Six years ago the Playford family - Darren and Sharyn - would take off from their rural Mangaweka retreat and spend about eight months of the year with Gypsy Fairs throughout New Zealand selling clothing and jewellery.

But now the old green gypsy bus has been replaced by a more modern gray school bus and travelling has been cut back by half.

Darren said now they head off in the warmer months to extravaganzas (small fairs that have replaced gypsy fairs) throughout the North island.

"Sharyn sells clothes. I used to do the donut and hot dog thing but not anymore. I just drive the bus.''


Even though life is slower and more relaxed, Darren still fixes old cars at home and Sharyn sells fashions from Bali and Nepal at a recently opened business in Taihape called Genesis Fashions (a collaboration of two businesses Pilgrim Threads and Muse Threads Design and Make)

But Darren remembers the gypsy fair years with great fondness.

"Those were the days when we home schooled our children and always had a very noisy, happy time.

But now it's time to slow down. We're so lucky we bought this place in Mangaweka. It's the best place to be.''

Even though Mangaweka is often described as a bit of a ghost town, the Playfords don't care, he said.

"We've lived and come home to Mangaweka for more than 22 years now. Pretty amazing. But it shows how attached we are to the place.''

Although their living situation is a just simple wooden rustic house with two rooms, they still have to pay the same in rates to the Rangitikei District Council as everyone else, even although they don't have amenities like street lighting, footpaths and a rubbish collection.

"But you can't fight it you just have to live with it even though there's actually nothing here.''

Darren laughed as he said, in fact, what is there is more than many people would experience in a lifetime.

"Native birds, beautiful bush, a peaceful atmosphere and once in a while a glorious old steam train comes through. We're very content living here at the end of the road ..."