Place residence

Local focus: Bikes, hikes and silent nights – three weeks at That Place

Follow the Oskam family’s journey as they prepare to reopen “That Place” for the summer mountain biking season.

Local Focus video journalist Ben Carter takes three weeks away from the daily grind to follow Tom Oskam and his trail dog Flo from That Place, an ATV park near Whanganui. Watch them battle the weather and their dogs as they prepare the park for the summer season.

Living in the suburbs with a working dog can be hard work at the best of times, and my little blue heel is no ordinary working dog.

Gibson requires an extraordinary amount of exercise. No amount of rain, mud or snow can keep him from enjoying the great outdoors.

He doesn’t care if high winds and freezing temperatures numb my hands, the stick has to be thrown.

After another harsh winter, I decided it was time for a rural getaway. We loaded up our house bus and headed for a 52ha block of land called That Place, just half an hour from the CBD of Whanganui.

That Place is a dog-friendly mountain bike park and campground owned and operated by the Oskam family.

The moment we left town, our spirits lifted. Three weeks of sun, mountain biking and life in a domestic bus was exactly what we needed. To be fair, the house bus is more of a bus than a house.

The seats were replaced with camping gear and broken workshop furniture. But that wasn’t going to be a problem as That Place has an outdoor kitchen, shower and BBQ.

We reached Kaiwhaiki village after 15 minutes and continued meandering along the Whanganui River until the metal road slowly turned into a rocky driveway.

As we drove past the welcome sign and into the steep valley surrounding the Oskams’ property, the sunlight disappeared and we noticed a few small puddles of water. No matter.

The moment we arrived at the campground and the bus doors opened, Gibson rushed to secure the perimeter and I began setting up a comfortable living space and workstation.

As I happily laid sheets on the mattress and dusted off my hiking boots, I heard Gibson zooming around the bus with his new best friend Flo. It seemed like we had arrived in paradise.

But moments later, reality hit.

Two muddy dogs entered the bus in a whirlwind of excitement. Now the ground was muddy and the bed was muddy.

I threw the dogs off the bus and they kept getting muddy. I ran an extension cord to the wool shed and then my hiking boots were muddy. It took 10 minutes for the bus to turn into a muddy hell.

I looked up and the clouds were back, the wind picked up and I knew we were in trouble. But there was no turning back.

For better or worse, we’ve committed to That Place for the next three weeks to experience Oskam’s way of life and capture their journey as they prepare to reopen for the season.

This Local Focus feature video is the result of those three weeks of rain, mud and laughter at That Place.