For 30 years John and Margaret Spain have lived in a motorhome, calling New Zealand their backyard.

The couple sold their Dunedin home three decades ago and hit the road. They haven't looked back since.

There aren't too many places they haven't visited and Northland is their favourite stop due to the balmy weather.

The duo's nine-metre motorhome is among 500 motor homes, campervans and caravans that have rolled into Barge Park in Whangarei for Easter weekend.


They have gathered for the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association's national rally and annual general meeting which has attracted about 1000 people.

The Spains arrived at the park last weekend after a three-month trip around the South Island and will spend the rest of the year exploring Northland.

They regard Northland as home and particularly like Whangarei Heads, Tokerau Beach and Dargaville.

"We live a pleasant lifestyle and others in the caravan we've known over the years are part of the family now," Mr Spain said.

"We take part in Spring Clean which is when we pick an area and collect rubbish and we've done that in Northland for the last four to five years.

The 79-year-old former Navy chef and his 78-year-old wife have had three buses since 1968 and their inaugural trip in 1969 was to Cape Reinga.

He bought the first bus, an old 1948 Ford for $500, and turned it into a catering bus in Dunedin.

He shut up shop after an association member in Otago convinced him in 1968 to explore places in a motorhome. But it was 20 years later that they sold their home and went mobile.


They have appropriately named their motorhome "Espana" which is the Spanish word for Spain.

Both are life members of the association and this year's annual general meeting is a special occasion as they will receive an award for completing 50 years as members.

It's the second time Northland has hosted the AGM since the association started in 1956. Kaikohe hosted the 2009 AGM.

Association president Bruce Stanger the meeting would be opened by Whangarei mayor tomorrow morning .

He said trips to places such as the New Zealand Refinery and the Town Basin have been organised for Saturday and Sunday before the event finished on Monday.

A large marquee has been set up at Barge Park for the meeting and volunteers are helping with organising and running the event.