Just So Festival

A festival aimed at families where we get to camp in the beautiful Kaitoke Regional park and take part in all sorts of events including a madcap tribal tournament? Sounds great! The inaugural New Zealand edition of the Just So Festival took place over the last weekend of February and we had a blast :)

We had left work early so we would have time to put up our tent and get settled before the festivities started at 5pm on the friday night. There were no queues and plenty of parking and from the car it was a short walk over to find our friends and pitch our tent. Once we had somewhere to sleep and everyone was ready it was time to head over to the festival site.

That evening and over the next couple of days we danced, crafted, paraded, rested, ate, marvelled, collected golden stones, played, talked, sang, dressed up, roasted marshmallows, chased bubbles, went inside bubbles, pillow fought and smiled. Hopefully you’ll see below some of the enjoyment and wonder that we experienced. We can’t wait for the next one!

Puppet dinosaur feeding

Puppet dinosaur feeding with String Bean Puppets

Learning some circus skills

Learning some circus skills

Campfire tales

Campfire tales

Kakapo shenanigans

Kakapo shenanigans

Misty morning camping

Misty morning camping

Conga line!

Conga line!

Dress up fun

Dress up fun

Festival buddies

Festival buddies

The lantern parade

The lantern parade

Campfire marshmallows

Campfire marshmallows

Fire dancing

Fire dancing

Inside camp curious

Inside Camp Curious

Inside a bubble

Inside a bubble

Checking out the aliens

Checking out the aliens

Knocked over by Fraser Hooper

Knocked over by Fraser Hooper

The penguin tribe leader

The penguin tribe leader

Pillow fight time!

Pillow fight time!

Let the feathers fly

Let the feathers fly

Tribal tournament

Tribal tournament

Mount Climie

With a few days left before I start work I’ve been taking some time to get outside. Today I went out past Upper Hutt to walk up the Mount Climie track. Accessed from the Tunnel Gully area of Pakuratahi Forest the gravel road provides service access to communication equipment at the summit. The track is steep, I wasn’t really prepared for the relentless upward grind and it didn’t take long before I was sweating profusely. It’s a 600m ascent and just over 11kms return. About half way up the surrounding forest changed to predominately beech and became much more interesting to look at with lots of native birds. It was nice to take my mind off the constant trudging to watch families of rifleman flitting through the trees.

Hitting the cloud level

Hitting the cloud level

Further interest was then provided by the low cloud level adding a misty fog to the forest. The higher I ascended the more wind there was and the swirling mist was great to watch during my frequent rest stops. After an hour and a half I came across the first of the communication towers. There are towers for TV transmission, cellular communication and apparently something for the NZ Police as well. There are two trigs, the first at 830m and the second at 860m. From the first trig the landscape changes again with the track following an exposed ridgeline that occasionally is snow-covered (some photos of that can be seen here). Not in the middle of summer but for my visit the cloud level was such that there were no views, just wind and white all around. It was eerie to be alone on the summit track, at times it was like something out of a horror movie (The Mist anyone?) but thankfully there were no scary or unexplained events. I ate lunch in a sheltered area by the trig and then spent the return trip taking my time, enjoying the general lack of climbing and taking a lot of photos.

The first trig

The first trig

Made it to the top!

Made it to the top!

The track disappears

The track disappears

Wind sculpts the summit vegetation

Wind sculpts the summit vegetation

A rata stump, the summit rata apparently all killed by possums

A rata stump, the summit rata apparently all killed by possums

On the set of a horror movie?

On the set of a horror movie?

More foggy infrastructure

More foggy infrastructure

Goblin forest

Goblin forest

A mountain cabbage tree

A mountain cabbage tree

All up it was around 4 hours return including my lunch and photo stops. I think it’ll be a few years before I take Alayna up there, she’ll need some practice on shorter climbs first. There is a definite sense of achievement in reaching the summit and I think I’d be more interested in regular visits if it wasn’t a gravel road but rather a track that had a better sense of travelling through the forest. That said I will have to return to see the summit under snow and also on a clear day to see some of the promised views.

Mist and trees

Mist and trees

Summer days part 2: The Putangirua Pinnacles

Saturday saw us traversing the Rimutaka Hill Road with a destination of the Putangirua Pinnacles on the Wairarapa south coast. We were not alone in our choice and as we sat at a picnic table for an early lunch there was a constant stream of vehicles arriving and departing the pinnacles campsite and carpark.

It was a hot day with little wind and it was refreshing to enter the forest as we took the track up towards the pinnacles lookout. Again we had Alayna counting steps and also introduced a game of hide a seek with various family members dispatched ahead to hide. Alayna enjoyed pretending not to notice people ineffectively hiding behind narrow trees and would be smiling when we walked past her hiding similarly.

Grandad "hides"

Grandad hides

Waiting to be found

Waiting to be found

Who is behind that tree?

Who is behind that tree?

You can't see me!

You can’t see me!

We reached a ridgeline and spent some time walking up, down and around the ridge mostly in the sun and it was a relief to finally reach the pinnacles lookout. We had a good sit down, rest and snack after taking in the view and after a brief discussion headed down the steeper track to the valley floor. It was a direct track and I’m glad we hadn’t walked up it (30 minutes up, 15 minutes down).

Looking out to sea

Looking out to sea

At the pinnacles lookout

At the pinnacles lookout

When we got to the rocky streambed that formed the valley floor I decided to head up to the base of the pinnacles while everyone else started back to the car. We’d been seeing (and passed by) lots of families and groups of tourists and the again there were lots of people around as I trudged upward. At the head of the valley there were two different groups playing around with their drones, filling the valley with a buzz like giant bees. I took a few photos and then took off to try and catch the rest of the family.

Heading down-valley

Heading down-valley

In amongst the pinnacles

In amongst the pinnacles

Up a narrow valley

Up a narrow valley

I caught up with everyone eventually and found Alayna happily throwing rocks into the stream bed. Picking our path alongside the stream we were not long to be back at the fork where we had headed up to the lookout and from there is was only 15 minutes back to the (stinking hot) cars. The road was quieter as we drove to Martinborough, perhaps most of the visitors already heading home.

Playing with rocks

Playing with rocks

The south coast road

The south coast road

Summer at the beach

Summer at the beach

Ice cream time

Ice cream time

The Wairarapa visit was completed with ice cream at the square and we sat on a picnic blanket in the shade feeling content. The ice cream was wonderful and made for a lovely footnote to our day.

Summer days part 1: Otari-Wilton and Titahi bay

The last few days have blessed us with lovely weather so we’ve been out and about. On friday afternoon we took a walk at Otari-Wilton Bush. There was abundant birdlife with dozens of tuis and kakariki flying overhead, plenty of kereru around and also a pair of k?rearea circling around a tree on the other side of a valley. We encouraged Alayna to walk as much as possible partially by having her count the steps we ascended, she did really well and also enjoyed crossing bridges, throwing leaves into streams for races and walking over rocks whenever possible. We ended up at the flax clearing which would have been better described as the daisy clearing for our visit, a carpet of flowers punctuating the dry grass.

Crossing the stream

Crossing the stream

Family in the daisies

Family in the daisies

Daisy Alayna

Daisy Alayna

Keryn made Alayna a daisy head dress and Alayna chased me around the clearing while I snapped away. We took a few family photos after clearing some (but not enough apparently) of the more intrusive grass stalks. We had some of the gingerbread that was left over from Christmas and watched a procession of birds fly overhead. There was a large pohutukawa covered in fading but still resplendent red blooms and the tree positively humbed with its audience of bees. There was time for some silliness and then we were off back towards the parked car.

Fading summer red

Fading summer red

The happy frog

The happy frog

It being such a nice evening we took the opportunity to purchase fish and chips in Porirua and then head over to Titahi Bay beach for a picnic dinner. We sat on some steps near the middle of the beach and watched the people wandering along the beach, the paddleboarders crossing the bay and the brave few playing in the water while the southerly breeze keep the temperature a little cool. We attracted a growing flock of seagulls and Alayna took great delight in chasing them away, at least until the numbers got so great that they just circled around behind her. It was a very pleasant evening.

Titahi Bay

Titahi Bay

The seagulls were persistent

The seagulls were persistent

Alayna chasing seagulls

Alayna chasing seagulls

The North Pole Express

What better time to break the blog hiatus than the lead-up to Christmas? Last weekend we traveled on the North Pole Express, a steam train ride from Paraparaumu to the North Pole (Otaki standing in) and back. We were joined by Kelly, Drew and Clara and all met up at the Paraparaumu train station. We had been advised to arrive 30 minutes before departure time of 7pm and got to out muster point for the Elf carriage at about 6:35pm to find we were the last people to turn up, obviously we weren’t as organised as everyone else. Still, we were early enough.

As indicated by the carriage name we stood with an Elf holding a big green flag and we got our tickets from a cheerful Christmas chef. Our Elf was constantly moving and we were soon on the move to the station platform to await the arrive of the titular Polar Express. Soon enough we could see a puff of smoke in the distance and then the train was pulling in to the platform, a wonderfully restored steam engine pulling equally grand restored carriages and all decorated for the Christmas theme.

Here comes the Polar Express

Here comes the Polar Express

Our carriage chef

Our carriage chef

Decorations

Decorations

Off we go

Off we go

We found our allocated seats and settled in for the journey. There was appropriately themed music for the whole trip and our Elf, Chef and a cast of other characters kept us entertained as we steamed north. There were people watching from their houses or pulled over beside the road to watch the train go past, obviously we were quite the sight! As we got closer to the North Pole our Elf was getting very excited and as we pulled into the station we saw Santa and his assistants waiting on the platform and welcoming us with a wave (Santa) and acrobatics (the assistants).

The conductor pays a visit

The conductor pays a visit

Our elf gets excited

Our elf gets excited

Disembarking we arrived into a winter wonderland with stalls dispensing iced chocolate (it’s been a warm summer so far) and cookies and there was a foam machine pumping out a fare substitute for real snow. Alayna was certainly impressed and this is was the closest she’s ever been to real snow.

Alayna in the snow

Alayna in the snow

The snowing platform

The snowing platform

We had plenty of time to wander about, watch people getting photos with Santa and the other dressed up characters from the other carriages, and then see the steam engine move to the other end for the return journey (returning backwards as there was apparently no turntable available). Then we were called back to our seats and headed back to Paraparaumu. During the return Santa visited everyone at their seats and gifted bells to all. There was more singing, more dancing and general good cheer and even a nice sunset to watch.

Receiving a bell from Santa

Receiving a bell from Santa

Peek-a-boo

Peek-a-boo

Singing and dancing

Singing and dancing

We disembarked, had a chance for one final chat with Santa and then were walking back to the cars. It had been a fun trip and was now quite late which meant Alayna fell asleep on the way home, all excited out.

The train empties at dusk

The train empties at dusk

Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year!

Patuna Chasm

In the Wairarapa there is a hidden gem that I’ve been trying to visit for a few years now and last week I finally managed to get the time required to check it out. Patuna Chasm is a natural feature worn out over time by the passage of the Ruakokoputuna River. Situated on private property 17km south of Martinborough it’s possible to book a visit through Patuna Farm.

Keryn and I both took a day off and arrived at Patuna Farm a little early. All up there were 8 punters lined up to walk the chasm and this necessitated a trailer being hooked up to the farm 4WD to transport us all to the starting point which was a 15 minute drive from the farmstead. Our host was Alan and after giving us some tips and handing over a sheet describing the walk we were left to start walking. Alan had picked me as a photographer after lifting my admittedly heavy bag of camera gear into the 4WD and gave Keryn and I some extra advice to maximize the photography opportunities which was appreciated.

The first half of the walk traversed native forest and farmland as we headed upstream. There were one spot where there was a rope to help descend a stepper part of the track but otherwise it was fairly easy going. We spotted and heard korimako (bellbird), tui and miromiro (tomtit) while walking through the woodland and stopped to have lunch at the wonderful natural feature named Wave Rock.

Keryn climbs up to Wave Rock

Keryn climbs up to Wave Rock

A nice spot for lunch

A nice spot for lunch

From Wave Rock it was only a few minutes till we were heading down towards the river and negotiating another somewhat tricky section of track that again had ropes for assistance. Then it was down to the chasm floor via an 8m high ladder. The water at the bottom was cold on first contact but soon was comfortable enough on this warm summer day. It wasn’t possible to have dry feet on this walk so we were both wearing sports sandals. Alan recommends wearing shoes or boots to help prevent getting stones stuck underfoot but we managed OK. We took a moment to read the provided notes and decided to head upstream to a nearby waterfall.

Descending into the chasm

Descending into the chasm

Playing with water

Playing with water

The upstream waterfall

The upstream waterfall

The water got up to our knees as we picked our way upstream which was about as deep as we had to negotiate on the whole walk. The waterfall was very pretty and would be even more impressive after heavy rain. It’d also be easier to photograph on an overcast day but who am I to complain at sunny skies with scattered cloud. Keryn played with the streaming water and investigated the mossy banks while I took photos before turning back downstream.

The chasm narrows

The chasm narrows

The riverbed was rocky with occasional patches of gravel and we walked carefully, picking safe spots to place our feet and making sure not to stand on the larger submerged rocks which tended to be slippery. There were a few sections where we could walk along the banks and at one point labeled split rock we had to climb down another shorter ladder. Split rock was also a good spot to investigate fossilized shells exposed where the stone had cracked apart.

It was well worth reading the chasm notes. For instance at the next large rock in the center of the river we had a choice of left or right paths around the obstruction. The left side was dim and meant walking through dripping water coming down from the walls above while the right side looked much drier. The notes pointed out that the right side path was much deeper so a quick shower was the better option.

Looking back at the "house" rock

Looking back at the “house” rock

The chasm walls reached higher and started coming together past the house rock and we spent more and more time stopping and just watching the play of light across the water sculpted surfaces. Sunlight that reached the water would reflect in lazy moving waves and the water changed colour from black to green and yellow depending on the depth.

Sculptured rock

Sculptured rock

The path ahead

The path ahead

We were becoming aware of the time and that we were meant to be finished by 3pm for our pickup. One of the group ahead of us came back to check on us and the older couple behind us somewhere so we knew we had better get a wriggle-on. Pressing on through the water we passed a large short-finned eel seemingly suspended in the water to one side of the chasm, completely unimpressed by the travelling humans.

Nearly done

Nearly done

We came out of the chasm and there was one more short, rope assisted climb before we were again walking through the forest and uphill to the starting point. Next time I’ll take Alan’s suggestion and skip most of the forest and start in the chasm, I don’t think my photos really do the place justice. Patuna Chasm is a natural wonder that deserves to be experienced in person. I also look forward to the day Alayna can come visit with us, though she’d need to be a bit older (it’s recommended that children be older than 6).

New Years wandering

I had been planning a quiet New Years Eve as I had a concrete pad to construct the next day but then it started looking like the aurora could show so plans changed. For months I’ve been meaning to walk the Rimutaka Trig track (now named Te Ara Tirohanga: “The view that improves as you climb the ascending pathway”) in the evening to see if the views would be good for star gazing but I’ve never quite been organised enough. I made a snap decision and got ready to finally give it a go. The stunning weather also helped with it being warm and calm with clear skies, hopefully this would be the case at the trig as well.

The road was mostly clear, everyone either on holiday, out partying or at home. I reached the carpark at the base of the track just after 9pm and was soon walking uphill. Its a short but relentless slope to the trig and I was taking frequent stops to rest and check out the view (improving as suggested). After about 20 minutes I reached the top to good if not great views, the Wairarapa side was very hazy.

Taking in the view at dusk

Taking in the view at dusk

Looking towards Lake Wairarapa

Looking towards Lake Wairarapa

As dusk settled into night the weather also changed and misty cloud started forming. I persisted for a while but the view was quickly disappearing and photographic opportunities were becoming few and far between. I entertained myself with shots of cars travelling SH2 and lighting up the road leaving trails through the mist but it was getting colder and there was no longer any chance of aurora being captured so I was soon enough packing up and walking downhill to the car. I stopped a couple of times for photos and got a few nice shots of stars through the low canopy of trees near the bottom of the track, first having to wipe away the condensation building on the lens.

Traffic along SH2 as the mist rolls in

Traffic along SH2 as the mist rolls in

Misty trig

Misty trig

Stars through the trees

Stars through the trees

Looking at the time when I was back in the car I realised I might be able to make it to Petone in time to see the New Years fireworks over Wellington. I managed to get to the beach in time but the fireworks in Wellington were far to far away to be photographed so I took a few photos of fireworks on the beach before returning to the car.

Rocket launch!

Rocket launch!

Messy fireworks

Messy fireworks

Looking at my phone I could see on Facebook that the aurora was showing for some down south so I took a chance and drove to Red Rocks on the south coast. I was lucky enough to capture a faint aurora but the rising moon (big and yellow above the horizon) was wiping out the colour. Thankfully there were plenty of meteors (likely part of the Quadrantids Meteor Shower) to also spot and I was lucky enough to catch a large one in camera. To the eye it flashed across the sky leaving a brief smoking trail waving behind it.

Contemplating the milky way

Contemplating the milky way

Meteor, milky way and aurora australis

Meteor, milky way and aurora australis

All up it was a good end to 2015 and a great start to 2016. Happy New Year everyone!

Boxing Day at Queen Elizabeth Park

The extended Christmas weekend has been a period of stunning weather in Wellington. I’ve been forgetting what wind is like, no doubt I’ll be reminded soon enough. We took advantage on Boxing Day and took a walk up the coast at the Mackays Crossing end of Queen Elizabeth Park, specifically the Wetland Walk and the Bush Loop (not the most imaginative names). I can’t find a decent website link for the walk but you can view a PDF map here.

We parked at the park rangers office and got ourselves ready. I took Alayna to have a look at some horses across the road and we stood and watched as one of the park trams passed by. As we started our walk two horses were led by by their riders and Alayna had a good look without getting too close. Horse inspection complete we were off into the meadows.

Walking the meadow

Walking the meadow

Pukeko signage

Pukeko signage

Blowing dandelions

Blowing dandelions

The track circumnavigated a large paddock populated with cattle and a couple of wetland areas. Being quite dry recently there wasn’t a lot of water to be seen near the southern end of the track but we still saw a few pukeko and a heron. Alayna got to check out various wildflowers and blow dandelions with Keryn and also inspected a couple of rabbit holes. The track interseccted with an equestrian course and there were lots of different jumps dotted around. Outside of the Bush Loop there were a few stands of manuka and young cabbage trees popping out of the grass.

Horse course

Horse course

The lollipop cabbage tree

The lollipop cabbage tree

Vibrant ponds

Vibrant pond

The wetland area at the northern end had a decent sized pond and as we approached we could hear a chorus of frogs which quietened by the time we were at the waters edge. We did see a couple of frogs resting in the water along with the ducks and a couple of dabchick. The walk ended back at the park road and passed by a US Marines Memorial. Information on the history of the US Marine camps on the Kapiti Coast can be found at the Kapiti US Marine Trust website.

US Marines Memorial

US Marines Memorial

Reading the boards at the US Marines Memorial

Reading the boards at the US Marines Memorial

We drove down to the end of the road and had a brief look. There were plenty of people around enjoying the good weather.

Kapiti Island

Kapiti Island

Mum’s birthday and driving north

Our final day in Timaru and the main reason we’d come down, Mum’s birthday. The morning was spent preparing food and getting everything ready for brunch as a bevy of family arrived. There were copious pancakes and croissants, fruit and Christmas mince pies. And then it was time for a birthday cake to be presented.

Time for cake

Time for cake

Blow out the candles

Blow out the candles

As is traditional there were a number of family photos taken. Frances and Helen were excellent photographers standing in my Richard and myself.

Uncle Richard

Uncle Richard

Siblings

Siblings (Alayna standing in for Patricia )

Family photo

Family photo

Alayna and the birthday girl

Alayna and the birthday girl

Early afternoon saw as saying our goodbyes and taking to the road once more. We were splitting up our journey with our Ferry not sailing until the following evening and we would be spending the night in Cheviot. Getting there we somehow managed to avoid most of the thunderstorms and hail that was threatening, only getting hailed on just north of Christchurch for a few minutes though it was loud enough to wake Alayna and concern her a little.

Stormy skies

Stormy skies south of Christchurch

We arrived in Cheviot and our accommodation at the Cheviot Motels and Holiday Park in good time. There was a trampoline, guinea fowl, rabbits, chickens, geese, horses, a donkey and a friendly cat so Alayna was set. I could see the heavy weather coming our way so dashed up to the next door Church as the front same in and got some photos of moody clouds before the wind kicked in, shortly followed by heavy rain. It blew through quickly thankfully, much to the relief of the cyclist who had just set up his little pup-tent.

The storm comes over

The storm comes over St. Johns at Cheviot

Here comes the rain

Here comes the rain

Morning rainbow

Morning rainbow

Strawberry Fare

Our trip down south coincided with the Waimate Strawberry Fare, a celebration of the local crop that has become a well known event. We parked at the home of Waimate legendary teacher Mary Firth (also fantastic Aunty) and headed inside for a chat. Mary produced a suitcase full of interesting things for Alayna to play with including a small tea set that got some good use in the time before we headed out. Bridget was also there having stayed overnight after a drip down to Dunedin to wow the audiences with talks on the importance of transport and design in keeping people connected (amongst other things).

Ready to walk to Strawberry Fare

Ready to walk to Strawberry Fare (Bridget explaining to Alayna the importance of transport and design in keeping people & teddy bears connected)

House from the garden

Looking to Mary’s house from the lovely garden

Rose in bloom

Rose in bloom

It was a pleasant walk to the Fare and we took a path through the nearby Victoria Park and checked out the birds. We were all impressed by a peacock in full display mode as it tried to get the attention of a frankly disinterested female. We caught up with Mary and Bridget just past the old Empress Flour Mill and then crossed the road to enter the Fare which was spread over Boland Park and Seddon Square.

Old silo

Old silo

There were many many stalls selling everything from handmade crafts to radio controlled helicopters, a variety of food and drink including plenty of strawberries and live entertainment. The raffle reminded me of those that took place (and probably still take place) at the Rangitata Huts every new years, the board rattling around as tickets were sold. Alayna wanted to look at and touch everything and loved some of the toys on display. She climbed into a comfy seat (also for sale) and would have been quite content to stay put if we’d given her food and a hand-knitted doll to play with. We watched a pipe band walk by and I considered talking to some extravagantly dressed steampunk aficionados about a photo but in the end didn’t manage to make up my mind in time.

Raffle

Raffle

Comfy

Comfy

Playing a tune

Playing a tune

We bought lunch and some more shoes for Alayna and then it was time to head back to Timaru and for Alayna to have a sleep. In the afternoon Keryn made a cake for the following days birthday celebration and Alayna got to have more cousin time. As well as Mum’s birthday the next day we’d also be driving north on the first part of our journey home so some preparation for that was also required.

Time for a story

Time for a story

Steampunk Oamaru

Oamaru was on the list of places to visit while we were down south so one morning we drove south to check out the steampunk capital of New Zealand. Our first stop, naturally enough, was at Steampunk HQ. It was simple enough to recognise where we were going, there aren’t many buildings with a strange smoke and flame emitting steam engine seeming to launch into the air sitting out front. The bearded and tattooed proprietor was friendly and a good salesperson. For $2 inserted the train would come to life with a huff and puff and screech of its steam powered engine and Alayna got to see it a couple of times due to the proprietor dipping into his pocket for a coin. Inside there was a array of displays and outlandish items to be seen. Flashing lights, angular sculptures constructed out of spare parts, a magical pipe organ that played unexpected and odd noises and various other strange and wonderful pieces.

All aboard!

All aboard!

Steampunk crab

Steampunk crab

All the stars

All the stars

In the yard out the back were more sights, here mostly of the mechanical and slowly rusting variety. I don’t think Alayna knew quite what to make of it all, everything outside her experience or normality. That said there was still time for some playful portraits.

Rusty train portrait

Rusty train portrait

Riding the tractor

Riding the tractor

Huia

Huia

We wanted to head to playground so Alayna could have some play time and through some random zen navigation managed to drive straight to the steampunk themed playground. Sliding, swinging, climbing and running around were the order of the day for a while.

Steampunk playground

Steampunk playground

Sliding

Sliding

Going for a walk

Going for a walk

Moody Oamaru beach

Moody Oamaru beach

For lunch we took a recommendation and drove a short way out of Oamaru to the Riverstone Kitchen, home of good food and a wonderful sprawling playground (not to mention the bonkers castle being built in the middle of a moat next to the kitchen grounds). After some initial issues with service we were soon very impressed by the speed of our food arriving, the quality of the food and general atmosphere. Once we’d eaten there was plenty of time to wander the grounds checking out the shops, gardens and peacocks and also following Alayna as she spent time in the playground and running around the large wooden fort. I don’t think we’d be able to visit Oamaru again without stopping here again.

Lunch

Lunch

Hanging around

Hanging around

Fort time

Fort time

Peacock

Peacock

Timaru for a few days

From Hanmer Springs we continued on towards Timaru with a couple of stops in Christchurch, one to pick up some duplo we’d bid for on TradeMe and a second stop at Riccarton Mall to stretch the legs. We were looking for some new shoes for Alayna and found a pair on big discount at Rebel Sport that did the trick, even if they were a bit more bling than we’d normally buy. Alayna loved for sparkle shoes so that’s the main thing I guess (and they were a good fit and were made well of course).

We arrived in Timaru in the evening and it was good to see Mum and Dad. Not so good was Dad being hospitalised later that evening with what turned out to be food poisoning. This meant in the end that Dad missed being at home fro Mum’s birthday but there was a silver lining of sorts with some planned tests for other complaints being brought forward because of being in hospital already but it was a long week for Dad to be in an isolation room. Thankfully there was plenty of family around so we were all visiting every day, dutifully putting on out gloves and plastic aprons each time before sitting down for a chat. Dad’s much better now which is good.

Alayna loves new places and toys which are different to those we have at home so she was kept interested by the things available at my parents place. Exploring was also on the agenda and Alayna liked looking around and finding things to look at, touch and feel.

Alayna at play

Alayna at play

Checking out cobwebs

Checking out cobwebs

We had a look around the Timaru shops and spend a morning down at the Caroline Bay playground and then playing around at the Timaru aquatic centre where we managed to get the childrens areas mostly to ourselves.

Around and around

Around and around

Horse riding

Horse riding

Drive time

Drive time

My brother’s family is down the road from my parents place and we had a few afternoons there as well and Alayna loved to play with her cousins. Again there was an array of new-to-Alayna toys to check out and play with. There was also a trampoline so it was perfect really.

Keira and Alayna

Keira and Alayna

One night there was a chance of Aurora activity so I ended up picking up my brother and he showed me a good local spot for photography out on Adair Road. While we didn’t get to see or photograph an Aurora it was a beautiful night with plenty of stars which reflected nicely in the hood of the car. We did attract the attention of one curious local who drove past us at least three times, turning around and coming back slower each time while presumably trying to figure out what we were doing.

Star reflections

Star reflections