21 October 2014

Deep fried Mars bars


If you like the idea of staying in a family home, are single or even a couple, but prefer there to be people in it too, how about WWOOFing or Couchsurfing.



Are you willing to work a little for free board?  Yes, then welcome to WWOOFing.  This can be working in a garden / farm / vineyard / orchard of a host in exchange for meals and a bed.  WWOOF stands for either World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or Willing Workers oOrganic Farms.  You approach a host ahead of time, find out if they have any current opportunities,  what the work is, how long you are required to put in each day, and what is provided to you.  Sometimes you will stay in their home, sometimes they have alternative cabins or boarding houses.  Either way you are usually in social contact with the hosts or other workers. Turn up on the arranged day and that's all there is to it.  




I don't know about you but the name reminds me of university (college) flats and the anti-social behaviour that goes with it, but there are many many people who have used this community to find a couch or bed to sleep on at night and enjoyed the hospitality of 'civilised' people.  Some even offer to show you around or will help with local information on what to see and do.  You still need to organise your accommodation in advance, and be prepared to be a grateful guest (do the dishes / cook a meal etc) but no money changes hands.  


Check out this video introduction to couchsurfing:

To register visit the main Couchsurfing website.

Need a little more convincing?  

Here are some stories of couchsurfers.



Oh and what did we do for our 150th post celebration, you ask?  Something absolutely decadent - we made deep-fried Mars bars (hence the photo above).  We enjoy this very occasional treat from our local takeaway shop, but at $2.20 per bar it's gets expensive even when you are sharing one between two.  So we got some mini Mars bar bites from the supermarket, made our batter and gave it a go at home.  The hardest thing was getting the oil temperature to stay where it was supposed to.  If there is a next time, I'm going to try tossing them afterward in sugar and cinnamon like the takeaways does; and will make just a quarter of the batter recipe too - we had to try and use the rest up making pseudo-pikelets the next day so as not to waste what was left over.


*sing for one's supper = work for one's pay or reward.

This metaphoric term alludes to wandering minstrels who performed in taverns and were paid with a meal. First recorded in 1609, it gained currency with the familiar nursery rhyme, “Little Tommy Tucker, sings for his supper” (c. 1744).The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary.  Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

14 October 2014


One of the ideas that we started toying with is whether we could have the freedom to see New Zealand via renting holiday homes and baches (a NZ word for small cottage near the beach).

It means giving up the notion of being able to park anywhere (because you are already self-contained), and instead basing yourself at one place and doing day trips.  Although this may be how it would work with a larger mobile home if we carried our van anyway.

Our calculations suggest that the cost of long-term rental of a 6-berth motorhome could be the same as renting multiple holiday homes.  Both leave you with nothing to show for your expenditure at the end of the year unlike purchasing a motorhome / caravan / rig; but with many mobile homes sitting for sale for years on sites like Trademe one might expect that the depreciation accounts for a similar amount.


Some of the advantages of travelling by car/van and renting accommodation are:

  • electricity and running water are not limited by what you can generate or carry
  • you have more space / privacy / doors & walls
  • flushable toilet / full-size shower or bath
  • full size oven
  • washing machine (usually) and clothes line
  • able to manoeuvre your own vehicle more easily and have access to places you can't reach with a 'rig'
  • possibly having a landline / established internet
  • may have access to sports and leisure equipment (that wouldn't fit in a motorhome) appropriate to the environment


Possible disadvantages may be:

  • accidentally leaving stuff behind when you move from place to place
  • not knowing what you have to work with for meals
  • having to clean thoroughly and wash linen on the last day every time you move
  • being in one place
  • not having the room in your vehicle for anything other than clothes (so no books, projects, outdoor equipment...). A roof top pod may be an option, so too a covered trailer.
  • that the home & equipment are not maintained (leaking taps, no curtains, grit in the washing machine etc)
  • a stale / musty smell from the home being locked up; and concentrated allergens
  • that you don't stand out in your car / van so it's not so easy to meet fellow travellers and locals (could paint it or get it wrapped).
  • not having the freedom to stop and make a meal while enjoying your environment en route
  • having to carefully pre-plan & book homes (sometimes months in advance)


Here are a few websites to give you an idea of what homes are out there for rent:

Book a Bach

Holiday Houses



A tip for those new to these sites, is that the price displayed is usually for 2 people (or 1 if that is the maximum occupancy) for one night and for the lowest season price.  Each extra person after that costs more - check the age for children.  Different people set different dates for their high season (ie most popular times to holiday) and their low season.  Some have more 'seasons'; each of which is a different rental rate.  You don't get any more benefits for your money - it's just a reflection of supply and demand.  If the demand is higher the owners know you will pay more.  Some require a minimum stay length of 2 days to a week (high season) too.

There are also other websites for individual properties but you can guarantee these command a higher-than-the-average-monthly-salary rental rate too.  Just do a search for "holiday home rental nz".

Some owners band together under one website for their particular region which you will see in the above search results too. This is helpful if you know where you are going.


Most listings detail their amenities and features; whether linen is provided; what the arrangement of the beds are etc.  You will need to check to see if children (or pets) are permitted.  Cleaning is usually extra and optional although some of the more expensive properties demand it.  If you can't see the information you need, ask before you book, as many will charge a cancellation fee.


Not all owners list their homes online, so it might also pay to ask at the local i-Site (visitor information bureau).

Yay...this is our 150th post.  We'll have to celebrate.  What would you do?