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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Caves, waterfalls and mazes, Oh my!

As soon as we arrived at our camp at Port Tarakohe, just past Takaka I knew this was a place we would enjoy spending time in. We were staying at an NZMCA camp and the location was gorgeous, view of the water, large area for Oliver to ride his bike and close to plenty of bush walks.

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On our trip in I had seen a sign that said Labrinth Rocks, so we decided this was a great thing to check out with the afternoon we had left. If you are in this area with children (or are just in touch with your inner child) you must check this spot out! It is a natural rock formation that is basically a maze and hidden throughout the rocks and trees are all sorts of toys. We spent a good hour walking, spotting hidden treasures and playing a hilarious game of hide and seek. Some parents have clearly had a laugh while hiding toys with there children. I’m undecided which is my favourite, the severly underdressed barbie, the lego man perched in the skull or the many toys artfully suspended in branches – poised for action.

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The next day we were up early and on our way to our first walk of the day. Something I haven’t mentioned about Wayne is he has a bit of a fascination with tunnels and caves. If there’s one within walking distance it’s normally on the agenda for us to go see it. Todays cave was the Rawhiti Cave and had a suggested time frame of two hours return. The track followed the river for a while before climbing steeply for around half an hour. Oliver was like a little mountain goat scrambling up the track, literally leaving me in the dust in this rush to get to the cave, maybe the obsession runs in the family? Once there the climb proved to be worth it, Rawhiti cave is a phytokarst where plants and calcium work together to ‘grow’ the stalagtites and stalagmites. It’s large and open and the water dripping down from the ceiling as the morning sun streams in is quite a pretty picture.

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Once we had rested a bit back at the bus we headed to Wainui Falls. As we drove to the start of the track we got our first look at the golden sandy beaches that give Golden Bay its name. And as we followed the well maintained and obviously well used track to the waterfall we got our first look at the lush rainforest, full of Nikau palms that is common in this area. It is so different to the bush we are used to walking in, it’s so green and vibrant, so alive. It was a pleasant and easy walk to the falls with a swing bridge to cross just to make it a bit more interesting for Oliver.

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That night we took advantage of the fact that the boat club next to our camp opens for dinner on a sunday night and wandered over for a meal. The people who ran the restaurant were all very friendly and full of tips for places to see and things to do while we are in the area. They made Oliver a little man made out of marshmallows to go with his ice cream sundae and let him ride in the service elevator downstairs when we left. I truly think the people we are meeting along the way are just as much a treasured part of this journey as the sights we are seeing. I love to think about what it is teaching Oliver meeting people like this, kind, helpful people who go out of there way to make a small childs day just that little bit more special. I hope it teaches him that we are only strangers until someone makes the effort to smile and say hello. And that no matter how different people might appear from the outside, once you say hello it isn’t hard to find common ground.

The next day we followed one of the suggestions we had been given and did a walk at the Grove. It’s a very short but very worthwhile thing to do in this area. Lovely bush to walk through, lots of interesting rock formations and a great view from the top.

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Our three nights here went so quickly because there was simply so much to do. It had all been great and as if to finish it all off nicely on our last night as we went for our evening walk down past the boat ramps we saw a seal sleeping on the rocks in the last of the days sun. It was the first time Oliver had seen a seal that close up and there is something about there big beautiful eyes that never gets old for me. Truly the perfect ending to three perfect days.