School on the move.

After four nights at the Gentle Annie we reluctantly left that magical spot behind. We headed back to Westport for a night so we could do some of the everyday jobs that needed to be done. Top up on some groceries, empty and refill our water tanks and collect some mail my Mum was forwarding on to us. Oliver’s school work mostly comes by mail so this is a fairly regular part of our lives now, Mum will send a package with everything that has arrived for us to the post office wherever we are going to be and we simply collect it from there.

When we were travelling at the beginning of the year Oliver wasn’t enrolled in Te Kura yet so fitting in school work around our adventures wasn’t a consideration. These last few weeks have been our first attempt at fitting it all in. The first week we were a bit casual, missing some days, doing just a little bit on others. Because it’s our first week with Wayne back in the mix and Oliver was just so excited about that it just felt right to go with the flow. Also that’s the whole point of doing correspondence, of living this way, that you can decide when you are going to do things. But after that things naturally just found a little rhythm. If it’s a wet day then of course we do quite a bit of school work! The days that we are busy we do around an hours worth of work in the morning before we head out or on the odd day we have slotted that hour in the afternoon, but it does generally go smoother earlier in the day. And at least once a week we try to stay in one spot for more than one night and not do heaps on the day where we aren’t moving. This day serves lot’s of purposes. We catch our breath, have a bit of a rest. We can do some school work without rushing through it to get on to something more fun.

After we left Westport we had one of these quiet days that ended up feeling like days like this were the best thing about our new life. We had spent a night in Charleston a little town not far from Westport and taken a train trip into the bush that they have there. For our little train lover it was a real hit. After that we ambled just a little further down the coast and found a freedom camping spot that is one of our best finds so far. It’s just a carpark beside a river mouth with a view of an old bridge and some fairly nice new loos. But if you take a quick stroll down past the old bridge and under a new one you are on the beach. A rather lovely beach with sea caves you can get to at low tide.

DSC08823

DSC08825

DSC08837

DSC08845

It was an easy choice to spend another night here. We woke up slowly the next morning and eventually made our way through some school work. Around eleven we headed down to the beach for a walk. As we strolled in the windy, overcast day that we had been given I felt deep down how incredible it is to live this way. I have said before I am not sure how we will go back to a normal life, lets just say I still wonder that! Moments like this make me very aware that we actually require very little to be our happiest. Being together, feeling like we have achieved something with our day and a bit of time spent in nature, it is really all it took to feel completely and utterly content with life.

DSC08910

DSC08915

Advertisements

A walk with a nearly five year old

Right from the start this day felt like adventure was in the air. We had a plan – to walk to Anapai Bay, which if we crossed the estuary at low tide and used the low tide track would take us about 45 minutes. So we were all ready to go by 8.30 when the tide was just starting to creep back in.

I’ve always loved walking in the bush in the mornings. Everything seems cool and fresh in the morning air and the birds singing in the trees as the sun slowly sinks through the canopy is like a joyous celebration of the new day. Getting to introduce Oliver to morning bush walks is one of the things we are enjoying lately. He’s really starting to enjoy walking now, as he gets physically stronger and quicker he seems to be taking the time to just enjoy all the things around him as he walks. Considering I am a bit of a bird lover it’s not surprising he’s learning all their names and gaining a little bit of bird love himself. This particular morning the bellbirds were out in force putting on a wonderful morning chorus.

Oliver had picked up a stick along the way, as he is quite often known to do. On hearing the bellbirds song he held the stick up behind him pretending he was a bird, even making up his own little birdsong to sing us. Once he’s done with that he periodically uses the stick to sweep leaves from the track. An extremely friendly fantail starts following us along the track, coming so close at times that you almost imagine you can reach out and catch it. Oliver begins holding his stick out in the vain hope it would land on it. He switches between this and towing it behind him, because he’s ‘a tanker truck’ until we see the sand appear between the trees. Then there is a mad run to get his first glimpse of the beach. And a mad rush by me to get him into his togs/out of his shoes so he has dry clothes left to walk back in.

I had read that this beach was ‘arguably the most beautiful in Golden Bay’ and since we are all totally in love with Totaranui Bay we were all disbelieving it could beat it. At first glance though beautiful we failed to see how it lived up to the title ‘most beautiful’. Then we found the second part of Anapai Bay, hidden behind some large rocks, a smaller beach, small but completely perfect. After swimming, exploring, picnicking and just gazing at the pristine beach and stunningly clear water, we decided an argument could be made for this being the most beautiful beach.

DSC06604DSC06615

On heading back to the main beach we discovered quite a few people had joined us at Anapai Bay. So after a bit more swimming, a little encounter with a shag and an attempt at making a dam in a stream, it was time to head home.

DSC06631DSC06675

The return journey required a little bit more encouragement for Oliver after all his days busyness. But I’m not above bribing a tired child to the top of a hill with the promise of a few lollies. And a game of Boo, hide and seek – where Oliver and Dad go ahead, hide and jump out to scare Mum when she comes along – get’s him the rest of the way down.

DSC06589

It is nearly 3.30 by the time we get back to the bus. And Oliver is not the only one ready for a bit of quiet time with his feet up. But it is a happy, fulfilled kind of tiredness after a day like this. And all three of us will end it hoping for another day like this soon.

 

Totaranui Bay

DSC06423

At the end of a windy, narrow dirt road about 30 kms from Takaka is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been lucky enough to visit. Totaranui Bay is home to a gorgeous big Doc campsite, the most golden sandy beach I have ever seen, crystal clear water and tons of walking tracks. It’s the place where a lot of people start the Abel Tasman coastal track, a walk that follows the coastline along the length of the Abel Tasman national park and takes between 3-5 days.

We found a wonderful spot to set up camp, views of the water from the front windows, views of the estuary from the bedroom and most importantly just a short stroll down to that beach. Our first afternoon was filled on that beach. We built sandcastles, explored the estuary when the tide was out and even though it’s late april and the water is rather crisp we all swam.

Our second day here we were keen to do one of the walks that were on offer. So mid morning we headed off to Goat Bay, it was about a 40 minute walk with a stop off at Skinner point for some great views back to Totaranui Bay. I had packed Oliver’s togs knowing he would want to swim at Goat Bay but not ours a move I did regret a little after the climb over to the bay on a surprisingly warm autumn day. We settled for paddling our feet in the ocean and very quickly killed a couple of hours before climbing back over to Totaranui bay and finally having the swim we wanted.

DSC06470

DSC06490DSC06492

Another great thing about this camp is that they have fireplaces all around the camp so you can have an open fire. Toasting marshmallows over an open fire was a pretty great way to end such a nice day and I know it’s one of Oliver’s favorite memories from our stay here.

DSC06545DSC06535DSC06525

The next day we opted for a bit of a quieter day, most of our morning was spent riding our bikes around the camp and the little area behind the carpark that has been made in to a little bmx track. Then we took a walk with the Doc ranger and fed some extremely big eels. And in the afternoon it was back to the beach, more sandcastles, more swimming. This day is the pattern many of our camping holidays normally take, it feels familiar in its routine no matter where we are and what beach we are swimming on. Perhaps this is why Oliver is taking to our new life like a duck to water? He seems very content with this new normal, in fact I would go so far as to say he thinks this new life is much better than the old. And I can see his little mind taking in everything around him, there are moments where I can see the learning happening right in front of me. It’s not in a so called conventional way but it is learning all the same and what’s more so much of it is self-directed. As he walks through the bush he tells me ‘tree starts with t mummy’ and then spends a good 15 minutes naming things around him and what letter they start with. We write words on the beach with sticks and he counts things constantly, sometimes even doing basic addition without even really knowing what it is that he is doing. It’s amazing how much a child can just learn all by themselves if you just give them a loving supportive environment, surround them with plenty of varied opportunities to explore the world around them, read to them on a daily basis and give them as much time to play as you possibly can. For Oliver learning seems to be an almost natural thing, always evolving, always growing, always searching for new knowledge. I hope he never stops searching, growing and evolving and I hope I always take the time to see it happening.