While no full-time traveller ever wants to be told they have to stay in one spot, for Carl and Justine and their new fixer-upper, the weeks in lockdown have been weeks well spent.
Let’s buy a bus
In what seems like another lifetime now, but in reality, was only about three months ago, we made a decision which we’d been thinking about for a while. We sold our motorhome, which had been our full-time home for the last two years as we travelled around New Zealand, to buy a 1967 Bedford bus.
The plan was to use most of the money from the sale of the motorhome to reduce the mortgage on our Airbnb property, which would enable us to travel more and work less, and then use the remainder of the money to renovate our bus.
Some, or should we say most people, thought we were a bit mad to sell a perfectly good motorhome to buy an old bus, but it had always been a dream of ours to own something with real character and to be able to create a home that was unique and handcrafted by us.
We picked up the new “Moog” in early January, a 1967 Bedford Vas 2 ex school bus, and although our plan was to eventually completely renovate the exterior and interior we, maybe naively, thought we could just give her a quick tidy up and possibly a coat of paint and then hit the road to enjoy summer, starting the work on her in winter. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that the old girl needed more than just a clean-up.
If we’d known back then that the world as we knew it was going to irrevocably change within a couple of months then we may have just hit the road anyway – but hindsight really is wonderful thing.
The renovations begin
With our crystal ball out of action we had no idea what was coming, so instead started ripping into the bus to get it sorted. Each job that we started led to an extra three jobs that we never knew about. Pulling out the old mattress we discovered the back end was just full of dust and rot so we had to re-build the bed and then line and insulate the walls.
The whole bus was covered in ’70s carpet, quite groovy looking, but it had to go. Leaking water tanks, huge holes in the rotting floor, electrical fires, the list just grew and grew.
Before we knew it, summer was almost over and we were still working on the bus. Luckily we’d been parked at my parents in Orewa so we were able to walk to the beach every evening. But for a couple who spend their life travelling non-stop, we were starting to feel like caged animals being in one place for so long, and were dreaming of soon hitting the road again and being freed from captivity.
As we now know, that was never going to be the case. We had a tentative date of the 25th March to finally hit the road. Then the alert level system was announced, and within days we were at level 4 and in full lockdown, just one day before we had originally planned to leave – so close.
We had two days’ notice that we were going to enter full lockdown, so what did we do? Stock up on toilet roll? Buy up all of the hand sanitiser? Nope, we headed straight to Bunnings our local hardware store to stock up on materials for the bus, as we knew this was going to last a while and wanted to be prepared.
During the bus build we’d been to Bunnings two or three times a week, sometimes twice a day, as we never quite know what we need until we start work on something, so it was hard to try and work out what we might need to keep us out of trouble for four weeks or longer.
Locked down (or up?)
With our big stash of materials, we managed to keep busy during the longs weeks of the lockdown, working on the bus every day and then going for a walk to the beach in the evening. It’s been a very surreal experience walking past the empty campground every night, it really does bring it home to you just how much has changed in the last few weeks.
As I’m writing this, we are about to move to level 3 which for us won’t make much difference except we’ll be able to order some much-needed supplies for the bus online. For many though, they’ll be able to start working or trading again, if on a much reduced scale, so hopefully it will ease the pain for the many small businesses that have suffered during the lockdown.
It would seem that us and our fellow travellers won’t be able to resume our adventures until we reach level 1, as all non-essential travel is banned until then, and all of the places we normally stay such as freedom camping areas, DoC parks and NZMCA parks are closed until then too.
The bus will be happy though as it means she’ll get lots more love and attention before we are finally released back into the wild. One thing’s for sure, once we are free again, the first thing we’ll be doing is checking out our Campermate app to find some more awesome places to visit.
Stay safe every one and happy travels. If you’ve enjoyed reading about our bus and travels, then please check out our blog at: www.lifeontheroadnz.com. We live permanently in our bus and travel around New Zealand, blogging about our adventures and how we make a living on the road.