Jesse Hamilton and Lorielle Vidot have discovered a whole new community since they abandoned their four-bedroom house in Auckland and took to the streets with their 10-month old cat Jango.

They are luckier than many of the people they have met. Mr Hamilton, a 21-year-old builder, bought a big Toyota Estima and took out the back seats to make room for a gas cooker and a bed.

The New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective advocate Annah Pickering and Charlotte Ama from the Auckland City Mission on Hamer Street where many sleep in their cars. Photo / Jason Oxenham, NZ Herald
The New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective advocate Annah Pickering and Charlotte Ama from the Auckland City Mission on Hamer Street where many sleep in their cars. Photo / Jason Oxenham, NZ Herald

Ms Vidot, from the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, was also earning money on a working holiday visa until the couple decided to take to the road.

"If I'd thought about it six years ago when I moved out of home, I would have done it then," Mr Hamilton said.

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"No one thinks about moving into a car as a good alternative. They think of setting up flats. But I like the idea of trying something different, it's good to be put out of your comfort zone."

They have spent three months so far finding places to park up around Auckland before heading off around New Zealand. They parked with other van-dwellers outside the Point Erin Pool at the southern end of the Harbour Bridge until the council moved them all on about two weeks ago after local residents complained.

Charlotte Ama from the Auckland City Mission chats with John Nia, a resident of Hamer Street for 12 years. Photo / Jason Oxenham, NZ Herald
Charlotte Ama from the Auckland City Mission chats with John Nia, a resident of Hamer Street for 12 years. Photo / Jason Oxenham, NZ Herald

"There was no real reason apart from the public didn't want to have them around," Mr Hamilton said.

"All the backpackers that come through New Zealand end up at places like that for their last week while they try to sell their cars. If people can't do that at a secure, safe environment with other people around them to give them good advice and help them look after themselves, why not?"

In other places, the couple have come across people who have lived for years in their cars for various reasons.

"The amount of people I've found with fulltime jobs, people who live off fishing in a huge way and just know a huge community of people all around the country," Mr Hamilton said.

A rough sleeper in a car on Hamer Street. Photo / Jason Oxenham, NZ Herald
A rough sleeper in a car on Hamer Street. Photo / Jason Oxenham, NZ Herald

Ms Vidot, 26, said life in the van was "pretty cool".

Jango, her birthday present from Mr Hamilton 10 months ago, enjoyed the chance to explore new areas in daylight, although the couple keep him in the van at night in case he gets lost in the darkness.

Mr Hamilton was born and bred in Auckland and has "family and friends all around". But he and Ms Vidot mostly use public toilets and shower at places like the Tepid Baths, where they can also have a sauna.

"It works well, it's surprisingly easy," he said.

He reckons he has already saved about $3000 in rent.

"I had a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house full of my junk, but at the moment I'm happy to just cruise a bit," he said. "It's just been nice to be able to cruise around and have no ties."