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

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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 🥜✌️

Solo Mountain Biking and finding my “yoga”🧘‍♀️

Ahh my two loves mountain biking & yoga🧘‍♀️🚵‍♀️. It was a Saturday morning and we had no plans, I badly needed to get on my bike and get some exercise but unfortunately all of my usual bike buddies weren’t available. And so with no one around and a desperate need to get on my bike, my partner encouraged me to go, on my own.

What’s the big deal you may ask? And while I’m sure that for some people it’s not a big deal, I feel that as a woman sometimes going somewhere remote (ish) on our own is a big deal. Anyway that’s how I felt, however I’m a big fan of the “feel the fear and do it anyway” theory. I also reminded myself that I had once traveled for 3 months overseas on my own and although that was scary (the unknown) it was also exhilarating, and massively enriched my life personally. So with that thought in mind I sucked up all my (irrational) worries and set off.

One of the things that I absolutely love about mountain biking is that you are forced to be super present, there is no room for anything but right now or else you are going to arse off/hit a tree/go down a bank etc etc…

As I sped down the hill, winding in and out of the trees I tried to find my flow and feel ok.  When I got to the bottom, I felt really good, I can do this! I then made it up a hill -that I usually have to walk up (feeling super awesome now)! As I made my way uphill again I felt like I really understood the aspects of being irrationally fearful of something (and knowing it) but at the same time acknowledging that the feeling of fear was real.

Anyway, it made me feel empathetic to my 8 year old who feels afraid of the dark sometimes.  Wow- so not only is riding on your own adventurous fun, it is also enlightening! It was on my next downhill that I finally found my “yoga”. What the heck do I mean by that?  I mean I found my flow, I found the yoga I take off the mat and into the world, except I was on my bike. 🚲✌

I am happy to report that this was such an uplifting ride session that I will most definitely be back for some more rides on my tod. It also made me think about other ways I can enjoy time on my own and the simple fact that it is not something I have been doing.  Stepping out from your comfort zone and meeting new people and having new experiences is so super enriching! Carpe diem y’all!

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Walking at kids pace

I find that kids have two paces, the slow, almost painful, one for when they are walking with just their family and the fast, fun run, one for when they are “walking” with their friends.

Most of the time when I’m out bush walking, the slow kid’s pace is my kind of pace – cruisey, enjoyable and most importantly pain-free the next day. When they have friends along I generally struggle to keep up with them and keep them in sight.

But this one particular walk to a water hole sticks out in my mind – I found myself getting really frustrated when both of my children were wanting to stop almost every 100m,  but not for a snack or a drink or even to have a little moan …. My then 7-year-old wanted to sketch and my 5-year-old wanted to check things out through his binoculars – isn’t that so cool? – but I was so caught up on my own focus (getting to the water hole) that I had completely disregarded my kids’ own experience.

I really had to check myself – my kids were out on the track looking at things in a completely new way and I was putting a damper on it – what a stink one! I do not want my children associating bush walking with a grumpy mum, which is generally why I find others to walk with = kid swap 😜 – with kids other than my own I find I have all the patience in the world 🤔? Anyone else find this?

So anyway, try to remember that even though it is super important that you enjoy yourself and complete your own mission, it is equally important that we stop and be mindful of our actions so as to not take away from other people’s experiences out on tracks – kids and adults alike.

Was it really that vital that I get to the water hole quickly? …… No, not at all.

Click below to follow our blog. Next up from me – Hut Etiquette! Nga mihi – Anita 🥜 ✌️

 

 

 

 

 

20 Free kid friendly outdoorsy School Holidays ideas!

Here at Forest Family we love a list (oh and bullet points)! There’s something satisfying about ticking the jobs off and summarizing things succinctly… therefore we’ve made a list of school holiday outdoor ideas for you guys! Cheap wholesome fun for the whole family (you too mum’s and dad’s)!  Also (in an Aussie accent:) I dare you… double dare…physical challenge (only Antipodean 80’s babes will get that one 😂), to do something off this list and then tag us on Instagram or Facebook so we can see! #whodareswins #forestfamilynz

  1. Climb a tree (with or without your kids)
  2. Climb a tree and have a picnic up it!
  3. Take the kids to a stream with a net, container and magnifying glass (please return the critters afterwards though). Take your book and a chair😊
  4. Find a new park or bush walk in your home town or city and try it (walk or bike)
  5. Get on the painted rock buzz! There’s sure to be a group in your area.
  6. Try geocaching! Who doesn’t love a treasure hunt!
  7. Go on a magical mystery tour (surprise the kids) and take a picnic
  8. Explore the local park with friends. Let the kids run wild. Take a thermos of hot chocolate for afterwards.
  9. Fly a kite
  10. Walk along the beach and be beach combers. Bring a bag for rubbish too, you good Samaritan you👍 Create something with your findings.
  11. Find out if there are any glow 🐛worm areas nearby and have a night adventure with friends! Listen to the sounds of the night.
  12. Put the tent⛺up in the backyard and have a camping adventure! Check out the stars.
  13. Go fishing🐟 (bait catcher’s count). The kids will love it and you. Take a book and chair if it’s not your usual thing, and gloves in case you end up baiting hooks.
  14. Find a hill and roll down it (you too parents)
  15. Make boats and race them down a stream
  16. Make mud pies, decorate, then throw…
  17. Visit your local library, find a tree and/or bird book then learn to identify the common plants and/or birds in your area. Visit whatbird to help identify calls.
  18. Sign up for the Department of Conservation kiwi guardians here do the activities and collect the medals! Who can collect the most???
  19. Teach the kids how to play spot light in the backyard, the more the merrier. Hot drinks and biscuits afterwards.
  20. Lie on your backs and make shapes with the clouds.

Ok, have fun out there everyone! 😊🌲🍁 Head over to our website and click the “Track Info” page for more ideas in your location.

😍Don’t forget to subscribe for more awesome information and cool stories!

 

 

Maungatautari – Sanctuary Mountain

This amazing eco sanctuary is a must explore. Its 47 km pest-proof fence has created a 3,400 hectare inland mountain island, where native bird life and forest has flourished due to the eradication of all mammalian predators.

We spent just over 2 hours exploring the southern enclosure, Te Tūī a Tāne, though I feel like we only really scraped the surface. It’s like stepping back into ancient NZ forest – the sounds of the birds surround you as soon as you step through the gates and the towering trees dwarf you.

A 16m viewing tower along the Rata track allowed us to sit amongst the treetops giving us a whole other perspective of the forest.

Check out the video of our adventure below and click the link to plan your visit to Maungatautari – Sanctuary Mountain. There is also a cool token the kids can send away for also, just find the code word on the guardian post along the walk and enter your details into the Kiwi Guardians page on DOC’s website.

Happy adventuring  🙌, nga mihi, Anita 🥜

 

 

Are backyards a thing of the past?

I recently wrote a blog post about what sort of role models we are being, in regards to how we are using our phones and i Pads (which you can read here) afterwards I found this article from the New Zealand Herald about reining in the kids screen time, detailing a study that shows it is detrimental to their health. You can read the full article here.

And while I agree with what was said, it made me feel sad. Especially the sentence “modern childhoods are characterised by low physical activity, excessive sitting and time indoors”. Whoa, that bums me out… And while I feel that my kids and the kids that they hang out with don’t fit this mold, there are certainly some of kids who do.

I have to admit to having had a lucky even blessed childhood. I grew up in the countryside on a farm in Gisborne until I was 6, before moving to Gisborne city for a year then suburban Auckland for the rest of my schooling years. My childhood was full of outdoor exploration, and even though we left the countryside and moved to suburbia, there were always creeks to be explored, trees to climb and backyards to roam around in. My childhood friend Emma had the wildest (best) backyard, her dad raised butterfly’s 🦋for living! We would spend hours making huts, creating games, riding our bikes, jumping on the trampoline etc. And while yes we did have a t.v and did watch it, you only watched it if there was something good on! Remember that? You couldn’t pause it or choose what you wanted to watch, how spoilt we are now!

I digress, the problem I have currently is that where I live and all over New Zealand,  property developers, approved by local council(s) have done away with backyards! The property developers (by and large, and particularly where I live) are squeezing houses into the property boundaries so there is NO backyard, barely a boarder of space between house and fence! If you were into parkour you could have fun I guess, going rooftop to rooftop!

Where the heck are the kids meant to go? Are they meant to play on the road? No, then of course they are going to stay indoors and watch screens -just- like- the- adults.  It ain’t rocket science! In another local development there is NO planned green space, just house upon house. And while this may be common overseas it was not in New Zealand until recently. I’m not a fan of this new trend.

They say its all about creating “affordable houses” and “population increase” etc etc but honestly those greedy developers should be required to create green space in these new subdivisions, and that’s at a council planning level.

There said my bit. Let’s turn our computers off now and go run around outside and climb a tree, old school styles!👊🤸‍♀️😉🍎🌳

 

“They are us” – what it means to me

It has been a very sad time here in Aotearoa, and it has had me, Anita, reflecting on the phrase “they are us” and what it means to me, to be a Kiwi/New Zealander. And since I have this platform I may as well use it to share my view, right?

Who are we, NZ? –  We are made up of many ethnicities, many religions and have a wide range of socio-economic groups …. but we are one nation and we are all whanau (and hey, sometimes families fight right, but if someone else messes with our family, we will stand together). Here are some kiwi colloquialisms to help me define how I see this:

  • Bro or Brother from another mother
  • Sis or Sister from another mister
  • Cuzzies
  • Aunties
  • Uncle

New Zealanders have a strong sense of extended family where all of the family titles above can be used for non-blood relations, a neighbour, a parent’s friend, or even a friend of a friend of a friend. I once had friends visiting from America and when chatting to them about touring around NZ, I happened to mention an Aunty here or Cousin there, they were like “is everyone in NZ related?” I laughed as I suppose it did sound like that. But we are a small country – you know the saying “six degrees of separation” – well here its more like 3 or 4 – that’s us 😆

We Kiwis are in general an inclusive friendly bunch, we tend to easily strike up conversations with the person next to us, asking how they are or where they are from and if they are visiting NZ, how they like New Zealand?

It is part of our culture. In school we learn our pepeha which is the Maori form of self introduction (Maori being NZ’s native culture and people). It is often used at the beginning of a hui/meeting or mihi/speech – it explains a little bit about where you are from and who you are connected to. Below is an example of my pepeha:

Anita Pepeha
Check out this awesome website to create your pepeha

And even in the most informal of settings, where you might just mention where you are from, this creates connections and starts conversations: “oh so you’re from ‘Ngaruawahia’, my cousin lives there, do you know …..” and so on and so forth.

I am so proud of how New Zealanders have come together during this sad time, showing Aroha (love), Whanaungatanga (kinship), and Manaakitanga (kindness/support).

Ka mau te wehi Aotearoa = Awesome New Zealand!!

Don’t get me wrong we definitely have things we need to work on, and this is just my own personal view ….. but jump on or keep going on the positive trajectory whanau 👍 – say no to racism and when you are out and about, share a smile, say hello and start a conversation with someonewho knows what you’ll learn or what connection you may make?

Thanks for reading, nga mihi, Anita 🥜✌️

NZ Flag2017-06-17 12.41.44

 

 

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