Exploring the Historic Lindsay Limestone Water Race

Exploring in the dark is super exciting for children, and not only is it super exciting it’s also really good for their sensory development.  So be open to adventures which take children into the dark or outside at night time.

Alex and his cousin Meeka were so excited when we told them we were going to be visiting a cave this past weekend.  They quickly rushed off to find their headlamps they were given for Christmas and proceeded to explain to each other what they were going to be doing.    The cave is a historic 200-metre limestone tunnel that was used as a water race for Mt Vernon station near Waipukurau.   The race starts near the river and has been dug right through the hill, where it then would have connected with water channels. There was a number of these across Central Hawkes Bay, with a larger more well known one near Onga Onga which my great, great grandfather helped build.  You can still see these raceways next to the country roads around Onga Onga.

Growing up in Central Hawkes Bay and attending the local high school I can’t ever remember hearing about the Lindsay Tunnel, so this weekend was my first time visiting.

 

Getting there can be a bit confusing, so please bear with me while I write the instructions.

Lindsay Road is off State Highway 2 just before Waipukurau (north of the bridge). Drive along Lindsay road and then turn into Scenic road which takes you to Lindsay Bush. Instead of going into the bush car park continue driving along the stopbank until you get to the end.   We parked on the stopbank, but you can drive down into the small turn around area at the bottom of the stopbank.

From here walk along the river heading west, there is a bit of a track, you will need to go around a makeshift fence and then keep walking until you see a gap between the blackberry.  Walk up the hill to you reach the track then continue on walking West along the track until you find the tunnel.   We found this the easiest way to get through without having to climb fences or scramble through Blackberry.

 

The height of the tunnel would be roughly 1.5 metres at the entrance gradually getting smaller and the far end would be roughly 1 metre.   Because we had not been there before we were not sure how small the entrance way at the other side would be, we had been told that we would need to scramble out the other side.

The thought of this, mixed with me talking about previous caving experiences brought on a bit of a panic attack and I freaked out 3/4 of the way through when the tunnel started to enclose.  Thankfully Grandma and Aunty Jeanie continued on with the kids telling them a story that I was too tall and kept hitting my head, while I practically ran all the way back to the entrance, gasping for air in a dramatic fashion as I found the outside.

(I have been caving in the past, through something they referred to as the birth canal and there was no way I was ever going to be doing something like that again).  As you can see from the photos below it isn’t as bad as that.  I most likely could have gone right through the tunnel, maybe next time.

 

Everyone else made it safely to the other side.  The kids all wanted to come back through the tunnel, so safe to say it must not have been too scary for them and they enjoyed using their head torches.

Next time you are in Central Hawkes Bay this is a really cool off the track place to visit, and if you want a longer walk the Lindsay Bush is just down the road and has a 45-minute loop track.  Next time we are down we hope to have time to walk around this track and I can let you know more about it.

Happy Exploring.

Becks 🌳🔦

** Photos by Jeanie Butler **

 

Napier, Hawkes Bay – Our ‘Must Visit’ List

Hi everyone, this blog came about from a comment I had on my Instagram account. There are so many ‘things to do’ in Hawke’s Bay that I really am finding it hard to just name a few, however, this post is aimed at a family with a toddler and an infant so you may see that some attractions have been left out that are better suited for older children and adults.  But feel free to add in your recommendations in the comments section of this post. So here we go, this would be my ‘to visit’ list when showing a family with young children around Napier and Hawkes Bay.

The National Aquarium of New Zealand

This would be one of the main highlights of any trip to Hawkes Bay with children.   The Aquarium is home to vast array of fresh and saltwater fish, along with turtles, alligators, penguins, and Kiwi. Not to mention Sharks and Rays.    Throughout the day there are sessions when you can see or be part of feeding.   Below is the timetable.

Reef Tank 10.00am
Oceanarium (including the Sharks) 2.00pm
Penguins 9.30am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm

Easy parking, cafe, gift shop can cater for all your needs.   Feeding times do get busy, especially through the weekend and school holidays, so make sure you get their early so you find a spot to sit or stand. For more information please check out their website here.

 

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Photo – The National Aquarium of New Zealand Photo Gallery Diver in the Oceanarium. 

The Strawberry Patch

This is just one of favorite places to visit in the summer, it has such a lovely atmosphere, in the shade of the huge Oak trees.   The Strawberry Season runs from October to May, but in the summer months, the strawberries are at their best, big fat and juicy. Over this time they have pick your own, which is really fun to do with young children, Strawberries always taste best when picked straight from the plant.   After we have picked strawberries we will stop and have a fruit ice cream, there are picnic tables and a few wooden ride on toys and horse swings for the kids to play on.  For more information please check their website here.

Park Island

There are loads of lovely parks in Hawkes Bay to explore, but one of our favorites is Park Island.   There is so much to explore in this park, it has easy access for a buggy to walk right around the islands and if you are buggy free there are a number of walking tracks that take you up through the islands.    Before the 1931 Earthquake, these were islands and a lot of the land here was tidal estuary or underwater.  There is evidence of this where you can see fossils and old shells.  Look out for painted rocks as this park is one of the favorites for Rock hunting.

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The Marine Parade

Part and Parcel of a visit to Hawkes Bay is a walk down the Marine Parade.    Any day of the year this is a beautiful walk, but on a Sunny Hawkes Bay Day, it really is paradise.    Stop in at the various attractions, bike park with working traffic lights, the adventure playground.   Have an ice cream at Lick This Ice Cream Parlour then carry on to the sunken garden, sound shell and then look back towards the city from the viewing platform.

Birdwood Gallery and Cafe

I recently posted about Birdwoods Gallery and Cafe on our Facebook Page.  This is a great cafe especially on a warm day where you can sit outside. They have plunger coffee and yummy slices and cakes.  There is also a day menu, see their website for changing menu options.  There is a huge area for children to play freely, there is also and an area with sculptures that you can walk around, with giraffes, birds and a hippopotamus sitting in the pond.  Next to the cafe is a vintage style sweet shop.   Think old school lollies out of Roald Dahl books, definitely a must do for all children at heart.

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Sweet Shop at Birdwoods – Photo Birdwood Gallery

The Picnic

This is one of personal favourite places to visit, and I recommend to everyone, all the time.   The Picnic is open |Thursday to Sunday (seasonal changes in days and hours check the website for updates).   Picnic offers delicious treats that basically you could pick up and take on a picnic.   Think decadent sweet treats, beautiful fresh bread, salads and celebratory cakes and chocolates.   They also serve All Press coffee which is up there with the best in Hawkes Bay.  To see flavor updates, check out their Facebook Page here.

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Photo – Google Gallery

The Beaches:  Ocean Beach and Waimarama Beach

We are lucky in Hawkes Bay that we boast some of the best beaches in the country.   I can’t really pick my favorite but both Oceana and Waimarama are fabulous beaches to visit if you have the time.   Both offer safe swimming in the summer with Life Guards on duty.  You also don’t have to venture too far to get away from the crowds.  On your way out stop and grab a coffee at Red Bridge Coffee, serving Hawthorne Coffee.  Make sure you keep up to date with their social media as some weekends they have local gourmet food stalls on site serving lunch.

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Red Bridge Cafe – Celebrating St Pats Day.

Alex Waimarama

Te Mata Peak

Te Mata Peak stands roughly 400 metres above the Heretaunga Plains and is a special part of Hawkes Bay visually and culturally.  There are many walking tracks or drive to the summit to see the 360 views.  Sometimes you will see paragliders taking off from the platform at the summit.   The park is currently having some developments done so it will be interesting to see what this looks like in the near future.

Sunday Farmer Market

If you are staying Hawkes Bay over the weekend, the Hastings Farmers Market is a definite must visit.   You will get to try out many of the artisan foods that Hawkes Bay has to offer.  Along with fresh local produce, you will be able to taste, wine, chocolate, walnut brittle (my favorite), coffee, cheeses, and specialty bread.   In the summer months, the market is under the Oak Trees, such a relaxing atmosphere that you will want to stop and eat your brunch while listening to one of the weekly buskers performing.

So this is my list of things to do in Hawkes Bay, I could go on and on, but maybe there is room for another blog in the near future.  In the meantime check out Hawkes Bay for more information.

Let me know your favorite places to visit or take family and friends when they come to stay in The Bay! Visit us at Facebook and Instagram.

Becks

** Please note I have used some photos from website Galleries, these have been noted on the picture.

 

 

 

Wandering around the Pan Pac Kiwi Creche

It’s World Environment Day today so to celebrate I thought it would be a great idea to get out into the bush.    I have been wanting to take a trip up to the Pan Pac Kiwi Creche for a few weeks now and it’s also another spot where Alex could collect a codeword for a Kiwi Guardian medal.    We arrived late morning and there was only one other family in the area, we had this beautiful spot basically to ourselves.   We decided to head around the lake, which is a suggested time of 30 minutes.  However, plan for 45-60 minutes if you have little ones like us.

The area is protected by a predator-proof fence and you will notice all the way around they have traps.   The kids looked in every single one of these traps, which were all free from predators!

 

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Checking the traps to see if there are any stoats or rats.

 

This is a beautiful walk and you will see and hear Native Pigeons and Tui, different Fungi growing on trees, we looked for fish in the lake but could not see any.  In the summer this would be a great place to come for a Kayak or swim and you are allowed to fish here.

At the Southern end of the lake is a small dock which you can walk out onto.   There is a BBQ Table and a covered area you can sit in out of the weather.

On Tuesdays, volunteers work in the area with the Kiwi so we will definitely plan another trip up here to see if we can get up close to a Kiwi.

 

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Kiwi Guardian Post.

 

The Kiwi Creche is a 40ha pest free area where kiwi chicks are taken from the wild to so they can grow up in the safe environment.  Once they are old enough they are then returned to the wild.   Although there are estimated to be 20,000 brown Kiwi in the North Island, they are now extinct south of Hawkes Bay.  95% of kiwi are killed by stoats and dogs, so it is really important that you don’t take your dogs out into our bush unless they are aversion trained which means Kiwi-trained.

There are plenty of other great walks around this area, Shine Falls, Boundary Stream and Bell Rock are all beautiful and not far from each other.   Plan a trip up to Tutira sometime soon it’s definitely worth the trip.

Becks 🙂

 

Poetry Teatime – A cosy winter ritual

A few weeks ago I came across an Instagram Account called Poetry Teatime.   It was a beautiful collection of photos of families sitting at the table drinking tea and reading poetry.

One of my favourite things to do is drink coffee but I often feel sad that in our modern world that we often miss part of the experience with instant and take away coffee and tea bags.  Often we don’t even sit to drink our cups of tea and will drink it on the go.   We have forgotten to stop and and make time to drink from beautiful china teacups and have something lovely to eat whether it be scones, cake or biscuits.     I have memories of having morning tea at my Nana’s house when everyone had been out working on the farm.  My Nana and I would make the scones and then everyone would come in and have morning tea together.   It is such a special memory of this time of togetherness.

I love sitting around the kitchen table but when family members work away from home, we don’t have the chance to sit together to have morning or afternoon tea, However I still wanted to create a time for my children that slightly resembled what morning and afternoon tea once was.

On Friday which was our first rainy day for sometime I thought it would be good to have our first Poetry Tea Time.    So out came the old linen table cloth and my great grandmothers china teacups.  I made Alex a fluffy with marshmallows and sprinkles and I had a cup of herbal tea.  We had crumpets with golden syrup and gingernut biscuits.   I then read poems and rhymes from a Nursery Rhyme Treasury book that I gave Alex when he was a baby.

Alex loved the experience, He enjoys stories and poems and kept asking for more.  This is definitely something that incorporate into our weeks, especially during winter when the days are cooler.

For more inspiration I encourage you to look at the Poetry Teatime Instagram account. @PoetryTeaTime

For more of our adventures please check out @kidsplaynz on Instagram or Facebook.

 

Becks

 

 

Earn Kiwi Guardian Medals while out on Adventures.

Recently I found out about the Toyota Kiwi Guardians.  This is a programme run by The Department of Conservation and sponsored by Toyota to get kids outside, exploring nature and going on adventures.  This is definitely something our family like doing.

Funnily enough, when we were at White Pine bush the other week my husband saw the Kiwi Guardian sign, but it wasn’t until I mentioned something a few days later that we looked it up online and found out how it works.

Kids can collect medals and certificates by going for nature walks, completing activities at home or out and about or by attending events in their hometown.   Once you have completed an activity all you need to do is go online to the Kiwi Guardian website, enter your child’s details and a collectable medal and certificate will be posted to you.   To claim a medal for adventure walks, look out for the code word on the Kiwi Guardian sign post on the walk, remember the code word, enter that word on the website with your details to claim your medal.

This morning we headed out to Pandora Pond to make a start on the adventure walks around Napier.   On the Kiwi Guardian website, you can download and print maps of the reserves you visit.  This is a great activity if your children are into looking at maps, Alex has just started showing some interest in maps and will draw maps at home or when he is in the car travelling.   We don’t have printer ink at the moment so he looked at the online map at home before we left.  There is also maps at both ends of the Estuary walk, so we looked at both of these and talked about where the different parts of the track were and pointed some the landmarks out.

This is a flat track and buggy friendly, it did take us longer than the hour stated on the sign but we stopped to look at a number of birds, crabs, signs etc. We were quite lucky to see a White Heron (need to confirm photos) feeding, which I have never seen before or at least never noticed (Amazing what you notice and see when walking with children).  I carried Frankie on my back most of the way because it was quite windy, however, I think half the track would be more than enough for her little legs.  We went at low tide today, I will take Alex back there at high tide in the next week so he can see the difference with the water covering the estuary.   If you haven’t walked this track before definitely put it on your to-do list.

Best place to park – Car park at the end of Humber Street, Ahuriri, Napier.

Check out the Kiwi Guardian website for more details on adventures in your town and adventures you can have at home.

Becks

Visiting the Kapiti Coast with Kids? – Pop these parks on your ‘Go To’ list.

Last Thursday  Alex, Frankie and I said goodbye to Chris (he had to work) and set off on holiday with my Mum, my Brother and his Family.  Mum had booked us all into a holiday home at Paraparaumu Beach via www.bookabatch.co.nz My mums side of the family all live in the area including her Mum and Dad,  so as well as a bit of a holiday for us and all the kids, we also caught up with loads of cousins and my Grandparents at the same time.

The Kapiti Coast is such a beautiful place to explore, the beaches, the parks, the bush it’s all there.    Seeing it now through the eyes of my children is even better.  It’s amazing what you don’t notice until you have little people and see things with fresh new eyes and get excited about everything.

On our first day, we ventured out to Kaitawa Reserve looking for Pirate Treasure, golden painted rocks that had been hidden within the reserve.  Weeks before I had joined the Kapiti Rocks Facebook page and found a post with a treasure map that had directions to the pirate loot.  The kids were ecstatic when they found it.  Rock painting is certainly a great way to get out and about and find hidden parks and reserves not only in your own town but also while on holiday.    This reserve is a definite must do for anyone visiting the Kapiti Coast.   There are walkways, with bridges and steps so you can wander through the native bush.  We found hidden pathways and steps down to the many streams.  Native birds singing, we watched a wood pigeon fly an arm’s length away from us and then sit watching us from its perch in the tree.  It really is quite a magical place.

The highlight of the reserve though was finding an epic flying fox.   This is something out the 80’s with the added value of millennium safety modifications.  Comfortable pommel seat and knowing there is no way you are going to slam into the wooden pole at the end.   The flying fox had enough scare factor making it exciting for older children and adults.   Near the end, you flew over a small stream and then bounced into the stopping spring which then pushed you back across the stream so you hop off and walk back up the hill. We definitely need more of this sort of play equipment in New Zealand, parks and reserves and not the plastic fantastic new school play equipment that have no real challenge to it.  We spent over an hour all taking turns on it, and only moved on because some other people came over to use it. The kids would have spent all day on it. Even the little ones had a go while sitting on us.

Later on in the day, we headed down to Marine Gardens at Raumati Beach, I saw some photos of this park online and thought the slide looked like something the kids would enjoy.   This is a cute beachside park, it has a huge enclosed slide, similar to a water slide, it also has a great splash pad and a large sandpit with working diggers.   We were there late on a Friday afternoon before the stormy weather hit, so we had it to ourselves.  I imagine this would be a busy place on a Sunny weekend day.   This park also hosts the Kapiti Miniature Railway Club, trains run most Sundays, (weather permitting).

The last park we visited was MacLean Park at Paraparaumu Beach and shops.   This park has had a much-needed upgrade in the past few years.   What we all loved about this park is that there is a tractor and boat as the main feature.  Alex could spend hours here pretending to launch the boat and then go fishing.    Just over the bank is the beach and throughout the day you will see large boats launching from the beach.   On a Saturday morning just behind the shops, you will find a hive of activity at the market.   Vegetables, preserves, speciality bread and few other interesting stall holders make up this unique market.

This is just a snippet of the adventures you can have on the Kapiti Coast.  We certainly didn’t have long enough to explore and sadly the weather closed in for our second day.   I can’t wait to take the kids back again soon to visit this very beautiful part of the country.

Let us know the places you have taken your children so I can add them to the list for our next visit.

Becks

Creating Easter Traditions and Memories

When we grew up in the 1980s, Easter was a pretty huge event, back when we were children treat food such as chocolate wasn’t something that we had often so Easter was definitely up there for my brother and I.  I was the one who would scoff all my Easter Eggs at once and my brother would manage to save his for at least a week.  I had a friend who could save hers for months.  However, I do remember a time when she was showing me her saved Easter Eggs and she had found that a mouse had eaten them.   Take that!

We grew up in a Catholic Family so some of Easter was taken up by going to church, two sessions in one weekend, this is not fun for children in any form, and yes we did moan about it and we tried really hard to stall our parents for the session on Good Friday which was soo long.  However, if we were staying at my Gran’s and this was when I was much older we could sometimes get mum to get us fish and chips for dinner on Good Friday as many will know that Catholics don’t  eat red meat on Good Friday.

At Easter time we would usually go and stay the weekend at my Grandparents house in Otaki.   My mums family all lived in the area, so we spent the weekend with our cousins.   My Grandparents always set out an amazing Easter Egg treasure hunt and it is by far one of my best Easter memories.    When were still little and not old enough to read clues, we would have a string trail to follow around the garden, when were older we would have written clues to follow.   It was such an adventure and something that I have always remembered.

Creating childhood memories is something that I love creating with my own children.   It’s special to have some traditions that you do the same each year, children will remember smells, sounds and places or even a little memento that you only have out at Easter.

Below I will list a few ideas for an Autumn Easter traditions, you don’t have to do everything, just pick a couple that can make your Easter Weekend special.

  • Good Friday Hot Cross Buns – making your own is always so much better than bought ones.
  • Making your own Chocolate Easter treats, this isn’t as hard as might think. Chocolate moulds are very cheap and all you need to do is melt chocolate and fill.
  • Making baskets to collect eggs on Easter morning
  • Collecting Feijoas (nature’s Easter Eggs)
  • Easter Eggs Hunts, write out clues for older children, hide around the house or garden similar to the rock hunting, string treasure hunts for younger children. See above photo.
  • Decorating hard boiled eggs and then racing them down a hill to see who has the fastest one.
  • Have an egg and spoon race
  • Enjoy a big family meal together, celebrating the abundance of Autumn vegetables and fruits, think – Pumpkins, Kumara, Apples.
  • Going to a park or beach or some other place to celebrate Easter Sunday.

These are just ideas of some small traditions that you could do each year with your family or friends.   Making traditions and rituals for holidays always makes them more special and memorable.

**Above is a photo of my son Alex when he was two, experiencing his first ever Easter Hunt.  We took a length of string and wound it throughout my parents garden.  At the end, he had a surprise egg to open.

Love to hear what special traditions you had as a child or you do with your family now.

Follow along at https://www.facebook.com/kidsplayNZ/ or https://www.instagram.com/kidsplaynz/ for more adventures with us.

Have a lovely Easter everyone.

Becks