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👉

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

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Te Rereatukahia

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Daly’s Clearing

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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. 😉🌿✌




How to fail at camping with a baby

I optimistically took my first born camping at Robin Hood Bay in the Marlborough Sounds at the tender age of 3 months old. The amount of paraphernalia I took in hindsight makes me giggle. We borrowed a friends big dome tent and loaded up the station wagon with all the “necessities” like a bassinet, a rocker (!), a mountain buggy (pram) and various back and front packs. I was really green to parenthood and camping! During the day things went pretty well, although any parents who have tried to get babies or toddlers to nap during the day in a bright and warm tent will understand that challenge! We saw orca and I even got in a cheeky surf. Not too shabby so far right? Until night time when my baby cried all night long😢 I felt so conscious that we were keeping everyone in the campground awake, fortunately (?) it was very windy so that added to an already noisy night or conversely spread the noise further!?😂 The next morning no one seemed to be giving us the evil eye, but after that exhausting night I sure didn’t feel up to enduring another one like it so we packed up all of our belongings, loaded the car back up and went home early.

It took me 5 years to brave camping with the family again! But last year we spent a week in Waikauwau Bay with my two children aged 6 & 8 and experienced one of our most memorable family holidays. 

Trial and error, but always trying. I’m sure some more savvy camping families will have some great tips at “how to succeed at camping with babies”, which we’d love to hear, so please tell us your tips! 

Nga mihi


School Holiday ideas!

Hi all, did you know we have a website full of awesome walks in the Bay of Plenty region and beyond, just waiting for you to take a look at! Check it out for awesome inspiration over the school holidays. We detail the tracks with the type of information parents in particular might need to know we also tell stories and show you photos and the odd video of our own experience. Sometimes it helps to have a heads up!

Check out some previous blogs we have written on school holiday ideas and even our lock-down ideas!👇

20 Free kid friendly outdoorsy ideas

10 Free nature based activities to try

30 days of family fun activities

So get put your raincoats on (its winter here in NZ) and get out there with the kids! Yes it can be cold, wet and hard to feel inspired to get out the door… but I promise you will all feel better for it and a little bit proud I dare say. 😊 And just think how good will the hot chocolates taste afterwards??? Toasty.☕✌😊🌿🌦


How to fail at short walks with kids!


🤦‍♀️Failure to remember our child’s raincoat, so we fashioned one out of a rubbish bag!😂

🤦‍♀️Failure to circumnavigate Lake Rotopounamu track an easy grade, 5 km track around the lake. The kids were not having it this day! Another time!??


🤦‍♀️My failure to let the kids climb anything with serious heights. This is Paritutu Rock in Taranaki, which you partly climb by using a chain. My partner climbed up but I couldn’t let the kids do it (sorry boys). I just can’t handle kids & heights! I’m fine on my own but not with them there…. anyone else get this!??

🤦‍♀️Failure to walk around the Mt (Mt Maunganui) in under 3 hours! Ha-ha this day the kids decided to go “off road” and walked up every little goat track on the side of the main track. This 45 minute track took us over 3 hours😂 I did not have the buggy but they were so happy so some days you just gotta roll with it, and go at kids pace.

So there are some of our walking failures… I’ve realized I didn’t take photos of a few other occasions when things didn’t go as planned -like when my eldest son fell in a stream and got completely drenched or when I had to carry one or another because they were too tired to walk any longer! But as I flicked through the images I was reminded of our many successes too. So keep trying out there folks! Failing and succeeding together.

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