Danielle Street NZMCA

Meet Danielle and her Zephyr 410


Danielle Street’s childhood was filled with happy memories of travelling with her grandparents in an old Bedford; She tells Catherine Milford she’s on the road to providing the same experience for her own daughters.

Danielle Street vividly remembers the delight she felt as a child when she went away on camping trips in ‘Spinning Wheels’, the 1972 CF Bedford with her grandparents. “I remember always looking forward to it; it was so exciting,” she recalls. “There would be lunch, chocolate biscuits, then we’d go out for a walk, and I’d go and explore the campgrounds, some of which had playgrounds, which were loads of fun. Often there would be other kids too, so I’d make friends.”

While Danielle remembers the bed being over the top of the cab in the Bedford, Danielle’s grandparents, Jenny and Denys Street, have plenty of memories of their own of Danielle’s adventures. “They often tell me stories I was too young to remember,” says Danielle. “In one of them, I was about three and we were camping at Maruia Springs. Gran had sent me to use the toilet by myself, but when I hadn’t come back after a few minutes, she came looking for me – only to find I’d pulled every strip of toilet roll off every roll in the building! It took her hours to re-roll every roll and return them all to the campsite bathroom.”

Jenny and Denys have been members of NZMCA for 27 years, and Danielle remembers the excitement of meeting other club members on the road when she was little. “Seeing the NZMCA wings on another caravan or motorhome was like a secret you shared,” she says. “I remember the special feeling of being one of the people who had ‘the wings’; when we were driving, if we passed someone else with wings, you’d give them a wave. It’s very personal – those wings bind you together with others who have them too.” She also remembers attending NZMCA events and getting special passes for overnight stays. “It was such a great feeling – I felt like a VIP!”

Danielle's grandparents
Danielle’s grandparents, Jenny and Denys Street

Although the Streets’ Bedford camper was upgraded to various different campervans and caravans over the years, Danielle continued to enjoy holidays with her grandparents for most of her childhood – and Jenny and Denys still enjoy regular trips in their own RV, now with a small child in tow!

Now Danielle is grown up and has a family of her own, it was the most natural step in the world to get a caravan and give her own kids similar childhood experiences to her own.

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“Getting a caravan was my idea,” says Danielle, who has two daughters, Indiana (two and a half) and Akira (seven months) with partner Jayden. “We did a bit of tenting over the years, but when Akira was born it was time to upgrade – I wasn’t going to tent with two kids under two!”

After initially considering a pop-top, Danielle and Jayden decided they wanted something that didn’t require much setup, so settled on a caravan. “We started thinking about what we wanted,” says Danielle. “We wanted to be able to pull up on the side of the road for lunch while we were travelling, and to have something we could park up and leave for a couple of days while we went exploring. We also like the idea of being able to go off-grid and survive without having a powered site.”

Eventually the family decided on Zephyr, a 1977 four-berth Zephyr 410; officially a three-berth, electrician Jayden modified it to be self-contained and with the electrical certificate for four people. The family took their first trip when Akira was just four weeks old; the baby slept in her pram bassinet while Indie took the third bed.

Zephyr 410
Having a caravan meant the family can get up and go whenever they please
Danielle NZMCA
Danielle and her family love travelling in their caravan

“I love outdoor activities like surfing and mountain biking; it’s not that easy to do at the moment with two little ones, but as they grow, I want to be able to take the caravan and enjoy the country and the outdoors as much as possible. Travelling with a caravan is a really wonderful family activity that everyone can do, that isn’t influenced by any outside issues. If we want to go, there isn’t much that can stop us.”

While Zephyr originally had to be connected to get power, Jayden and Danielle have installed solar on the roof, added a battery and controller, and replaced the fridge with a solar fridge/freezer that opens from the top, providing an extra 15 litres of space – essential when travelling with small kids.

“Caravan life is perfect for us. Everybody loves it!” laughs Danielle. “Indie adores our caravan trips; when we’re driving she asks us where the caravan is. We have to explain it’s behind us; she just can’t see it! She loves bringing people inside to show them her bed, and she’s really into her books. We’re teaching her to play cards too – she’s learning that these things are what we do when we’re in the caravan.

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Caravan life has just as many benefits for Indie as it does for the parents. “Indie loves herbal tea, so she has a special strawberry herbal tea just for the caravan. She’s also tried marshmallows around the campfire; she understands the fire is hot, so if we meet up with other kids who are doing melted marshmallows for the first time, she’ll tell everyone how it’s done, and how to stay away from the hot fire and get Mum or Dad to get you a marshmallow!”

Danielle NZMCA
Officially a three-berth, the Zephyr has been modified to suit four people
Danielle NZMCA
Danielle is enjoying making special memories with her family

While the family has settled happily into caravan life, what wasn’t quite so certain initially was whether they should join the NZMCA. “At first I was a bit worried the NZMCA was going to be just for people like my grandparents, and I wanted to find families so the girls could have the experiences I had of meeting little friends in campsites and having those wonderful holiday friendships,” she says. Eventually the decision was made to join earlier this year, in no small part because NZMCA has plenty of dog-friendly sites. “We’ve got a five year old Huntaway, and it can be really hard finding places you can take the dog. Now we’ve joined NZMCA, we know we have complete flexibility to go wherever we want, because they have dog-friendly sites all over New Zealand. We don’t have to be so structured in our planning; we know we’ll find somewhere.”

And Danielle is looking forward to watching her kids grow and learn, just as she did a generation ago. “We’ve gone on a few trips now, and we’re finding using the NZMCA app means there are loads of places to stay. As we travel, we’re meeting more and more families too, which is exactly what we were looking for.”

Danielle and Jayden are looking forward to taking the family away as often as possible, and will look at upgrading their caravan as Akira gets older and too big for a bassinet. “Just getting on the road with the caravan is such a wonderful, exciting experience for the whole family – we love it,” says Danielle. “We’re so pleased we’ve become part of the NZMCA family too; before we joined, I remember being in Timaru with Jayden and we were following a van that had the ‘wings’ on the car. He’s so excited now that we finally have wings of our own!”

Danielle NZMCA
Hunter the huntaway dog was one of the reasons Danielle joined the NZMCA
Danielle NZMCA
Jayden and Indie enjoying some traditional camping activities

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