When we were considering living full time on the road we had a few concerns about whether our dogs would adapt. We also wondered if they’d create some challenges. However, we needn’t have worried as they have been absolutely amazing and love their new gypsy lifestyle. With lots of new places to explore, new smells, different rivers to swim and new people to meet, by the end of the day they’re exhausted.
Places that allow dogs have been fantastic. Murchison is a great pet-friendly village. We stayed at an NZMCA park, right in town. And managing three dogs was easy, especially with the use of mobile dog fencing. It only takes a few minutes to put the enclosure together and provide an area where the dogs are contained.
We found several dog-friendly walks – most request that dogs are kept on a leash. A favourite was the River Walk, which is only five minutes out of town. It’s an easy walk beside the Matakitaki River. After following the track through the bush the dogs enjoyed cooling off in the river.
The next dog-friendly place we stayed was Hanmer Springs. The NZMCA park is beside the Hanmer River, and across the road is the Hanmer Reserve. It’s an area where dogs are allowed and provides a pleasant walk beside the Hanmer River. It was perfect for our water dog ‘Paddy’ our Irish Water Spaniel. As you’d expect, water is one of his happy places, so it was easy for him to spend a couple of hours playing in the water, chasing after stones we threw in for him.
After leaving Hanmer we drove a short 40 minutes south to the Balmoral Reserve, just out of Culverden, before the Hurunui bridge. It’s a large, popular reserve that’s also pet friendly. A couple that were caravanning beside us had two small dogs, and also a cat that confidently and happily went for walks on a harness. Balmoral Reserve is paradise for dogs. The well-maintained grounds have large grassy areas with lots of trees for shelter and shade. And bordering the reserve is the Hurunui River – a popular river for swimming and fishing.
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In the short time we’ve been travelling with dogs, we’ve met other friendly people travelling with pets. A pet provides a great conversation starter, and through chatting we’ve heard of other places to stay that are also suitable for pets.
A couple we met at Balmoral recommended Amberley Beach Reserve as a place to stay. We hadn’t made up our minds where our next port of call was to be, so after an enjoyable few days at Balmoral we drove further south and ended up at Amberley Beach Reserve – the southern end of the reserve is the spot for campers with animals.
It’s perfect – only two-minutes’ walk from a desolate, stony beach. So close in fact, that when we were in the rig we could hear the waves pounding in. It couldn’t have been any better for the dogs. They were content and easy to manage.
If you’re wondering if there’s anything in particular that makes managing three dogs easier, my answer would be to exercise them every day (weather permitting). Then they’re not bored and restless, and by the end of the day they should be tired and relaxed.
As well, the dog fencing has been invaluable. We can leave the door open, knowing the dogs can come and go as they choose. They’re not on leads 24/7 but they’re contained and can’t wander off. However, we wouldn’t leave them unattended in the dog enclosure. If we need to go somewhere and they can’t come with us, we leave them in the ute (for a short time only).
The secret to travelling with pets is to ensure they’re exercised regularly, are well fed, have water available and are kept under control. There are many places that are happy to have pets if owners are responsible.
A popular source to locate pet-friendly places is the NZMCA’s Travel Directory (they also have an app supplying current information). Another tool that’s been helpful when travelling or holidaying with pets is a Facebook group called ‘Motorhoming with pets in New Zealand’. With over 2000 members who are happy to share pet-friendly places and offer ideas and advice, it’s a handy group to belong to.
If we are visiting a new area and we’re unsure where to stay, we post a question on the forum asking for suggestions. And it works well. Travelling with our three pooches in a home on wheels is not much different to managing them when living in a house.
To date, being on the road is so much better than I’d imagined. And sharing our adventure with our dogs has enriched it even more. For us, seeing our furry-friends happy and loving life is the icing on the cake.