We love the freedom that we have to meet up with whomever is placed in front of our paths. Seizing opportunities as they’re presented means that we find ourselves meeting a fascinating variety of individuals and exploring attractions that are well off the beaten tourist path.

While David was wandering around Dargaville last week with six girls, he met and chatted with Lisa, who is also travelling at the moment. Lisa said that she and her husband were planning on camping in their big red bus at Kai Iwi Lakes on the weekend, and so we decided to meet them there.

It was easy to spot Lisa and her family, although we didn’t need to wait until we reached the lakes to do so! When we were pulling into a petrol station to fill up, I caught sight of a big red bus and correctly guessed that this was Lisa’s. I flagged her down and introduced myself. She and Nigel were pleased to hear that we too were planning to travel to Kai Iwi Lakes, and we agreed to meet at a specific location.

Lisa and Nigel have a two-year-old daughter Rylee. They’ve been travelling in their modified 1975 Mercedes O305 bus for only a little while, but before they started their family, they travelled around the world, including visiting India.

Nige and Lisa of the big red bus, June 2011
It's been a pleasure to get to know Nigel and Lisa. They're so welcoming and non-judgemental, enthusiastic for travel and well-travelled themselves!

After we reached the lakes, it was delightful to look around the big red bus. The main bedroom is at the very back, two single beds sit along each side, and the bus features a tidy kitchenette and a good-sized bathroom with a bath!

Inside the big red bus, June 2011
The interior of the big red bus is spacious, so Lisa and Nige are able to host a number of visitors simultaneously.

Brioni reading books in the bus, June 2011
The girls love the opportunity to browse through a whole new set of exciting books.

Brioni and Aisha in the big red bus, June 2011
Playing with a new collection of toys is always exciting.

Calista in the big red bus, June 2011
Calista enjoys a hot mug of hot chocolate in the bus.

It all looks very flash and roomy after our tight quarters, and we’ve appreciated their generous hospitality in sharing their living quarters with us and our four daughters. 2yo Rylee has been stretched as she’s discovered that she needs to share with four other little girls, and she’s handled the transition very well.

Parking with the big red bus, June 2011
We parked together close to the new toilets at the far end of Lake Taharoa. Other friends of Nigel and Lisa's stopped by for breakfast in the morning on their way to Auckland.

Lake Toherau, Kai Iwi Lakes, June 2011
The water of the lake is beautiful and calm.

Swimming at Kai Iwi Lakes, June 2011
The girls soon started playing on our little beach, while I relaxed with the laptop computer.

Swimming at Kai Iwi Lakes, June 2011
After their friends left, Lisa and Nige joined us at the water. Little Rylee was happy to follow our girls into the water — even though she wasn't dressed for swimming!

Delaney swimming in Kai Iwi Lakes, June 2011
Oops — Delaney isn't dressed for swimming, either!

Delaney playing on the beach, June 2011
We lost our beach toys long ago and have discovered that spoons and bowls from our kitchen collection work just as well.

Five girls in a bath, June 2011
After the chilly swim, the girls shared a warm bath in the big red bus!

It’s lovely to have another travelling family to exchange ideas with. We’re learning about more fascinating people that we’d love to meet and are receiving ideas about new places to park up.