Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand’

A long and winding road…

February 2, 2013

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.


Police Museum

July 13, 2012

Today for something different, we took the kids to the New Zealand Police Museum.  We thought it would be interesting – which it was – and less crowded than some of the bigger museums in our region – it wasn’t.  It was packed.  There was a school holiday programme running where children could “learn to be a scene-of-crime officer” (ie dust for fingerprints), and another school holiday programme had chosen to visit the museum, as well as several families like ours.

Pearl picked up a workbook, which had several challenges in it, and went to work.  She had a great time solving crimes, following trails, collecting clues, and hunting down particular museum items.

Fainjin loved the displays of guns, motorbikes (including one he could sit on), the crashed car, and the identikit computer game.  He tried on a few police hats, but none of our kids wanted to try on any of the uniforms.

Babess found the museum a bit overwhelming, but she liked Rhys the police dog, and appreciated the toybox and playmat in a quieter corner.

There are some very interesting exhibits, including guns from David Gray‘s collection, the outboard motor from the Zodiac dinghy used in the Rainbow Warrior bombing, cutlery from the Erebus flight, a display on the 1981 Springbok tour, and a bible belonging to one of the victims of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.  There were displays of older things, too, but I was struck by how much of the history displayed was within my own memory.  I also liked the story from one of the early women traffic cops of how they were given uniform handbags and shown how to use them to fend off attackers – and pointed out to their instructors that they wouldn’t be carrying handbags when they rode their motorbikes!

The kids had been reluctant to go to the museum at first, but once inside they were captivated and we spent much longer there than we had expected.  Family outing – success!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Australia Fair

June 27, 2012

We were in the car coming home at the end of the day, listening to the news on the radio.

Babess exclaimed when there was a story about something happening in Australia.  “Australia!  That’s my fav’rite crunchie!”

The Dad and I shared a grin – his a rather smug one, I might note.  “Australia‘s your favourite country?!” I asked.

“Yeah!  Australia!”

“What about New Zealand?”

There was a short, considering pause.  “Nah… not my favourite.”

Australia it is, then, I suppose!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Waitangi Day

February 6, 2012

On this, our national holiday, we went with the children to a cultural festival and listened to some singing, enjoying the happy crowds and the sunshine.

We couldn’t agree on food from any of the stalls, so ended up assembling a picnic which satisfied everyone’s tastes.  We took it to a green space to eat, and got to watch a couple of games of ki-o-rahi taking place in front of us.

Then we went to a playground, one of the civilised kind with a cafe attached so The Dad and I had coffee and tea while the children clambered and swung and rocked and played in the sand.

NZ’s a good place to live.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Quake. Again.

February 22, 2011

This afternoon another large earthquake hit in Christchurch.  This time, it was shallower, the shaking was more violent, and people have died.

Lots of people are hurt, homeless, and frightened.  Some are still trapped in collapsed buildings.

There will be great stories of heroism, miraculous escapes, and heartwarming kindness to emerge in the next days and weeks.  They will comfort us in our sorrow and fear, and reassure us that people are basically decent creatures.  (I’m sure there will also be tales of looting and despicable behaviour, but they will be the minority).

Once again, we check our emergency supplies, make mental notes to improve our preparedness, talk with the children about what could, might, one day probably will happen here, and feel lucky that this time it didn’t.

My thoughts and love go out to those in Christchurch, especially the families of those hurt, trapped, or killed.

Some links:

NZ Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (quake updates) and preparedness

Red Cross NZ (donations) (news, pictures, video) (quake reports and maps)

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

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