Hiking with children; from the front-pack to their own two feet.

When looking through my children’s photos, it was interesting to see how many photos I had of the kids walking our old local track over the years; so I decided to make a little video of what I found, check it out below.

To get more track info click here to view our Hakarimata Summit Track Nutshell.

Forest family goes a little bit town & country

Last week I dropped my car at the mechanics, un-loaded our bikes and took off on an adventure along one of the many urban-link cycle ways in Tauranga. We cycled from Birch Ave to the Cambridge Rd BMX track ~5 km return. The kids loved the ride as it was flat, easy and very different from our usual type of mountain bike rides! Firstly we biked through a short stretch of industrial area, under the big highway bridges, whizzed past amazing gratified walls, then along bush corridors and finally past a lovely big wetland full of different types of birds. We rocked up to the BMX track and watched some BMX racing while we has our morning tea, then rode back the same way. Next time I will bring my tag-along so we can explore the trails more and ride a bit further, as my 6 year old had definitely had enough by the end. Note: its a gravel track which my 7 year old thought was fab to practice doing skids on. All I could think of was his bare legs (as he was only wearing shorts) and the fact I’d not brought a single plaster or tissue with us! I’m happy to report that none were needed on this excursion. Happy adventuring!

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Awesome short easy walk- Castlepoint, Wairarapa

This is a stunning, easy walk suitable for everyone. If you visit the Wairarapa checking out Castlepoint Scenic Reserve, it is simply a must do!

Check out this short video of my visit up to the Lighthouse, and for more track info click here to view the Nutshell on our adventures page.

Swans, a scavenger hunt & a serendipitous meeting

It’s the school holidays at the moment. Last week I took my two boy’s aged 6 and 7 to McLaren’s Fall Park in Tauranga to take part in a scavenger hunt. In my mind I was like “Capital -A- for Awesome, they are going to love this!” The reality was quite a lot of whining from my 7 year old…(and a lot of internal eye rolling from me) … sigh, anyway after being left no alternative he hopped in the car. And of course when we arrived, he got out of the car and ran around like a mad thing high on life -totally loving it!

We parked at Cherry Bay, which incidentally was full of Cherry trees in blossom, ahhh…lovely. But as you may (or may not know) there’s no time to stop and enjoy the serenity or smell the flowers, as I have to jog if I’m to keep up with the boys!

 

The kids and I had a great time together doing the scavenger hunt. There are many tracks here but the track we walked went from Cherry Bay to the park entrance/exit and was flat and easy going (~2.2km return). P.s. I totally recommend a scavenger hunt as an exciting way to get out an about with the kids. Click here to see the one we did.  Afterwards we walked back to the car to grab our lunch for a picnic under the Cherry trees, when we ran into some friends from Raglan! Love serendipitous meetings! We had a hilarious competition as to who was brave enough to feed a swan by hand, the winner getting an 🍦! In the end we also counted hand feeding ducks as swans can be a little bit scary!

There is sooo much more left to explore here so we will be back soon!

Note: The track is stroller/buggy friendly from Cherry Bay -bottom flat-to park entrance/exit. There are toilets, BBQ’s and picnic tables dotted around. Pick up a map from the information centre when you arrive. For more information about McLaren Falls Park click here.

No dog’s permitted in the park. However you can take dogs along the Ruahihi Canal walk (just outside park) on a lead.

Other activities: Disc golf (Frisbee golf), walking, bike friendly trails, Marshall’s Animal park, camping, glow worm walks, kayaking, cafe, Trout fishing (need a licence, can buy from information centre.)

Part 2 – A sick child in Waingongoro Hut, Taranaki

In the morning I awoke to find that my daughter had a very high temperature and did not want to get out of bed. Oh oh, alarm bells, that is not normal! Hmm… we are meant to be walking out this morning, how am I going to get her up and moving? I can’t very well carry her plus our bags! Up until this trip, she had only taken liquid pain relief, which of course I had none of, I only had ibuprofen capsules, and from past failed experiences, she hadn’t managed to swallow yet. Luckily there was cell reception and I was able to double check the dosage. Great, she could take one capsule. Now the tricky part of how to get a sick child to take the pill …… after some important discussions and some diligent negotiations (bribes), she managed to swallow it. Oh thank goodness!

We spent a nerve racking hour, trying to come up with a plan B,C & D, but her fever thankfully came down and she was able to get up and get going. Phew. We called a friend and asked them to walk up and meet us in case we needed help getting her out. Thankfully we weren’t too far into the wilderness, we had cell phone coverage and I wasn’t on my own!

We met our “rescue” party about 50 minutes into our walk back down the track and they couldn’t even tell who was sick! Typical huh! Seeing our rescuers (who had brought their children) gave our kids the extra distraction and motivation they needed to go the rest of the way. We even managed an extra 15 minute detour to Wilkie’s Pools on the way back!

This was one heck of an adventure and although quite stressful and worrying at times had some great take home lessons. I will be carrying some liquid pamol from now on and have since invested in an personal locator beacon. These can also be hired from various outdoor shops. It won’t hold us back from future adventures but rather has made us all the more savvier for futures ones! It’s always best to be prepared!

For more track info check out Waingongoro Hut on our our adventures page.

 

Part 1 – Waingongoro Hut, Taranaki

A fevered child, in a hut, on a mountain ….

It was school holiday time and we were at my sisters place in South Taranaki.  We had the time, we had the crew and on the doorstep we had the stunning Maunga (Mt Taranaki)! My son, who had been so looking forward to staying in a hut, was sick and had to stay back with Dad. My daughter seemed well enough and was super keen, especially since her cousin and a new friend were also doing it. It was only an hour and a half walk to the hut, 45 minutes uphill and 45 minutes downhill, what could possibly go wrong?

Approximately 20-30 minutes in there is a small river crossing (you can bypass this by going up to Wilkie’s Pools, crossing the river using the bridge) but if there hasn’t been any rain and the river flow is not high (which was the case on this particular day), then crossing using the big boulders was a fun challenge for the kids.

The girls lead the way, taking turns at being the leader and pointing out any obstacles coming up on the track, a log, a large step or a muddy puddle.

Before we knew it we were at the Waingongoro river swing bridge. My niece was the first one to cross the bridge (only one person allowed on the bridge at a time) and yelled out midway “wow this is so high”! Everyone else went across, leaving me to be the lucky last ….. and oh man it was “so high”, I actually felt physically sick looking down, and my hands were like vice grips on the ropes of the not-so-wide swing bridge. P.s. the swing bridge is the highest in Egmont National Park at 24m high! Some advice to those who don’t like heights: walk slowly, try to stand in the middle of the bridge for a while to get used to it, breathe, relax and take in the beautiful view of the mountain, it is worth doing.

The hut was great, it had a fire place, two large bunk rooms, a large kitchen/dining space and on a clear day the deck outside has great views of Taranaki’s Peak and Ruapehu in the distance in the other direction.

Note: The section of the track from the swing bridge to the hut (about 5 minutes) has a very steep drop off to the valley below. Also at the hut, just past the tree line, is another very steep drop into the river valley below.  Please do be aware of this so you can talk to your kids about out-of-bound areas and safety.

Stay tuned for Part two when things take a turn for the worst!  Coming tomorrow …..

Looking for something cool to do this school holidays?

Check out the Looking Glass Gardens in Te Puke and prepare to fall down the rabbit hole… I have been meaning to come here for years but for one reason or another had never made it (it also closed for a while). But guess what? Its back open and in mid September a friend messaged and said come on! So off we went! The blossoms were out, and although we missed the peak of the (~10,000!) daffodils that were planted (you must need to get here late August/early September for that) it was a magical and wonderful place! I can’t wait to go back!

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The stairway to heaven (featured picture) is quite something, get prepared for some steep uphill! But the views! Wow, breath-taking (literally, as my kids would say!) Plus there is a swing in a tree at the top, if anyone needs a little coaxing!

Nutshell:

About: The garden was originally created by Gael & Cedric Blaymire. This is one of those amazing stories of vision and bloody hard work or yakka as we say in NZ! This awesome couple worked tirelessly for over 30 years to create an enchanted 20 acre tree garden. Honestly, such inspiring people! Some of the places they planted up with daffodil bulbs are crazy steep! Gael’s sense of humor and quirkiness is reflected in the Alice in Wonderland theme that runs throughout the garden. The garden closed for a time as the Blaymire’s sold the property but thankfully the new owners have it opened up to the public again. What an awesome legacy, I highly recommend a visit!

Location: 558 Te Puke Quarry Rd, Te Puke (partly gravel road). Call 027 578 8307 for more info.

Open hours: 10am- 4 pm daily.

Cost: $5 per adult, $2.50 per child. Bring the correct amount of $ as it is an honesty box system, however you can pay by bank deposit if you forget this!

Toilets: Yes, I noticed 2. One in the amphitheater area, and the second by the owner’s house. There is a map at the gate so take a photo of it then.

Dogs: Not allowed

Buggy or wheel chair: Sorry, not suitable.

 

 

 

Pa Kereru Loop Track

At the end of Whakamarama road, at the base of the Kaimai ranges is a little place locally known as “The Blade”. The driveway down there is a 900m gravel road to a car park (note: this is single lane so go slow, there are a couple of places to stop if you come across another car). Other tracks that can be accessed from this car park, are the Leyland O’Brien tramline track and the Ngamarama track. At the car park there is a great big open space for a picnic and rocks for the kids to climb and jump across.

The one signed track entrance from the car park is the Pa Kereru Loop ….. though we did not take this one, we set off down a path that has no signpost …. I know you are probably thinking “well that’s not smart” but actually there are many paths there that have no signage, it was going to be an adventure. After about 5 minutes of walking we came to a point where there were 3 viable paths, hmm… straight ahead right?

Note and Tip: All the tracks did have the standard public orange track triangles and before we continued, I took a photo pointing to which path we came from, just in case we needed to back track.

So after approximately 3 minutes of walking we arrive back at the Car Park!  Hmm…that can’t have been the whole loop, let’s go back and take one of the other paths. The other paths led to more track junctions and again no signs? So taking more photos and paths, we came onto what seemed like an old tramway … this looks right I think.

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Now the fun part, curious fantails, possum traps, trees hanging over the old tramway creating a tunnel feel, and mud glorious mud!  The kids had a long discussion and worked together on which path to take that would equal the least amount of wet, dirty feet. What can also work is getting a friend with boots on (me, Anita, in this case) to be the pack-horse.

Finally a sign, 10 minutes to the car park. Now we can all breathe a sign of relief. The next 10 minutes turned into 30 as we strolled through magical bush which inspired the kids to make up stories of tiny fairy villages on moss-covered rocks.

Due to the lack of signage, figuring out the various tracks was confusing!  I have since been back and most of the paths just lead in circles though if you follow the new Pa Kereru sign posts, you should be fine. I would only recommend this track to those with good bush navigational skills. I have also come across hunters with hunting dogs on this track, so that can be very nerve-racking with kiddies along.

Nutshell

  • Location: Kaimai Mamaku Forest, Bay of Plenty
  • Access: The Blade, End of Whakamarama Road, Whakamarama
  • DOC Duration: 40 Minute Loop  Forest Family: 1 hour, We made quite a few stops and the kids were aged 9,7,6,5 and 4.
  • Track Grade: Intermediate  this walk is not yet on the DOC website but, as there was a lack of signage I would class this as an intermediate walk, with some bush and navigation experience needed.
  • Highlights/Features: Evidence of historic tramway, board walks, wetland, small streams, mud, friendly fantails and curious Robins.

Mauao/Mt Maunganui, a story of unrequited love…

Many of us have a complete love affair with Mauao/ Mt Maungauni, I know its a daily ritual for some to walk up or around it. I climbed up to the top recently one kids free afternoon joined by throngs of other people some running some walking, many huffing and puffing, family groups, #selfie peeps, rock climbers, tourists, the young and the old, people from all walks of life. And it got me to thinking does anyone know about Mauao’s love story?

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Legend has it, that there were once three mountains that lived in the Hautere forest overlooking Tauranga moana. One was Otanewainuku a total spunk, he stills stands there being the total hottie. The second was Puwhenua a gorgeous girl bathed in the finest ferns and birds in her hair, the third was maunga pononga or the nameless mountain. The nameless one was desperately in love with Puwhenua but she only had eyes for Otanewainuku.  Heartbroken the nameless one decided it was all too much and that he would drown himself in the Pacific ocean. He called upon the Patupaiarere (the people with magic powers) and asked them to plait him a magical rope and haul him down to the ocean. Chanting, they dragged the nameless one slowly down towards the sea, gouging out the current channel which flows past Tauranga city and the Waimapu river as they went. By the time they reached the ocean it was almost day break. This freaked the patupaiarere out because they were people of the night, so they fled before the sun rose, fixing the nameless one in place. Thankfully before they left they named the nameless one Mauao, which means “caught by the morning light”.

It’s true its quite a sad story but one I like to think has a happy ending. You see Mauao could never be lonely, not with all of the people in his life walking, running, climbing, playing, going up, down and around him, occasionally paragliding off him or playing in the waters that surround him. I like to imagine that this brings him joy.

So, the next time you head up or around the Mount/ Mauao how about you stop for just a minute, bend down and give the old boy a pat and tell him he is very loved.

 

 

 

What to take on a day walk

Mary Poppins bag …..

It really doesn’t seem to matter whether I am taking the kids on a short or long walk, I tend to leave the house feeling like I have the kitchen sink packed! Below are some things I don’t leave the house without + some extras I’ve found useful or calming from time to time.

  • Back pack. I always make sure I have extra space to put all the layers the kids want to take off. Though once my kids turned 5, they had to carry their own.
  • Rain jacket and good shoes. This makes the walk more comfortable for all.
  • Water bottle. It doesn’t matter if the kids had a drink 1 minute before we left on a little 20 minute walk, they will ask for a drink 2 minutes into the walk! This also goes for needing to go to the bathroom, its always a good idea to get them to try beforehand anyway.
  • Snacks. Even of you think you have lots, pack some more, they’ll eat it.
  • First Aid Kit, plasters mainly. You know your own child, are they accident prone?
  • A change of clothes: Probably only really necessary for the under 5’s.  For example, you do a walk to a waterfall, along a river or beach or it’s the middle of winter with lots of mud, the likelihood of your child getting wet/muddy or both and needing a change is very high! We’ve know, we’ve been there!!!
  • Phone. I mainly use this for photos, but nice to have in case of emergency (if there is cell reception). Always make sure someone knows your plan.
  • Map. If I am doing a new track in an unfamiliar place I like to have a copy of the track and area on me, just in case. Some might think this is an overkill but if it calms my mind I’d rather have it with me.  Walking with kids is an extra responsibility.

We’d love to know if you’ve found this helpful or what other things might work for you, leave us a comment or flick us an email.

Nga mihi, Anita 🥜

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