Readers' camping nightmares

It's not always smooth sailing when you embark on a holiday under canvas.

Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

The School holidays, I willingly offered to spend
Chaperoning teenage girls and my grandson Reuben
Not knowing we'd sleep together in just a small old tent
With guy ropes and pegs missing or bent
Sharing just one punctured blow-up mattress
Adding to my discomfort and, already, distress
The sea-breeze was noisy and blowing all night
But the teenagers said "GranJoy - you'll be alright!"
The trio loved their adventure at the beach
No wonder, at three in the morning, I did reach
Beside me, Oh dear - no young ones to be found
So Grandma crawls out, to hunt around!
I spy them having fun in the moonlight
Paddling in the surf, but I can only delight
To experience this scene, despite the time
"Camping Woes" - yes, but the fond memories are mine

Joy van Lier

Camping on the beach near the East Cape. Cyclonic storm, high winds and heavy rain. Five year old comes into the tent to tell us our toilet tent has blown into the ocean. We move to a camping ground so we can use their toilet. Our tent leaks and the floor has 2cm of water on it. Three year old empties a 1kg bag of sugar into the water on the floor.

Rain still pouring down so we throw everything into the back of the station wagon and set off home. Now a flat tyre, so everything comes out in the pouring rain to get to the spare. Finally get home to find we have been burgled.

Graeme

Bought a cheap tent from a chain store and went on a winter fishing trip into the Matemateaonga ranges. There was a storm on the first night and it was only then I found that the tent wasn't waterproof. The porous fly sheet seemed to be designed to direct all the water that fell on it into the tent, where it collected in the only waterproof component: the groundsheet. The first thing I knew about it was waking up in a sodden cold sleeping bag in the middle of the night in a pool of icy cold water, then having to pack up and leave in pitch darkness.

Mark Sanders

Each year a colleague and I escape the stress of operating theatres and grumpy surgeons to the peace and serenity camping offers. Three years ago we began one such weekend in December in sunny weather, light sea breezes, and nothing but the sound of birds. Saturday afternoon we were relaxing in the sun and enjoying a glass of wine, and the sight of the beautiful flowering pohutukawas. But the wind was picking up and soon the grey clouds were looking ominous. Being a busy working mother of two, I was not returning home under any circumstances - this was my weekend off, I was staying come hell or high water! Indeed, 60-knot winds whipped the tent, heavy rain fell through the night and our very own waterfall emerged through a hole in the ceiling into the front room. We packed up a soggy tent and drove home. Suffice to say, I still love camping but have been unable to undergo a second attempt due to the sad state of said tent.

Sarah Young

In 1992 my family and I spent 12 months travelling around the world, mostly staying in tents. One of our last stops before heading home, was Africa, and on one particular night, we were on safari in Kenya - in the Ngorongoro Crater. Our camp had been set up in one of the specific camping areas, however animals were free to roam as they liked. Our tent, provided by the safari company and used by probably hundreds before us, was on its last legs and didn't have working zips. So we used pegs to secure the door flaps. I awoke in the middle of the night to a lot of "shushing" but didn't think much of it, so rolled over and went back to sleep. Thank goodness I didn't - the next morning my brother popped off the pegs to reveal huge lion pawprints right beside our front door! Wow! We were very thankful for those pegs in the end!

Ally Young

Took my 11-year-old-son on his first camping trip. We settled in for the night after the traditional marshmallow toasting but he soon complained of a sore stomach. Thinking "too many marshmallows" I said "you'll be fine" and to go back to sleep. A few minutes later he was sick all over his sleeping bag and airbed. So I cleaned his face and told him to jump in my sleeping bag and wait in the car while I cleaned the airbed and sleeping bag - what else could go wrong? Next thing I hear a yell and, you guessed it , sleeping bag no 2 was vomited all over. So that was the end of the trip, tents and camping gear were hastily dismantled and into the car for the somewhat smelly trip home!

Darren Rae My fiance and I were heading to a large music festival in the English countryside and grabbed a tent from the future brother-in-law's garage. We arrived at the festival, found our friends and decided to check out the festival. Hours later we returned to the camp ground to erect our tent. The tent went up very quickly and it was soon evident what we had grabbed was not a tent but a sun shade suitable for a day at the beach - and no protection from the rain in an English field.

Grant Fraser

The plan. Me and a mate spending 2-3 nights in the mountains of the South Island's West Coast. Set off up the river flats in great weather, sunny and warm, a nice 4-5 hours to the base of the mountains. Set up camp in nice flat spot among otherwise rocky ground. Ha ha, little did we know. Warm and snug inside the tent, then it starts raining, and then it starts RAINING, like only the West Coast mountains can. Within a short time water is running everywhere. Our nice little flat spot turns out to be a creek overflow plain. Water starts flowing into the tent, soaking everything, six inches deep and rising. I climb outside with my torch and slasher and start furiously digging trenches to try to divert water; am semi successful but sleeping bag and gear are sodden. Curl up in foetal position on top of my pack to get out of the water, spend the rest of a LONG night like this with my small gas cooker in my hand to stop myself from getting hypothermia.

Mike Toseland

I was 10 years old and on my first camping trip with the Scouts. There were 11 of us in Bull Patrol, all squeezed into a well-used United States Army canvas tent, without fly or built-in groundsheets. We called it Old Yank. Never mind, said our patrol leader, it's virtually indestructible. And so it proved. The first night we had a terrible storm and not one other tent was left standing. Everyone was taken to the relative safety of a nearby farm. Well, not quite everyone At the daybreak headcount, I was the only one missing. However all ended well. After being awakened at the bottom of the distressed but still safe Old Yank, I was given a delicious cup of warm milk fresh from the cow. Over 60 years later and still camping, I always wake up to a cup of warm milk.

John Norris

New French tent, beautiful blue sky, plenty of space at Pakiri beach. Complacently, we ignored the storm warnings. Too late, in came the rain and wind. By midnight, my wife and I were desperately holding down the tent as the rain loosened the pegs. Our two young children sheltered in their separate compartment, then one enormous gust lifted the tent and the children into the darkness of the night. We were left standing in the open field with our childrens' screams carrying into the pitch black night. By the car headlights we could see the tent disappearing into the next field. It finally came to rest against a large tree - luckily we found two unscathed children in the middle of the mess.

David Hughes

Aside from the usual getting flooded, attacked by mosquitoes, holes in air beds (been there done all that!), on one camping trip our children contracted the foot and mouth virus of which symptoms include intensely itchy hands and feet. Needless to say the entire camping ground did not get much sleep for a couple of nights.

Vicky Marshall

Luckless Kate Lawless is the winner in our $899 Kathmandu Quest tent giveaway. View the entire range at Kathmandu.co.nz.

- NZ Herald

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