Sunday, 26 June 2016

Spikes first "tramp"

Waihohonu Hut, Desert Road, Tongariro National Park
Team: Mark, Spike, Me
Date: 06-07 Feb 2016

The last long weekend of summer seemed an ideal time to take Spike on his first overnight tramp. We reviewed all the places we had been before, and after deciding that we wanted somewhere bookable, to be sure that we would have a bed each, picked the only one that had beds available on the long weekend Saturday night that was under 2 hours at our pace from the road end – Waihohonu Hut.

Unfortunately, this meant long-weekend Friday night traffic to get out of town, and we made the mistake of trying going via Masterton instead of straight up the coast. Given Spike slept all the way to Masterton, sitting in traffic for a similar time to get to Levin would have been fine. We ran into the club van, headed for Tukino, at Taihape – they had left an hour after us.

Spike then stayed awake all the way to our nearly-midnight arrival at the lodge, and took a chunk of persuading to go to sleep, even once the lights were off and Mark and I were nearly asleep ourselves.
Bookending our night at the hut with nights at the lodge meant we could leave fresh food and non-tramping belongings behind while we tramped, rather than having to leave things in the car.

Having the lodge to ourselves also meant that we didn’t have to worry about disturbing anyone.
Saturday morning arrived with indecent haste. We only had an hours drive and about 2.5 hours walk ahead of us for the day, so there was no rush, but we also wanted to be at the hut at a reasonable time, in order to attempt to snag a set of bottom bunk mattresses together. Lunch was made, water bladders were filled, packs were packed (and seemed indecently full for a single night trip). It was cool and drizzly at the lodge, with an average forecast so we dressed accordingly, locked up and wandered down to the car.

And we're off

The forecast was wrong. While it never actually rained, it stayed overcast. So instead of being cool and wet, and it was stuffy and muggy. Not the best weather for getting the best movement out of a not-quite 3 year old who doesn’t like to walk long distances anyway!



Liberal applications of food, water, and lollies, along with several sessions where Mark and I carried Spike on our shoulders on top of our packs as well, still didn’t get us to the hut before Mark and I started hitting spent, and Spike started melting down. So I raced ahead to dump my pack and then come back to carry Spike the last chunk in the Tula we had bought for this purpose. Incredibly, Spike perked up and started moving at a reasonable clip once he was down to only being with Mark, and so my carry wasn’t that far.

Spike perked up once we were at the hut, charming everyone, eating anything he could get his hands on, and running around everywhere constantly. Dinner was roundly ignored, as was dessert, but while we could tell he was tired, he refused to go to sleep until it was dark – the same time the last of the adults went to bed.


Sunday morning dawned deathly early. We really should have bought the blackout blind to the hut. Thankfully, Spike was tired enough to go back to sleep for another half hour / 45 minutes to a time when more of our hut mates were also waking up.

The weather had cleared overnight and we were greeted by clear skies and cooler temperatures. Spikes enthusiasm for walking died after a very short time, and we had used the bulk of our lolly stash getting to the hut. Two nights of poor sleep were also telling on our tempers. Tantrums were had (both toddler and adult ones), carries were given, threats were made to leave Spike behind (I couldn’t do it. If he wandered off track we would never find him).

Rising Maunga

When we got to the last segment before the car, we reversed the day before and sent Mark off to dump his pack and come back to collect. Again Spike picked up the pace markedly when there was only one adult around, and Mark barely managed to turn around before we were there.

More food was divvied out and we headed to Turangi for an early lunch and a swim in their indoor pools (which were both cheap and wonderfully refreshing), before heading back to the lodge for an early dinner and early night.

Thankfully, Mondays drive home was drama-free. We stopped in Ohakune and Levin for food, playgrounds and icecreams.

I wont lie – this trip was HARD work. We definitely over-estimated how interesting the track and surrounds were for a pre-schooler. And I think the distance was a little far. But we’ll try again, for sure.

Views for miles

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Routeburn: The physical work

I used Map My Walk on my phone to track our route - speed and altitude - for our Routeburn Tramp, and it was quite interesting (and INSANE) to contemplate, now that its all said and done.

 Day One. Not at all sure what was recorded for that first hour, because I'm pretty sure it wasn't all down hill (and dramatically so), especially since the breakdown suggests we started at 580m, not the 1500-odd that the elevation indicator shows! The map is fairly close to accurate though for the line.
You can clearly see where we started climbing - bang on the 9km mark. There were a LOT of stops on the way up the hill, and I had a rule that apart from lunch, I didn't stop the tracker during the day. Every km has some climb, with the last 2.7km involving 330m uphill (Routeburn Flats to Routeburn Falls Huts).
Fitbit: 24,398 steps over day
MapMyWalk: 10.72km, 14,577 steps while walking, 16,000kJ

 Day Two. Started reasonably high and got higher. You can see we climbed quite gradually up to the saddle, then it was a chunk of drop on to the Hollyford Face, before a gradual climbing sidle to the top. Clearly Laurie and I made good pace dropping down to Lake Mackenzie. Average pace much slower, and that first 3km was SO slow. Yikes. That will have been the 400m climb, plus the views, snow and heat! The last 2km was almost entirely downhill, with only a 3m gain from the lowest point at the very end. All other km breakdowns had a bigger climb.
Fitbit: 30,211 steps over day
MapMyWalk:  10.93km, 14,870 steps while walking, 21,824kJ

Day Three. Our fastest day on average, which is awesome, considering how exhausted we all were. Also just the longest. The gradual climb away from the hut is clear, and then its obviously a long sidle around. The descent to Lake Howden looks more obvious here than it felt at the time. The slower sections involved a bit more climbing on rough terrain (which Claires sore feet found really hard) and then the 5-6km distance involved Earland Falls, which we negotiated very slowly (large, wet rocks, with a nasty fall), and stopped for food.
Somehow, our climb up to the Key Summit turnoff (199m over about 1km) only took 20 minutes, and every single km involved SOME uphill from its lowest point (the least uphill was the last km, with 4m up).
Fitbit: 31,943 steps over day
MapMyWalk:  12.91km, 17,555 steps while walking, 18,723kJ

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Sunshine on Harris Saddle

29 November - 1 December 2015
Routeburn Track, Mt Aspiring / Fiordland National Parks
Team: Laurie, Ange, Claire, Marion, Me

Friday was spent in a haze of packing and worrying. Reports in from Queenstown were not good - a severe storm had just gone through and the Glenorchy Road was closed due to tree fall. Thankfully, by the time we got to the airport on Saturday afternoon, the roads had been cleared and power and been restored to the district.

Our adventure began at Queenstown airport, where Claires pack lost a strap when she tried to pick it up to carry it to the taxi stand. Oh dear. A pack with only one shoulder strap is no use for a 3-day, 32km tramp. Grabbing a taxi the 1/2km to our accommodation (because our bags were huge and it was trying to rain on us), we started googling for pack hire, trying to find one local at Remarkables Park. No such luck. We sent Claire off on the bus to Queenstown to pick up a hire pack in town, while we aimlessly wandered the supermarket for ages getting our tramping food and something for dinner.

Sunday morning dawned incredibly fair, if a little nippy. Up stupid early to get everyone through a last shower before we hit the track, we were all just nicely ready when our shuttle arrived to collect us. The amount of treefall on the side of the road was incredible. It was amazing what the roading staff had managed to clean up since the storm.

We were among the first on to the track that morning, our five, two others who shared our van, and a group of guided walkers all heading off at about the same time. We overtook each other with regularity past the first gorgeous waterfall, and all the way to the riverside where we stopped for morning tea and to soak in the atmosphere of exactly where we were, and what stunning weather we had (just in case it didn't last - Fiordland weather is fickle!).

Cascading A river runs through it

Cruising on up valley, we got to Routeburn Flats hut at a good time for lunch. Yes, it had taken longer than the DOC suggested time to get there, but while we had fine weather we didn't care. Chilling out in the sunshine at a picnic table on the grass in front of the hut was blissful. The hut is clearly designed with daywalkers in mind, having a HUGE covered space with benches, sinks, tables and seats.

The rest of our days walking was uphill. All of it. So in went my earbuds and off I went. We agreed before we headed off that we would all climb at our own pace, taking long stops in a couple of specific locations, with the person at the front regularly waiting for sight of the person at the back, and each person stopping when they wanted to, for however long they wanted to (avoiding the caterpillar effect of the front stopping and then moving on as soon as the back catches up, leaving the back feeling like they dont get a break).

Find the trampers

The climb was a long, plodding slog. But we made good time - I arrived first in just on 1.5 hours, and the others dribbled in one every 5 minutes after that. I had planned to walk back down the track and find the back marker, since I was feeling good, but by the time I had greeted each person and celebrated with them that we had made it, the next person had arrived.
Snagging ourselves some bunks, we also grabbed a prime position on the deck, where we had a view out to the peaks on the opposite side of the valley, and chilled out for a while. It was still early afternoon, but Routeburn Falls Hut was already largely in shade. Taking turns, we went for wanders up to the falls proper, and down to the prominent rock below the hut (which is so popular it really needs a track built to it rather than the scramble over slippery boulders that you take at the moment).

Dinner was endured, the hut talk from the ranger was hilarious, and we all stayed up late enough for the lights to turn on. The early loss of sunshine meant the bunkroom was quite cold - the dining room was only warm because the ranger had lit the coal range around 5pm.

Waking at 6am Monday for a toilet break, I discovered that some keen beans were already up, packed and on their way out for the day. The beginning of the morning was beautiful and I contemplated just staying up, but opted to go back to bed for a bit more rest as I knew we had another chunky climb and big descent ahead of us.

Routeburn Falls Hut

Breakfast, pack and a little bit of housekeeping later and we were on our way. Two steps off the deck and the climbing that would be the bulk of our day started. We dawdled our way up to the top of the falls, enjoying our last views over the Routeburn Valley. Then we turned into the upper valley below Harris Saddle. Wow. The valley opening ahead of us was immense. And incredible. The track vanished into the distance where we could see tiny people walking ahead of us. 

Rocking out Lake Harris

We took a LOT of photo stops on the climb up to Harris Saddle, including to play with some snow and to watch an Australian family climb a huge rock to get a great photo. We again followed our caterpillar approach, each walking at their own pace, stopping frequently to make sure everyone was ok. We briefly debated stopping for something to eat on the promontory overlooking Lake Harris, but opted to continue on the 500m to the shelter at the saddle and have an early lunch (so we could claim to bag it by stopping in and eating there). We somewhat regretted this decision, as the promontory had been sheltered from what was actually quite a cool breeze apparent at Harris Saddle Shelter.

Harris Saddle

Lunch at Harris Saddle was rediculously early - not long after 11am. But we figured from the map that it would be our last place to stop and stretch out for a good couple of hours at the pace we were all going. The trip along the Hollyford face is a bit of a blur for me. The combination of heat, exertion, pack weight on shoulders and sunhat / sunglasses pressing on the side of my head was not doing wonders for my brain. This was exacerbated by running out of water before Ocean Peak Corner, leaving me with a near migraine. The views through this part of the day became a bit monotonous, compared with what we had been experiencing, since we were simply walking above the Hollyford Valley for several kms. Some parts of the track are quite tremendously exposed through here, which left some members of our party struggling.

Laurie and I wound up pushing ahead to try and beat my migraine to the hut, leaving the other three behind as a group to make their way at their own pace. Just before we started off, having left a message with the Australians to pass on to Ange, Marion and Claire (who we were confident weren't far behind us), we saw Ange bounding up the track with no pack on. "Oh fuck" went the murmur through the six of us. Thankfully, Ange was just coming to tell us they were fine, just slow, struggling a little with the exposure and Claire having a sore foot and were more than happy to just see us at the hut. I was loathe to break the group up to the extent we were going to. But if I slowed myself down to Claire's pace with her sore foot, I would have been blind from the headache before I reached the hut.

We tried to cheer them (and ourselves) up by telling them the top should be "just around the corner". This was a lesson in how big a distance "just around the corner" is, in such a landscape. Turning the corner at that point, where we thought we had done the last of the uphill / sidle and should be starting to drop again was the only point of the trip where I really struggled - more uphill. We were sure the ranger the night before, and the track profile in the brochure had said it was "basically all downhill" from Harris Saddle to Mackenzie Hut. What a load of bollocks. It was a bumpy sidle that seemed a lot more uphill than down and ended with a vicious wee climb.

Down there

A seat in the shade with lots of water, no pack and no sunhat was such a blessing once we finally got to Mackenzie Hut, first spotted as a tiny dot ALL THE WAY DOWN THERE. Laurie and I collapsed on the front deck of the hut at about 3:15, just over 7 hours after we left Routeburn Falls (although we did spend nearly an hour at lunch). We dithered for a bit about bunk spaces, eventually signed ourselves in, changed out of our sweaty clothes and into lightweight alternatives (it was still 22C at the hut at 6pm, despite being at nearly 900m AMSL).and settled in to wait for the others, hoping they weren't too far behind.

Our relaxed state started turning to nerves as our self-imposed "will go looking for them" (to make sure nothing had happened) time started to draw closer. We asked people as they ambled in if they had seen them, and most indicated their last sighting had been somewhere up on the switchbacks above Lake Mackenzie. Finally, the ranger (who we had seen way up on the Hollyford face) came through and said he had seen them only a couple of minutes prior, taking the turnoff for the high water track. Finally, over 2 hours after Laurie and I arrived, and nearly 4.5 hours since we had last seen them, they stumbled in. Claire promptly burst into tears of relief at having made it - her description of how she was feeling sounded a bit like plantar fasciitis to me, far from ideal when tramping.

Chilling Sun Strike

Another dinner was endured (freeze-dry is not really my ideal food, but with 5kg of camera gear, I was weight saving where ever else I could), we all had a quick wade into the (very cold) lake and wandered around in shorts, singlet and jandals till it was time for the hut talk. Which we had on the deck in the sunshine. Bliss. Until the sun suddenly vanished and the temperature dropped about 10C in 2-3 minutes. I was stuck in the middle of the group, unable to get out surreptitiously, still in my lightweight warm-weather clothes. Not ideal!

Bedtime followed almost immediately the hut talk finished (the ranger was certifiable, and hilarious), with a plan to definitely be off early in the morning to allow extra time for Claires foot to slow proceedings. Allowing ourselves 6 hours to complete track that was indicated to take 4-4.5 should be plenty, right?

Amazingly, Tuesday morning dawned brilliantly fair again. What a run of weather we had hit! The forecast was for rain “mid afternoon”, which suggested we may just miss it with our 2pm pickup. The track from Mackenzie hut ambles along with a few climbs for a while, then starts to sidle past a couple of gorgeous waterfalls. We left Laurie at the first to take photos, agreeing to wait for her at the second if she didn’t catch us before then. She caught up to us as we arrived at the massive Earland falls, which were beyond incredible. Thankfully the flood track wasn’t required, and so we could get an excellent view, walking across the bottom of the falls.

Tumbling down Earland Falls

Beyond here it was mostly downhill to the hut. I needed to pee and was losing sensation in one arm for some reason, so opted to push ahead of the group - no-one needed to put up with the grump I was developing - through to Howden Hut. Although I worried because I hadn’t seen the girls for quite a while by the time I got to the hut, they were only 10 minutes behind me. Sadly, we had taken almost a full 4.5 hours to do the “3 hour” walk from Mackenzie to Howden. The suggestion was 1-1.5 hours from here to the road end, and we had exactly 1.5 hours before pick-up.

Lunch was a hurried affair, watching the new batch of guided walkers arrive to be greeted with chocolate biscuits, hot tea and coffee and raro on the few picnic tables outside the hut, leaving us standing along the front of the deck. Laurie checked herself in for her night at Howden, grabbing just her camera kit, water and jacket and hefted Claires pack onto her back instead, to help Claire get up the hill in better time. Which worked a treat, those of us who left 5 minutes after her didn’t catch her on the slog up to the Key Summit turnoff.

Here we said goodbye to Laurie, who was continuing on to do the Caples track without us. Marion and I stretched out our legs and whipped down the hill as fast as we could to ensure we made it to the carpark before the “15 minutes or so” grace from the shuttle ran out, arriving at about 1:50 (which means, even at our good pace, it still took the full suggested 45 minutes down the hill). Dumping packs and grabbing a drink, Marion headed back to see if she could help the others, who walked out at 2:01 under their own steam, totally stoked (as well they deserved to be!). 

Back to Queenstown in the shuttle, window wide open almost all the way because it was still really warm. We grabbed dinner from the supermarket across the road from our accommodation, and then most of us headed for a walk to the pools (about 2km) for a shower and then swim, absolute bliss after three long days walking!

Friday, 20 November 2015


This time next week I'll be finishing up packing for a trip to do the Routeburn. I cant wait! This trip has been in plan since February or March, when Mark asked for a second week in Australia in quick succession.
This will be the longest I will have been away from Spike - we leave Saturday afternoon, and get back Wednesday lunchtime.
A ladies tramp, with a truly random assortment of women from very different parts of my life.

Hopefully it goes well and we get good weather! Wish us luck!

Friday, 30 October 2015

Summer in the Catlins

December 27-31 2014

Team: Mark, Spike, Myself

Catlins Area

Our summer holiday this year saw us hit the Catlins - an area neither Mark nor I had ever visited before. It was lovely to explore somewhere new, that was laid back and relaxed, with lots of outdoors things to do. We spent MONTHS planning this trip, and managed to largely get absolutely perfect weather, which was awesome.

While there are some longer walks available in the area, mostly the walking is short - as in 45-minutes at a time is a fairly long hike. Which is perfect when you have a nearly 2 year old on your back because he doesn't want to walk!

We based ourselves at Pounawea to start with, at the campground. It was lovely. Couple of really nice little units, clean showers (although the hot water was patchy), a small kitchen that worked mainly because the site was predominantly taken up by locals, who bought their own massive set-ups to stay for a week.

December 27th

After an early arrival at the campground, we did a loop walk that starts at the back corner of the site. This is call the Pounawea Nature Walk. It had heaps of interesting stopping points with information about some of the native trees that were in evidence. It didn't take us as long as we anticipated - or as long as the signs advised, even though we took the long way to go down to the tidal flats of the lake to make our way back to camp.

Low tide

December 28th

It was a very warm day. We decided to head around the coast a bit to Nugget Point for our walk in the morning, stopping briefly at Tunnel Gully on our way there. Its a nice, cool little spot, but only worth it for train or history buffs, really!

Nugget Point was really neat, although you wouldn't want to try it if you had vertigo!

The return walk from the carpark was 1.8km, and took us 40 minutes return, with Spike in a pack. We stopped at the lighthouse for morning tea, and I definitely think I need to go back - although rumour has it that the area down there is hectic at dawn (which would be epic) with busloads of tourists - buses we never saw, anywhere in the Catlins. It is quite markedly downhill from the carpark to the lighthouse.

Beacon Nugget Point 

In the afternoon we did a double waterfalls walk - first in to Purakanui Falls, and then to Matai Falls. Both were gorgeous, and cemented WaterFALLS as one of Spikes favourite things. Purakanui was busy (as expected) and Matai was pretty quiet, which was lovely. Spike largely refused to walk anywhere on these two walks.

Purakanui Falls Greenery

December 29th

A quieter day - a morning walk up the hill to Jacks Blowhole. I found it quite an effort, and I wasn't carrying a toddler. The blowhole was neat, but as with many, your view is limited as you have to stay well back for safety reasons. The views on the way back were better.

Best seat in the house Windblown

In the afternoon, we hung around the campsite as Spike had had a rough night with getting to sleep the night before and was refusing to nap. We also had nothing we felt strongly enough about to go back to, as we had done all the key walks we wanted to do at this end of the coast. It was actually a lovely afternoon at the campground, especially since it was rather hot!
The dusk was seriously impressive, which I would have missed had I not made friends with the family on the neighbouring campsite and spent the evening chatting to them.


December 30th

After checking out of the cabin, we headed up to Kaka Point for morning tea. There aren't many walks here, and Spike hated the beach, so we jumped back in the car to drive south to Waikawa Bay, where we had another nights accomodation booked. As with everything in the Catlins, it wasn't that long a drive, and we wound up going through "town" and down to Curio Bay for lunch once Spike woke up.

After checking in to our lovely, but VERY hot accommodation, we headed to the access road for Cathedral Caves, intending to arrive shortly after the road opened so we would have as much time as possible to explore. The day was roasting hot and we were looking forward to getting our feet wet. Sadly we hit two problems: 1. The road wasn't open yet, 20 minutes after it was meant to be, and there was no shady area to wait in, and 2. We didn't have anywhere near enough cash to pay the fee to cross the private land to get to the Caves.

So, we abandoned that plan and headed for McLean falls instead, which were totally worth it. In this day and age, where viewing platforms and safety barriers are the norm, you can actually climb all over and into  the falls. Fantastic on a hot day for cooling yourself off! On the way back we stopped at the campground cafe for an ice-cream and to grab a couple of cans of coke (at $4 each), as there are no shops in this part of the Catlins. What we really wanted was a beer, and Mark seriously considered staying at the cafe for dinner so we could have one, but we had meat that needed to be cooked back at the motel.

Stop Motion (2) Walkable

December 31st

We had purposely not done Slope Point the previous morning, leaving it for on our way south to Bluff. This was a mistake. The weather turned absolutely nasty when we were half way to the sign, and then started hailing as we got to it. Cue panicked toddler in backpack and soaked parents in jeans! A quick photo at the sign, then I threw the backpack on while Mark carried Spike in his arms, inside his raincoat to keep him calm. I all-but ran back to the car so I could dig out towels and dry clothes for everyone, and after a very rapid change of clothes in the backseat for Spike (including a nappy since he was wet through!), we got changed too and headed off again.

Slope Point

The weather for the rest of the drive south was much better. We got some nice views down the coast, and stopped in a small town just out of Invercargill for a late morning tea (we were completely out of food because we had expected small shops down the coast, since the map indicated there were shops or cafes in most towns. There kinda werent). In Invercargill it was time for lunch and groceries (I pushed Spike in the buggy to the supermarket to keep him quiet) before we headed south to Bluff for the night.

Stirling Point

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Family "camping"

29-30 March 2014

Matiu-Somes Island, Wellington Harbour

Crew: Mark, Spike, Myself, 15 others from the WTMC Families group

Exposed Crossing

Saturday morning and we were running for the train, trying to get Spike in his carrier plus a daybag and two overnight bags from the carpark to the platform so we didn't miss the ferry to Somes Island. We made it with moments to spare, and the lovely train attendant even helped us load the bags onto the carriage.

Figuring out how we were carrying all this luggage from the train to the ferry was an entertaining game at the other end, but we got it sorted and missioned our way down the waterfront to meet with everyone else nicely in time for our pre-booked and pre-paid (thankfully) ferry across the harbour.

Our arrival at Somes Island was too early for getting in to the houses we had booked (should have checked that before arranging ferry times around Spikes nap), so we had to leave our bags at the wharf and go exploring for a while before the houses came available and we could try and get Spike to have his nap, since he was refusing to do it in the carrier.

Here Sheepy Sheepy Made it to the top

Once we eventually got into the houses and got Spike down for a sleep, it was time for a bit of chilling out, watching the weather, which was a bit average. We got a short walk of about 45 minutes in during the late afternoon before it was time to retire to the house for dinner and chilling out before it was Spikes bedtime. The entire party, who were spread over two houses for sleeping, enjoyed dinner together in the house we were established in, and the kitchens were much better equipped than I had expected.

In the house

While the bigger kids and parents wandered off on a nocturnal walk, we settled Spike to bed, and were joined back in the lounge later by the intrepid explorers, where books were read, games were played and the heat pump was thoroughly enjoyed until it was time to turn it off.

Sunday morning was a chilled affair. A quick breakfast, clean up and pack up and then off for another walk. Because we knew we had stuff on at home in the afternoon (and Spike needed his naps, which seemed to be a dominating exercise the whole weekend), we had booked an earlier ferry home than many of the others. Back to Queens Wharf, a walk back to the train station and a train home to our car and our weekend was done.

Soft cut

It was very neat staying in the houses on the island, as I have previously camped there twice. Looking back from over a year later, I do wish we had just pushed on with doing stuff rather than making ourselves slaves to Spikes naps. And I definitely intend for us all to do it again sometime.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Stewart Island Day Walk

View from the lookout
 01 January 2015

Team: Mark, Spike, Me

Our holiday planning for our trip to the Catlins was nearly complete when Mark sprung on me the idea "we could go to Stewart Island". Wow. I hadn't even thought about the fact we were coming out of the Catlins in Invercargill - probably as close as we are going to get to Stewart Island for a long time coming.

We wanted to stay overnight, but the cost was prohibitive with a toddler, so we opted to do a day return instead, and just explore Oban and Patterson Inlet.

In the morning, it was cool and overcast. We wandered up from the wharf to the DoC office, where the lovely lady behind the desk highlighted half a dozen potential walks we could do as a family, either with Spike walking, or with us carrying him. We picked the longest for filling in the morning before our scheduled boat trip and headed off up the hills behind the town.

Our first bit of bush was a lovely reserve between the town and the rugby club. Then it was on, up the rather steep roads to the lookout at the top. Incredibly, after this Spike refused to get back into the backpack, and so walked all the way down the not-as-steep side of the hill, across the rugby ground and all the way to the end of the road, looking in to Patterson Inlet before deciding he was tired and wanted back into the backpack after all. During this time we saw a pair of kaka in the trees, which was rather magical.

End of the road Into the secret garden

Back up and over the saddle, through the reserve again and down onto the waterfront for lunch.

In the afternoon, as part of our Patterson Inlet cruise, we enjoyed a guided nature walk on Ulva Island, which is a bird sanctuary. Spike was very tired by this stage, so opted to stay in the backpack, where the slow pace and our guides lovely voice soon had him fast asleep. We got to see a whole range of unique plant species, and got up close and personal with a Robin. It was lovely.


After all that walking and Spike carrying, we were tired, so we opted to do a bus trip around the parts of the settlement we hadn't yet had a chance to see before we headed home.
Bush Walk Sleeping Beauty