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.

How to fail at mountain biking with kids

Hey everyone welcome to a series on how to fail …! We are aware of how on a daily basis we are bombarded by endless beautifully curated images, stories of success and of things we should strive for, do or aspire to be…

We know that this constant message can get overwhelming and can sometimes lead us into a negative spiral of destructive thoughts, anxiety, comparison, of feeling not enough, where we magnify our failures and our “flaws” to our detriment. This can feel very isolating and even depressing.  As a blogger and one who didn’t want to contribute to this narrative, I have realized lately I may have failed.

Although we have succeeded in lots of ways (if you’ve ever looked at our Instagram you’ll see it’s not exactly “pretty”) but it really does only show us “happy and on successful outings with the kids”. I guess that’s where I feel we’ve failed, and although I understand why we haven’t talked or written about this, because for instance when the shits hitting the fan no one wants to get the camera out and take photo evidence of that!😂📸 But like anyone we have days like this and “adventures” that totally were not a “success”! Mostly we have communicated this by not communicating this aka radio silence 👉classic!…

But I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately on failure, and how learning to fail ultimately helps you succeed. And so I’m going to lay out my recent biking adventure failure in which (naughty mum), I did take a photo of my kid crying after he fell off his bike. I guess I’d just like everyone to know that sometimes we get this outdoor malarkey with the kids wrong too, but we keep trying and sometimes we have great success! Always a good story at the very least! Here goes…

So apparently things have changed, the tables have been flipped as happens on this parenting journey. Normally it went like this 👉Hey kids today we are going surfing/mountain biking/bush walking etc so get your gear. And off we’d go. Sweet.

A few weekends ago my partner and I had it all planned out, he would pick up the kids (who’d stayed the night with the grandparents) and while he did that I’d get some food together and all of our warm biking gear etc and we’d go off for an awesome day mountain biking in the Redwoods= yippee! 🚲 I had everything ready when they got home, they literally just needed to hop in the car. Except my eldest son, who is 9 3/4 years old) did not want to go! Crap and what!? He wanted to go fishing!! Hmm… so we tried reasoning, nope, we tried pointing out that it was 3 against 1 and he’d just have to come, nope more tears, we tried saying he’d have to stay in the car while we went riding (an empty treat)…, he held fast, nope still not coming, damn! Called my bluff! In the end he went fishing while the two of us sat there wondering how to navigate this new situation! Then 💡 my partner had an idea, what about if instead of a long mountain bike ride we went to Summer hill MTB park and rode the dirt jumps? To which we received a loud and clear YES! Oh thank goodness! Apparently he had tired legs and just didn’t want to do a long ride, a short fun ride however was definitely doable. Hooray!! We got there in the end!

Here we are on our ride, a little later than planned but hey better late than never!😁

All was going really well until my 7 year old took a tumble… luckily I was equipped with plasters and a lolly.  Sigh… some days! But we will try again. Winning and failing equally.

Learning always.




Te Ara ki Hikurangi/Mt Hikurangi, East Cape

The story below is contributed by my friend Stacey. I too am so excited about the prospect of exploring NZ more and particularly doing some of our NZ Great walks without (dare I say it…tourists everywhere!) Love you, but I’m sure you understand what it’s like in your home land too!? Take it away Stacey…

One of the best things to come out of being “trapped” in New Zealand at the moment is being able to explore this beautiful country!  Earlier this year my family of four took a trip around the breathtaking East Cape. It’s such a quiet part of the country and feels like taking a step back in time. Half way around the Cape lies the Mount Hikurangi, the highest non-volcanic mountain in the North Island and sacred to Ngati Porou.

My husband and I had done this hike 11 years prior and at the time a family with young children were also doing it so we said to ourselves one day when we have kids we’ll do this in them too.

20200113_162646The time had come, our family, including my 6 year old daughter Cecilia and 8 year old son Leo decided to hike up this mountain together! The track is a steady incline up a farm road with views out to the surrounding mountains and river below.  At first my son seeing how high up the track went kicked up a fuss but with some coaxing he started the climb. We played lots of games and sang songs along the way to keep the kids distracted and had lots of snack breaks too.

We were so proud of our kids when we reached the hut, as it’s 10.5 km hike (it took us 4 1/2 hours) and 1000 m elevation!  By luck we had the hut all to ourselves,  I just wanted to rest when we arrived but the kids still had energy to burn and we spent a good hour, exploring around the hut.

As mentioned earlier Mt Hikurangi is sacred to the local tangata whenua and there is a circle of 9 Maori whakairo or carvings near the hut which represent Maui and Ngati Porou descendants. There are tours you can go on in which you would learn about the cultural significance of the mountain and they look fascinating! Check out their website here👉 Maunga Hikurangi.

From the hut you can walk another 2-3 hours to the summit but it’s a challenging walk and not recommended for younger kids. Also we did get cellphone coverage at the hut, in case you need it. The first time we went in October it snowed at the hut so be prepared for any type of weather. When we asked the kids what there favorite part of their trip around the East Cape was they said hiking up Mount Hikurangi and staying at the hut and we had to agree!😊

For the Department of Conservation track details click👉 here.

So get out there, now is a GREAT time explore this wonderful country we get to call home. 

By Stacey Walden


Lock-down “takeaways”

Kids in trees

Muddy knees

Endless cups of tea…

Biking in the middle of the road

Lazy sunshine stretching out for days, weeks, then months…

Hand sanitizer

Navigating the “new normal”

The joy of friendship, family and hairdressers

People are back on the road like the “old normal”…

Did we wake up to the changes we need to make?

Don’t fall asleep at the wheel

Mother earth rolls her eyes and sighs…

Like a child we make mistakes over & over

Takeaways consume our brains

Yet we are given the gift of this day

I feel a nostalgia for the stillness of lock-down…

Stand in the breeze

Listen to trees

Get lyrical

Life is a miracle.


Lock-down reflection by Tammy

What will you do with your one wild & precious life?

Happy Mothers Day!

Tomorrow in New Zealand it’s mothers day, I remind my family all week so they know it’s important to me! 😂 In my family it’s not so much about gifts as making that person feel extra special and acknowledged for e.g. breakfast in bed, lots of cuddles, a handmade card and some flowers from the garden and no chores, and that’s just right if you ask me. 🥰

This celebration comes at the right time because if we ever needed a extra little special treatment and recognition it would be right now! And hey, if it’s not mother’s day in your neck of the woods 👉why not just claim ours tomorrow as your own- you deserve it!


To all the mamas, just know that you ARE doing great! We ALL have our good days and our bad days. We are all just doing our best, so let’s not be so hard on ourselves. Listen to your body more, she is wisdom. If you need to lie down for 20 minutes- DO IT! If you need to run a bath and read for a while – DO IT. If you have to put the TV on so you can have some time to look after yourself – DO IT. GUILT FREE. Find small ways to replenish and nourish yourself. Eat well and move.You deserve it. There actually isn’t a medal for worn out and exhausted mama… It’s OK to ask for help. In fact please do. Treat yourself kindly for you are very loved. I wish all the mamas out there the best day.❤

Nga mihi


Whiskers on kittens 🐱 & warm woollen mittens 🧤…

These are a few of my favorite things…

32 days, that’s how long I’ve been in my bubble with my little whanau and no doubt many of you reading this will be hitting similar milestones! On day one of self isolation I came up the genius😂 concept of an “ideas jar” which was a real hit. But gradually, over time its joyful contents were emptied and it sat empty and idle. We decided we required a different kind of outlet and so it was transformed into a “wish jar”. It now contains our wishes,  little things that right now seem like big things due to them currently being beyond our reach … things like hanging out with mates, fishing off the wharf, going surfing, bush walking, staying in a hut, travelling somewhere new, getting a haircut and even buying new undies! All those things we took for granted as we flitted around in our busy, busy lives…

The past month has bought many gifts to me and my family (& I hope to you and yours). The biggest has been time, really good quality time and I’m so grateful for that. Of course like anyone we have had our ups and downs (its not all  🌈& 🦄) and like many I have felt worried & anxious, I’ve felt the vastness of uncertainty and have had family affected overseas by this terrible virus.

But here living as presently as possible, I feel my family and I have embraced this new slow pace of life positively, we have experimented with our creativity, fallen back in step with nature, talked to old neighbours, met new neighbours, exercised, star gazed, backyard camped, read, baked cookies, we have rested, played together, phoned friends, gardened, tackled niggly jobs, nourished our bodies and have been reminded how little we actually need to be content.

During this down time I’ve enjoyed looking back at some old photographs and memories. The ones below capture some of the things that make me happy and some that I’m looking forward to doing again soon x

What are you looking forward to? Love to hear your thoughts x

Kia kaha, we got this👊 Stay well, stay home.


Lockdown Reflection

After looking through some of my posts from the last couple of years, I came across one about hiking off the Christmas food coma. And well I think it’s safe to say that once we are allowed out, then I will definitely have some extra lockdown/COVID-19 pounds to deal to (well those and some study ones too 🤦‍♀️).

My family has quite a few birthdays in April, and even though we can’t be together in person doesn’t mean we have held back on the celebrations 🤣 🥂 and all thanks to the internet and modern technology we can be face to face in other ways.

So lately during this COVID-19 lockdown, I have started to reflect on what is really important – anyone else been doing this? Some questions I am continually asking myself are: What things/people/activities do I take for granted? and What of those can I not do without? How do I want to do things from now on? Do I really want to go back to doing the same things the same way? This led me to a to think about what I want to do post lockdown:

  1. Go Bush 🌿🌳 🌲🍂 – this will be the very first thing I do! I am very fortunate to live in a fantastic little community next to the harbour and can get out for beautiful walks on a regular basis, but oh how I am missing my bush walks!
  2. See my family and friends 🙋‍♀️ and give them a hug 🥰
  3. Live more locally and simply:
    • Take more notice of who I am actually supporting and how much I am really consuming – is anyone taking more notice of their rubbish output during the lockdown?
    • Make more things from scratch – surely by now we have all nailed a good homemade bread 🥖
    • Spending more conciously – the people I know who the lockdown has affected the least, are the ones in the least amount of debt, living as efficiently as they can (this I think takes effort 💪,  sacrifice 🙅 and maybe a little bit of luck 🍀).
  4. Volunteer more often 🤲 – I have the same amount of hours in my day as Jacinda Ardern right?
  5. Go to the beach and have a swim 🏊‍♀️ – Why do I not swim as often? Irrational fear? Shy and uncomfortable in a bathing suit?

All these thing require more of one thing from me – Time. It is our most valuable resource and making a more conscious decision on how to use it …. that is where it is at for me going forward. It’s time to get ourselves into a position where the want for more/new/better things (therefore the want to make more money) doesn’t rule our life – Time over Money/Material gains.

What improvements/adjustments will you be making post-lockdown?

Keep up the good mahi Aotearoa 👍

Anita✌️ 🌿🥜




How mindfulness & nature can help in times of crisis 🙏🌿

Is anyone else feeling a whole varying mix of emotional reactions to the current pandemic and lock-down?  I have noticed everything from despair to humor, felt all within one day or even one hour!
When we are highly emotionally aroused, we look out from our bubble through the lens of the threat focused mind.   We might hone in on the instant supply of horror stories via social media or constantly check the news.  This is a completely natural impulse of the present day, that is explained through evolutionary psychology.
👉 It is not our fault.
This is where Mindfulness can help.  Mindfulness is about consciously choosing to stay in the present moment.  Our minds wander frequently and quite often get consumed in worrying, or dwell on an event or something that somebody said.  Our mind is at the will of our spontaneous arising thoughts, many of them negatively bias (another trait of our survival brain).
My teachers taught me the principle ‘Where attention goes, energy flows’.  So, rather than giving all our attention to the negative thoughts that pop into our head, if we can catch our breath, pause for a minute, we can let the thoughts go and focus our attention on something else.  When we do this in Mindfulness practice, we often focus our attention to an anchor, such as our body, breath, or sounds.
worms eyeview of green trees
One key aspect that supports our motivation and ‘will’ to practice Mindfulness is compassion, both for ourselves and for others.  This is about a genuine, heart-felt wish to be kind and to foster a greater sense of well being within ourselves and others.  It’s about stopping beating ourselves up for the present day impulses we have to distract ourselves with, such as too much screen time or drinking too much.  Once we let ourselves off the hook for our ‘imperfections’ we can dislodge the shame that keeps us repeating the same old destructive cycles.  Lets embrace our true selves, no matter how messy we are.

If we look at the fact that ‘Energy Follows Focus’, we can appreciate how we might begin to create our own reality.  What are you choosing to dwell on right now?  Where are you putting your energy?  This is where immersing ourselves in nature can be so helpful and important.  Looking out to the sea at Precious Family Beach helps me to gain a bigger perspective than my smaller minded anxious world that has been consuming me during the past couple of hours.  I ponder ‘what has changed for this vast abundance of life here right now ?’….nothing…except perhaps more flourishing.  So I make an intention, to focus my own energy and attention, not about anticipation going back into front line healthcare if I am called, but on flourishing, and spending this time enjoying and being grateful for the immense life that we do have; Precious time, Precious nature.

If you are interested in learning more about Mindfulness, I recommend downloading the free app ‘The Mindfulness Based Living App’ for guided mindfulness practices. If you have trouble sleeping because of a busy mind, a ‘body-scan’ practice can be help take the heat out of your head and focus your attention on your body to help you settle down.
Jane Fowler
Jane is a Mindfulness Teacher, Midwife and Mother.  (Post Grad Certificate in Mindfulness and Member of the Mindfulness Association).

30 days of fun activities for families self-isolating🏡🍂🌲

Kia ora dear whanau. While mother earth takes a massive break and families around the world are self-isolating to protect each other & everyone around them, most of us have suddenly found ourselves with more of that elusive and valuable asset – time!

Approaching this pandemic with a positive attitude can be helpful, but I realize that this can be a difficult time on a practical level when we are all cooped up together, especially if you are trying to work or study from home. The thought of a whole month (😲+) has left some wondering how on earth they will get through the month of confinement without going stir crazy! Therefore I’ve made you a list of suggestions or ideas to get you started, because this is an opportunity to make this an overall joyful experience with our families.

👉START: I came up with the idea of an “idea jar” on day 1 and it’s been a total winner! I totally recommend starting here, selecting a piece of paper from the idea jar is the first thing the kids do upon waking. Here are some ideas for you or your jar.

P.s. I will highlight (*) the ideas where the kids can just do it themselves (it will depend on your kids age but most will work for 4+ years) – then you can get on with a little work or just have a break!!😊☕

  1. *Water pistol fight, + create “bases/forts”. My kids came up with this idea the other day on their own and had a ball for quite some hours!
  2. Baking– here’s a great FLOUR FREE recipe from Nadia Lim. * If your kids are old enough (mine are 7 & 9 years and made it on their own).
  3. *Playdough (I realize flour is a precious commodity so once you’ve made it, store it in a zip-lock bag to re-use). Once you’ve made it leave the kids to create on their own. I used to make this Playcentre recipe often when the kids were small.
  4. Science– Here is what we did! DIY Stalagmite. Pinterest has many more great ideas!
  5. Walks- Thankfully 🙏 here is New Zealand we are allowed to go for walks in our local areas, even just a stroll around the block will do wonders!
  6. Cyco family- Get on your bikes! To learn how to check your bike before you ride click here
  7. *Nature scavenger hunt- Download a free printable- here
  8. *Backyard or indoor treasure hunt, a pre-Easter 🐣 warm up! Create a map or get the kids to.
  9. Green fingers- Gardening with kids, we are learning to sprout an avocado stone. See here.
  10. Side walk chalk- Here’s how to make Sidewalk chalk paint with only 3 simple ingredients!
  11. Acting action- When I was a kid my cousins & I would teach each other short skits, we’d practise them, sometimes we created a “theater” and charged admission. It was bloody great fun! – Skits for kids
  12. Board games– Wet day? Dig out the board games and have a game day. Maybe not monopoly, that always seems to cause a major rift in my family – anyone else?? My kids don’t know it yet but I bought a game called Unstable unicorns which I am looking forward to playing when we are struggling for ideas.
  13. Bust out some old school games–  3 legged race, egg & spoon, sack race, wheel barrow!
  14. *Sock war – Really the same concept as the water pistol fight with bases etc but indoors and with socks!
  15. *Balloons & bubbles–  For the younger kids you might need to supervise the bubble mixture. My boys still love bubbles & balloons! Massive water balloons anyone?!
  16. *Obstacle course– With a little guidance the kids could be left to their own devices to create an obstacle course (outdoors ideally, but indoors if rainy or if outdoors isn’t an option). Check out this great obstacle course👉 activ8 fitness boot camp
  17. Backyard camping- Why not? Toast some marshmallows too!
  18. *Yoga for kids @ cosmic kids yoga or yoga with adriene (my favourite). My friend said her boys were happy to try “yoga for surfers” so perhaps searching key words might bring you more luck with the boys particularly i.e yoga for bikers, yoga for skaters etc…
  19. *Become a collector:  Start a collection of nature treasures and set up a nature table to display your latest finds!
  20. Become a birder🦜! Learn how to do the Landcare nz bird survey
  21. Night escapades!  Go for a family night walk around the block, what can you see or hear that’s different? Remember your torch though!
  22. Autumn craft– what about doing some leaf prints these are easy and relatively mess free as you print with felts, but you could do the same thing with paint too.
  23. Easter craft! Finally some time to try make some of these painted eggs with the kiddos! Or decorate with temporary tattoos!
  24. More science– try making this bottle rocket– my kids would love this (must do!)
  25. Leaf mobile– 🍁 collect some beautiful autumn leaves and hang on an interesting stick with string. New decoration!
  26. *Bug hunt! 🦋🐛🕷You are Charles Darwin exploring your backyard with new found eyes! Can you discover any new bugs? Can you identify them? How to here
  27. *Frozen nature! What can you find in your backyard? Leaves? Flowers? Freeze them – then outside, try to chisel it out outside.Click here for inspiration!
  28. *Nature mandala! Collect different shades of leaves, sticks and flowers and create a mandala.
  29. Pressed flowers + leaves– turn into artwork or cards once ready. Mother’s day is coming up 😉😉 hint hint! Click here for a link to Pressed flowers without a press.
  30. Stream study- Find a stream or creek near you and using the kitchen sieve (if ok) or a net if you have one see if you can find any invertebrates or small fish? Remember to put them back afterwards. Check out this information on how to from Kids conservation club

Please tag forestfamilynz on instagram and facebook to share your marvelous creations!

🌿🌲🍂Not all classrooms have 4 walls. Have fun, slow down, be present, sit in the sunshine, practice gratitude, be kind & love.🥰✌


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