Te Whare Okioki – New DOC hut in the Kaimai Ranges

It is so awesome to have a new DOC hut in the Kaimai’s. Te Whare Okioki is situated at the Ngamuwahine Shelter along the North South track (southern end) and is accessible from heaps of tracks.

My sister and I decided to meet up and take the kids for an adventure. We ended up booking the whole hut and having 5 families enjoying the experience together – for 4 of the kids this was their first overnighter 💪.

3 adults and 5 kids (5,6,7 and two x 8 year olds) walked in along the Ngamarama Track from Whakamarama in the East 👇

3 adults and 3 kids (10,11,12) walked in along the Te Tuhi Track from the West 👇

We made a plan to meet at the North South track junction and had also made arrangements to leave a signal or note if your group decided to head off to the hut if the other group took longer than expected (no cell phone reception). But we did meet up and walked the last 1-1.5 hours together.

For more information about the hut and the tracks we took, click the links above 👆

The west-side team’s walking time fitted in with DOC signage, but the east-side team’s walking time was 1.5 hours longer than stated on the sign – always longer with little legs.

We used plenty of distractions for the little ones coming in from the east:

  • Giving your group a name – We decided on “Team Amazon” – the boys had machetes (sticks) and were at times up the front “clearing” the track for us (this came from one of them seeing this being done by farmers in the amazon on a walk there once, pretty choice alright 👍).
  • Pedometers – this was the first time I have tried these with the kids, and though some enthusiasm was shown at the beginning, they were not all that bothered at the end as the excitement of the hut out-did how many steps were taken.
  • Walkie Talkies – these gave us 2-3 hours of distraction = Brilliant!. The leader had one, and the last person had the other. We were quizzing each other along the way and were able to communicate if the front pack got too far ahead or in this one case, to stop and come help when one mum got stuck in the mud 😂 – the rest of us had gone around the bog not straight through it 🤦‍♀️.

Click here for other tips on walking with kids over and under 5.

I think next time I would plan to stay 2 nights at the hut, then the kids could have a day to play, rest and just be before walking out. I’d recommend this, especially with younger children (<10) walking in from Whakamarama.

This hut has been fully booked out every Saturday since it opened. It goes to show – “Build it, and they will come” Awesome mahi by Kaimai Ridgeway Trust  💪🥾🔨

Enjoy! Anita 🥜✌️

Pa Kereru Loop track updated!

Hi, we just wanted to let you know that this neat little ~45 minute forest loop track has been updated with a whole heap of great new signage!😁 Woohoo! So if you live in the Bay of Plenty or happen to be passing by, kiaora, stop by and check it out! The lion’s share of the work has been done by the Mahi boys.👊

👉For the latest on track details and to find out more about the Mahi boys project check out the trail info




We’d love to hear how you got on if you head out and do this track! Happy adventuring!


5 Waikato kid-friendly adventures

Need a nature fix? Below are 5 short bush adventures from around the Waikato that the kids and I have enjoyed over the years, maybe you have or will too 🙌 🌿 🥾🌳

  • Waterworks Walk – Hakarimata Scenic Reserve, Ngaruawahia – take in a bit of history about the towns old water supply and maybe sail some leaf boats

Bridal Veil Falls – Te Mata, Raglan – this stunning waterfall drops 55m over a choice outcrop of hard basalt rock

Mangakara Nature Walk – Pirongia – there are plenty of great adventures to be had on and around this extinct volcano

Kauri Grove Loop, Parker Road (off Hakarimata road, between Huntly and Ngaruawahia) – Hakarimata Scenic Reserve – visit huge old Kauri and meander through a grove of young ones along this track

Karakariki Track – Whatawhata – just west of Hamilton, this is a beautiful little waterfall to explore and enjoy with the kids

From my whanau to yours 💗 – Anita 🥜✌️

25 days of self kindness🤶🎅

Tomorrow is the 1st of December, meaning there’s no denying it, Christmas is just around the corner! It’s a crazy busy time of year wherever you are in the world, but here in NZ everything comes to head at Christmas time with summer holidays and the end of the school year! I find things have a way of speeding up as well- there seem to be a hundred and one social engagements, school prize givings, school trips, not to mention Xmas shopping, plus those work deadlines so you can take a holiday etc etc. It’s so busy! Am I right?!

Therefore we would like to dedicate the next 25 days to self 🌞kindness as a reminder to look after yourself as well.

Recently my mindfulness teacher asked us this question: “in the last week can you think of a time when…”

  1. someone showed you kindness?
  2. you showed kindness to someone else?
  3. you showed kindness to yourself?

I noticed a lot of people struggled with the last one, which I found very interesting! What about you, how did you go answering these questions???

As a parent I know first hand that looking after yourself sometimes takes a back seat.  I was pretty terrible at asking for help or even realizing I needed it when the kids were little. I was in survival mode there for quite a while! During this time I met a friend who also had little kids, but I noticed that was she was good at asking for help, recognizing when she needed a break and doing what she needed to do to feel balanced and well.

I started to take note… Here was a mama who was unabashedly prioritizing herself! Respect👊

What are the benefits to us and our families if we are looking after ourselves physically and mentally? What are the detrimental effects if we don’t?

It’s taken me a while to figure out what I need to feel balanced and energized, but now I’m actually quite good at it! The thing is, if I fill my cup up I have more to give to my kids, my partner, my family and my friends. To anyone I interact with. And that to me is completely worth it.

How are you looking after yourself?

😍To get a little nudge in the right direction or to check in for daily reminders on self kindness this December follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

☮ Arohanui whanuau


Peach Cove Hut = Little Gem 🏞

The bush surrounding Peach Cove Hut is stunning – think tropical jungle 🌴 We explored here during the October school holidays and the bird song was amazing, and Kaka everywhere!!

With just a couple of hours walk up and over a saddle, this really is a little gem for the family 🌿 🥾 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Click here for more track info.

Our walk started from the Peach Cove car park and it took us approximately 2 hours to get to the hut with three children aged 6,7 & 8. After our magical stay, we convinced the kids to walk out along the Te Whara track to the Ocean Beach car park (we parked a car there just in case we came out this way, but it’s not too far to walk back to the Peach Cove car park if you don’t have two cars with you).

The Te Whara track way out was quite a bit longer and a lot more uphill for the little darlings. It took us roughly 4 hours from the hut to get to Ocean beach. We had one decent lunch stop and plenty of “micro stops” as my 8 year old calls them (lots of important conversations about resilience and enjoying the journey were had). It was the longest walk my 6 year old had done and it was only in the last half an hour that I had to carry 2 extra bags, they did so well 💪, they then stripped off their tops and ran the rest of the way down.

A great trip ending with a swim at the beach for the kids whilst the mums watched on enjoying a beer 🍺😂 🥾👍

 Cheers 🥜✌️Anita


Geocaching 🌍what is it and how can I do it?

My kids and I have recently rediscovered geocaching, we gave it a go a few years back and all loved it, but I had a truly terrible phone with no capacity to download apps so that was the end of that… and then we forgot about it. That is until the last school holidays when my mate asked us to come with her and her son on a geocaching mission in Athenree.

So what actually is it? Geocaching, is basically a world wide treasure hunting game.

The first step is to download the app, (we have the free version). Next click on the map (that will show you where the geocaches in your neck of the woods are), then just pick a place to start, follow the given clues and use your phone like a GPS to find the treasure (aka geocache)! 😊Honestly it’s so much fun!

Once you find the cache (usually a small container or jar) open it up and see what’s inside. There is usually a notepad and pencil, so you can log that you’ve found it (you also log that you’ve found it on your phone), and often small toys. The kids love this bit, you can select one and then replace it, just remember to bring something. Then hide the cache again for the next geocacher’s to find! Watch out that you are discreet when doing so, otherwise it might get tampered with or taken by muggles! Check out the short video of our Athenree mission, where we discover an amazing & secret track!

Best things about Geocaching:

  • Discovering new places!
  • Kids loving being outdoors!
  • Family friendly activity
  • Treasure hunting!
  • Kids using their writing skills in log book!
  • Having fun together!
  • Being in outdoors!

Mercifully I have a much better phone these days and therefore so have the capacity to actually download the app because this is something we will happily continue to do!


“Let them be bored for a bit”

I was at my sons Rippa Rugby game one day and a couple of the teachers from his school had come to watch. Upon noticing some children on the side-lines sitting down looking at iPad screens (maybe siblings of players waiting their game), one teacher said “now I know I am the technology teacher, but just let them be bored for a bit”

This got me thinking ……

Technology or screens in particular are so often used to distract or entertain whilst we parents are busy doing something else, whether that be something super important or not – I know for me sometimes I feel so busy and my mind is so full that I am just not up for the debate.

But kids do just need to be bored sometimes. Kids need to know how to stop, be present in the moment and be ok with it. Band-aiding kids boredom by means of distraction just stumps creativity. They will eventually “fix” the boredom themselves.

Often in my house when the screen time is over, it is met with quite a bit of moaning and “It’s just got 3 minutes to go” or “Can I just finish this episode” etc etc. My rule is if there is resistance to turning it off then the privilege is lost (for a certain time period, the length of time dependant on how much of a fight is put up).

I find my children are just nicer humans when not consumed by screen time, their imaginations spark when faced with boredom and beautiful things happen:

  • Games are created using all sorts of materials
  • Teamwork is in full swing (less fighting)
  • Huts are built
  • Artwork flows


(Rippa Rugby at home rips using flax for rips 👍)

Our world now is full of things and tools to make things easier and more convenient. Now I can see both the positives and the negatives of this change in society,  but it is also just a change that needs to be worked with and boundaries set to insure we don’t get complacent, and let the world go by us all unconsciously.

I want to teach my children to not just accept the easy route, challenge it and themselves – to be resilient.

Nga mihi, Anita 🥜✌️🌿


Bathe in the present moment.

You are enough, you have enough, you do enough.

Permission to relax. Stop filling dead space with your phone (sure I’m talking to my myself too). 🌿Go outside, breathe in the air, what can you smell? 🌺Gaze around you, what do you see?🐦 Look at your loved ones, see them. 😍Take a minute, pause.  I invite you to all go outside and take a half hour walk together, anywhere. Let them talk, listen. Let them play, then join in. Laugh! Be silly! Have fun! You are seen, you are loved. Connected.🧘‍♀️ Be sure to not report back to me, I’d rather you were outside than on your computer.👍 Have a super wonderful weekend🌍 Aroha Tammy x

Top 5 tips for bush 🌳 walking with kids aged 5+ 😜

How to get the little darlings moving and enjoying the great outdoors???

Our Top 5 tips:

  1. Intrigue: Peak their interest! Maybe you are walking to see MASSIVE kauri trees, or a waterfall? Take your togs for a river swim! Or are you walking to a secret beach? Perhaps they are rock hunters? Try my mum’s favorite the “magical mystery tour”! Start a nature journal or get one of these kids activity packs from the nature library Have you heard of geocaching? Its a world wide scavenger hunt! If they are older what about family friendly adventure racing? Check out Frazzled kiwi  for nation wide events.
  2. Friends: A million times easier to get them moving! I actually have to try to keep up with mine if they are with friends as they tend to run the whole way!
  3. The fine Art of Distraction: Once you are on the walk- there is a neat initiative here called “Wild Eyes”! Where the kids are given “nature missions” which they complete then upload once back home. Otherwise there’s always the more old school, but none the less useful: 1st to spot a…, i-spy… counting games e.g. the number of bridges, bird I.D, throwing skimming/rocks in the river, hand them the camera for a while. If all else fails stop for a snack/treat, take a minute to stop and look around and tell them how well they are doing!
  4. Leadership & Independence: Taking turns in the lead can help slow the faster kids down so you can stick together + it gives each child some responsibility within the group, this sometimes needs to be timed in order to stay fair. Let them pack and carry their own bags (checked by you before heading out). If they are older include some “group items” + their own snacks and water.
  5. Gear: Having the right gear is a biggie for overall enjoyment, but it doesn’t have to = expensive. Think comfort and protection i.e. sneakers (grip) over jandals (slip/trip), taking a waterproof raincoat, a jersey or thermal top, consider the comfort of their backpack, are the straps padded and comfy? Ideally it would have a waist and chest strap. Have you packed a 1st aid kit, sunscreen and sunhat. The NZ weather can be unpredictable and can change very quickly so best to be prepared. Always check the weather before you go and tell someone where you are going.

*A note on: Expectations.  If you or your family are new to bush walking start out by keeping your expectations low! Rome wasn’t built in a day! Be prepared to become a pack horse & expect some degree of complaining.  We highly recommend starting with some small easy walks (~1 hour) building up gradually. Always be prepared with snacks (including some treats) water, 1st aid kit etc. The first will definitely be the hardest but it will get easier every time, we promise.

We’d love to know if this was helpful or if you have any of your own “tips and tricks” that you’d like to share 👊😁

Top 5 Tips for bush 🌳walking with under 5’s

“My kids can’t even walk down the road without moaning” …. this is something we hear a lot! Guess what our’s were like that too when we started out!

 Here are our top 5 tips for bush walking with under fives:

  1. Expectations: If you are just starting out, keep them low, or maybe just don’t have any! Be prepared to become a pack horse & expect complaining.  We highly recommend starting with some small easy walks and always be prepared with snacks, water, plasters etc. The first few times will definitely be the hardest but it will get easier every time, we promise.
  2. Distraction: Story telling or singing, great time to practice the abc’s or that old kapa haka song. Treats, a lollipop at the top of the hill or M&M’s along the way to “dangle the carrot”. And of course games, pointing out interesting things along the way, first one to spot a…  or listening and watching out for birds.🦜🕊🐦
  3. Leadership: Taking turns in the lead and giving each child some responsibility within the group, this sometimes need to be timed in order to stay fair. Stop and smell the roses and walk at kids pace #slowwalk 😊
  4. Independence: Letting them pack a bag to carry themselves with 1-2 of their own “treasures”. My kids didn’t start carrying a bag/pack until about 4 years old, and even still now I have to have a turn carrying it.
  5. Gear: Having the appropriate gear always helps. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Think comfort i.e. sneakers over jandals and always carry a raincoat.

When our kids were young we had to use one or all of these in one short little 20 minute walk, but now they’re older – not so much. Part of it definitely comes from getting out there doing it.

What are some tips and tricks that work for you? Comment below and share with all us forest families ✌️


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