When I was nine years old, my parents Ray and Dot Cassidy from Belfast who were enthusiastic caravaners, decided it was time they ventured further than the beach camps north of Christchurch.
This was the beginning of annual family holiday treks to Tahuna Beach Holiday Park.
There was always much excitement when it was time to leave for our holidays and I want to share stories about two of our journeys up to Nelson.
In 1962, I remember my first long journey up the eastern coastline in Dad’s 1953 grey Vanguard towing a homemade plywood caravan.
We came across torrential rain and it was fair bucketing down in the Whangamoa hills. There was surface flooding all the way into Nelson and on arrival at Tahuna Holiday Camp we found our allocated site submerged up to the axles of our caravan.
Being “first timers” here we couldn’t believe what we had come all this way too!
Fortunately, we were promptly relocated to another site by the Camp staff.
It was during that dilemma that the first campers we met became lifelong friends of my parents and they spent many happy years here together over the next 40 years.
Two years later, in 1964, we had bad luck in the Whangamoas again.
This time we had the misfortune of a broken caravan axle on the last bend before the summit.
I vividly remember my younger sister Maree and I sitting in the car bawling our eyes out, while Dad clambered down the bank to retrieve the lost wheel.
This wasn’t a great start to this holiday but thanks to the help of the AA and “some kiwi ingenuity, Number 8 wire” we finally limped into the Camp, 14 hours after leaving home.
Once the Lewis Pass/Shenandoah roads were improved and sealed we always used that route and I know my Mum who wasn’t a good traveller, was especially happy about that!!
Thankfully, these two earlier instances didn’t discourage my parents and I have continued their tradition and encouraged my family to follow their grandparent’s tradition.
Now after having 54 continuous years of Tahuna Beach holidays, I was thrilled to bits in January 2016 when my great-granddaughter, a 5th generation, had her first holiday in the best camp in New Zealand.