It may be the constant chill in the air, it may also be the fact that the airlines won’t allow me to board with a much bigger belly, and it may be that we’ve received warm invitations from friends back in Australia, but our hearts have turned. Now we’re thinking and planning our return to the sunburnt continent where we’ll keep on travelling with our Freedom Truck rig.

When we arrived in New Zealand in February, David and I agreed that we would stay in this country until we agreed in righteousness (i.e. not in a foul mood/temper tantrum) that it was time to leave. Not very precise, but this mindset has given us the freedom to fully embrace our time here without yearning for the familiar, warmer shores.

When we do leave, however, we hope it will only be temporarily as we look forward to returning to NZ again in December. We’ve visited spectacular places that will be extra-special in warm weather, so we plan to spend next summer travelling to our favourite places in Northland.

David and I are thankful for how well our family has acclimatised to the chillier weather. Our previous home in Brisbane is virtually winter-less — or certainly not as icy as the top end of New Zealand. But even in our little truck — without a heater save for our combined body heat — our girls have not complained of the cold. We’ve been blessed time and time again with hospitality offering warmth and light, but when that was unavailable, we haven’t been desperate.

So we’re currently back in Dargaville, where friends have offered space for us to park our horse truck during our absence. We’re sorting through our possessions, working out what to pack and preparing the remaining items for storage in the truck during our three months away. Our girls are very pleased to be parked outside the home of their friends.

Calista and Brioni playing outside, August 2011
Sure, we travel without toys, but as soon as they're available at a friends' house, the girls are all over them (and the dress-ups!).

Aisha playing with a hula hoop, August 2011
The girls are happy to play outside and don't notice the cold (even with bare feet).

Lang and Fisher girls racing, August 2011
The Fisher and Lang girls have loved playing together again.

Today we visited Dargaville Playcentre again with the Langs. I am so impressed with these parent-run early-childhood centres. They receive government funding and are able to offer quality facilities and creative programs for the low cost of $20 per family per term.

Brioni working the tools, August 2011
Brioni spent quite a bit of time at the tool table this morning.

Delaney, 19 months old, August 2011
Dell is at a beautiful age where she can be happy for hours as long as someone is pushing the swing.

Kids at the Dargaville Playcentre, August 2011
The kids all line up on two sides of a long table for morning tea. Together, Katrina's and our children doubled the number of children at the table!

As well as performing maintenance on the truck, David was able to help with some work around the Lang’s place. The next-door neighbour asked him for some help with minor repairs.

David under the house, August 2011
David crawled under the house to help fix a hole in the front lining.

Bill and Bethany, August 2011
The next door neighbour, Bill, loves to help the Langs and fixed the front of the house on his own initiative.

We’re thankful for our special time here in New Zealand and looking forward to continuing our travels in Australia. Until we fly out, we’ll be staying in the Dargaville area where we’re building long-term special connections for us and our daughters.