Back at the beach

We had spent three weeks in Nelson and after over two months of travelling it felt like the longest time. Luckily for us the opportunity for work in Blenheim came up and we were on the move again. So we left Nelson on a friday hoping to find somewhere off grid and interesting to spend the weekend. The first spot we stopped at would have been a lovely summer spot, but one of winter’s major drawbacks for us is a lot of grassy camps are just to waterlogged and soft for us now, this one we gave a wide berth as you could clearly see other people had been stuck. We arrived at Rarangi beach just before the sun started to drop and just in time to squeeze in a short walk on the beach. Instantly we knew we had hit the jackpot again in this camping spot. The campsite itself is a perfect winter site – gravel to park on! Though we didn’t quite get a beach view from our spot it was just a few steps away and it’s a glorious rocky affair, with views of the hills and snowy mountains in the distance.

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Saturday morning passed quickly, Oliver is well used to what new spots mean now and he is quick to jump on his bike, grab Dad and head off to see what they can find. Here there was a playground and pump track just up the road and a cave at the far end of the beach. I made the most of a bit of quiet time at the bus, gave everything a good clean and tidy up, did some baking and enjoyed a small break from the million questions a five year old continually fires your way. After lunch we were keen for a walk so we headed to Wither hills farm park in Blenheim. There are lots of walks in the park and we easily found one to suit our needs. Oliver was charmed by the stepping stones over the stream that we had to cross numerous times and the occasional sighting of some sheep. We squeezed in a short visit to Pollard park to try out the playground before heading back to our spot for the night.

Sunday was another gorgeous sunny day, even the last few nights had not been that cold, I now think the weather was lulling us in to a false sense of security before it delivered another wintry blast. We checked out the Blenheim farmers market in the morning, which was small but had a good range of produce and a few other bits and pieces. Oliver really enjoys shopping at farmers markets now, he’s keen to help pick out the apples he wants and choose the biggest broccoli he can find, like me I think he finds it a far more appealing way to shop than a supermarket. Once we had made it back to the bus with our purchases we decided to head to the end of the beach where the boys had found there cave and then go for a short walk around to a spot called Monkey bay. Monkey bay was tiny but interesting, it had a sea cave that you could walk a small way in to when the tide was out and sea the waves washing through from the other side. Also some more of those views you could just stand and stare at for the longest time.

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From Rarangi beach it’s just a short ten minute drive to White’s Bay, a beach we had visited with my parents on our second day in the south island and we did head there for a short time that afternoon to walk on the beautiful sandy beach and explore the rock pools along the edge of the bay. I find it fascinating that these two beaches are so close together yet polar opposites, one white sand and fairly sheltered beach, the other a vast stretch of rocks as far as the eye can see and waves that you can hear crashing in on the beach at night. This diversity and contrast is where a lot of the famed south island beauty lies I think. You don’t have a chance to get bored with the views because they change often.

This weekend made me appreciate our moveable home on a new level. Even when we are having to remain in one spot for work we still have the ability to just head somewhere interesting and spend a few days exploring, no need to pack bags or book accommodation. No extra expense apart from the petrol which in this case we would have used anyway coming to Blenheim for work. Most of all the luxury of having your home with you wherever it is you choose to stop, so whatever the weather brings or what mood strikes you once you are there you are prepared for it all. This freedom means that it doesn’t have to feel like we have stopped travelling for a while, the adventure doesn’t have to pause just because we have.

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.