“So, what’s the story with this house?” My wife asked me as we drove north in convoy with my sisters family over Auckland Harbor bridge in December, 2016. How much is it again?” She persisted. “Nothing” I replied. “It’s totally free”. She looked surprised, but happy, and was about to begin asking more questions before she shifted focus to our one-year-old daughter, who had begun seeking some attention.

The truth is I was also surprised when I heard about this great new membership site called Holiday Swap. The idea is really simple. I swap our family holiday house in Arthurs Pass with people I trust. They visit my house. I visit theirs. The first year’s membership is free – so you get to trial it. After that the cost is a modest $ 49.95 per year, which you make back with the first night away.

So off we are headed to a large 4 bedroom / 2 bathroom house with magnificent views out over Bream Bay and it didn’t cost us a cent. I simply signed up and added our chalet style holiday home to the site. Once I had done this, I was able to contact the owner of a house I liked to suggest a swap. It only took a few emails and a Skype call later before we had a date agreed. No money changed hands. It was quick, easy and fun!

On arrival at Langs Beach we were immediately impressed. The house is ideal for 2 families with the bottom story featuring its own kitchenette, children rumpus room and bathroom. The second story and stunning views over the Bay to Whangarei Heads, Taranga Island, Lady Alice Island and Whatupuke Island.

The owner of the house had already provided me with information on things to do in the area so that was easy. We visited the beaches, local weekend markets, and generally enjoyed a peaceful house.

When returned to our holiday home for Christmas, I found a lovely thank you note and a bottle of wine from the couple I had swapped with. Like us, they had enjoyed exploring somewhere new and best of all it was free. I had an email from my sisters a few days later saying thanks and that were so impressed with the our holiday swap experience, they have decided to become swappers too!

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