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Happy campers . . . Freyja and Ryan Munro, inside one of the new cabins they are building, are loving their new pace of life running the Kakanui Camping Ground. PHOTO: ASHLEY SMYTH

The search for a better work-life balance was the driver behind Ryan and Freyja Munro setting up camp in Kakanui.

The couple became the new owners of Kakanui Camping Ground in September, and moved from Dunedin with their three daughters, Charlotte (9), Chelsea (6) and Madison (4).

Mr Munro had worked “in and around” the transport industry for 15 years, and was wanting a change.

“Wanting something different, and wanting something different for the kids to grow up in, and somewhere different for the kids to grow up, instead of growing up in town,” he said.

Mrs Munro agreed they needed a lifestyle overhaul.

“We used to work horrible hours. Ryan would start work at 2 o’clock in the morning, and be back in bed at six at night, so he didn’t really get to spend much time with the kids.

“Whereas up here, he gets to do mornings, afternoons, everything. He sees the kids lots.”

She continued to work in Dunedin as a CAD technician (architectural draftsperson), after deciding to study architecture, not long after having the couple’s third child.

“I’d been in retail forever, and coming up four years ago, when our littlest was 3 months old, I decided to go study. So I went and did a bachelor of architectural studies.

“I drive back and forth five days a week.”

Kakanui Camping Ground had been operating for about 20 years before they took over, and it was just a matter of freshening a few things up.

“Try and make it like the family campground we remember growing up.”

There were already two existing cabins, and the Munros were in the process of building three more.

“We’re sort of trying to make it so that families can book them, and you can still have older and younger separated out, or anything like that,” he said.

They were also hoping to renovate the kitchen, laundry and bathroom areas by the winter, and do some “all round improvements”.

“At the same time, we’re trying to make it a fun place for the kids to grow up – you know, they don’t just want to be watching mum and dad work all the time. So we’re making it as self-run as possible.”

Campground life is something the entire family is embracing. Madison was due to start at Maheno Kindergarten next year, and the two older children were settling well into Kakanui School.

“They’re absolutely thriving at the school here,” Mrs Munro said.

“It’s honestly the best move we’ve ever done. Even driving to Dunedin five days a week, coming back here, I have no stress, and it’s a slower pace life, and you can’t hear the motorway from your bedroom.”

“At night you don’t hear any cars,” Mr Munro added.

“You hear nothing.

“You hear birds,” he recalled, remembering their pleasant trills.

“Birds and the ocean, and it’s just the best thing to wake up to.”