Holidaying on the smell of an oily rag

Camping at Te Aroha

Camping at Te Aroha

Have you ever gone on a holiday with no money?  We have!  We were forced to some years back, through having to vacate our student flat on campus over the December-January holiday period.  As far as our finances went, we were running on the smell of an oily rag.

We prayed about what to do and where to go before leaving, and God didn’t disappoint us.  “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes” He said.  It seemed a great idea.  Off we went with $80, a $1000 overdraft, a tent and a 16 year old car.

In the end, we spent only three days camping.  We got houses to sit in big city Auckland and in Waipawa, a friendly little town in Hawkes Bay.

We went camping at a place called “Te Aroha” which means “the mountain of love” or “the loved one”.  The river its next to is the Waihou river, meaning “new water.”  One of the walks we did took us along the banks of the Waihou river.  It’s a river of crystal clear water, which I’ve covered in earlier posts:

Come to the river and Salus per Aquam, Healing through waters.

New Zealand is a country of outstanding natural beauty, so we went exploring.  We spent several days in the Karangahake Gorge, an old gold mining area of bush clad gorges, waterfalls and sparkling rivers.

If you are ever in the North Island of New Zealand, I recommend these places for hiking.

From there, we eventually made our way to Hawkes Bay, where we were going to house-sit for my sister and brother-in-law.  The road we travelled was the Napier-Taupo road.

The road isn’t as bad as when I was a kid, but I was a bit worried because there were some big hills for the old car to get over.  The Australians call our hills “mountains”.  My worst fears were realised after we scaled the Gentle Annie, a hill that was over 2300 feet high.  The car engine overheated and converted all the water to steam at the summit.  It still went after that, but it was flaky and never the same for the rest of the holiday.

We had to spend some of the overdraft money on products to try and fix the subsequent overheating and leaking problems.  I think the hill lead to the engine’s demise.  Six months later, my husband replaced the engine as soon as we were able to afford it.

I felt the presence of God on that holiday, especially in Hawkes Bay.  He spoke to me a lot out of the book of Isaiah, even though I was reading Proverbs at the time.  That holiday has to be one of my all time best holidays, even though we had no money and a car with overheating problems.  I believe it is better to be time-rich and money-poor rather than the other way around.  Experiences don’t have to cost money, but you need to have the time to enjoy them.  Joy is part of the word ‘enjoy’.  That holiday, I learned what joy was.

The joy of catching up with family and friends.  The joy of going back to childhood places.  The joy of hiking through beautiful places.  The joy of being free and not having to be anywhere.  The joy of discovering things that had been hidden for years.


New Year 2013

Our quiet street at National Park, with Mt Ngarauhoe (Mt Doom) in the background.

Happy New Year.  NZ shuts down this time of the year, its our summer holidays, and the best time to get away.  We spent most of our holiday at National Park, the highest township in NZ at 825 metres (2706 feet), population 240.  We rented a cute little bach on a very quiet street with a view of the volcanoes. and soaked up the peace.

We decided to do a Lord of the Rings thing this year, visiting some of the locations in the North Island, since we are both fans.  I like it because its an epic journey, a bit like the Kingdom, and the movies were made here.  I hadn’t factored in the release of the Hobbit, making Hobbiton a very popular location to visit this year – or Mount Tongariro, the volcano next to Mt  Ngarauhoe (Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings)  erupting in the last few months.  That’s life.  Man proposes, God disposes … OR  “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.Proverbs 19:21.


Me near “Mordor”, Mt Tongariro

We decided to go ahead and do it anyway, and I’m glad we did.  On the first night of our holiday we stayed at hot springs outside Matamata, near the location of Hobbiton.  The first movie of Lord of the Rings was on TV that night.  Now we didn’t plan that.  My husband thought the happy coincidence was a Kingdom thing.  I believe it too.  I have heard it said that a coincidence is a happening or small miracle where God chooses to remain anonymous.

I hope 2013 brings you good things, and may you see beauty, pattern and order in coincidences.

Us at Hobbiton, on the Lord of the Rings themed holiday

At Hobbiton