a trip across the ditch it was a while between signing it up and actually picking it up. I stewed. Jean got more and more excited.
The first positive was the chance to head to Christchurch and have a look around. We flew down on a Friday and stayed the night right in the heart of town at the Ibis.
The city centre’s still a wasteland. There are gravel covered car parks everywhere, where buildings had been before the earthquake. The cathedral, which should really have been torn down ages ago, is still a stark reminder of what happened and how far the city still has to go.
I was last in Christchurch more than ten years ago. Jean and I walked past the hotel we stayed in then, a nice building overlooking the Avon River with stunning views of the Southern Alps. It was boarded up and decaying. I’m guessing it’s on the list to come down soon.
But there were plenty of signs of rebirth. The Re:Start mall is a great little initiative and the work they’ve done to pedestrianise the area by the Avon near the Bridge of Remembrance is really nice.
We walked down to the Torenhof Belgian Beer Café (I love a good Belgian beer. Or two…) for dinner. It was a couple of kilometres and even in that time you got the feeling the people had moved out of the centre of town. I wonder if they’ll ever completely be back?
Andre, the guy who sold us the motorhome, picked us up from outside the Ibis on Saturday morning and drove us out to where he lives. He’s in the army and has a house literally a stone’s throw from Burnham army camp. He gave us the tour, of both the camp and the motorhome, then we were off.
Saturday night we spent in Picton, before catching the ferry the next morning. I hadn’t been on the ferry since I was a kid. It wasn’t quite crossing the English Channel, but I spent most of the trip watching the All Whites play Mexico on Sky Go, so I was happy enough.
We made it to the Turangi Bridge Motel for Sunday night, where we stopped for a rest before the final burst home on the Monday morning, via Rotorua airport to pick up the car.
Our caamper (said with something of a drawn out twang… you know, for effect) is a solid old thing. We (well, I) decided it would be called a camper, short for campervan, after our recent trip to Oz. Driving up the coast from Sydney to Coolangatta we didn’t see too many motorhomes on the road. Plenty of caravans, but few motorhomes. So we ended up playing one of those games you play on road trips. Spot the campervan. Which soon became spot the camper. Or caamper, said in the closest thing to an Aussie accent I can muster.
Yeah. I know. It was a long drive.
And yeah, I know it’s not a campervan. It’s a motorhome. But caamper has stuck. So caamper it is.
Maybe the camper thing is a defense mechanism. I haven’t allowed myself to fall in love with it yet. I’m not really sure why. Maybe because it sucked up all the oil in the Middle East on our trip up from Christchurch. Maybe because there’s the spectre hanging over us of having to spend a crap load more money on it to sort out the engine. Maybe just because it wasn’t my idea.
Time will tell. I’ll go along reluctantly with it for now. Drag my heels a bit. Stubbornly fail to be drawn it by its charm. Because that’s what I do.
We’re off to Napier over the long weekend for our first family trip in the camper. Let’s see if it can start to win me over.
One good thing, though, is the chance for The Matamata Bus to diversify. The Matamata Camper has been born.