We are Jono and Annie Smit. We’ve been married for 6 years and currently living in Christchurch. Annie is a nurse swabbing sickos during the lockdown and I am a photographer. We have spent time in the Middle East doing aid work in the past and look forward to heading back there as soon as the flights allow us. Annie is a bit of a princess but she also loves adventure. She can tolerate a smelly van if she wakes up to a beautiful view and a fresh coffee in the morning.
We have owned three vans so far. A Ford Transit in Europe, a Toyota Townace in Australia and now a little Mazda Bongo in NZ.
It began when we went to Europe for 5 months in 2016. After a lot of discussion we landed on a cheap Transit for our accommodation and transport for the trip. We found Europe great for freedom camping and stayed in some pretty unreal spots. A best part of the van was you’re not paying nightly accommodation, we saved so much $$ and ended up selling it for the same we payed for it. Annie reckons we buy campers because it feels like freedom. Not tied down we can leave for a spontaneous trip even just an overnighter if that’s all the time available and it feels like we escaped, had a holiday without breaking the bank.
We like lots of small trips while Annie is working. An ideal trip for me is a weekend trip to Kaikoura, park at the beach, campfire, coffee and usually some little log waves in the morning. We are planning a NZ road trip, keen to be involved in the kickstarting of NZ tourism and loooooove checking out parts of NZ we haven’t seen yet!
How does the camper help with Jono’s work?
I tell my accountant that the camper is purely for business. It’s that work/life balance but mainly being able to make a coffee in the van while on a job. Worth it’s weight in gold.
The current van, how much did you spend and what’s the layout?
We purchased Cindy for 6k from some lovely English travellers. Cindy was all finished and good to go which is perfect because I’m not very handy and a DIY project may have taken me months to get completed. Simple layout, sink with a water pump, fresh and grey water underneath, two hob gas cooker, led lights, inverter and USB ports in the back. Benches and table that fold into a bed. Plenty of storage beneath and in the coffin roof box on top. Tradie roof racks for the logs and maybe a solar panel one day.
Best modifications? The roofbox! It’s my first time having one and I’m a huge fan. Wetsuits, tripods, jackets, smelly shoes and heaps more all up there. We love having the water pump and the sink works so well. Love the interior lights as well means we can leave the head-torch at home.
Worst? It’s tiny, short wheel base and low roof. Ideally a high top Ford Transit is the dream but Cindy will do us for now 🙂
The Smits Five Tips
1. Buy a Transit
2. Make sure there’s no rust
3. Follow the coast there’s usually free showers
4. Go have a coffee with the other campers and enjoy hanging with likeminded people.
5. Go stay at a campground every 4th night so your wife gets a hot shower. Make for a happy camper.
Check out Jono’s incredible photography and video work on Instagram HERE
And his website HERE