Meeting Jeff & Sue Scott and their bus, Buster

By: Heather Whelan, Photography by: Heather Whelan

Heather Whelan meets Jeff and Sue Scott to find out more about their travels in their 7m bus, Buster

Sue and Jeff Scott with Buster

Tell us a bit about Buster

Buster is an ex-school bus, a 7m Isuzu KS. The bus was for sale locally, so Jeff went to have a look. The size was just right, and we loved that it had lots of windows, letting in light and providing excellent airflow. Because the windows are small, we can leave them open and not worry about security. The bus had been partly renovated, and we could see the potential to make Buster into the perfect motorhome for us.

What attracted you to Buster?

We have always been travellers. Previously we have camped and had a yacht. After selling our boat, we wanted to travel without incurring too much expense, and also be able to stay in places where accommodation wasn’t available.

What research did you do?

We knew we didn’t want a caravan because we didn’t want to buy a tow vehicle and also because we like to tour, rather than park up in one place for a holiday. A bus seemed to tick our boxes, so we spent some time looking on Trade Me for something suitable.

What have you done to the bus since you bought it?

We have done quite a lot of work on Buster. Jeff peeled off the aluminium cladding, rust-proofed and re-clad the exterior, and then painted the bus a cream colour. We have installed solar panels for the refrigerator and gas heating for hot water. Jeff has replaced the plywood inside with macrocarpa and Sue has reupholstered the seating and made curtains. We’ve left the signs saying how many children to a seat, as a nod to Buster’s previous life as a school bus.

Buster parked at the NZMCA Park at Kerikeri

Why the name Buster?

We have been used to being around yachts with interesting names, so we played about with ideas. Having grown up with the comic Buster, it seemed the perfect name for our bus. We didn’t want a plain white motorhome, but rather something with character so we got a sign-writer to copy the comic’s logo onto Buster. It makes people smile and wave as we pass by, and people often recognise Buster. It’s a good conversation starter.

Where have you travelled so far?

We’ve only travelled in the North Island and only as far south as Napier and New Plymouth.

Sue reupholstered the seating and made cushions for Buster

Where have been your favourite places?

We love Te Aroha – we like the architecture there, the Edwardian Domain and the hot pools. New Plymouth is also a favourite. We’ve enjoyed the cycle paths, Pukekura Park, the Len Lye Centre and the views of Mount Taranaki. One place we like to stay is by the railway station at Waīhī – it’s so quiet, and you can take the train ride to Waikino on the Goldfields Railway. We’ve also had great times at the NZMCA parks in Kerikeri and at Ardmore, where we saw an air show with spitfires.

Jeff replaced the interior plywood with macrocarpa

Have you had any memorable experiences?

We were once advised that it would be safe and quiet to park overnight on the main street at Te Kūiti. It was far from peaceful with trains passing through the night and traffic on the highway – but the worst thing was that a car being chased by the police crashed into power lines only 50m behind the bus. We were soon surrounded by fire engines, police cars and an ambulance. Not a quiet night.

Where are you heading next?

We plan to go to the East Cape and the South Island, particularly around the Nelson Lakes.

Otamure Bay DOC campground

What do you like to do on your travels?

Because we live surrounded by bush and close to the beach in Northland we don’t travel so much to visit beaches or mountains – we like to meet people, be it other travellers or locals. We explore country towns where we can meet genuine Kiwi characters and hear their stories. We enjoy towns with historical interest and love bargain hunting at markets and in op shops.

Do you prefer to stay in campgrounds or freedom camping?

We love freedom camping in out-of-the-way spots but also enjoy staying in the NZMCA parks.

On the scooters at Mt Maunganui

Would you consider buying a bigger or smaller motorhome?

No, we are pleased with Buster; the bus is a perfect size, and we’ve made it ours. Jeff has been proactive in keeping it well maintained and prolonging its life.

Any tips for people new to motorhoming?

  • If you are looking at buying a bus, we have found 7m to be the perfect size for two people. We haven’t tried to make room for more people to sleep on Buster, as we have been told that people rarely want to come and stay – and this seems to be true. It’s been better to make everything comfortable just for the two of us. 
  • We’d also recommend not travelling too far each day. Stop more frequently and explore.
  • Be minimalist in what you take with you but do take camping chairs.
  • Install solar panels and get good advice from professionals about doing this. 
  • Join the NZMCA.
Jeff working on Buster

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