Cloudy ☁ with a Chance of Blissballs

Who doesn’t want to walk a trail called Peach Tree 🍑🌳 Track? Am I right?  Enjoy this guest post written by my good friend and adventure buddy Stacey Walden, on her recent trip to Great Barrier Island, in the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand😀👊🌳🚶‍♀️

Aotea (aka Great Barrier Island) has become one of our favourite summer holiday places to visit in New Zealand. We have visited 6 times in the last 8 years, with our two children. My son Leo, now 7 is “a born a hiker” (as we say back home in Canada). There are many great short walks on the Island -from 15 minutes to a few hours, from waterfalls, to hot springs, to amazing coastal views, you name it, Aotea has it!

Last year I really wanted to walk to the summit of Mt Hobson, the highest point on the island at 600m, and take in the amazing views, but I hadn’t come prepared… This year however I made sure I was!

I wanted a clear day, so we could take in the views and not too much wind, as the start of the trail is ominously named the Windy Canon! The day finally arrived when we could see the summit from our beach-side bach and with it a light breeze, perfect. My hubby dropped my son and I off at the start of the Windy Canon (it’s the easiest way to get to the summit, with the least amount of climbing). I asked him to pick us up at the end of the Hotsprings walk in 6-7 hours time (as per the track times). Leo started off whining as he often does at the start of a walk… but after a few minutes he got into the groove.  After climbing some steep stairs through the Windy Canon we arrived at the lookout and it’s incredible views of the island. We have walked this track many times (Leo began walking it on his own from about 1 and a half years old).

The Department of Conservation track guide says the walk to the summit takes 2.5-3 hours.  After passing through the Windy Canon we continued along Palmer’s track and along the ridge line until we hit the stairs! I don’t think I’ve ever climbed so many stairs before in my life, and man was I glad to see the end of them!  I was just thinking to myself, I hope we get to the summit soon when a mom and her daughter passed me coming in the other direction and said “Not long now.” ……. I though what??? It’s only been an hour. But sure enough a few minutes later the sign for the summit appeared, 2 mins to the top! Sweet!

However, we arrived to the summit in full cloud! My careful planning had been foiled, thankfully we could still see down to one of the harbors below. I would have happily waited for the clouds to clear but Leo was keen to get on to the hut. So we started heading down to the hut, more stairs! Down, down, down. I was very glad for the railings and don’t think I’ve ever felt my legs shake like they did! Leo of course was fine and kept rushing ahead. To my relief the track started to level out, just as my legs felt they may give out! We reached Mt Heale hut in the 45 minutes the sign had predicted and settled into an early lunch.


The views from this hut are incredible, Little Barrier Island is off in the distance, at this point both Leo and I wished we were staying the night. However after a nice rest and a text to my hubby to say we were way ahead of schedule (thank goodness we had cell coverage) we set off again.

More downhill!  We returned via Peach Tree Track, which meets the Tramline Track after about an hour, but it was much more of a gradual gradient, my legs appreciated it 😀. The views just continued to impress. I couldn’t keep up to Leo’s fast pace, and he was often out of sight, but every now and then he would call to me to make sure I was still around. We saw a waterfall in the distance, crossed a small stream, and arrived at the Tramline Track. Yay – We had made it to the valley floor, no more downhill, hurray!

The next sign we came to said 45 minutes to the Hotsprings,  at this point Leo started to complain that his legs were tired, I told him that mine were too, but that it was not too long now. I’d packed a day pack full of food and 2 bottles of water. I had more than enough food but I should have brought more water. If I was going to do it again, I would have Leo carry his own hydration pack (his suggestion) with a few snacks too.

Along the old tram-line, there were many beautiful Nikau palms, we also spotted some mushrooms and later I found 2 stick bugs mating on the side of a step. We arrived at a stream and at this point I was so hot I wanted to get in. So we did, Leo stripped down to his birthday suit and I went in my underwear. It was such a refreshing treat! From here it was 15 minutes to the Hotsprings where we each had a quick soak and waited for hubby and little sis to meet us. When they hadn’t arrived we decided to start walking the last leg of our trek to the car park and then ten minutes down the track we heard a little voice say “Mommy!”, it was my daughter and hubby. We all walked back together and my daughter complained that her legs were tired, she’d walked 30 minutes on a flat track!😂 I’d asked hubby to bring water, which Leo gulped down (I’d had to ration his on the walk so we had enough to last us). The last bit of the trail is beside a beautiful and nowadays unique wetland, sadly there are only 3% remaining in New Zealand. When we arrived at the car park, I showed the kids on the map the route we had walked. A total of 11 km up, across and down a mountain range in about 5 hours – not too shabby!


We celebrated with a delicious treat at The Fat Puku, a local cafe  = Bliss! The next morning when Leo awoke he said “Mom, lets walk to the summit again!” My calves were so sore the thought of it made me cringe, but I’m so happy to have my not-so-little hiking buddy.

🌿Awesome adventure Stacey! 👊 Way to go Leo!

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Oxfam trailwalker training- Leyland O’Brien to Hurunui Hut return

In March four of my friends are doing the Oxfam Trailwalker event as a team, from Edgecumbe to Ohope finishing in Whakatane. In total they will walk 50 kilometres, across farmland, beaches and forest, they anticipate this will take in excess of 12 hours. Myself and another friend are their support crew (which I’ve never done before and am excited about!) So as a good “member of the team” I went along on a training walk with two of my friends last week. I suspect they asked me knowing of my savvy bush navigation skills and awesome conversation 😉 Here’s a short video of the trail we walked, a bit about the girls and the cause. Enjoy

🌿For more information on the tracks we walked click here

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Bush Ambience …& Cracking Thunder 😳

Summer walk wish list – Whataroa Falls – Check ✅

It was meant to be a beautiful summers day, so a friend and I organised to take the kids on the bush walk to Whataroa falls, located just 40 minutes out of Tauranga. The day before had been a stunner and the forecast looked good …

We packed light, only taking our lunch, first aid kit, water bottles and our togs …

The signpost at the car park said 1 hour 20 minutes to the falls; the perfect distance for our energetic 5 and 7 year old’s. Before we knew it the kids were off, running down the track – nice 👍 a good chance for the mamas to catch up after the Christmas break.

The walk went super fast! We had lots of inquisitive robins and fantails come to say hello, and had lots of fun giving the HUGE trees a big hug (to give us all a bit of perspective). The kids also spotted the coolest looking fungi in an old rotted out log, at first they said “oh, someone has been naughty and left some plastic rubbish or maybe an old soccer ball?” on closer inspection we decided it was a fungi, and after some research we found out it’s commonly known as white basket fungi (ileodictyon cibarium) …… Pretty cool find – well done kids!!!

And then, after about an hour of walking the thunder started! My friend and I give each other that look, you know the one – the  “oh no – I wasn’t expecting that!!! What do we do now?” look. We were so close to the falls, should we push on and try our luck? Or should we turn back and try again another day?

The sky wasn’t all that black, and there was no rain, plus it was still really warm out…

And so, in typical kiwi fashion we kept on walking “she’ll be right” 😜 as we say in NZ. We plastered relaxed smiles on our faces and did our best to distract the kids from the thunder. 😬 And let me tell you this wasn’t some light thunder far off in the distance this was BOOMING, shake the ground, ear splitting, cracking thunder ⚡…..

Needless to say, the kids weren’t so keen to keep going …. but with the lure of finding eels, from one of the people walking back from the waterfall, (they took the thunder as a sign to leave – huh, makes sense), the kids all but ran the last 10 minutes, not even noticing the thunder.

Yay, we made it to the waterfall without the sky falling on our heads! And, thanks to the thunder we had the place to ourselves 👍

The kids were happy paddling in the shallows, and they got to spot the big eel poking out from under a rock. After a while it started to spit, so we gave the kids some snacks and decided to head back. It was warm enough that the kids walked back in their togs, plus that way if it rained it wouldn’t matter and they would have dry clothes to get into at the car. Fun times!

What an adventure – we will all remember that one!

Nga mihi, Anita 🥜

Pukeiti, New Plymouth- a Rain forest with Rhododendrons🌺

I’ve recently got back from a great week, spent exploring New Plymouth in Taranaki, New Zealand.  I have been to New Plymouth a couple of times for WOMAD (World of Music and Dance) which is an incredible festival, but I hadn’t actually done any real exploration of the area. I have my partner’s family here from Wales at the moment, and whenever they come over we like to rent a bach (that’s NZ for holiday house) and explore a region they (or we) haven’t been to, or don’t really know. I suggested Taranaki which I knew they hadn’t been to, and which has- mountain biking, an amazing coastal cycle/walkway, a gigantic mountain (Mt Taranaki), good surf, the wonderful Pukekura park (currently hosting the festival of lights and outdoor movies!), a compact creative city hub full of great cafes and independent stores.  Something for everyone you could say!

A highlight of my trip was discovering and visiting Pukeiti, a rhododendron garden set among New Zealand native trees and plants at the base of Mt Taranaki. This garden was set up by an incredible visionary person named Douglas Cook who famously established Eastwoodhill Arboretum in Gisborne. Douglas set up not one, but two incredible and huge public gardens! I was familiar with the Gisborne arboretum and story but I had no idea he set up another one!!! Pukeiti covers 360 ha of regenerating native forest and includes 21 km of walkways, including 26 ha of planted exotic garden. Apparently, and I love this part he was searching and searching for the perfect place to grow rhododendron and found it here at the foothills of Mt Taranaki. P.s the best time to see rhododendrons is not summer!😂

At the entrance to the park you will find a wonderful cafe and beautifully done information panels. We also discovered (much to our glee!) that they do a “kids tree-house trail” ! You even get an Activity bag containing 4 activities and a map. We had such a fun time exploring the gardens, doing our activities and finding tree-houses. I can’t recommend visiting Pukeiti and the Taranaki region enough! Did I mention it’s all FREE!

NB: We tried to take the stroller along the tree-house route but it was a bit tricky in places. I feel there’s still so much to explore here. We will definitely be back!

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What a way and day to start 2019: East-West Kaimai Crossing

Starting off the new year with an Epic Adventure – Whakamarama Rd on the Eastern side of the range to Wairere falls in the West!!! Tonnes of laughs 😂 were had and plenty of questions explored, always great to have a crew to share wicked experiences 🌄 with.

Check out our video below; we were super lucky to have 3 rifleman birds, the cutest, most tiniest New Zealand native birds 🐦, come and have a korero (chat) right next to us, they are too tiny to see, but if you listen carefully in the video you might catch their super sweet tweeting:

In total this crossing took us 7 hours (1/2 an hour more than the DOC signs), we took 2 snack breaks and had plenty of stops to check out the awesome flora and fauna of our beautiful country. The track was really well-marked with orange triangles and signs came by at every junction. Wairere Falls track was super busy so be patient and prepared to share the track if visiting there- all the people were hard for us to acclimatize to especially after having the first 5 hours in the bush to ourselves ☮️.

🌳If you’re in the Waikato or Bay of Plenty area and you’re up for missions with us 😍👊and other mum’s maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group check it out here.

Nga mihi, Anita


River swimming at Aongatete, Bay of Plenty

Here’s how we spent the last day of 2018. Just a short 35 minute bush walk and you can be swimming in this pristine river and doing bombs off the rocks! A great adventure for the whole family.

Click here for the forest family nutshell and track information.

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A Boxing Day bush walk, best friends and bruises.

On boxing day I asked my family what they would like to do, all 5 unanimously agreed they wanted to go to the beach. This is extremely common in my house hold as I live with surfers, body boarders & general beach bums! I however, felt like getting away from the crowds and into the bush (forest) and so with enough adults going to the beach to supervise my kids, I text my friend and 30 minutes later we were heading out into the hills for a bush walk, this time to Aongatete to do the long loop track with an estimated time of ~3 hours return.


The sun was out, but due to large amount of rain we’ve had lately it meant the bush track was a bit soggy in places, but the air temperature was soothingly cool. It was such a fun walk, we yakked the whole way (as you do with good friends) we fell over in the mud (both have scrapes and bruises), took lots of photos, waded through small rivers, had a picnic, walked up one river to find a waterfall, then bush bashed our way back up the hillside and back to the track (we are both experienced navigators). It was such a great day walk/adventure and we both got to walk a completely new track.


We would love to know what you did for Boxing Day! Comment below and let us know.

🌳Click here for the Forest Family NZ nutshell, with more information about this track.

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Hiking off the Christmas food and drink coma

For me the joy of the silly season really is getting together with friends and family – eating, playing games, eating, toasting with glass of bubbles 🥂 and lets face it – eating some more 🍗, but these holidays can often be so busy and full that they go by in the blink of an eye and by the end you feel as if you need a break from your holiday …. go figure 🤷‍♀️.

After all the “festivities” taking the opportunity to get in a bush walk while all the whanau (family) is together is not only a great way to take stock, be grateful and breathe a little but is also a good way to burn off all those extra calories 🎂

I managed to grab half a day away from the madness (“children”) to get out with a friend that was up from Christchurch; We walked the Karangahake Summit Track in the Karangahake Gorge (SH2). It was a good 2 hour uphill battle and a stunning 360 degree view as reward, not a bad spot to enjoy some left overs for lunch …… and a candy cane for Christmas cheer.

Have you got an adventure planned during your break? We’d love to hear/see/read about it, follow us on Facebook and Instagram and tag us @forestfamilynz to share your story.

Nga mihi, Anita 🥜

Setting New Years Resolutions with special guest, Women’s Leadership Coach: Kate Apanui

Thinking of setting New Years Resolutions? Most people I meet these days can’t be bothered.

But for those of us who get irritated with ourselves, and just can’t wait for that fresh start on January 1st – we set intentions with HIGH hopes.

If you’re like me, we start out with great intentions, big dreams, lots of enthusiasm and energy…..but then it’s hard to keep that energy up, and eventually things kind of fizzle out, we stop caring and life just carries on as normal, and by the time we get to April, we’re saying things to each other like;  “I can’t believe it’s Easter already!  Where’s this year going?  Wow this year is flying by!”

Or is that just me?

This year my husband and I set two New Years Resolutions, which was weird, we usually don’t bother with them – because of what I already told you about how I’m not that good at keeping them!  The past has shown me, it’s just not worth it.

Anyway, our resolutions were simple this year; 1. Quit coffee for a year.  2. Quit alcohol for a year.

Oh, and no decaf either ….. I know.

According to a few comments I got, this year I was going to be “no fun at all”. It’s been a super interesting experiment – on so many levels. People ask me all the time “Why would you do that?” And I guess the main reason is; because we wanted to, we wanted to see what it would be like to not have those 2 things in our life.

On a side note – I often have people tell me “I quit alcohol and / or coffee, I felt amazing, I lost weight, saved money, had so much more energy, I slept better, I exercised more……but then I just started the habit again”,   I’m always fascinated by humans.  Why do we do stuff that makes us feel worse?

The reason we decided to do both coffee and alcohol was because I said alcohol would be hard to quit – but coffee would be easy, and my husband said alcohol would be easy – but coffee would be much harder, so we decided to quit both – it seemed fair.

So this year I’ve gone from a woman who LOVES wine, looks forward to a glass of bubbles with her girlfriends, and can’t wait till Friday’s come / or it’s hot / or I’m cooking / or a friend pops in / or book club – so I can open a bottle and hang out – to a woman who doesn’t drink a drop. I wasn’t a big drinker (2 glasses in a sitting was my max), and I’m not into clubbing.  But, I would never say no to a glass of wine or gin, I felt like it was a special treat.  I looked forward to it the way my kids look forward to ice cream.

When I first stopped drinking – I hated it.  I wished I had a glass in my hand when everyone else did, and I definitely felt like I was missing out. I missed the feeling of being a fancy adult, I missed the taste, I missed the feeling of sharing a treat with my husband or friends, I missed the feeling of being part of the group that wine created, and I missed the relaxing feeling that I thought wine gave me.  But as time went on, I noticed how much better I felt not drinking, emotionally and physically.  The way I thought about not drinking changed, from; “I’m missing out if I don’t have a drink”,  to;  “I prefer not drinking”.

We didn’t mean to set these resolutions for ourselves, one day during the holidays, we just started talking about what it would be like to not have coffee and alcohol in our lives, and got curious about what that experience would mean for us.

We did it on a bit of a whim really.

But I think it stuck for a few reasons……

  1. We were in it together so I felt like I wasn’t alone
  2. I knew my husband would never quit or cheat – so I didn’t want to be a quitter or cheater either
  3. We told all our friends and family – so there was another accountability factor
  4. Also coffee and Alcohol are pretty clear cut things, you either drink it or you don’t – sugar is in so many things that it takes more mental effort,

Should we set more reso’s in the future?


This year has totally shown us what’s possible, it’s given me a feeling of inner strength and to be honest I feel so much better not drinking, even when everyone else is – something I never would have imagined to be true, it got me wondering, what else might I be opened up to if I dramatically changed something about the way I live.  Who might I become?

Now I know some of you women out there might be thinking oh I stopped both those things for 9 months while I was pregnant – or maybe even longer if you did it throughout your breastfeeding days…..?

And let me say a little something about that.

When I quit coffee and alcohol during pregnancy – I resented it. I longed for those things all the time. I was pissed off when I didn’t get to enjoy a glass of champagne on New Years. I couldn’t wait to be back on my fix. I was on a count down.  I kept telling myself “not long now”

And I think that mindset of “I’m missing out” made me grouchy and frustrated.  I didn’t see myself as a making a choice.  I saw that my husbands life hadn’t changed, and already I was being asked to sacrifice things I loved.  I hated it.

The reason this year worked so well, was because I entered the year with the perspective of  curiosity….. “I wonder what a year without alcohol and coffee would feel like, I wonder how my mental health will be affected, I wonder what our bank balance will look like, I wonder how I’ll act without those things in my life, I wonder how it will affect my menstrual cycle, hormonal health and over all health….”

It was an experiment – not something I was forcing myself to do.

I think when we try to force ourselves into things – even if it’s for our own good – there can be a feeling of resistance, or irritation, which can lead us to want to rebel or act out.  Like a teenager who’s told “you can’t go” and ends up stomping her foot, and climbing out her window!

This experiment has totally changed my perspective of New Years reso’s and the way I’d make them in the future……

Rather than saying something like,

This year I……

  • won’t eat cake
  • will exercise 3 times a week
  • won’t yell at my kids
  • will be more organised

I’d change it to something more like,

I wonder what it would be like …….

  • to say no to cake this year
  • to exercise 3 times a week
  • if I didn’t yell at my kids
  • if I organised my week ahead, on a Sunday night

Honestly,I’d highly recommend doing and experiment like this to other people because if you do nothing new, if you don’t change the way you think, or act, you’re pretty much going to be reliving the years you’ve already lived.

Sure you might get a new car, or go somewhere different on holiday.  You might get a new job, or move house.  But the you, that shows up to those experiences will be the same you you were this year.

There’s nothing wrong with that you.  My guess is you’re pretty awesome as it is, but doing something that’s different in your day to day life, changing your habits, your thoughts, your feelings, your actions and the perception you have of yourself, how you see yourself and interact with the world – that’ll change you, grow you, open you up to new opportunities, ideas, experiences, and relationships.

You’ll be richer for it.

You’ll thank yourself for it.

And if nothing else you’ll have some good stories to tell about the year you ……….

So what would challenge you? What experiment would you like to run in 2019? What would you like to create? What would you really like to change?

This year I’ve decided to facilitate a Facebook page for anyone who wants to run an experiment in their life, committing to doing or not doing something, because it’s so much easier when we have a partner in crime, and feel accountable to something or someone else.

hmmmmmm what will this year be about?

🌺This year Kate will be working with a limited number of clients, if you’d like to meet Kate, and experience her coaching – get in touch with her, as she offers a free session to all women who are interested in, or considering coaching.

To get in touch with Kate- email: or check out her website:

🌺Facebook group – What would it be like if…….?
This is a closed group – though anyone is welcome to join.

The joy of one thing at a time

I’m writing this for me, just as much as for you, because I find myself getting caught up in the busyness of life, and at this time of the year, the chaos of Christmas! The seemingly endless “to do list’s”, the shopping, end of year school prize givings, ceremonies, trips and all the social engagements can leave me feeling exhausted. And while we pride ourselves on being able to do multiple things at once, how much fun is it really?

Reading a book, enjoying a cup of tea (without scrolling on your phone) and listening to a friend are purely joyful acts when you allow yourself to enjoy it simply, on it’s own. When we allow ourselves to be present we enjoy what we do and what we see therefore we take in and experience so much more. Research shows that being in nature benefits the mind and the body, add then the physical exercise you get from a walk and it really is a win win for the state of your well being.

Here are some ideas of the sort of things I am going to do, to try to help myself to slow down and enjoy the present moment over the holidays.

  • read my favorite magazines
  • play with my kids
  • walk in nature
  • drink tea
  • draw or sketch
  • set goals
  • do some photography
  • meditate
  • Yoga with Adrienne
  • meet friends
  • play board games with my family
  • swim in the ocean and river (it’s summer here!)
  • ride my bike and most importantly
  • I am going to leave my phone in my bag, more on this topic to come…

I’d love to know what sort of things you enjoy to do one at a time. Leave a comment below ❤

I wish you a truly wonderful Christmas where ever you are in the world, thank you for reading our blog. Meri kirihimete from Aotearoa/ New Zealand.


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