Dale Gurney is all over the place, and that is meant in the best possible way, every weekend he’s on the road traveling the North Island. As in EVERY weekend, we’ll let him explain though…
‘Back when I was 16 I had a 1983 CF Bedford ex ambulance which really kicked off my love for vanlife, camping, roadtrips and surfing.
I work Monday to Friday, very rarely work a Saturday. I will try and go away every weekend, unless I had something else to do. I try and go somewhere new at least once a month, which is getting harder to do now but still finding some new places. My range for a weekend from home [Hikurangi just North of Whangerei], is from the very top Cape Reinga, to Gisborne/Napier in the east and New Plymouth in the west. I have a few secret spots that I keep to myself, not even my mates know them, just my little get away from the world with no reception. I mostly go north, as it is close to home, like Ahipara, Taupo Bay, Taputoputo and Spirits Bay. I try to find the hard to get to spots that you really need a 4×4 to access. I also go to Coromandel a lot, lots of good spots down there. Mt Maunganui and Raglan are always a good time too.
It’s not strange for me to do a 1000kms in a weekend. I love driving specially late on a Friday night, coffee in hand, sounds cranking with a quiet road. The truck is usually packed and ready, so soon as I’m home from work Friday, I hit the road and don’t stop until I’m too tired or I reach my destination. I don’t really make plans, all I do is check surf reports, and let that direct roughly where I’ll be heading. I’d like to get to the South Island more- I love it down there.
So Clifford, I had the Red Toyota Hi-lux Double cab ute for 5 years was bit of a impulse buy, but turned out to be one of my better things I have bought. Prior to Clifford I always had old unreliable cars that didn’t allow for the style of travel I enjoy.
I was and still am influenced by out back Australian travel, so I wanted to set it up like that, for one nighters quick set up, quick pack down, with everything I needed. It had the tray with 2 side tool boxes, drivers side was living side, it had all my kitchen needs with a 2 burner gas cooker, that was ready to go at all times, bbq and enough cutlery for 5 people. On the passenger side box was my garage, it had all my tools, recovery gear, fishing gear, spare parts, all my wetsuits dive/surfing gear. We made a t bar for a roof rack to store my 4 surfboards and fishing rods above the boxes and tray and in the middle had my camping chairs, ezi-up gazebo, table, and swag.
So the white special Hi-Ace van, I bought it cheap as a run about so I could stop clocking up miles and sell Clifford, and sell up and move overseas.
I wasn’t doing the missions like I used to as I never trusted it for the long hauls. I have had many old vans back in the day but this one was 4×4, something I had always wanted. I only really had it for the summer as it was rusty and once the wof run out it was too much work. It was basic set up inside I just put a double bed, frame and all in the back built a bench out of old pallets towards the front and a chilly bin for the beers. I pretty much lived in it all summer and re-sparked the love I had for vans, as I was getting a little tired of tents.
The Troopy! Yes big investment, but I know I’ll get my money’s worth out of it, both in reliability and in experiences. It has definitely recharged me, I was getting a little tired of tents, with our ever changing weather, and harder to freedom camp to the point I’d just stay home. Having the Troopy has just opened up a whole new world of places I wanna go. I have wanted one of these for a very long time now, and I was planing to move to Aussie and get one there trip around in it and ship it back. Due to family stuff I decide to stay in NZ a little longer, so I thought I’d get me a new one here and when the times right I’ll ship it to Aussie and do a year lap round Aussie.
Plan for the Troopy? Well she’s a bare canvas at the moment, I’ve just been using it with a mattress on the floor so far, but the plans to turn it into a 2 person off-road camping beast, with a double bed with loads of storage under it, a fridge and a hot shower set up. At this stage I might just run those little back packer cookers, I’d like to get a pop top roof for it with the bed in the roof just to make the space more useable. It will be practical and simple and easy for long trips and easy camp setups for exploring NZ looking for good new surf spots and good camping, and putting as many miles on it as I can. One day the dream would be to ship it from country to country and travel the world out of it, but I haven’t figured out how to fund that part yet haha.
Dale’s 5 tips for better Recreation;
1. Beer in cans. This is a big one for me as I love my beers and there’s not a lot of room in my troopy to store them, you will fit 2 cans to every 1 glass bottle and they hold the same amount of beer, and when you have drunk them you can crush them and they take up no room until you get to a recycling spot.
2. Ziplock bags. I know we should be not using plastic but they are handy for in the chilly bin, if you don’t have a fridge stops the ice water ruining everything.
3. Tow rope/ jumper leads, whether you need them or someone else needs, they are 2 things I use a lot and get asked if I have any and they are helpful in meeting new friends.
4. Flat deck, drop sides. So on my Hilux I had a flat deck with drop sides, and there was not much space on the flat deck to prepare food or anything, as it was full of stuff, so on the kitchen side i would open the drop side,put some wood or even my axe handle through the tie rail, so the drop side would rest on it, which made a work bench for preparing food, filleting fish or just resting my beer on.
5. Stir fries. I cook a lot of stir fries when I’m on the road, the veggies will make more than one nights meal and keep good in the chilly bin, and it’s a one pot wonder, so less gas cookers needed and less pots and pans to clean up, and you can mix up the flavours each time and healthy too.
Check out Dale’s Instagram HERE