Life on the road: Cat & Martin

By: Lisa Jansen


Life on the road Cat Martin 4 Northland’s Whananaki footbridge – the longest in the Southern Hemisphere Life on the road Cat Martin 4
Life on the road Cat Martin 5 Whangarei Falls Life on the road Cat Martin 5
Life on the road Cat Martin 9 An injection of fun at Rotorua’s 3D Trick Art Gallery Life on the road Cat Martin 9
Life on the road Cat Martin 10 Standing tall with Tane Mahuta Life on the road Cat Martin 10
Life on the road Cat Martin 11 A quick visit to Matakohe War Memorial Hall Life on the road Cat Martin 11
Life on the road Cat Martin 13 At Ernie’s Kumara Box in Dargaville Life on the road Cat Martin 13

MCD writer Lisa Jansen, who permanently lives in her 1999 Ford Transit Campervan, caught up with Cat and Martin Peake to chat about their life on the road

Sometimes you don’t have to go far to meet interesting people. Sometimes, you can find them just down the road. While I was taking a little break from my own travels to housesit in Glen Eden, Auckland for a few weeks, I had a chance to meet with Cat and Martin Peake, who live nearby.

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Cat and Martin’s summer travels took them up all the way up to Cape Reinga

We first connected via a Facebook group and I was immediately interested in meeting them because they are young, still-far-away-from-retirement motorhome travellers.

Even though I love meeting older people and learning from their experiences, it’s also great to share stories with people closer to my own age, occasionally.

Besides, Cat and Martin’s motorhome is the newer, more modern version of my own and since I’ve been thinking of upgrading, I thought it would be a great chance to get some insights and inspiration.

Having always been keen campers, Cat and Martin decided to swap the tent for a 2008 Ford Transit campervan two years ago after a particularly wet and cold trip away. And they haven’t looked back.

"It’s the second best decision we ever made – number one was moving to New Zealand from the UK 13 years ago!" In the past two years, they’ve explored most of the North Island on weekend trips all year round, and longer trips over summer.

Favourite destination

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The couple swapped their tent for a motorhome – and haven’t looked back

As for so many people, their time in the Far North this past summer was a real highlight for Cat and Martin. "We really enjoy getting away from the busy city and love exploring remote and quiet spots – and the Far North offers plenty of that."

They made their way up along the west coast all the way up to Cape Reinga and then back down via the east coast, taking their time to explore lots of off-the-beaten-track places along the way. Both also really love Rotorua, mainly because of the hot pools, so that’s a regular destination for weekend trips.

They found a great park over property (POP) right in the centre of the city – East West Apartments. "We usually stay there because the hosts are very friendly, plus we can explore the city on foot from there."

Favourite Overnight Spots

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Miranda Holiday Park is the couple’s favourite overnight spot

"Miranda Holiday Park," Cat said, without missing a beat. "While the price is a bit higher than other campgrounds, it is immaculate and well looked after, there are lots of games and things to do, and the park has a private hot pool, separate from the public one next door, which you can use at no extra cost."

The pair often make their way down to the freedom campsite at Ray’s Rest on a Friday and then enjoy a night in the Holiday Park before heading back to Auckland on Sunday.

Another spot they remember fondly is the Kauri Coast Top 10 Holiday Park, which was also very clean and well set up, and they loved being in the forest surrounded by nature. The NZMCA Park in Kerikeri also gets mentioned as a nice spot right by the Rainbow Falls.

Head over wheels

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Originally intending to save for a big motorhome, the couple now says their little Ford Transit is "more than enough"

Cat and Martin are thrilled with their Ford Transit mobile home. "I often feel like the van is ‘home’ and our house is just where we do laundry and have to deal with all the stresses of ‘real life’!" says Cat.

While small, their van has everything they need – and more. "I insisted on getting an awning, but it doesn’t get used much and we’d probably be just as happy without it."

What they love most about their van is that it’s small enough to be easy to drive and park, even around cities and other busy areas. Though they do sometimes think about upgrading to the slightly longer three-berth version to get a bit of extra space and an additional sleeping area.

But for now, they’re happy with what they have. They love that the van has a gas heater, which makes winter trips much more comfortable.

"We wish we also had gas-heated hot water for showers, but since we usually only do shorter trips in winter and the water can be heated when the engine is running, it’s no big deal."

Freedom and flexibility

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The couple loved the "clean and well set-up" Kauri Coast Top 10 Holiday Park

For Cat and Martin, travelling in their mobile home is all about escaping civilisation and being flexible. They love that they can just head off in the morning, going wherever they want to that day without having to plan.

"And it makes going away for weekends so easy. All you have to do is pack a bag, hop in the van and hit the road."Both also really enjoy the community and social aspects of RVing.

They love how most people are friendly and welcoming and that you rarely have to look far for help on a campground. Both are active members of the NZMCA; Martin is one of the custodians for the NZMCA park in Henderson, west Auckland, and Cat is secretary of the Auckland branch.

Even though they are quite a bit younger than the average NZMCA member, they love attending rallies and other social events. "We’ve made friends for life in the community – and it’s great to see more and more younger people get into the lifestyle too."

Lessons learned

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Rail carting in Dargaville

One thing Cat and Martin had to learn travelling together in a relatively small mobile home is to respect each other’s space and to be kind to one another.

"There is definitely a difference between living together in a house and living in our small transit. You need a lot more patience for each other; it would be very hard for a couple who don’t get along very well!" they both agree.

Number 1 tip

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Exploring Russell

Stop waiting for the right time and just do it! That is the couple’s top piece of advice.
When they first started to think about getting a motorhome, their original plan was to save for another two years or so until they could afford a ‘proper’ big model.

"But a neighbour who knows a lot of people in the RV community told us to stop waiting and just get whatever we could afford now, because he sees way too many people waiting for the right time then never doing it.

So we took the leap – and have never regretted it!" They’ve now had two years of amazing trips and adventures instead of sitting around waiting for ‘someday’.

And they have since realised they don’t need a big fancy motorhome; their little Transit is more than enough. As Cat puts it, "The view is the same no matter what mobile home you’re in".

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