Totaranui Bay

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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.

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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.

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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.

The last of the beach days

As our summer starts to draw to a close I find myself spending more time at the beach. Perhaps it is the knowledge that this will be our last month spent on these sands, not just for this summer – but in all likelihood forever. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t doubt we will visit here again countless times. But I do not think it will be home for us again.

When my husband asked me the other night if we were going to the beach again the next day (just a little jealous that he couldn’t join us). I jokingly replied that I had decided that this was what life was for,  long walks along the beach and then afternoons spent in the water, so of course we were. But really I wasn’t entirely joking for me there are not a lot of things in life that can beat the feeling of your feet sinking in the sand, waves washing over you. One that does is watching Oliver experience the beach. The minute he hits the sand his strides lengthen, he’s drawn to the water in a way that makes me think it is an urge somehow bigger than himself. He can happily spend the whole day swimming, jumping waves, collecting treasures and digging in the sand.

I have heard this connection you get from being barefoot on the beach as earthing and I can see why. You can’t fail to leave the beach appreciating the beauty of life and the power of nature, somehow more in touch, more consciously connected with the earth around you then you were before your visit. And for me an evening stroll along the beach after my boys have gone to sleep is the ultimate in earthing. Nothing but me and the sand under my feet, waves roaring beside you, sun sinking behind Mauao. Any problems you have normally don’t feel quite so huge after soaking in the vastness of the ocean beside you for a while.

cofNow that the to do lists that were once seemingly endless have dwindled to a few last details to organise and we are nearly due to get our bus back, we have finally been able to set a leaving date. Wayne has given notice at his job and the days are steadily ticking by to leaving day. I thought that perhaps this time would be a bit nerve-wracking as we let go of the last security blanket of a steady income coming in every week. But instead I am still positive that we will make this work and surprisingly calm about the whole thing. I do expect a few doubts to try to creep in on the day we actually drive away from Te Puke, but that I guess is simply being human. So until that day I think I will continue to enjoy the beach as much as the weather will allow me to and I will definitely continue to soak in all that wonderful earthing energy.

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