If you’ve got kids, has this ever happened to you? You have an idea of something you believe will be a great experience – or even just something easy and fun – with the kids and then it doesn’t go exactly as planned? Like, it turns out to be terrible? And a horrible idea? Yeah, that did NOT happen to us this weekend!
Last June when The Professor and I were here, we did a beautiful and challenging hike along the Coromandel Coastal Walkway. It was really stunning. We decided to take the girls there this past weekend (since Gracie had a long weekend) and do the hike. It’s not easy – it’s 11km (about 7 miles) and has some significant elevation changes. And *sometimes* the girls can complain about stuff they’re not thrilled about doing. There was the very real possibility that they were going to hate this and complain the whole four hours and make it miserable for everyone.
BUT THEY DID NOT. And it was perfection.
It’s kind of a remote hike – takes a 2ish-hour ride to get to the trail head and it’s not a loop – you just walk it one way. Or at least we did. I’m sure the guy we saw running with a pack was doing a there-and-back. So we had a guide who picked us up at our hotel and took us to the beginning, and then he waited for us at the end. It was the same guide from last year, which made it even more fun for us. The weather, which was supposed to be rainy for most of the morning, was perfect – about 63* and sunny – and not one single drop of rain.
Tate took an early lead and never gave it up. Gracie, who has been reluctant to enjoy herself here in NZ, was blown away by the views. Mark herded all his girls and patiently stopped every time the younger ones wanted to snack. Also, he kept up with Tate. I was sweeper, bringing up the rear, and watched my family in front of me with my heart about ready to burst out of my chest. It was one of those days that you take with you for a lifetime. The day was all we’d hoped for and so much more.
And now to bore you with loads of pictures. The four of us, the beach at Stoney Bay where we began, one of the first views through the trees, and my people in front of me.
The first third of the walk is in a fern forest, very Jurassic Park-esque. Nice and shady with glimpses of the water between the trees.
This next picture, which looks like it has snails on a branch, is actually koru, or Maori for loop. It’s the unfurling of a new silver fern frond and signifies health, new life, growth, strength, and peace.
So that’s what it looks like in real life, but here are some pictures of other koru found all over this country.
After the ferns comes the coast and it was spectacular. About 90 minutes into the hike, there’s a lookout. See Tate sitting up there all alone, waiting for her family? Bless that child.
The views from the lookout were pretty awesome.
The girls DOWNED a bag of potato chips and had some pretty serious snacks, so The Professor and I thought they had another hour in them to make it to a beach for lunch. But about 20 minutes later, we stopped for lunch on a bench. Best lunch views ever.
After the high coast, you descend to Poley Bay, a cool rocky beach. The girls taunted the waves and Tate lost, so made the last third of the hike in wet britches. And did not even complain.
After the beach, you climb back out, which is my least favorite part. And then you walk through pastures filled with cattle and sheep. And heaps of mud this time around. We got off the track several times, because it was just too muddy to pass. At one point, Mark ran ahead to see if what we were thinking was actually still the track, so the girls and I were walking up the side of a steep hill to get to him. And while we were making our way up to him, we caught the attention of a mama sheep with her lamb. She started walking over to us with an annoyed look on her face, if that’s a thing for sheep. We never felt threatened, but gave each other big eyes and picked up the pace to the top of the hill.
We crested the hill and saw the finish line. See that little speck of white down there? That’s Willie’s van waiting for us. Before we left, we enjoyed a cup of tea and some cookies with yet another great view. Also we had some crazy dirty hiking shoes.
Like I said, the day was perfection and I know it will go down forevermore as one of my all time favorites.
The next day was rainy and cold, so lazy. But we did get out and also discovered that Tate is a pig whisperer. More on that later…