A long and winding road…

Yesterday we were looking for a family outing that would amuse us all for several hours without being too hot and/or windy.  We’ve had stunning weather for nearly 10 days now, rather warmer than we’re used to, and we knew we would need shade if we were outdoors all day.

We chose to go to Staglands, in the Akatarawa valley between Upper Hutt and Waikanae.  None of us had ever been there before, although we’d heard good things about it.

We had a fantastic day!

It’s lucky none of us get carsick, because from either end it’s about 20km of narrow curving road to get there.  It’s a pretty road, a mix of bush and farmland and river valley depending on which side you come from.  All the same we were all glad to arrive at the reserve.

I was surprised to see ducklings, I thought February would be a bit late for them as I am used to seeing them in September, but ducklings there were in abundance.  In fact, there were lots of babies – chicks, lambs, fawns, guinea pigs, piglets, even trout!



The kids were so excited, they wanted to run along all the paths to see what was next.  We had quite a job to convince them to look around and appreciate what was right in front of them.

There are several aviaries, holding a great variety of birds from budgies to an albino peacock to native kea and weka.

We had bought some trout food and some animal food, and the kids really loved feeding things – although Babess found the lambs a little bit aggressive.  They expected to be hand-fed, and kept nudging her when she wanted to scatter the feed on the ground in front of her.  All the kids loved feeding the trout, and combined their pocket money to buy another tub of trout food later.  Fainjin was most impressed by the eels.

Babess & The Dad feed the trout

Fainjin surveys the pond for eels

Fainjin surveys the pond for eels

An eel comes up for some food!

An eel comes up for some food!

The other highlight was “Kids’ Corner”.  At a bend in the river there is a swimming hole (too cold and deep for us even in this golden weather), and beside it a rope swing.  On the bank there is a flying fox and a little obstacle course for kids.  We spent a long time here.

Only Fainjin was brave enough to attempt the flying fox

Only Fainjin was brave enough to attempt the flying fox

A perfect family relaxation spot

A perfect family relaxation spot

The kids took turns on the rope swing and amused themselves by throwing stones into the river to hear the splosh.  The Dad and I tried to show them how to skip the stones over the water, but it was apparently more satisfying to throw big stones into the deepest part you could to make a loud splash.

At one stage The Dad and I sat to chat on a rock a little upstream from where the kids were playing and a peacock strolled right in front of us to go for a drink.

We had taken our own lunch and found a lovely picnic spot among the many available.  Babess was a bit put out because we chose a table and chairs instead of sitting on a blanket so it wasn’t a real picnic, but she recovered soon enough when I brought out the boxes of raisins and individual packs of chippies (left over from Fainjin’s birthday party!).

After lunch we revisited our favourite spots at a more leisurely pace.  Then we had afternoon tea at the cafe before taking the long and winding road towards home again.

I’m sure this will be a favourite place to return for family days out.

Note: this post is not sponsored in any way.

© UpsideBackwards 2013.


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4 Responses to “A long and winding road…”

  1. Stimey Says:

    This sounds so awesome. Put this on my list for “things to do when Jean visits New Zealand.” 🙂

  2. Graham Says:

    Looking carefully at the last picture, is that a traditional ducking stool? 🙂

    • Kate @ upsidebackwards Says:

      Haha, more like a traditional rope-swing-by-a-river 🙂 Just a thick rope with a knot on the end.
      There are traditional stocks by the replica bush village though – the kids wouldn’t put themselves in – but The Dad did, to their delight.

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