Summer Holiday Fun and Off Grid Living

Dec 31, 2021

Our team at vBridge spend time all year bringing you great blogs on all things technical, which we hope are very informative to our technical audience.  But what do we get up to when we get a bit of down time from work?  The team have a very diverse range of interests outside of work, from wood and metal working, to mountain biking, to ultra-marathon and everything in between, for this blog I would like to give you a wee insight into what my family and I get up to on our summer holidays.

After a lovely Christmas day with family in Christchurch we packed up the car and trailer on boxing day and ended up hitting the road at about 8:45pm bound for our off-grid “shed” situated on 5-acres of native bush on a terrace in the small town of Karamea on the northern end of the South Island’s West Coast.   With 2 children, 2 dogs, 2 cats and 1 wife onboard, we pass through Westport at about 1:15am and the town is still rocking from the annual Boxing Day race meeting, we resist the temptation to stop at the Black and White Hotel for a beer with the festive locals, and arrive at the Versatile American barn that I have been building slowly over the last couple of years at 2:45am.

“The shed has been a labour of love for me, and is still a work in progress but is livable”

The first job I must do is reinstall my power inverter, which had become faulty the week before and I had managed to get fixed in the week leading up to Christmas.  With headtorch on and screw-driver in hand at 3am the inverter is installed and much to my relief I have not electrocuted myself and the inverter is working as it should, having power (and more importantly a working 4g router for the kids and a working coffee machine for the wife) is a great start to the holiday!

“A working inverter and battery array”

Once the lights are on, we unpack the car and the kids see the large wrapped boxes in the corner of the living room.  They open them to find 200cc go-karts inside the boxes for their Karamea Christmas presents.  This will be one of the first jobs for Dad, assembling the karts to be beach ready.  There is also a wrapped box for Mum and Dad which turns out to be a “Pit-Boss” cabinet smoker.  After a few hours’ sleep we are up and about.  The kids out exploring in bush and me putting together the Pellet Smoker.  After a couple of hours of assembly, the smoker is fired up and the first piece of meat is lovingly placed inside, a very nice Pork “Boston Butt” which is ready later on for pulled pork Pizza’s on the deck.

“Smoker on the deck all fired up – no I am not smoking my legs”

I unpack the trailer and find homes for everything we have bought over and it is time for a beer in the sun.

The next day after a sleep-in I am on go cart assembly duty, I get the first one done, the smoker is also fired up again this time with Pork Ribs and Chicken Nibbles inside. Just before lunch, my mate Ed who has recently sold Karamea’s famous “Last Resort” bar and accommodation, turns up for a coffee. We have a Coffee and Pizza for lunch on the deck and then Keira our eldest Daughter’s friend Millie arrives for a sleep over, we decide to have a couple of drinks on the deck with Millie’s mum Lynda, and that is the end of Go-kart assembly for the day.  We sit on the deck enjoying the amazing West Coast weather and scenery until dark.

“The Sunset view from the Deck”

The next day I am up early and by after lunch the Go-karts are complete and ready for their first trip to beach.  I coat them with “Salt Slayer” to try and protect them rust, we load up the car with Boogie boards and life jackets and are off down to the beach with Millie in tow as well.  The kids have a blast.  Carly my wife not so much, as she runs over her foot with a brand new go-kart tire a bit of blood and bruising and now a limp for her.  After a hot shower and dinner, Ed picks me up and the two of us head down to the Little Wanganui Hotel for a beer and a couple of games of pool with the local crew.  I had been asked by the Publican to play my Guitar and sing the follow night on New Year’s eve, so we arrange the finer details of the night which consists of “just do whatever you want”.  There is a buzz about the place about New Years and they are expecting a big crowd and an even bigger night.  Today is New Years eve so I will be heading down to Little Wanganui this afternoon to set up my PA system.

“Go Karts on the trailer ready to go”

“And they are a hit”

“finishing up the beach trip with some boogie boarding.  No time to try my luck for snapper this time”

This sums up a busy but relaxing first few days of our summer break in my hometown, we are here for another couple of weeks and there is plenty to do.  Upon arrival I have found that the septic tank that my mate with his 20-tonne digger and I placed last weekend has floated to the top of the hole, so I need to get the hole drained and replace and plumb the tank.

“a floaty septic tank – don’t worry it is empty”

I am planning on building another deck at the front of the terrace as a proper BBQ area, as well as spending a lot more time on the beach and in the estuary, with the kids.  Go-karting, swimming, kayaking fishing (Snapper and Rig off the beach and Flounder and Kahawai at the river), hunting for glow worms at night, target shooting, golf, tennis, short bush walks, bonfires on the beach are all part of what makes Karamea a special place for us to spend our Summer Holiday.  Happy Holidays to you all, I hope you all have a relaxing break with some great family time.