After 75 days touring the South Island in an old '87 retro NZ caravan (in peak season), there's a few things we will remember for sure...
- Always let Google read out the navigation directions
- Plan 'Town Days' where you can do the laundry, get food and get out alive while towing a 7.5metre caravan
- Pack snacks on drive days no matter how long!
- Choose a campground and get there before 3pm for a good spot
- Talk to the DOC rangers, they know heaps about the area
- You can never have enough bug spray or window nets in the West Coast or Southland areas
- Have 'His' and 'Her' packup roles so you know who's responsible for what
- BYO TP - 1 ply wears thin after a while (no pun intended!)
- Some people just don't like dogs and will yell at you for no reason
- Even doing nothing together is great for your marriage
- Tourists travel in "Sliders" - vans with sliding doors that they open til 2am and one wonders how can it really be "self contained" with 2-4 friends in one vehicle...
- Tourists are scared of space in NZ - they will park within centimetres of your vehicle even when there is lots of space. We're yet to figure this out.
- Sandflies will eat your butt in longdrops
- A caravan camping trip is not for everyone. But we highly recommend it!
We set out on an adventure for 3 months, not knowing what was in store for us along the way. We didn't have a plan or a list of places to visit, but we had time. Lots of it. This made the difference in this trip. You don't often get a long period of time to cruise, and usually you just end up zipping through activities or landmarks to check them off.
Time ... it gave us the opportunity to connect to each other and others; to disconnect from the online world; to appreciate the passing of the days; to reflect on our own expectations and dreams; to not look back on the things in the past but to see how far we've come instead. It gave us more moments to read our bibles and get closer to God. It meant bigger conversations than the ones after a busy day of work.
But beware. There's a naive danger about taking a holiday like this. If you go into it expecting answers - you likely won't come out of it with all the answers. You may get some form of answer, but oftentimes it is not the answer we were expecting.
Did we get the answers we were looking for in various aspects? Nope!
Did stuff change so much that it made us dodge the hit and look up again with fresh eyes? Yep.
We have some friends who did a similar thing on their first trip, and just like us - thought they'd get some answers by the end of it! Just like us, they didn't get quite what they were expecting but it brought about opportunities that were taken up because the time away made them (and us) more receptive.
You come back home with new eyes, new perspectives and feel changed somehow - but everyone else is the same. That's when you realise YOU'VE grown beyond your own expectations!
Waiting on God for answers is not easy. Waiting at all isn't easy! When it seems like God isn't answering our prayers or the urgency of our situation - don't think like that, because it implies that He is not in control. God is worth waiting for! In our waiting, we have to make good use of the time to see what we are supposed to be learning.
Look back on your blessings not your sorrows. Look forward to the future and if you can't see where you're going ... remember that God is like the Google Maps voice ...
You plug in where/what you need. You put your faith in that little app hoping it will take you to the right place. Sometimes you'll get 're-routed' to your destination. Or it seems you've arrived but there's no house there...
You may encounter winding and blind roads where you can't see around the corner, but there's always an end destination for that trip - God's got one of those sorted for you too. ;)