Eyebrows were raised to the ex-hairline and there was much tut-tutting among our friends as they inspected the double bed neatly made up in the back of the JUCY Cabana station wagon and the little kitchen tucked into the rear of the vehicle.

“You’re a bit old for this sort of thing,” they guffawed, shaking their heads in disbelief. “And besides, it’s far too late in the season to be camping – you’ll freeze to death.

“Stay on here with us – play golf, go fishing and e-biking … sensible, age-appropriate activities. Or at least check in to a hotel along the way,” they said.

That’s all it took to galvanise the stubborn in me and harden my resolve to defy ‘age-ism’ and ‘sensible-ism’, throw caution to the non-existent wind and be daring – some might say reckless.

Autumn reflections in Alexandra

After all, we were only heading for a brief sortie to the Catlins, not a month trekking overland in Outer Mongolia, so there was always the option of a hotel or motel if the weather really misbehaved.

“Late-life crisis,” I heard them mutter as Chris and I piled our far-too-large suitcases into the JUCY campervan and prepared to depart. The cases hadn’t looked so bulky in the palatial guest wing of our friends’ luxurious Wanaka home, but we were now wondering what the heck we’d do with them at night time. Note to self: ‘If you want to relive your youth, get a rucksack and travel lightly.’

We waved goodbye and drove off into the delicious unknown with an old-school paper map on my knee… and a new-age Roadtrippers App.

They were off to golf and lunch at a winery; we were heading in the general direction of Kākā Point at the north-eastern boundary of the Catlins, revisiting places along the way I’d last travelled through as a child.

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