A trip to Hot Water Beach in the Defender

Two of my oldest and very best friends have long worked at holiday camps. Previously the Parkiri Beach Holiday Camp, and more previously, the Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park. For many, many years I have tried to regularly escape Auckland out to see them, and in the last few, the girls have been coming along as well.

Setup, setoff…

It has also become (recently) a good opportunity to test out a few bits and pieces in regards to using the new Defender for camping with the kids – while we aim to be self-sufficient, it’s nice to know that there are all the facilities still around should you need them.

First of all, though, I needed to add an extension to the Feldon Rooftop Shelter – as previously it had sat on the Ford Explorer, which is a good half a meter shorter than the 110 when it comes to tent height. After some horribly drilled holes (and a bit of Dremel work to fix it) the extension slid on and we packed the truck and were off.

Sleeping Setups

Basically, at the moment – the setup works like this – Alice and the two kids sleep in the Feldon on the truck, and I sleep, well, somewhere else. For the first night, it was in a bivy bag on a Thermarest NeoAir – which – while lightweight, wasn’t that comfortable. Acceptable when backpacking into the middle of nowhere and not wanting to carry extra weight. Not so much when right next to a truck that could have carried an airbed instead.

The problem with the Thermarest is that, unless you are lying straight on your back, you tend to sink down into the ground. Sleeping on the side (for me) results in my hip just sitting on the ground. Not painful, but uncomfortable enough that I need to rotate around every hour or so – meaning I wake up, move, go back to sleep. In the morning, I also end up with a stiff and sore back (though, that could also just be me getting old!).

Night two, and I decided to go back to old faithful – the Warbonnet Hammock. I have slept many a night in the bush in this, and have the system pretty much sorted. Underquilt and overquilt (though this time I just had the heavier sleeping bag), nice and warm, nice and snug.

I simply slung it up in a couple of trees behind the campsite, didn’t even bother with the tarp over the top, and woke up the next morning, without the backache and without even any condensation on me or the rig. Win!

Camp Cooking

While there are full kitchen facilities at the camp, I wanted to try and do as much as we could by ourselves – after all – the long-term plan is to be heading remote, not holiday parks with this rig.

While eventually, we may have a fancy, pullout camping kitchen in the back of the truck, for now, the Katmandu Retreat Kitchen Unit works well for us. I picked up some non-slip pads when we got back, and, will likely look to get a double burner stovetop sometime soon, but all in all, it worked well.

Pancakes are a family favourite – but – I think I will just use a couple of ‘gym’ shaker bottles next time to help get rid of some of the flour lumps – realistically though, enough maple syrup and no one complains.

Coffee wise – I took the Aeropress and the Clever Dripper, and simply ground enough beans for a couple of days. Sure, grinding on site would mean better coffee – but it’s a case of weighing up convenience verse a slight, and ultimately, not that important improvement while camping. If I can find a good 12v grinder I might use it – but suppose I need to weight up using a proper grind vs. a fresh grind. Could be an interesting experiment I suppose. Though, long term an invertor is on the cards anyhow. Though, not planning on taking the heavy home grinder, ever.

Ultimately, it was a great getaway, with some good friends, good food and good company. A long list of things to add and change, but that’s the point of actually getting out and doing it, isn’t it!

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Kerry Adams
Kerry Adamshttps://thebloke.co.nz
A constant learner with an inquisitive mind, Kerry created The Bloke as a way to share what he was learning from the community of experts he found himself surrounded by. Precision Shooter and GunSafe soon followed. Somewhere along the line, he picked up one or two things himself. But don't call him an expert.