Some of the Smith, Johnson and Reardon camping accommodation

The expanding tale of Smith, Johnson and Reardon

Back in 1996 three families went to Tahuna on a camping holiday. Twenty-one years later they are still going. The camping ground has changed, our camp site has changed and boy have we changed!

We had all been friends for many years and when we first decided to head to Nelson to camp there were six adults, the Mums and Dads and eight kids and two years later one extra to make it nine kids in total – eight boys and one girl.

This year there should be 28 of us included four grandchildren camping with us. We started with three camp sites with four tents, one being our camp kitchen, to now having seven sites with three caravans and many many many more tents.

It’s always been a mission to feed everyone and was always a bit like school camp and yes it was usually left to the Mums to head off shopping, but it was always left to the Dads to cook. Dishes were on a roster and are only done once a day, if we can help it, and over the years we have learnt that the paper plate is our friend, recyclable of course.

There have been times when the weather has just about sent us home. We have had to dig trenches around the tents, patched up holes, used hairdryers to dry bedding, added extra guy ropes so we didn’t blow away, and we would say “we will head home tomorrow if it’s still raining”. But, we wake up the next morning and no one is very keen to head for home so we just hang in there. Who wants to go back to normal life anyway.

Camping just seems to be such a restful holiday which is amazing really when you have very little sleep.You are either woken before 7am by the first flight from Wellington and if that hasn’t woken you the seagull on the top of the street light will, along with “Good morning campers” blasting from the speakers – the sounds of camping!

We walk quite a distance to go to the loo, we line up for showers and there is always an air bed that goes down and needs replacing, but we must all love it because we keep going back for more. We are with our friends and because we live in different towns it’s a great chance to catch up. We eat, we drink (probably a little too much) we swim, we sunbath, we bike, we fish, we explore and we love it.

This year we have our own celebrations planned and everyone is planning to make it to join in on our 21 years of camping at Tahuna Holiday Park.

‘Bring on Tahuna’!

Alan and Heather Johnson (from Renwick, Marlborough) have camped for 21 years with friends Gary and Linda Reardon (from Timaru) and Theresa and Raymond Smith (from Blenheim) and their respective families.