So, you want to pack up all of our stuff? Nods head.
Sleep in a tent outside, even when we already have a perfectly comfortable bed inside?Nods head.
And be disconnected from our laptops for a whole five days? Nods head.
Camping. It has always been such a foreign concept to me. The idea doesn’t seem like the most tempting thing to do.
So why is it considered a vacation?
As someone who grew up in Florida, I never went camping. In fact, I never really did any type of outdoor activities. It’s hot. It’s humid. It’s a place that many bugs and worst of all—snakes—call their home. I avoided it at all cost.
When I moved to the Pacific Northwest, and Daniel suggested we go camping I was hesitant. But I remembered Oregon had a moderate climate, and snakes were far and few between.
I obliged to this weird idea of sleeping outside.
We bought a tent, borrowed some gear from friends, and headed off along the Oregon coast in the springtime. When we drove to the campground, it wasn’t what I had expected.
I thought we would have to carry all of our stuff through the woods, and hopefully stumble upon a clear area. Instead, we were given a designated area, which was surrounded by a tall hedge, where we pitched our tent. We also had our own fire pit, a picnic table, and a gravel parking spot for my car.
As it was the middle of May, it was also the rainy season. This meant that there were hardly any people. (And to our surprise, no rain.) Other than occasional wind blowing and birds chirping, it was quiet. After we put up the tent, Daniel attended to the barbecue, while I supervised with a beer in hand. We had a tasty meal, sat around the fire, and watched the stars.
It was at that moment that I realized this is why people go camping.
Before arriving in New Zealand, I romanticized the idea of camping around the country. (Specifically in a VW van, but that meant a bigger vehicle for me to drive. Also more expensive.) There’s beautiful scenery, the weather is much like the Pacific Northwest, and best of all—no snakes. That’s right. No snakes in this country! Just spiders and wetas.
When we arrived here, we spent nearly two months staying at different campgrounds around the North Island. They were more or less the same as they were back in the States. It was May, which is also a slow period here in New Zealand. Luckily for us this meant cheaper rates and hardly any people around. In fact, there was one campground that we had entirely to ourselves (except for one mouse).
Despite the occasional rain, I enjoyed staying around the North Island in a tent. My favorite was in Rotorua, where our tent was constantly heated by geothermal activity from underground.
I soon became a camping expert, mastering the technique of pitching a tent. (Or rather, helping Daniel.) I liked going off the grid. No distractions meant I could finally finish that damn book I had been reading for the past month.
Camping in New Zealand was absolute bliss. It only seemed right to us to have our annual post-Christmas trip involve camping. We could finally escape our noisy neighbors for a little while.
We drove to Hawke’s Bay to camp for five nights. As did the rest of New Zealand. To say that camping during the holidays in New Zealand is popular is an understatement. Since it’s summertime, the kids are out of school and the weather is absolutely perfect, everyone flocks to a holiday park.
Despite the long, gravel road to the national park, I couldn’t believe the number of people staying there. There wasn’t a designated hedge to shield us away from others. Rather, it was a patch of grass where the only thing distinguishing you from your neighbor was a spray-painted line on the grass. There weren’t any fire pits and there was only one picnic table, and it was anyone’s who claimed it first. (It wasn’t us, if you were wondering.)
We fought for space in the communal areas. Seeing as the majority of people eat at the same time, the kitchen was always full. Since most people take showers in the morning and evening, you could expect to wait awkwardly for ten minutes, listening to others relieve themselves in the stall.
I couldn’t believe this would ever be considered some kind of holiday or vacation to anyone. I was quickly resorting back to my old way of thinking:
Why does anyone like camping?
It was when we went to a holiday park in Napier that I became completely baffled. It was Tent City. As if the residents of New Zealand were a part of the Occupy Movement. Kids were everywhere, filling the roads up with their scooters and bicycles. Families had overtaken the holiday park with tents larger than our flat. In which Daniel said,
If you can stand up in your tent, it’s not camping.
These families had packed up their entire house, literally, to stay in a tent city. I didn’t understand. Why even bother? It was our last evening when we heard what could have only been a vacuum.I lost it.
We hoped this trip would allow us to get away from our noisy neighbors. It was only replaced with obnoxious children and snoring men.
It’s amazing to me that even though our house doesn’t feel much like a home, I couldn’t wait to get back to it. It meant no more having to share a kitchen or bathroom with strangers. No more inconsiderate children spraying water at us. No more elderly couples snoring together.
Of course, we didn’t get to avoid the noise entirely. The upstairs neighbors just so happened to return from their summer holiday break as well. Brilliant.