Our favourite places in Nelson

Since we are spending quite a bit of time in the one spot I thought I would do a little round up of the best things we have found to do in Nelson. Bear in mind these all have to be child friendly, I am sure there is another perhaps more sophisticated side to Nelson that is just not ready to have a five year old unleashed on it. They are not in any particular order, I find it hard to pick just one favourite in any part of my life.

  • Tahunanui Beach – This spot makes it very easy to fill a day. The beach is beautiful and with views of the mountains as you take your beach side stroll it’s just that little bit special. Tahunanui also boasts a large and varied playground. With a nature park, miniature train track, beach side cafe, even a library, this is the perfect place to hang out with your little ones.DSC06097
  • Explore the markets – Nelson has so many markets and we have explored a few in our time here. I love a good market so have really enjoyed this side of Nelson’s culture. The weekend markets in the city are amazing and we also really liked a market that we went to in Isel Park. But I think you could pick any one and find something great to come away with.
  • Taste of Nelson cycle trail – The place we have been based at in Richmond backs on to part of this track so we have spent a bit of time on it. We in particular enjoy the sections that follow the water, makes for interesting (and flat!) riding.
  • Rabbit Island – Just a short drive from Richmond is Rabbit Island. Another great spot for a stroll on the beach, or a ride/walk through the pine forest. There are plenty of picnic facilities out here and I imagine it’s a busy place in summer.
  • Matai Valley – Tucked up in the hills the Matai Valley has a bunch of cycle trails and walking tracks. Lot’s of opportunity’s to picnic and enjoy the outdoors.sdrcof
  • Kina Beach –  One of the best spot’s we have camped at so far. Literally beach front parking, $5 a night per person to stay and miles of rocky beach to explore at low tide. And if you strike better weather than we did you might try out the outdoor bath tub that you can light a fire under for a lovely warm soak. It’s also a short drive from here to Mapua, a charming little waterside town with a handful of interesting shops and eatery’s.DSC07345DSC07365
  • Founders Heritage Park – We went here one saturday lured with the promise of a train ride. But we found enough to fill most of our day. There are rail car rides on Saturday’s, displays of old fire engines, buses and even a huge old plane that was used to carry mail across the cook strait, as well as an array of displays on Nelson’s history. Next door is a japanese garden’s and it is close to a well paved, very scenic part of cycle trail.

 

Standing still for a moment

As our second month on the road drew to a close it was time for a pause in our travels while Wayne did a stint of work. And as much as we are loving travelling in the bus it was nice to park up knowing we would be in one place for more than a few nights. We have been moving fairly consistently for the last two months, most of the time only staying a few nights at each place, so a slightly more long term spot was a new part of our journey. It will be a nice change of pace and I imagine it will ensure we don’t lose our enchantment with the travelling since we will have these times that we have to pause for a bit. We don’t have any big plans for our time here but it kind of suits us to take each day as it comes, means we can make the most of what the weather brings us and what moods we wake up in. The idea of Wayne heading off to work again was the side of this that we were NOT looking forward to. But work is a necessary evil, even when you live the gypsy life so we would cope somehow.

The first day of just Oliver and I hanging out again was surprisingly lovely. The moment when Dad arrived home and Oliver flew out the door to greet him with an ‘I’ve really missed you Daddy’ was even more lovely. We are back to having cold nights, crisp icy mornings but warm sunny days. Which is great, because when your house is super small the outdoors becomes a huge part of your life. The days are easy to fill with bike rides, walks to the park or trips to one of Nelson’s beaches. As well as trying to get in a bit more quiet time at home, playing board games or drawing or just playing with some of the toys that have been largely ignored since moving in to the bus. I remember worrying about how we would fit in toys when we were in the planning stages of this, as it turned out storage is not an issue with our bus so we had ample room for them. But if you are considering this life for your family and won’t have the storage we do, do not worry about cramming in to many toys. Our ever changing environment and the great outdoors are more of a draw card. The odd time that he does get out some of his favourites for a little while it is sweet but doesn’t absorb him the way it used to. Though we do sometimes have a fire engine or a race car tag along with us when we go for a walk, particularly when there is likely to be puddles involved.

We are also taking advantage of being close to a major centre to make sure we are ready to spend the winter in the bus. Our first few real frosts arrived this week and they were shockingly cold, there was ice on the inside of our big roof hatch one morning and it has spurred us on to get things done that we hadn’t gotten around to yet. First on the list was a bit of an upgrade for our winter bedding, Tauranga winter’s are quite mild so a good quality extra blanket for Oliver’s bed and a woolen underlay for ours, plus flannelette sheets all round were definitely called for. We have introduced Oliver to the joy of a hot water bottle and he slides into bed with sighs of delight at the cosy warmth of the sheets. Before we leave Nelson and head towards the colder end of the island we will cross a few more jobs off our list in the hopes that it will make the cold more bearable. I feel like we have jumped head first in to what is probably the most challenging part of living in a bus, doing it in winter. We have a fair bit of insulation in our roof but none in the walls or floor. A whole lot of windows to let our heat out and collect condensation overnight. As well as a few spots, like the hatch to the garage under our bed, where you can actually feel little draughts of cold air seeping in when it’s really icy. But I tell my self that if it gets too much to bear as we head further down the South Island that we can always drive back to Nelson, there is quite a community of people who live full time in there motor homes who choose to winter over here so it must be bearable. And we will be all the wiser and better equipped to make decisions for next winter. For now though we are loving the views of the mountains as day by day they are coated in thicker blankets of snow. Making plans for our first trip to play in the snow and all the adventure that will bring. For now we are enjoying this chance to catch our breath and dive a bit deeper in to this gorgeous part of the country.

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A letter to my five year old

Five years ago I was lucky enough to become a Mum. It was something I had hoped for and dreamed of for a long time before it became a reality, before you became a reality. And once you were here it was like the missing piece of my life’s puzzle had arrived. The life that Wayne and I had built together was a great one, but it was even better to be able to share it. From the minute the midwife placed you on my chest we were in awe of this tiny force of nature that had arrived in our lives. The love, the wonder that you brought to our lives has only grown from there. It’s almost hard now to clearly remember what life felt like before you were in it, who I was before you were in my life. I know a trip like this at this stage in my life was never on the cards before you came along. But part of my journey as a Mum has taught me that life does not always go the way you had hoped it would. We had never planned to only one have one child, but it turns out this is what our family is meant to look like, the three of us – a tight loving little family.

For a while this was very hard to accept and I still have moments where I am so sad we can’t give you a brother or sister to grow with. But the fact that there is only you is a big factor in what opened the door for this new life and perhaps selfishly, a big reason why a few more years spent enjoying your company is something I am completely ok with. Your life as a five year old will look very different to other children’s, something I know you realise. There have been many questions about what children do at school all day and perhaps a few doubts that you are missing out on something by having Mum as your teacher. I can assure you my love that what ever you do miss out on will be more than compensated by what you gain in our travelling. I was fairly certain of this before we started, now two months in I am completely convinced.

Our life is richer in so many ways now. Our bond as a family is closer than it has ever been, the confined space and so much time spent together has worked well for us all. We are all a lot happier living this way, it is only early days still but there is so much more smiles, laughter and good vibes now. We have experienced some wonderful things together and seen so many beautiful places. The people we are meeting is an experience within itself, both the other travellers and the locals in the places we stay. I know this is still our country but for a little boy who has only ever lived in one place it is great to see different ways that people choose to live and conduct their lives.

Of course like all parents we are only making the choices that sit the best with us and hoping that in the long term these will work well for you. I also now hope that you will remember this time when you grow up and not in a fuzzy background, you were told about it so many times you think you remember it way. I hope it holds enough impact to be a clear memory. And I hope it’s as good a memory for you as it is for me.

 

 

Four nights at lake Rotoiti

We left Murchison amidst a torrential downpour and decided that a morning pitstop at a nearby restaurant for a strong coffee and a time warming our selves in front of there fire was completely justified. This was our fifth day in a row with little to no sun and the futures forecast looked just as bleak so our plans to freedom camp a few nights at our next destination had to change a little. When we arrived at the completely adorable little lakeside camp at Lake Rotoiti we could almost feel the weather had done us a favour. There is not much at Lake Rotoiti and the little town of St Arnaud that sits beside the lake. A general store/petrol station, a few places to eat and a wonderful information centre to help you explore the array of tracks that are on offer here. There are three camps around the lake but at this time of year only the small one at Kerr bay that also offers some powered sites is open. We found a spot tucked in the trees where we could plug in to power and ride out whatever weather was thrown at us over the next couple of days. That first afternoon was very wet, we managed one short excursion to the lake front but even wrapped up in jackets it wasn’t much fun. But then again we experienced that sudden ceasing of the rain and the sense of release it brings as you explore this place the rain was hiding from you.

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That night was one of the wettest we have spent in the bus and with the fresh snow on the mountains around us it was the coldest so far. Collecting firewood to keep our little fire burning has become a part of our weekly routine, luckily it is something that Oliver enjoys helping with and so far we have found no shortage of pinecones to collect.

Our second day at the lake we had enough of a break in the weather to do the short honeydew walk close to the camp. Lake Rotoiti is a significant area for the countries conservation efforts, it is one of six mainland predator free islands, where essentially they use the things they have learnt on these off shore sanctuarys and put them in to practise on the mainland. They have a lot of beech forest here and it is part of the reason this spot was picked. There is a bug that lives on the beech trees and creates honeydew, before introduced pests the honeydew played an important part in our countries eco system as it is a great source of food for the birds. Wasps have largely hijacked the honeydew for themselves so here as well as trapping the four legged pests they try to eliminate the wasps as well. It is clearly working as the bird life here is abundant and even in the cold, damp weather we had you could smell a strange sweetness in the air from the honeydew.

The next day we walked from Kerr bay to West bay. It was a pleasant lake side track and the sun even attempted to shine through at some points. We decided as we walked that we were not quite ready to leave and we would stay two more nights. We were all in love with this spot, the view of the snow covered mountains towering over the misty lake was a sight that would never get old. As well as having a multitude of walking tracks to keep us busy. So with the next days forecast looking like our clearest yet we planned a walk to Whiskey falls. It was three hours return but by now that is well within Oliver’s capabilities. We woke to a fairly cold morning so took our time to get ready and head on our way. The track was relatively flat and after the initial part leading down from the road followed the lake quite closely, this side of the lake was quite different to where we were camped. There were several exposed rocky portions to cross and you could feel the air getting cooler and cooler as you gradually turned the corner towards those snowy peaks at the far end of the lake. Oliver was the first up the hill to the falls and his cries of joy would have made the long walk worth it even if the falls weren’t as beautiful as they are.

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Just like that our time here had been filled. We had enjoyed it all, even the rainy times spent stomping in puddles. One of the things I did worry about a bit when coming to live in a bus is how we would find the rainy times in a confined space. But this week has been a joy! Hopefully it is a sign of what the rest of winter will bring us…

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It’s getting very, very cold….

When we left Kaiteriteri we had two and a half weeks to play with before we planned to be back in Nelson to do a bit of work. So we decided to head towards the Nelson Lakes national park. Our first night out we stayed at a freedom camping spot in the Moutere valley, it was a fairly basic affair, a long drop toilet which I was very grateful we didn’t have to use as it was in such a shocking state and a big grassy area next to the river. It was the first free spot we had found in a while as the Nelson area is not very freedom camping friendly and it felt good to get a free night in. As the day drew to a close the drop in temperature was much more pronounced here than what it had been on the coast and we got the feeling that this would be a growing trend for the next part of our travels.

It was raining the next day as we headed to Lake Rotoroa, so Oliver and I decided to follow behind Wayne in case we stumbled across something to do on the way. Oliver finds it quite amusing convoying this way with Wayne, there is normally a running commentary from the back seat about what he see’s the bus doing. We can also talk to each other on our walkie talkies which is a rather amusing way for a young boy to pass the time, this all serves to make our travelling not seem separate even though we aren’t in the same vehicles. Though to be honest I don’t mind having to drive the car and be apart when we move on from places. I did wonder if I would dislike it, but it is actually nice in some ways to have space from each other every now and then. And on the days where the roads are going to be steep or windy and the bus is going to be moving quite slowly it is good to have the option to just go ahead and find something to do to amuse ourselves at our destination. It was good we were together on this particular day because we found an old railway tunnel to walk through, a short enough walk to be achievable in the drizzly day we had but still an interesting break from the driving.

After that it was just a short drive on to Lake Rotoroa and by the time we got there the rain was quite heavy. The campsite unfortunately turned out to be quite water logged and deciding we didn’t want to risk the bus becoming a permanent fixture we found a spot to park up in the car park by the boat ramp so we could have lunch then formulate a new plan. But while we ate and then killed time watching a movie in the hopes the rain would clear long enough for us to at least look at the lake, we decided that the whole place was pretty empty, there were not even many day visitors around and those that came just snapped a picture and left.  So we spent the night there anyway just parked in the day visitors car park instead of the campsite. A little hard for me since on some deep, deep level I am a bit of a rule follower, but the worst that was going to happen is we be asked to move on if someone came to check on the camp – which they in the end did not. Once again the rain cleared suddenly in the late afternoon revealing a gorgeous view of mountains across the far end of the lake.

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The next day we hired a canadian canoe and spent a pleasant morning paddling on the lake in the misty but fine day that we had woken to. Even shrouded in clouds this lake was a little slice of paradise. The overwhelmingly green colour of the bush told it’s story of a place that see’s it’s fair share of rain. Spongy bright green moss wrapped around the trunks of the trees and across the ground, softer lighter green moss hanging from the branches. The lake itself is crisp and crystal clear. Just to top it all off it is home to the friendliest fantails I have ever come across. More than once they landed on my shoes or pants legs, flying so tantalizingly close you would swear that if you just held out your hand they would sit there for just a second before flittering away with a cheeky little chirp.

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From the lake it was just a quick trip to Murchison where we would stay for two nights. Murchison is only a small town but with a NZMCA camp right in the small town centre it was a great place to base ourselves. A short stroll to the shops if you need supplies, a small playground and even a skate park and bike track just down the road, these things are all a priority when travelling with a bike mad young boy. Unfortunately there was more of the wet stuff around during our time in Murchison so we had a bit of a quieter time. We did visit New Zealand’s longest swing bridge, the bridge itself was very, very long and a bit of fun. But I’m not sure it was worth the $10 an adult when what is on the other side is a lot of muddy tracks, a lot of blackberry and a ton of small biting insects. The upside to the rain is a bit of down time in the bus, it is tempting to be very, very busy all the time as if this was a holiday and you are trying to cram in the fun times while you can. Now that we are nearly two months in to this new life it is really necessary to make sure we do have some quiet days, too much all the time leads to one exhausted, grumpy little boy, not ideal when confined to a small space together. Our days are also continuing to get cooler and cooler, so a slow morning where we light the fire and stay cozy in the bus for a bit longer holds more appeal now. These moments are just as great as the things we are doing and the places we are seeing. It feels like such a luxury to have all this time together, to not wake up to a house that Wayne left while we were still fast asleep, to have no pressing jobs to do, no kindy to get Oliver to. It also feels like something that we want a lot more of in our life, even when we steer our lives back in a more conventional direction. But for now we will just enjoy what we currently have and keep wandering.

 

A few last days at the beach

After our big few days on the Abel Tasman track we were keen for a bit of a rest and relaxation. As our travels after this were heading inland we decided on two nights at Kaiteriteri beach at the camping ground there which is just a short stroll across the road from one of the areas trademark golden beaches. It is literally just around the corner from Marahau where we stayed after completing our tramp so it was a very relaxed drive there and an early check in. And our first day disapeared easily catching up on washing, strolling on the beach and playing on the flying fox at the playground next door. The perfect contrast to the busyness of our previous day.

The next morning we woke to the sound of rain on the roof and the feeling that the winter weather is on it’s way. Deciding that a bit of a day out in the car would be a good way to kill our rainy day we headed back up the Takaka hill planning to visit Harwoods Hole. But when we arrived the rain got much heavier so the 45 minute walk to the viewing area was just not going to happen. Instead we headed to the nearby Ngarua caves.

As we drove down the driveway to the caves it was very foggy and the area really couldn’t have looked less inspiring. But it was something to get us out of the car before driving back and it wouldn’t be raining in the caves so we brought tickets for the next tour. Well as sometimes happens when you go into something with low expectations this cave tour was actually a very cool experience. Oliver knew it would be from the minute they gave us special hard hats to wear, perhaps Mum took a little more convincing.

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With only two other people joining us on our guided tour we had plenty of time to make our way through the cave and we spent around 45 minutes walking through, being told the history of the caves and a little about how they are formed. The cave had lots of cave coral as well as stalagtites and stalagmites and one large open area in the middle of the cave which they call the cathedral. Apparently all caves have a cathedral and this is normally the most beautiful part of the cave, this one definetly was. The formations in the cave are made of marble so even the stalagtites that have broken are beautiful because you can see the marble inside. We even got to see some moa bones that had been discovered in the cave and hold a thigh bone of a moa. And at the end we climbed out via a little ladder just to add that little bit more adventure to the whole experience.

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It was the perfect way to spend a rainy morning and only made better by the fact that once we arrived back at the bus the sun had miraculously come out. So Oliver and Wayne jumped on their bikes and I put on my walking shoes and we headed for a lookout at one end of the beach. When you live in such a small space there is a real magic feeling when the rain clears and the sun comes out. The outdoors has become so much more a part of our living space now that our house has become so much smaller, so the impact of a rainy day is amplified. Hence seeing that glorious sun breaking through after such a wet morning makes your steps feel lighter and your whole day feel better.

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We truly have had an extended summer during our time exploring these golden beaches but it has finally drawn to a close. Perhaps now was the perfect time to move away from the beaches for a while and see what the inland parts of the south island have to offer as well. If it is half as amazing as what we have seen so far I am sure we will love it.

A night in a hut

Before we had Oliver one of our favourite ways to spend a weekend was to find a hut to walk to and stay the night at. There is something about heading into the bush with only what you can fit in your packs, only your own two feet to get you there and back that is just appealing to me on a lot of levels. In the early stages of our relationship I know that the time spent tramping helped Wayne and I build a strong bond, it gave us time out from lives in which we normally worked a lot and often only had the same days off once a month. And when Oliver came along it was a part of our life that I sorely missed. When he was around two, big enough that I knew he would sleep through the night without disturbing other hut goers but still small enough to fit in the carrier on our backs we did a few overnight tramps. But then he grew to tall for that and we got really busy trying to sell our house and organise moving in to a bus. So now that we have the time and before it starts to get to cold we were keen to try an overnight tramp in the south island.

The Abel Tasman track is a a multi day tramp that starts at Marahau and goes all the way to Wainui Inlet past Totaranui bay. Because it’s a coastal track and there are plenty of water taxi’s available it makes it very easy to do just a section of the track. Our plan was to catch a water taxi from Marahau to Torrent Bay, walk to Anchorage where there is a hut that we would stay at for the night, then walk out to Marahau the following day.

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Once again we were remarkably lucky with the weather and as we headed to catch our water taxi we were greeted with a lovely sunny day. After a pleasant little boat ride with a few stops to point out some local landmarks and the seals at Adele Island we were dropped at Torrent Bay. It was low tide, so the boots had to come off and Oliver had to get carried in to shore since the boat couldn’t get in as close. What we hadn’t realised is that striking low tide had other implications to, we had a choice of the low tide track across the mud flats which would take 35 minutes or the high tide track which would take nearly two hours. Deciding that there were lots of other side tracks for us to do from Anchorage we took the easy option and where at the hut well before lunch time. This gave us time to explore the amazing beach a little and get first pick of which bunks we wanted. Oliver was thrilled to get a top bunk with Daddy and I was just as thrilled that I didn’t have a top bunk. The hut at Anchorage is fairly new having been opened in 2013, it has 34 bunks spread over four rooms and a roomy kitchen area with a gorgeous view out to the water. It has quite a few modern conveniences as far as huts go, filtered drinking water, flushing toilets and solar powered lights in the kitchen area, even somewhere to charge your phone. It’s just a few steps off the beach and well used by people doing the tramp or kayaking in the Abel Tasman.

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After enjoying lunch with the resident wekas we headed off for a walk to a lookout. The walk to Pitt head is worth the climb for the glorious view of Torrent Bay and Bark bay beyond it, you can’t quite see Anchorage tucked in around the corner of the headland. From there the track looped around finally coming to another picturesque little bay, the Abel Tasman just seems to have an endless supply of little beaches, most small but perfectly formed.

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When we arrived back at the hut it was to find it and the beach beyond extremely busy. There are some large boats that do tours from Kaiteriteri and in the time we had been away they had dropped off a large school group and quite a few day tripping tourists. Along with them were lot’s of kayakers who get picked up from Anchorage by boat at the end of their days paddling. Certainly you are under no illusions that you are to far from civilization. Oliver decided that a swim was a good idea, though judging by the piercing screams he let out every time he got in over his bottom I would say even he is starting to feel the crispness of the water. We walked the length of the beach and explored the rocks at one end of it as we watched all the people boarding their boats to head home. Then it was back to the hut for dinner and a few games of Uno as the sun started to dip behind the hills. We couldn’t resist one last beach walk before bed and Oliver had a ball with his torch on his head chasing it’s light down the beach. We saw stingrays swimming in close to shore and at the far end of the beach saw glow worms in a sea cave. Oliver couldn’t resist a second look at the glow worms and I found a comfy log to sit on while I waited for them. The moon was up and the stars were just starting to flood the sky, it felt like a perfect moment, exploring a beach at night, feeling the peacefulness that the sound of waves lapping on a beach brings you. It struck me how grateful I am that we took this leap into this new life, it would have been so easy to just let it be a dream, something we thought would be amazing but felt there were to many unknowns holding us back. There are still a lot of unknowns around the corner for us and still some moments where I wonder if we can keep doing this, but those moments are so fleeting. It is easy to chase them away when you have beaches to explore and trails to walk with your family. And whatever those challenges end up being they are worth it for these perfect moments we get to share with Oliver.

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The next day Oliver was up bright and early at 5am, not unusual for him, he has been an early riser since forever. Something I have just learnt to live with, in a hut full of lots of sleeping people it was a bit more challenging. But after breakfast, a few dozen games of uno and watching the sun come up from the beach, everyone else started to stir as well. By 9.30 we had our packs on our backs and were starting the long walk back to Marahau. The suggested time was four hours so we were expecting this to be a big day. The track went inland to start with and climbed quite considerably for a while. Then you dropped down and follow the coast more closely with quite a few beaches you had the option of walking down to and exploring. For some reason Oliver struggled a bit with this walk, he just wasn’t his usual motivated little self, it wasn’t an easy walk and though we explored one of the beaches we simply didn’t have the time to go down to every one of them. This felt like a bit of tease to me and I know it was hard for him to. I feel for me kayaking would have been the prime way to explore this section, that way the beaches and the views would have all been much more accessible. It took us seven hours to get back to Marahau and there were quite a few ‘I can’t do this mummy’s’ by the end of it. But in the end he did and this is probably one of the greatest feelings tramping gives. When you have genuine moments of wondering if you can get there, your feet are sore, your pack is heavy, you feel like your steps are getting smaller and smaller, you are moving slower and slower. But you trudge on because there is no other option and then of course you do make it. You achieve something that you genuinely did not think that you could, you surprise yourself and teach yourself that you are much more capable than you imagined. My hope is that these experiences we are having now will stay with us once life has stopped being quite so exciting. That we will never forget how much we actually can achieve.

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Our first month on the road

Unbelievably we have been living in the bus for a whole month now. So far it has been a pretty dreamy experience, it is everything I hoped it could be and a little bit more. There have not been as many issues with adjusting to it as I thought, at first there was a lot of organising to do since we had a bit of a rushed and messy final move in to the bus. But gradually over the month most things have found a place, there are still a few boxes lurking in the boot of the bus that I haven’t opened yet, perhaps a sign they are things we simply don’t need in this new life? Time will tell. Establishing a bit of a routine for Oliver is an evolving thing, we have the bed time one sorted, a major for me since Oliver will not be going to kindy or school now. At the moment with Wayne around all the time I am getting lots of time to sneak off for a walk or take some time to myself. When he’s working, night time will be my only chance for this and particularly when you live in close quarters that time to myself, to not be Mum for a while is precious.

There are still day’s where we will be somewhere, walking down a beach or through the bush and I almost have to pinch myself. It is hard to believe we are living like this now when a year ago a two week camping holiday was all the time away we could manage. I am fully expecting this experience to change a little once we have been doing it for longer, at the moment it is pretty idyllic. Moving around lots, seeing lots of interesting things and Wayne being free not to work. The periods where he is working will perhaps resemble our old life a whole lot more. I think Oliver will really miss him when he is at work now, he has had a taste of having Dad around all the time and he loves it! I am pretty sure he is not the only one. There are days where they will both just ride off together and sometimes not appear again for a few hours, normally both itching to tell me whatever fun they have discovered. I can see Oliver blossoming under all the one on one time with his Dad and I can see Wayne enjoying being a father more now that he isn’t always tired from starting work at 1am or distracted by something else he has to get done. The gift of time together is the biggest gift this lifestyle will give us.

So the goal now is to find ways to make sure we make the most of that gift and ensure we can work less and travel more. Luckily bus living is proving to be quite economical so that part of our strategy is working out. We are exploring options for a cheap or free place to park the bus while we are working in Nelson, really this is where we can save the most money. And that is after all the whole point of spending money installing a solar system and bathroom etc so that we can save money in the long run with cheaper places to park, because we don’t need the facilities at a motor camp. Although it is nice every now and then to have a real shower and laundry facilities on your doorstep. I have a new appreciation for unlimited supplies of water and washing machines that’s for sure.

We are spending most of this week in Nelson, starting the job hunting process, buying birthday presents for a certain little boy and just enjoying this beautiful city by the sea. After this we have another three weeks of freedom before coming back to Nelson for our first stint of work. This may be the last of the nicer, warmer weather before winter really kicks in so we are keen to keep moving and make the most of it. I am hopeful that the second month on the road will be just as good as the first and if we are really lucky maybe even a little bit better.

Most thrilling beach walk of my life…

Our time in golden bay was coming to an end, we had loved everything about our time here and it was hard to think of leaving just yet. So we decided that three nights at a place called Wharariki beach past Cape Farewell would be a great way to finish of our time in this special part of the country. It is literally at the end of the road and there is a small camp ground there, a cafe that opens up over the summer and as we would discover a magical beach.

Once Wayne had dazzled me with his expert parking skills and squeezed the bus in to the most awkward spot to date, we had been impressed by the spotlessly clean campsite facilities and said hello to the resident peacocks and horses. It was time to go check out the beach. The beach is only accessible by a twenty minute walk through the surrounding farm land so timing it that we would arrive at low tide we headed off. Oliver is getting used to these little excursions and he was keen to get to the beach so it was a quick trip in. Once we made it to the top of the first sand dune and saw the beach start to unfold before us he took off running, smile so wide with excitement at what he had discovered.

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The whole place is just immense, huge expanses of sand dunes, enormous rocks jutting out of the beach and the sea and when the tide is fully out it seems to take forever just to walk to the water’s edge. The boys took off at a run and I got distracted trying to catch all the beauty on camera, by the time I caught up they were in their first sea cave pretending to hold up the roof like some miniature super hero.

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From there we made our way along the beach and found baby seals frolicking in the tidal pools left by the outgoing tide. They are obviously used to people stopping to watch them as the one female seal who was sitting on a nearby rock watching all the babies didn’t do much more than open one lazy eye to check what all the oh-ing and ah-ing was about as everyone on the beach gathered to watch the babies playing in the water.

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When Oliver had lost interest in watching seals swim we moved on down the beach to explore the rocks at the far end of the beach. It was a dull, overcast day and the gray skies only made the whole place seem more wild and untamed. Not many people had come any further on to the beach once they had seen the seals and snapped a few photo’s so we had this part of the adventure all to ourselves. I feel sorry for those who came so far only to miss some of the best bits this place had to offer. This end of the beach the rocks became a maze of huge sea caves, really just a small childs paradise and over an hour easily slipped away weaving in and out of the rocks, exploring rock pools and soaking in all the raw beauty around us.

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It was after 4pm by the time we convinced our wet and tired little boy to start heading back towards the other end of the beach. We stopped by the seal pool for one last look at the gorgeous babies. As if by magic as we started to walk slowly away all the seals hopped out of there little pool and headed back towards the ocean where the rest of the adult seals were. Incredible how these tiny little creatures need no mother calling to them, no sign they had communicated in any way what so ever and they all knew it was time to head home, even the one that had wandered off around the corner alone followed the same internal call. So with that it was time for us to head home too, my baby needed slightly more encouragement than the seals after all his climbing through caves but we made it back all the same.

This beach was such a contrast to all the golden little bays we have been enjoying in this area, you can see how the harsh winds, rains and tides have left there mark on the place. Building the towering sand dunes you climb over to get to the beach itself, carving its mark in the rocks in the water and on the beach, smoothing away everyone’s footprints at the end of the day and bringing it back to the way it should be. Pure, unspoilt beauty.

This would sadly be our only visit to Wharariki beach. The next day the wonderful weather we had been experiencing came to an end and it rained so much that by the day after that the road in to the camp was completely flooded. Luckily we had planned on staying another night anyway, so we spent a day playing card games, checking on the flood waters and getting friendly with the two horses that were living in the campground. Not what we had hoped for but nice to have a couple of quiet days where we didn’t do too much before we began the journey back to Nelson. Wharariki was the perfect end to our time in Golden bay and it truly showed me you just never know what you might find at the end of the road.

 

Devil’s Boots

Every now and then when walking you will come across a track that takes you considerably longer than the suggested time frame. Maybe the track isn’t well maintained, maybe the suggested time frame is a bit optimistic and maybe you just move a bit slower than the people they thought would attempt this track. Now normally with Oliver in tow we add half an hour to most times when planning, so the suggested time of 2 hours and 40 minutes was probably going to take us 3 and a bit. When we arrived at the track we found you had to park up and walk around ten minutes through farm land to get to the start of the track.

This whole walk had been Wayne’s suggestion, he spied a place on the map called Devils boots and a track there to the Aorere caves and Druggans Dam and it was somewhere he just had to explore. On our drive in Oliver had renamed the track the devil track – perhaps he knew something we did not?

The first part of the walk to the caves was quite a climb and took us much longer than the 45 minutes suggested. But was all worth it on finding two caves, one quite large called the ballroom cave, you can easily walk inside and explore a smaller tunnel, all safe and achievable for children and Mum’s who sometimes struggle with their balance. If I was to do this track again I would turn around here, which is probably what a lot of people do.

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We wanted to have lunch by the dam so carried on. The track became narrower and narrower and very overgrown with gorse in places. So after finding the dam and enjoying a well earned lunch, we decided to head back via the 4wd track (something I would normally avoid!) it had the same suggested. And then Wayne tempted fate and said ‘It can’t be any worse than the gorse’ Well in my opinion it sure was; very muddy, slippery, very slow going. The only redeeming feature was going this way we did get some awesome views.

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Just on five hours later we made it back to the car. And as I peeled Oliver’s muddy shoes and wet socks off his little feet while he devoured whatever snacks were closest at hand I was so proud of this kid. I know he found this walk really hard at times, but he didn’t once say he couldn’t do it, he didn’t once ask to be carried. He simply kept going and even at the very end he had a smile on his little face and was making silly little boy jokes. This kid amazes me and he inspires me, because if he can do these things I sure can to….