Could there be a more fitting family and lifestyle to be featured on Recreational Society? The Job family have done it and are doing it in style. Michael explains…
We had a 7.5 Nissan Civilian bus, which we spent a little over a year living in full time with our daughter while we travelled around New Zealand. After spending 3 years growing a small earthmoving business in the Waikato we decided we would sell up, as the business was thriving at the expense of watching our daughter Violet grow up (1 year old at the time). This is where we flipped our lifestyle on its end and sold most of our belongings, to the point where everything we now owned would fit into our house on wheels. After spending many nights scrolling through trade me, we finally found a motorhome located in Picton which we set our hearts on.
This is where our journey living on the road began, and what a journey it was! From our time living in the bus spending every day watching Violet grow, waking to waves crashing on the beach, and never missing a sunrise or sunset, we discovered that life experiences over material items is what truly filled the soul and made us happy. Although our time living on the road may have cost us a small fortune it was a small price to pay to truly discover ourselves and what we wanted from our life.
Our 7.5 metre Motorhome was fully self-contained with a shower, kitchen, toilet and bed that could be made into a couch in the back. We had an awning off the side which was rolled out almost every day and, for heating inside the bus we had a small LPG heater, which in the middle of winter in Queenstown was nowhere near enough (I remember having ice on the inside of the windows a few times).
Our reason for selling the bus was that we found out we would soon be expecting our second child (Kieran). After going back and forth in our heads we decided that the little Nissan Civilian would be too small to accommodate a family of four on the road full time. Once the bus had sold we settled back down in Cambridge and I went back to work as a relief truck and trailer driver. My phone did not stop ringing, and relief driving then turned into full time driving, spending many nights staying away from home. With Kieran now born and truck driving taking away a large chunk of time spent as a family, we jumped back on trade me and started searching for cheap housing to purchase and settle down as a family of four.
This is where the four-wheel-drive dream came to life! We found ourselves a renovation project in a little Southland town, only an hour south of the adventure capital of New Zealand. For those who are into their Overlanding will know, Southland and Central Otago have an abundance of tracks to explore! With so many of New Zealand’s iconic Overlanding tracks at our doorstep we had to get a vehicle to access them as a family. We have always loved the look of the earlier Landcruisers, and when we spotted our little wagon for sale in Christchurch we jumped at it. Our vision for our four-wheel-drive was originally just something we could get out and during the weekends. Had we have known we would set up a vehicle for longer overlanding stays we would have most likely opted for a long wheelbase, especially given we sold a 7.5 metre bus because it was going to be too small Haha.
Jess and I have always talked of doing a Overlanding build in Australia and doing the big lap. I have always loved the thought of building a 76 Series Landcruiser, and with the kids in toe possibly look at hooking up a 4×4 camper trailer for a bit of added comfort. The plan with the little Landcruiser for now is to explore the areas we were unable to reach while living in the bus.
I was working in Central Otago but was made redundant due to Covid, so the plan now is for Jessica to pursue her passion for photography and start her own photography business. Now that Kieran is less dependent on mum, it is perfect for me to have the kids so Jessica can do something for herself as she has been a fulltime mum for the past 5 years.
In terms of the mods for the Landcruiser, we have swapped the roof rack cage for a Front Runner Slimline ll Platform from the team at West Supply, to accomodate the Feldon Shelter Crows nest Rooftent. Since mounting the roof-tent we have decided to upgrade the suspension with a 2.5” Dobinsons Suspension lift from Trundles Automotive in Taranaki. The reason we opted for the 2.5” over the common 2” lift, was because we wanted a spring that was going to allow for the constant load when we all piled in to go camping.
We always knew we wanted to own a Feldon Shelter roof tent, this came about after bumping into a couple who were camping with their 4×4 at Purakaunui Bay while we lived in the bus. Jess, Violet and I pulled up at the Purakaunui Bay Campsite and hopped out to go for a walk along the beach. As we walked along the beach we notice this couple with their roof-tent set out and a campfire cranking in a spot that could only be accessed by 4×4. Jess and I looked at each other and said “that’s a sick setup with epic views, we have to build a wagon like that one day”, so I guess here we are 4 years later.
With very limited space in our wagon we have searched for compact camping solutions, and although it is relatively basic it is very functional. In the boot space we keep a 21L Dometic Electric Fridge, camp cooker and our clothing. Up on the roof rack we keep a Yeti Gobox which we have found to be ideal for storing our Collapsible Sea to Summit Cooking Set and Stackable Sea to Summit Cutlery and Crockery Set, along with other cooking essentials. Finally we have our bedding and a Coleman camping bench seat and table set stored inside the roof-tent.
Mods we are considering in the future include a 12v solar battery setup (will have to put some serious thought into how that will fit), and 270 degree awning with wall to provide shelter when the weather packs it in.
Check out more of the family’s Overland adventures at @overlander_ expeditions on Instagram HERE