The thing about vanlife is that everyday jobs are tricky. All those little chores we normally do in between work and dinner are a lot harder if you’re in the middle of nowhere, can’t visit your own GP or dentist or don’t have an address. So we just don’t do them, keep postponing them, tell ourselves that “the next time we’re somewhere a bit longer, perhaps in a big city..”.
We’d been successfully doing this for quite a few months now, but all of a sudden we found ourselves in Christchurch and we’d run out of excuses. Time to get some stuff sorted, starting with making sure our hiking gear is up to scratch for the coming winter.
My hiking boots are finished. In the past weeks, I’ve already retired them, took the laces out, stuffed them under the bed, pulled them back out, haphazardly put the laces back in, hiked multiday hikes in them, joking about how easy the water flows out of your boots when there’s massive holes in them, but no more! Since we were now in a “big city”, I would have to commit to finding some suitable replacements for my faithful Meindl’s.
Luckily, on our first day of visiting all the outdoor gear shops, I found some good Salewa’s that seemed like they might do the trick. “Take them home”, the shop owner said, “try them out by walking around at home”. Ehm, yeah, that doesn’t really work if you’re living on 6 m2. So off to the museum where Thomas learns all about the New Zealand Air Force while I’m walking around and around and around and around. Feet are still happy after a day and half of walking around in musea, so good news, job #1 done!
Thomas was keen to buy a new hiking pack, a slightly bigger model than his current one. On our first day visiting all the outdoor gear shops, he has 1) a pack which he likes the look and all the features of, but which isn’t all that comfortable, 2) a pack which is a lot more comfortable, but has too many things going on in terms of loops and straps and removable parts, 3) a pack which is really comfortable, has all the features he wants including the must-have of an ice axe loop, but which is only available in a size small, whereas Thomas needs a large.
And so a nation-wide goose chase starts to find this perfect pack with the perfect features in the perfect size. Would the one in Hamilton be the one? Nope, no ice axe loop. How about this second-hand one for sale in Timaru, should we drive down and have a look? Nope, another size small. Let’s call the factory that makes them, check all the Australian gear shops, or how about.. In the end, Thomas went back to the same store in Christchurch and bought a different (bigger) pack from the same brand cause he asked for a discount and pretty much got it for the same price as the perfect pack, so still pretty perfect! Job #2 done.
In the meantime, Thomas had been lucky enough to find some waterproof pants in a second-hand shop. To make sure the (dirt-cheap but from a proper brand) pants would do the trick, we bought some waterproofing treatment to use on the new pants, as well as on both of our rain jackets. Only problem being that my rain jacket had a rip in one of the seams, which would need to be fixed first. So we popped into an outdoor gear repair shop with a few items, to see what they could help us with. Fixing my rain jacket? Yeah sure. But oh, wait a minute, let’s have a look at the waterproof lining on the inside, which seems to be falling apart. Hmm, pretty sure fixing the seam won’t make this rain jacket waterproof again. How about attaching an ice axe loop to Thomas his small hiking pack? What’s that? They’re already on there, he just never saw them? Oh, okay well that was an easy fix then! We ended up leaving only Thomas his jacket to be fixed, so job #3 kind of done and a new job created, let’s visit all the outdoor gear shops to buy a new rain jacket for Myrthe!
As if we’re not busy enough, one morning we wake up to find that someone has spraypainted our van during the night. With an anarchy sign. Beautifully done, but still we decide we’ll have it removed. We call the police to report the damage, call our insurance company to make a claim, put up a post in the local Facebook group to ask if anyone has any clues who might’ve been behind this, call with our insurance assessor about which garage to visit in Christchurch, when all of a sudden there’s a guy cleaning our van. Turns out he saw our post on Facebook, then spotted our van outside the library. He went home, picked up some paint cleaning stuff and rags, and came back to the library where he was happily wiping away paint while we were sitting in the van. When we figured out what was going on, Thomas joined him with cleaning, while I rang the insurance company to cancel our clain and called our assessor to cancel the appointment at the garage. Unsuspected job #4 done!
Back to rain jackets. We didn’t actually visit all the outdoor gear shops again, I did some research online and we went to one shop where I tried a few jackets, found one which I liked, had a look at a few other shops in the same mall to see if there was anything better around, and ended up buying the jacket. Took it hiking, had about 2 hours of light rain and discovered the jacket is not actually working as a rain jacket. Great. Back to the shop, returning the jacket, asking for some advice on a rain jacket which functions as a rain jacket, buy a new rain jacket (which hasn’t been tested yet as we haven’t had rain since..). Job #5a and #5b done!
In the meantime, Thomas has re-waterproofed his rain jacket and his new but old waterproof pants. Only afterwards does he have a good look at his 10+-years old rain jacket and discovers that his waterproof lining is falling apart too. So back to all the outdoor shops, ha no he went online, had a look and ordered one without trying it on. Since we don’t have an address he sends it to a friends place in Wanaka, six hours driving from where we are now. Does that count as job #6 done?
So we have a pack and rain jackets and waterproof pants and we bought food and filled the tanks with water and diesel, can we leave Christchurch and go for a hike now? Yep, but Thomas is just giving the local optician a call to book an eye check as he’s been having some trouble focussing. They can book him in for this evening, so let’s stick around for this appointment and then we can leave first thing tomorrow morning. Unless Thomas finds out he needs to buy a pair of glasses, so we need to go shopping in the morning first. Good thing that Thomas is the opposite of me when it comes to making decisions and 30 minutes after the shop opened, we’ve picked a pair of glasses! Now all we need to do is tell them where to ship it to by the time it’s ready for pick up, sigh.. But, another job done!
And so, after more than a week of “running a few errands”, we manage to leave the city and head for the mountains. It’s high time for some adventures again!