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Cooking on the road: planning food for…off the road

Junaya Binns

WInning an adventure

This winning adventure package came with a 2 person tent, 2 camp chairs, a light for the tent, 2 self inflating sleeping mats and a cute little collapsible table. Thanks Kiwi Camping!

We are van-life people, so we had to investigate the facilities in full, and we appreciated the help of Jonathan Collins from NZ Fun Adventures. No power or showers just long drop toilet facilities and the ground you camp on. And we don’t have a boat. No fridge.

Jonathan loaned us a massive chilly bin. Getting there by water taxi meant space was of premium importance! How to carry enough food?

The most enjoyable part of this adventure was experiencing the ‘true blue’, ‘pay it forward’ Kiwi nature.

We had the absolute best site of this campground, right on the lake front, so we became the camp meet and greet, as everyone else camping there had boats. As people arrived, we would jump up and help carry their gear up to the elevated sites. Through this we met some wonderful people. Which gained us 5-minutes boat rides to the amazing natural hot pools that were otherwise a long, 1hr 30min, uphill trek! When we ran out of alcohol on the last night, a lot of those who we met and helped and engaged with in the evenings, quickly came to our rescue. Got to love NZ!

So, if you want to get away from absolutely everything including reception, Lake Tarawera Hot Water Beach is the place to go.

And so ...

We won a 4-day camp adventure at Lake Tarawera Hot Water Beach in Rotorua for Easter this year, courtesy of NZ Fun Adventures. We are van-life people, and this site is only accessible via water, no van this time! How on earth were we going to keep food cold for 5 days?

With the date, the tenting gear, a loaned chilly bin ready to go, it was time to plan.

Let the planning begin

To reduce the amount of carry-on I decided to pre-prepare the meals then flat pack freeze them in large snap lock bags for easy stacking in the chilly bin. Also freezing 8 large bottles of water to layer on the bottom of the chilly bin, as there is no drinking water available at this site, so as well as food we required enough drinking water for the 5-day escape.

Top tip: Take baking paper to line your frying pan, we did not have to wash the pan once while away.

Another top tip, for this site in particular—the ground is hot so forage for some logs and get your chilly bin off the ground.


Night 1: After a long drive up from Wellington to ensure we met the water taxi on time. we set up camp. We are no strangers to tents but have not done it for a while, and dinner was going to be quick before daylight faded. So American hot dogs it was. We only took 1 frying pan so everything had to be one-pan meals.

I packed the sauces into tiny containers so no wastage or leftovers floating around; pre-grated a small bag of cheese, just enough for the meal. Fried the hot dogs, filled the rolls popped them back in the pan, foil on top to get the delicious melty goodness, boom! All ready in 15 mins.

The next 3 nights are meals that I had prepared and flat pack frozen at home.

Night 2: Creamy chorizo and mushroom pasta.

Night 3: Home made sweet and sour pork with udon noodles

Night 4: Vegetarian nachos, just in case things weren’t so cold at this point. We topped them with plain yoghurt and of course piled high on the chips.

Dinners covered, we then had to think about brunch food.


We still wanted to tantalise the taste buds with holiday goodies like bacon and eggs and so on. So again, to combat the space issue, I decided to pre-make and freeze camp toasties! An absolute favourite of ours.

These are no basic toasties by any means, chock full of all things breakfast. You can make them as amazing as your creativity takes you. Simply construct using your favourite loaf and wrap individually and freeze them fresh, no pre-toasting. Save the toasting for the one pan on the day. These also stack amazingly in the chilly bin.

The rest

To wrap it up, the only thing we had to make fresh was our coffee in the morning.

Nothing took longer than 15mins to reheat or toast in the pan and like I say, baking paper was key!! No washing of the pan only the 2 plates, cutlery, and coffee mugs.

We also took a 24-pack of water bottles just in case, which came in handy for teeth brushing and providing the hikers, that passed through daily, thirsty after their 5 hours walk, and not realising they couldn’t refill their bottles at the beach while they waited for the water taxi, to arrive to pick them up

Junaya & Dan

@adventures_of_the_escapegoats (instagram)


I decided to pre-prepare the meals then flat pack freeze them

Click on the gallery for a full size view

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