I have only ever visited the south island three times, the first time to kayak in the Marlborough sounds as a teenager, never going further than Picton. The second time to stay with a friend in Queenstown for a week in my early twenties and the third time with Wayne the year before we had Oliver. We spent three weeks travelling as much of the south as we could cover with a little three man tent and atrocious weather. But each of these trips had always left me wanting to see more. The south island is just stunningly beautiful, looking at all the pretty pictures of it can’t prepare you for how gorgeous it is when you are actually amongst it. And if you enjoy walking, tramping and exploring then the south island is like hitting the jackpot as far as we are concerned.
So we woke the morning of our ferry crossing very excited and very glad that though there was still quite a wind blowing the sea looked relatively calm and a smooth crossing looked like a good possibility. I can remember my second time crossing the cook strait was very rough and I really didn’t relish the thought of enduring that with Oliver in tow. So after making our way through a bit of morning traffic and then getting lined up and loaded on the ferry we made our way up in to the boat to find Wayne. Of course even though we had fed Oliver at 6am it was now nearly 8am and he was busy telling me how starving he was. Luckily for him a second breakfast was in ready supply today, so we cruised out of Wellington harbour in style eating a hot breakfast. The morning flew by with us taking turns to walk Oliver around the boat and keep him occupied. Before we knew it we were sailing in to Picton and being asked to return to our cars and get ready to drive off again. One of the reasons we had opted for a quick trip to the South Island is that my parents had been on holiday there for the last six weeks, as it had worked out we managed to cross a couple of days before they came back and we were meeting them once we came off the ferry to spend a couple of nights together. The prospect of seeing his Nana and Grandad again had Oliver very, very excited.
It was a quick trip from Picton to Whatamango Bay where we would stay for our first two nights. It was wonderful to see Oliver back with his Nana and Grandad again, there really is nothing like watching your child enjoy a close, loving relationship with their grandparents and it is the part of this whole trip that gives me the most misgivings, the fact that he will not see these two special people for such a long time. But for the short time that we had together we made the most of just being in each others company. And I truly feel that the time we have spent living together has given us a much closer relationship and different dynamic now that it is over.
We woke the next day determined to make the most of our only full day together and all managed to squeeze in to our car for a trip around to White Bay. Once there we did the Black Jack track up to a lookout and then looping back down to the beach again. It was a bit hazy and cloudy while we were at the top but I imagine on a clear day the views would be incredible.
Then after we looped back around and walked down to the bay a little time exploring the beach was called for. Oliver was in the water before I even had time to get my shoes off and would have probably been happy to stay the rest of the day.
It was a pleasant drive to Picton from here for a very late lunch and then a visit to the playground before driving back to camp. Our last night together was lovely, just making the most of our time together all aware that it would be a long time before we got more. And the next morning we got up early for a quick goodbye before Nana and Grandad left to catch the ferry. Oliver again surprised me and took it all in his stride. He is completely aware that this goodbye was different to the others and that he is going to miss his grandparents like crazy. But after a little chat once they left and a big cuddle with Mum he was quite happy to get on with his day. Already this journey is teaching him resiliency and how to cope with big change, skills he will use for the rest of his life. And now this journey feels like it has truly begun, we are on our own a long way from where home used to be and so far with only a loose plan of where we go next. I keep thinking that I should be worried about all the unknowns and what ifs that are down our path, and I keep amazing myself with how completely confident and relaxed I am. Not in an I’m on holiday kind of way, this is definitely not a holiday, it’s already a way of life.