10 free nature 🌿based activities to try this school holidays!

And just like that school holidays are upon us! 😲😃😍 [insert your emoji below]🍷🛌!

Some parents will be dancing with glee (for a bit🤣) at the lack of routine (me), others may be dreading it due to the struggle of juggling children and work commitments, not to mention the financial costs of school holiday programs… Add the word winter and one can soon start to feel overwhelmed particularly if the weather turns bad and cabin fever sets in! Combat this by grabbing your raincoats and gumboots and heading outdoors for a bit.

My hope for you all is that whatever your circumstances are, you can snatch some quality time to spend with the little urchins, whatever the weather and however this looks! Here are some ideas for you to try, that won’t cost the earth🌍👍

  1. Find a local bush walk and do it! For inspiration check out trail info on our website & discover something new. Tag us in your photos @forestfamilynz
  2. Grab the bikes, pump those tyres up and discover a new trail/ or ride somewhere different in your neighborhood. Mix it up on purpose! Take photos and tag us #
  3. Take the kids to the beach with a couple of ice cream containers and go rock pooling. Just remember a change of clothes a towel and to return the critters back to their habitat.
  4. Go bug hunting in a local park with friends. Followed by a pot luck picnic! Gear: Magnifying glasses and a couple of containers. Attitude: Curious!
  5. Go for a wander, take a “treasure satchel” aka a bag and collect “marvelous treasures”!  At home display them on a “nature table” or the kitchen table! Make a mobile or do leaf rubbings, then display proudly.
  6. Even though its cold my kids still love to get wet! So on a sunny day you could take them for a splash in a local creek/estuary or the ocean. Otherwise I recommend one of our many wonderful hot pools! Check out #grabone for deals.
  7. Make or download a scavenger hunt, then set up in the backyard or house. Older kids might want to create this for the younger ones. Probably chocolate involved!
  8. Discover somewhere new! A new suburb/park/trail/city/road #tikitour
  9. Make a hut with the kids outside! It might be on the beach out of driftwood, or in the backyard with a sheet #getinvolved
  10. Go beach-combing then create/make/display. Take a photo and be sure to #tagus

I expect my next 2 weeks will hold as much fishing as possible, knowing my two boys!😉🐟

#natureisgoodforyoursoul  #rainydayadventuring #justdoit #screentimeinmoderation #becurious #getoutdoors #gobarefoot

Keep in the loop, subscribe below👊🌿☔

Tammy

An honest talk about women, tramping & that vulnerable feeling…

So I was talking with a group of women the other night and I said “we should go on an overnight hut stay together” – to which I got a couple of responses like: 

  • What if some weirdo turns up at night?
  • What if a big hunting party turn up, and it’s just us there?

All the “what if’s…” came out and do you know what?  Sadly it doesn’t surprise me.

I am a women and these “what if’s” are things I have to take into consideration any time I go out walking. It’s always there in the back of my mind … and not necessarily just when I’m on my own.

I’m curious to know if the men out there reading this can tell me, do you think about the what if’s? And if so what are they? I’m fairly certain they will be different from ours and your list not nearly as long but I’d like to know all the same…

I have always walked in groups, safety in numbers and all. But recently I have been gaining the courage to go alone. Its not to say that I am scared of nature, it’s more that I’m scared of coming across a “weirdo” in the bush. Someone who thinks about taking advantage of an isolated situation.

Is this a rational worry?

Sometimes I question myself. But at the end of the day if it is something that pops into my mind, it is valid, and it deserves my attention. I know I am more likely to come across a dangerous situation in a town or city, but it’s still something that I need to consider as a women.

Fear is a natural, normal, healthy and important self preserving emotion. I just have to sit back, acknowledge it, accept it, take precautions to limit the potential dangers and DO IT ANYWAY. Why? because it’s something I love to do and it fills my cup 🧘🏻‍♀️ How do you fill your cup?

So ladies, feel the fear and do it anyway, because the more you do it the more comfortable it will feel. 

Here are some ways you can prepare yourself for situations that may arise when in an isolated situation:

  • Have some form of staying in touch with emergency services. I met a solo woman hiker in the Tararua’s that had a personal locator beacon that could send texts through GPS – that way if she injured herself she could contact emergency services.
  • If you are not comfortable alone – go with a more experienced tramper. There are hundreds of tramping groups to connect with and of course you can always join our facebook group –We are always keen for more people to tramp with! 🙌🚶‍♂️
  • You could take a self defense class and learn how to defend yourself.
  • Always let someone know where you’re going and how long you’re gonna be. For more great resources to get you on the right track check out mountain safety council
  • Listen to stories of other women who have done solo adventures and be inspired – scroll down to follow our blog 👍. There are soo many others to choose from check out the tough girl podcast

Nga mihi, Anita

Attempting to summit Mt Karioi, Raglan🌊☀ with my 7 year old

Enjoy this adventure written by my friend Stacey about her and her’s son attempt to summit (I know that sounds so hardcore👊💪🤣) Mt Karioi – a 2.4 million year old extinct volcano🗻.

In all the times I’ve been to Raglan I’d never considered attempting the Kairoi summit (the mountain you can see from Raglan). But this time because I was training for the Oxfam 50km Trailwalker I decided to give it a go with my son, Leo (age 7 ½). We left early as it was going to be a hot summer’s day and I’m sure glad we did as we were sweating within the first 30 minutes.

The drive out was along the coast about 15 minutes south of Raglan. The parking is the same as Te Toto Gorge which is well worth a look (a few minutes from the car park). The track to the Kairoi summit starts across the road from the car park.  

The track is pretty much straight up from here with only a few level bits. Luckily a decent amount is in the trees but definitely slap on sunscreen and a hat ahead of time. Make sure you bring lots of water. My son carried his own bladder (water in a little backpack) and a few snacks.

The views just kept getting better as we climbed higher and higher. I’d recommend going on a clear day to make the most of the views. After walking for about an hour and a half we made it to the first ladder and decided to stop here. The views were incredible, we could see Mount Taranaki (often used as a stand in for Mount Fuji) in the distance. The walk to the summit was at least another hour from here but we decided to head back down.

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A decent walk for a 7 ½ year old. Next time maybe we’ll aim for the summit as you can do this as a loop walk or even start from the other side and have a more gradual climb.  

For the Department of Conservation track information click here

Good effort Stacey and Leo! You guys have succeeded in making me want to have a go with my eldest boy 👍.

How about you, are you inspired??? Comment below

The spectacular Waireinga/ Bridal Veil Falls in Raglan

Enjoy this blog post written by my adventurous pal Stacey.

It’s been years since I’ve been to Raglan, in fact my daughter was only 6 weeks old when we last went and is almost 6 years old now! I was super excited to be back! Raglan’s got a little bit of everything we love = surf, sand, shopping, cafes and some great walks.

Waireinga/Bridal Veil Falls is the perfect walk for any age and ability (It’s wheelchair/pushchair accessible to the top of the falls). My son first walked it at 2 years old and there was a preschool group doing the walk at the same time. It’s only 10 minutes to the top of the falls and another 10 minutes down the stairs to see the falls from the bottom.

There is a Maori carving and poem welcoming you as you start the walk. If your kids need a little more prompting to get out on a walk or like to do activities check the DOC/Toyota Kiwi Guardian website and do the Bridal Veil Falls activity to collect their medal. Find out more about it out here.

My almost 6 and 8 year old ran ahead down the track and I finally caught up with them at the first viewing platform. The view was impressive! Even though it hadn’t rained most of the summer there was still a significant flow of water falling a staggering 55m to the pool below. Then we started to make our way down to the bottom stopping at the platform midway to take in the view.

Once at the bottom my kids sat down next to each other mesmerized by the cascading water. We took our time taking it all in and then started the climb back up to the car.

It’s well worth the 15 minute drive from Raglan to do this walk with the whanau.

For the Department of Conservation info click here

Thanks Stacey, both Anita and I have taken our kids here and both agree it is a wonderful family adventure. My kids also spotted eels in the stream near the viewing platform.

 

Puketoki Scenic Reserve, Bay of Plenty

Puketoki Reserve is pretty much my local and I feel like I know it like the back of my hand. My kids have been walking the long loop since they were around 2 1/2 years old. I also do regular monitoring work there (off tracks) for the local pest control group the Friends of Puketoki . I often take groups of school children there to study the streams health (very healthy by the way) and to learn about native birds and plants.

It’s a great place to head with kids of any age, the short loop is buggy friendly (although you may encounter some mud) and you can bring the dog, on a lead.  The short loop is made up of the old tram lines so they are straight and relatively flat, perfect for little legs to wander along. Its nice if you just take your time and let the kids explore a bit at their own pace. If you go at night you can see glow worms in the banks. There are picnic tables near the car park and a very pretty stream to check out.

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The long loop is more undulating, with sections of stairs, uneven ground and the odd muddy part. You may see pink tags and tape off the sides of the main walking track, these are trap lines (for possum and rodent bait stations). The main walking track is marked with orange triangles. There are a couple of short marked detours off the main track to see giant rimu and puriri trees and they are well worth the couple of minutes detour it takes (if things are going well! )

We often see kereru (native wood-pigeon) and robins and hear tui and grey warbler. Occasionally you might see or hear kaka (native parrot).Puketoki Reserve is a good place to start if you and your family haven’t done much bush walking before as the loop walks are very short and easy, so there’s no stress about distance, you can just meander and enjoy.

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Kereru

For more detailed info check out our Nutshell: here

Happy adventuring! Subscribe to our blog and be sure to be kept up to date with the latest events and happenings. 🌿Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more inspiration.🐛🏕🚵‍♀️🚶‍♀️😍👊

Stream crossings: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Stream Crossings can be so much fun, though generally speaking only when you get to the other side safely and with dry boots.

On this tramp to Lane Cove Hut in Totara North, Northland, 14 of us, 7 adults and 7 children had to cross 2 streams. It was raining pretty steadily but the forecast said it wasn’t meant to stay, so with rain jackets on and our packs watertight we set off anyway. We had decided that if we got to the stream crossing and the flow was too high or strong, then we would just turn around.

 

 

After an hour and forty minutes, we met the stream, it wasn’t too high and it wasn’t a raging torrent so crossing wasn’t too much of a big deal, most of the kids even managed to cross by themselves, they weren’t worried about wet shoes. Sometimes you have to weigh up the pros and cons here: let the kids cross on their own, carry them across, carry their shoes and packs for them and then let them take on the slippery rocks ????

I definitely wanted to try keep my boots dry, so me and a few of the other adults decided to takes our boots off and throw them across.

My cousin had taken hers off and we were having the discussion of who she would trust to get them across for her. After some joking around, I took on the job as I had already landed my own boots over safely, I was balanced on a log in the stream and I lobbed one of the two boots over ….. perfect! It was the perfect throw and a perfect catch on the other side. I was feeling pretty confident and coordinated, I said to the others “check me out I feel like I’m a pro croquet player”  …. That was my first mistake – I think i was meaning petanque.

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Me holding the then dry boot

Anyway I got my pose ready to show off my mad boot throwing skills, my sister pipes up and says “remember when I did this and my boot went floating down the stream” ……. I threw the boot …….. straight up in the air …… OMG ….. how did that go so wrong? It felt like it was in slow mo and the boot seemed to stay up in the air for ages. I tried to get into the stream as quickly as I could to catch the boot (without injuring myself), but too late …… plop.

Everyone was laughing, well apart from me standing shocked and embarrassed holding a wet boot in the middle of the stream, oh and of course my Cousin looking not so impressed with now having one wet boot. The world sometimes knows when you have to be brought down a peg, what can you do but laugh right  ; )

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We sat on the other side for a lunch break and had a good laugh at my opsies, An unfortunate way to make funny hiking memories. 100m along the track we had to cross over the same stream again, needless to say we all weren’t as precious second time round, and maybe next time I’ll only be taking responsibility for my own boots.

Check out our adventures page for more photos and info on the track.

Big Little bike tow and Craters of the moon🌜

I have reached an exciting point in my life = mountain biking with my whole family! A few months back I had an epic mountain bike ride in the Redwoods in Rotorua with my 8 year old, some friends and their kids, but after about 4 hours of amazing riding, my son hit the wall and literally had a cry on the side of the track (one too many hills)!😥 The poor wee fella had ran out of steam. I was wishing for something … anything, to help tow him back to the car park. Instead I gave him a lot of cuddles and had a bit of a pep talk about digging deep “imagine your Sir Edmond Hilary🤣🏔 I bet he wanted to give up too”,  and also possibly a few bribes … slowly we made it back. Upon my return home I set about searching the web for some sort of bike tow system and whaddya know I found one just down the road in Rotorua. It is made by a company called Dancing Moose NZ and I have to say, we all, especially the kids, are loving it!

The tow system works for kids who are already riding on their own but need a little help when they get tired, so it is perfect for my two children who are 6 and 8 years old. Plus it has the benefit of being super compact! The idea is that you attach the tow pouch to your saddle rails, then attach the other end to your child’s handle bars and in between is a stretchy strap. It is best to be used on flat or uphill sections of road or mountain bike trails. When you’ve finished towing you simply stash it back into the pouch and carry on. Biking with the tow has allowed us to take the kids further out there on the trails without the worry of the kids getting too tired to ride anymore and not enjoying themselves anymore, which is ace!!!!

We went to Taupo during the Easter school holidays and rode some of the trails at the ‘Craters of the moon’ mountain bike park, where we really put the tow through its paces! Check out the video below of Big G (dad) towing Little G (our 8 year old who you may note in the video is peddling💪) up Tank Stand and then riding down Coaster. We also tested it in the Redwoods in Rotorua towing my 6 year old (who did not pedal😂), pictured above, up the forestry roads and it worked brilliantly.

 

You can purchase the Big Little Tow online from dancingmoosenz

We’d love to know what adventures you are going on with your families👍 Comment below and tell me where you’ve been 🚵‍♀️🏕 or where you plan to go.

Thanks

Tammy

My Pinnacles Hut Adventure

The Pinnacles walk in the Coromandel is an awesome 2 day walk to take the kiddies on! It can be done in one day, but who doesn’t love a hut stay? I had been wanting to do this walk for so long, and finally in the Easter school holidays I made it happen with the added bonus of perfect weather – check out the video below:

The walk to the hut took our group roughly 4 hours, with one decent stop and a few “micro” stops as my daughter called them. The hut was fully booked for the night but surprisingly we didn’t meet many people on the way up, it was only once we got to the Hydro Camp where we started to meet a few day trippers on their way down – including a Mama and Grandma with a toddler and baby in a back pack 💪 🙌 tu meke – so inspiring! She did assure me she had chocolate on hand 😜

We’d love to know who/where/what inspires you? Let us know by commenting below and be sure to follow us to keep up to date with our rad Forest Family adventures.

Click here to view our nutshell trail information 👍

Nga mihi, Anita 🥜✌️

 

 

Kill two🐦’s with one stone.

I’m a big fan of this (not actually killing birds) but getting two things done simultaneously, however I’m not really talking about multi-tasking either.🤔 Stay with me, for example I often hear mum’s say “I don’t have enough time to”… fit in exercise/do yoga/ journal/meditate/start a side hustle/do art/enjoy a cuppa/read a book/find “me time” etc etc!  And I get it, but at the same time we all have 24 hours in a day right? So it’s about finding time and then making it a real priority. I’m an early bird so for me that means rising 1 hour earlier to do my yoga or read and enjoy my cup of tea before my family gets up. I am not saying that I achieve this daily by the way, and the truth is my kids are also early risers so this can be difficult to achieve, but its my aim and I truly feel great starting my day this way. If I’ve had a rough night (and yup it still happens even though my kids are older now) well yeah I cut myself some slack and stay in bed. But overall it’s my intention to make the time to do those things that make me feel happy = by making them a priority. Its about finding when that time suits you.

One of my favorite ways to “kill two birds with one stone” is by leaving our home half an hour earlier and walking or biking to school with my kids. It is such a wonderful way to start the day. Spent quality time with the kids ✅Got the kids to school✅ Got 30 minutes of exercise✅ Got some fresh air✅Winner!

I have a classic friend who is the master of this (that’s you Selena). We both used cloth nappies when our kids were little, but my hardcore eco friend would even bring them holidaying when she visited us. She would rinse the nappies put it in a sealed tub, fill with water and laundry powder, stick it in the back of her ute and drive home. Washing done✅ and drove back home✅. What a classic kiwi Shelia she is😉!

Anytime I use the the slow cooker I pretty much walk around all day high fiving myself = dinner ✅. My other love is podcasts which I can listen to while doing everyday things like cleaning or even cooking dinner ✅ My absolute favorites are #toughgirl podcast by Sarah Williams (she interviews women adventurer’s and it is MASSIVELY inspiring- honestly go listen straight after this!!!!) also #goaldigger by Jenna Kutcher and #rise podcast by Rachel Holis. A-mazing #girlbosses who interview a fascinating array of entrepreneurs. How about you, what podcasts are you loving? How do you “kill two birds with one stone?”

Nga mihi Tammy

Comment below✌🌳 We’d love to hear from you + subscribe and join the tribe🤣😍🚶‍♀️

Hut Etiquette

Here in NZ we are so lucky to have lots of amazing DOC-managed huts dotted all over the country for everyone to use when tramping (aka hiking), and more often than not you will find yourself sharing these choice spaces.

Unfortunately my last couple of hut stays have been marred by poor hut etiquette, so I thought I’d share a few house/hut rules that I’ve picked up along the way, for those that  either don’t know/ need a refresher/ or need to remind their children (at least the ones old enough to understand).

  • Sleep rooms are for quiet time:
    • This can be difficult when the hut is just one large room, but use your head and be respectful if people are resting especially after dark – this means no loud talking or laughing, or going through plastic bags 🤫😠.
  • Turning up after dark:
    • Organise your things/rummage through your pack/cook/chat/eat/whatever  you need to do ….. outside! Enter the hut or sleep room when you are ready to sleep. Keep your head torches out of people’s faces, on dim and/or on the red light night setting 🔦.
  • Leaving before sunrise:
    • Organise yourself the night before and then in the morning take your things outside to pack. Also your alarm does not need to be extremely loud and do not push snooze and let it continue to go off ⏰🤬.
  • Communication: 
    • Do not be too afraid or shy to ask someone if what your doing is ok or bothering them, or to kindly …. “shut up” 😜🙌 if they is be obnoxiously rude while everyone is trying to sleep.

I’m not saying that I am a saint, on my very first hut stay I was one of those “loud un-organised leave before sunrise trampers” 👎 – but you live and you learn and now I’m sharing with you and you can pass on 👍 = Yay happy trampers 😊.

No-one expects to have a great nights sleep in a hut (and if you do, you really need to modify your expectations), but I think we can all expect good manners. And if you do happen to wake people or unintentioanlly show poor hut etiquette, admitting your mistake and apologising goes a long way for a good positive happy hut experience for all.

For more information about huts and their user codes, check out DOC’s info page here.

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Smile, be polite and considerate of other’s 👍. Look after each other whanau 🙌.

Nga mihi, Anita 🥜✌️

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