The next stop on our journey was originally to have been a lovely spot on the east coast of the South Island called Kaikoura. We heard a couple of months ago from our home swap hosts there that the road to their area from the north (our intended route) was still closed due to earthquake damage from November 2016. The detour required to get there would have added 6 hours each way to our drive, so we cancelled our plans and sent out a bunch of home exchange messages to see if we could find another option for these 3 nights instead.
We heard back from a couple who listed both a farm and a beach house that was on our route on the North Island. They said we’d be welcome to use one or the other for those three nights, and that they planned to come to Canada at some point in the future to stay with the many Canadians they’ve hosted and enjoyed over the years. Perfect. Once we got back in touch with them here, they even invited us to join them for a BBQ upon our arrival. Even better.
The five of us pulled into their farm at 6:30pm in the pour rain, soggy and travel weary. They could not have made us feel more welcome. Drinks were served, lamb chops were grilled, beds were ready and we had a terrific evening getting acquainted. It turns out that they’ve done more than a dozen home exchanges, over 14+ years — all but one of those have involved staying directly with their hosts, or having people stay with them. This was a first for us — we’ve never done a “hospitality exchange,” and actually we usually never meet the people with whom we exchange (regrettably). Our hosts were therefore quite unfazed by having us join them in their home (AirBnB for free!), and due to the rainy forecast (there has been flooding and mud slides farther north, and the road we took to get here was closed the next day due to high water levels), they recommended we stay with them at the farm for the 3 nights rather than making our way to the coast. Their own kids are grown and they seemed quite content to have some teenage energy back in the house again.