I didn't go overseas until I was 23 when I went to London by myself. While I was there, I was very driven to do things. When I worked at Texaco, every Monday my English colleagues would ask what I'd done that weekend. I might've said I'd been to the Badminton Horse Trials or I drove four hours just to have lunch with friends. Or I'd been up to Scotland for a long weekend or horse riding in Wales. Sometimes I'd just jump on a train with my mountain bike and spend a day cycling somewhere new. I probably did more stuff in four years than some of my UK colleagues did in their lifetimes.
In London I fell in with a crowd of vets, and we would get together for orphans' Christmases, about 15 of us. Although one of the vets would always be on call, so that person couldn't drink. One year, I'd had a minor operation on my wrist to take a mole out, but the English health system didn't do the greatest job. They didn't shave it, and then stitched hair into the wound. On Christmas Day, we were mucking around, wrestling and what have you, when the stitches popped. The good thing was, we were having Christmas at the back of the vet practice, so I had half a dozen less-than-sober vets drag me into the clinic and put me on the gurney while the sober one cleaned and stitched up the wound. From the vets' perspective, when they're dealing with cats and dogs, they don't get verbal feedback and can't ask if something hurts. So, when they put local around the wound, they kept asking me questions. Then they put me on dog antibiotics for a week.
I went to Canada to do some mountain biking, a trip that saw us jump on a bus in Victoria on Vancouver Island. When we got to the end of the bus ride my mate turned round to a German passenger and her friend and said: "Do you want to share a taxi to the campground?" They did and that German woman became my wife.
I made my way home to New Zealand via Africa. I was in the area of Ugandan Zaire (now the Republic of Congo) and Rwanda during the conflict. The head office of the tour company I was with sent us an advisory saying it wasn't safe to travel but that the final decision was up to us. There were about 10 travellers, a driver and a guide but we were all 20-something, felt 10-feet tall and bulletproof, and we wanted to see the gorillas, so we chose to keep going. We got to the national park and picked up local guides, then walked through two villages that had been attacked by Tutsi rebels. The people had all been killed and the villages were completely razed although the bodies had been removed the day before.
We hiked for half a day to get to our campsite. The next morning we walked up and down through dense jungle in the crater of an extinct volcano, until finally we found the gorillas. We spent the most amazing hour with them, watching them watching us. Just sitting among them was mind-blowing. I have amazing photographs, including one of a female gorilla looking straight down the lens. As I took the photo, I wondered, 'what is she thinking'?
When camping in a game park, there's something about having a hippo munching on grass outside your tent at night to make you delay a toilet stop until morning. It's interesting to know that while hippos and water buffalos are herbivores, they're the biggest killers in Africa.
I've worked in consumer goods, petroleum, banking, gaming and media, and now I work for Mighway, which is like the Airbnb of motorhomes. Mighway gives campervan and motorhome owners an opportunity to either make money from their vehicles when they're not using them or start a business managing vehicles. Some motorhome owners use their vehicle for two months of the year and the rest of the time it's just sitting there, yet they're paying all this money to maintain it. With Mighway, owners can recoup some of those costs, and maybe even make money to pay for their travels.
Our owners will show guests around their camper, they'll ask them where they're going and make recommendations of their own. One owner picked up some international guests from the airport, took them back to their place, allowed them to have a shower, gave them a cup of tea and a scone, then sent them on their merry way. Quintessential Kiwi hospitality. These campervans have some personality, they're a bit homely unlike motels; of course that varies from vehicle to vehicle, but that's all part of the adventure.
Dave Hine is Head of Marketing and Partnerships for Mighway. mighway.com