Hiking lake Waikaremoana- NZ Great Walk

I think I may have discovered the best pre-Christmas therapy ever… multi-day hiking in the back & beyond!!! In late November I hiked around Lake Waikaremoana with my three good friends. The weather gods smiled down on us and although we felt like we experienced all four seasons over the course of our four day hike, we only had a little rain overnight and morning mist, that soon cleared and sunshine ( well mostly). Waikaremoana is home to the Tūhoe people aka the children of the mist or “Misty’s” (as the hut warden Bill told us😂) Waikaremoana means ‘sea of rippling waters’.

Morning mist clearing to reveal the lake from Panekire hut.

We stayed in three huts, they were Panekire (1st night), Waiopaoa (2nd night) and Marauiti (3rd night). We carried all of our food, cooking equipment, clothing and sleeping bags in our packs (total weight including pack ~13kg). The huts are standard back country huts which have running water (we treated ours with a UV light to be on the safe side) tables and benches, fireplaces (no dry wood provided at the time we were there though) & bunk beds with mattresses in the dorm rooms. BYO toilet paper😉

Panekire hut
Having lunch at Waiopaoa hut after a swim.
We enjoyed meeting Tūhoe hut warden “Bates” here at the smaller Marauiti Hut #downtonabbey

Highlights include: (everything 😅) but if I had to break it down I’d say the views while walking up & along the tops of the Panekire bluffs , hilarious times with my mates in the bush, swimming in the lake (freezing and incredible), hanging out on the lawn of Waiopaoa hut in the sunshine reading, chatting & drinking cups of tea, chatting with the friendly & knowledgeable Tūhoe hut wardens, eating A-LOT of scroggin, the Korokoro waterfall walk (1hr return detour walk) ,staying in the huts and the mixture of people you meet, the lake & the mist, no cell phone reception, the easiness of our dinners= dehydrated meals (way tastier than I remember), the night walk and bird life, plus no one getting blisters and the water taxi boat ride back to our car in Onepoto!

I am feeling topped up and ready now for the Christmas onslaught! Bring it on, ho ho ho🎅🌲

Check out the track info here xxx

Read the Department of Conservation track info https://www.doc.govt.nz/globalassets/documents/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/east-coast-hawkes-bay/lake-waikaremoana-track.pdf

Pre- Tramp prep 🥾when you are SUGAR 🍭free!

Hi there, tomorrow I will be heading off on my first multi-day tramp (hike) since before I had my kids, some 10 years ago!!!!!😮

The tramp I’m doing is the Lake Waikaremoana “Great Walk” and I’m doing it with three of my friends. We will do the walk over four days/three nights staying in basic huts along the way. The girls are all fairly new to tramping and staying in back country huts but we are all super excited about it…. except the forecast rain tomorrow!

In preparation for this walk I’ve hassled my outdoorsy mates, racked my brains, re-read my wilderness magazines and joined the ‘Tramping in New Zealand’ Facebook group (awesome by the way) in an attempt to try to remember what the heck to pack and what food to take. Nowadays I eat a largely sugar-free diet, and by that I mean “fructose free” sooo not only don’t I eat refined sugars, I also don’t eat “natural sugars” such as honey, maple syrup, dates, dried fruit etc… I DO eat low fructose fruit- like berries & kiwifruit, and occasionally if I’m pushing the boat out I’ll eat 1/2 a banana! 😂 I can also handle a small amount of dark chocolate, anything over ~85% cocoa. The crazy thing is, that I’ve discovered I’m that sensitive – I get a headache pretty much straight away, not too mention it sends my body heads into flight or fight mode (anxiety) – where I had been constantly living for many, many years and just not understanding the correlation.

So therein lies the challenge, finding fructose-free food to take hiking.

And let me tell you it’s harder than you might imagine! It is that its fairly easy to find “sugar-free” products like bliss balls (made with dates or honey) which are high in fructose which I’m sorry to say guys is = sugar! Same same.

So due to a lack of options I’ve been cooking up a storm in the kitchen, trying out all sorts of fructose free recipes. It’s been really fun! I’ve had lots of failures, too crumbly, too bitter, too soft etc… but I’m so happy to say I found a winner! It is Liv Kaplan’s Chocolate nutty granola bars!😋 They are firm (without being hard) crunchy, tasty, nutritious, will travel well, don’t feel like they are missing anything AND the whole family enjoyed them! Total winner! ///Recipe below///

I have been making my own porridge mixture all year and have pimped it even more so now it includes not only oats, chia seeds, ground linseed or LSA, desiccated coconut and cinnamon but freeze dried blueberries, coconut milk powder and (pea) protein powder for extra protein. I am reusing old dehy meal bags so I will just need to add a cup of boiled water to that in the morning for breakfast, reseal the bag and wait ~ 5 minutes for the oats etc to soften.

For lunch I’m bringing crackers, cheese, tomato’s, salami & tuna (in sachets). For snacks & drinks I’m bringing scroggin (mixed nuts), granola slice (pictured above), cup of soup (sachets) & tea bags. This time around I have bought some standard “Backcountry” dehydrated meals for dinner, purely due to there weight, because I want to minimize how much weight I’m carrying on my back. In the future I’m thinking about borrowing a friends dehydrator and attempting to do that! So stay tuned!

I’d love to hear from anyone attempting to eat well out there in the back country and tips and tricks in this area and waste reduction too.

Thanks, I will report back post trip! Wish me luck! x

Recipe: https://www.livkaplan.com/recipes/granolabars

Walk info: https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/east-coast/places/te-urewera/things-to-do/tracks/lake-waikaremoana-great-walk/


Old Coach road, Ohakune

Hello, I’m sorry it’s been a while since my last blog post but I’m still here, and still adventuring!

During the winter my family & I visited some friends who live in Ohakune, at the southern edge of the Tongariro National Park. We had intended to try skiing with the kids for the first time but the snow was pretty rubbish so they just played around in it instead, throwing snow balls, sliding down the hill and having a great old time! While we were there my mate and I snuck in this walk one morning while the rest of the family went biking. The Old Coach Road used to be just that, with horse drawn coaches travelling along it and sections of old railway line, it is now a multi use track so you can walk or mountain bike it.

We walked it starting from the Marshalls Road car park (near Ohakune town) to the Hapuawhenua Viaduct. There are many options here for longer walks, which I will have to come back and try another day! The walk to the viaduct was a really fun scenic walk which I highly recommend trying!

Times: It took us 45 minutes to reach the viaduct, walking at a brisk pace, but included a detour into the Hapuawhenua tunnel and photo stops. The Department of Conservation time is: ~ 1 hour 5 minutes and the track is an “Easy” grade.

The whole trip took us 2 hours return.

There are plenty of informative sign boards to read along the way about the history of the area. I liked the story about how the local tangata whenua (Maori) used to bathe the mother’s who were in post-natal recovery in the stream below, and the name Hapu= pregnant and whenua= placenta. Literally translated into the river where woman bathe after giving birth! Apparently pools were created to give relaxing respite. I think they may have been onto Wim Hof method of recovery waay before it became a thing!😊

For the Department of Conservation Information click👉 https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/central-north-island/places/tongariro-national-park/things-to-do/tracks/ohakune-old-coach-road/

For more information about the region: https://www.visitohakune.co.nz/

Happy exploring!

Nga mihi


Family Mt Bike🚵‍♀️ Weekend, Rotorua/Whakarewarewa.

I ❤❤❤ a mountain 🚲 gang! Ain’t nothing better. Totally my happy place😊 Luckily my whole family is on this same buzz, so we all ride together quite a bit!

We had a fun weekend away in Rotorua recently and it was so cool because our kids (aged 7 & 9) now ride the same grade trails as we do, and holy moly they are getting really fast! Their bike jumping skills have far exceeds my own these day… Something I’d like to work on, but man they are fearless! Its pretty epic riding with them, they are usually the youngest kids we see out their riding intermediate grade trails. #endurance!

Here’s a sample of what trails we rode: Lions tail, Be rude not to, Mad if you don’t, Challenge, Dipper & Rosebank. That’s a couple of hours of riding right there and aside from Dipper (which is grade 2 and my youngest’s favorite) they are all grade 3 /intermediate trails. We also took the kids to Dodzy’s skills park which they loved!


If you are curious about starting out there are so many great family friendly/ beginner bike trails to try at the Redwoods/ Whakarewarewa. To visit the Redwoods website click here to find out more about the trails and activities available.

Warning: Mountain biking is seriously addictive! 

😊✌🚲🌿Hope to see ya out on the trails soon!


Solo hiking-starting out

Recently a friend said she thought I was brave going on bush walks on my own. I said “You do realize I am scared? I just don’t let it stop me”. She did not!  It reminded me about a line from the Mortal Engine book series I really love.

“You’re a very brave young woman” said Naga.

“I’m not” said Oneone. “I was afraid”…

“But’s that’s what bravery is my dear. The overcoming of fear. If your’e not afraid it doesn’t count.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about bravery and courage this year for various reasons. I also like this quote from Glennon Doyle who’s book Untamed I have just finished and highly recommend.

Brave means living from the inside out. Brave means, in every uncertain moment turning inward, feeling for the knowing and speaking it out loud. Bravery is loyalty to oneself.

I love that too. So this year I have written a bit of a list for myself on practicing being a bit braver. One of the things I wrote down was to go on more bush walks by myself. 

Here is a little about my experience walking solo up Tuahu Track.

I set out on the Tuahu track with the aim of getting to the North South junction at the top. The DOC track sign said 2 hours, but I was up the top in 1 1/2 hours. It took me half and hour of feeling quite nervous and jumpy to finally settle down and be ok (good to know for future reference). I kept up a conversation a bit like this with myself “I know I am scared but I am doing this, so have courage” and “I can do hard things”. Which is perfectly true.

Eventually my nerves settled down and began to enjoy the experience. I started to notice the sounds around me. I could hear cicadas, birds song, my shoes crunching on the gravel underfoot and the stream running alongside the track. I began to notice the light, warm breeze. I started to not just like this walk but actually LOVE it!😁 When I reached the top I stopped and took a few pictures of the amazing views, sat down and had a snack, then feeling revitalized decided to run back down the hill. It was so freaking joyous! It only took me 1/2 an hr to get from the top of the North South track to the creek at the bottom, and another 1/2 hour walk to reach the car park.

If you are interested in checking out this track check out the Forest Family track info here👉https://forestfamilynz.com/portfolio/tuahu-track-to-the-nth-sth-junction/

This is a small step in my quest to become a braver person. I know that to live my best life takes effort and discipline. I know that the top reasons most people don’t change or challenge themselves is because of stubbornness and fear. I don’t want fear to be my cage. I can do hard things and I will keep challenging myself and showing up for myself.

✌Thanks Tammy

Four huts in the Kaimai Ranges doable with the kids 👩🏻‍🤝‍👨🏼

We are so lucky here in NZ, to have all these awesome walks and huts on our back doorsteps. I love getting the kids outdoors and while it can be challenging at times (kids dragging their feet 😩) it is always well worth it in the end (where kids seem to have endless energy at the hut 🤷‍♀️).

Below are slideshows highlighting 4 huts in the Kaimai Ranges that you can take the kids to – from the southern end where you will find Te Whare Okioki to Daly’s Clearing at the northern end.

Click on the links for our Track information.

Te Whare Okioki

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Te Rereatukahia

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Daly’s Clearing

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Might see you out there – Enjoy 👍

Anita 🥜🌿✌️

Have you been to any of these huts – what were some highlights for you? Comment below.

Te Rereatukahia Hut

This has to be my favourite hut in the Kaimai ranges. It has multiple choices for the walk in and is super cute, warm and cosy inside. The only down side is you can’t book it – which can cause a bit of anxiety when taking kids. I have yet to take my kids up to this one – something better has always come up for them to back out (a birthday party or football 🙄).

I had been waiting to blog about this hut until the kids came with me, but I can’t hold back any longer. This hut is actually kind of where Forest Family NZ started I guess – I had just moved to Omokoroa and met Tammy and had found out she was a kindred spirit, so she came along for my annual birthday hike.

This first time up to Te Rereatukahia Hut, we walked in along the Tuahu track on a Friday in the peak of summer, we were joined by some hunters, a solo mountain runner and another couple who pitched their tent – the hut was full (12 bunk). Sometime during the night another group of about 6 or 7 people rocked up, they had finished work in Auckland that evening, drove down, then walked up in the dark. We found them in the morning sleeping uncomfortably on the minimal deck outside (another downside to not being able to book).

After a classy evening of cheese and crackers with wine and a never that great hut sleep, we came out the Wharawhara Link track to Hot Springs road – back then you could loop back to hot springs road through a Kauri Grove, but that is closed now. For Bay of plenty peeps, you could leave a car at the Wharawhara road end as a loop alternative – From the Waikato side you go up and back along the Tuahu track.

I have been up to stay and just for day trips multiple times and love it every single time. Hopefully one day soon I’ll get my kids up there with me – one time I went up to stay, a group of 4 teenagers (17-19) had walked up, they had been doing this since they were kids but this was their first overnighter without their parents – so awesome to see! This is what I want for my kids 🤞

Click the link above for track info.

Anita 🥜🌿✌️


Whanau time at Dundle Hill 🏞

During these July winter school holidays, our whanau and friends got together at Dundle Hill – A cabin perched on top of a hill 10 minutes from Waitomo (Dundle Hill is a private farm walk – check out their website for details and to book).

Our group consisting of 11 children and 11 adults, ranging from 5 years old to 66 years old, some of us having low fitness up to moderate fitness took off from the carpark and climbed up through farmland to reach a ridgeline. From there we followed the ridgeline in and out through farmland and bush until we reached the start of the deer trail. From there the track takes a steep ridge down to the valley floor.

It was during this decent one of the kids bags took a tumble down the hill 🤦‍♂️….. It was put down on the ground at a rest stop and slowly tipped over, only to tumble over the edge and continue to somersault for what seemed like eternity, we could sit there and stare, listening to see if it would eventually come to a stop. When it finally did I managed to walk down the track a bit and walk in along a contour to where I thought I heard the bag stop ….. and can you believe – I found it!

Once at the valley floor the track took us straight back up another ridge to Dundle Hill. The sign post stated “The last slog” and slog it was, straight up. Of course it wasn’t so much a slog for the kids, who barely seemed to break a sweat.  It was here the group seemed to spread out, everyone went at their own pace. All up, the walk in took us nearly 5 hours – with many, many stops and breaks and walking at a slow pace.

The cabin has plenty of space and provisions, very comfortable and cosy and a great place to chill with the whanau. We had planned to stay two nights to spend some quality time together, though two of us had to walk out after one night, but that still left 20 at the cabin enjoying whanau time.

The walk out consisted of a steep downhill that took about an hour – it was super slippery in the rain. There was a 10 minute detour to a wet cave that was pretty cool to see, otherwise 1.5 – 2 hours from the bottom of the steep decent saw you back at the car park through the farm track at the valley floor.

This is a great place to book and getaway with a large group of people. Check out the video below of our whanau winter school holiday adventure 👍

Anita 🥜 🌿✌️



Kids – Great motivators but also good excuses 😜

While we are on the topic of failing – Here is a throwback to Stony Batter Historic Reserve, Waiheke Island.

This was our first holiday as first time parents. We had looked up what walks we could do on Waiheke Island and thought that Stony Batter Historic Reserve would tick all the boxes – doable with a baby in the front pack, take in a little bit of history and there were even some tunnels you could walk through.

It started on a farm track looking out over some vineyards, then rocky outcrops scattered the land and finally we ended up at the entrance to the old tunnels. These tunnels were part of a counter bombardment battery system that was established to protect Auckland harbour during World War II. You can still visit the reserve (see DOC website), but at the time of this post the tunnels are closed to the public.

We were met at the entrance by a women talking away to the goats 😳, the whole feel of the place was pretty spooky 🧙‍♀️ – bizare to say the least. So anyway she gave us a couple of torches and showed us to the entrance of the tunnels, we walked in and the door clanged shut behind us 🙈, it was pitch black, so light anywhere!

We walked straight ahead until we had to turn left and it was there that things opened up and you could take several turns into multiple rooms or up a set of stairs ……. it was here that I bailed!

Nope ……… just no!

It was like “The hills have eyes” – anyone seen those movies? Yip well, we turned around and gapped it. When we got out I said to the elderly women sitting at the shack at the start of the tunnel system “she (referring to the baby) didn’t like it in there” 😂🤣😂🤣😂🤣

So as much as kids can be fantastic motivators they can also save fragile egos and be good excuses 😜

✌️🌿🥜 Anita

How to fail at over-nighting in a hut with teenagers 🙄🙄🙄 & kids

I was talking to my mum the other day about a tramp (hiking trip) I did with her, my step dad Graham and my two friends when we were teenagers. It is a very fond memory for me but perhaps not so for my mum and Graham. Here’s why…

To set the scene it was winter ❄ & we tramped to the Te Iringa Hut (which unfortunately got burnt down some years ago). My two friends had not really done anything like this before, apparently being stubborn teens we were all determined to wear our pants on top of our thermal underwear (polypropylene) and were mortified at the thought of wearing them without anything on top (as my mum and Graham were😂) therefore we all learned the hard way ending up with drenched, cold and heavy pants to wear!

[Top photo: Me, Janelle, Fern and my mum, Kirsty. Bottom photo: Sullen teenagers!🤣]

During the walk to the hut one of my friends started to get blisters as her boots were rubbing her feet badly. Plasters helped a bit but not enough… What to do?  To keep everybody moving forward happily my step dad (very kindly) suggested she wear his boots and he …yup wear hers. My friends & I continued merrily along the now snowy track towards the hut, blissfully unaware of the agony that Graham was enduring by scrunching up his toes so he could wear the boots!  When we arrived at the hut we encountered problem number two. There were only two beds left in the hut and there were five of us. My folks told us to share the two spaces, while they pitched their pup tent outside, in the snow…  Meanwhile, us three girls had a lovely, warm, cosy time snuggled up in our beds listening to the fascinating stories told by the hunters we were sharing the hut with while my poor folks experienced a very cold night in their tent!

[Me on the left, Janelle on the right cosy in our bunk beds! My folks tent spot on the right!]

The walk home for Graham as you can imagine was pretty bad, but he suffered in silence or only grumbled to my mum! We were super oblivious and no doubt had only thoughts for ourselves and probably McDonald’s as you do when you are a teen! Or at least I did!

No doubt I’m in for some payback when my kids reach these wonderful years!🤣🤣 Strangely Graham never did offer to take me and my friends on another tramp!

Here are some links to blogs Anita and I have written previously on some other epic failures which you might find amusing😂 You’re welcome!

How to fail at solo over-nighting with kids part one

How to fail at solo over-nighting with kids part 2

Sick kid in a hut part 1

Sick kid in a hut part 2

So there you have it, we totally fail at this outdoor adventuring with the kiddos sometimes, but what can totally suck at the time often leads to valuable life lessons and failing stories that are “funny now” not so much then. 😉🌿✌




%d bloggers like this: