Sophia and I just got back from an incredible week staying with friends in Marahau. Everyone told me we would LOVE the South Island’s Nelson region, and I now understand why. The Lonely Planet hits the nail on the head with its description: “Nelson dishes up a winning combination of great weather and beautiful surroundings and is hailed as one of NZ’s most ‘liveable’ cities”. The minute we landed back in Wellington I started pestering Jeremy to book a trip for all three of us to go there together. Here’s why:
Marahau is a small settlement located on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park. Not only is it a little piece of paradise, but it is also an outdoor pursuits treasure trove with the most beautiful backdrop for horse trekking, sea kayaking, walking and trekking. There is no through road; Marahau marks the start of the 5-day hike through the Abel Tasman. You can walk/tramp for the 5 days to the other side of the park or mix it up by kayaking one day, camping overnight then walking on or back. Water taxis will transport you or even your tents so you don’t have to carry much and there is a choice of about 19 campsites along the route. We walked 6km with the pushchairs and had a picnic lunch at one of the campsites before turning back. In hindsight it would have been easier having the kiddies in the backpacks but the trip was quite spontaneous and we had a lot to carry already (we eat a lot!).
Kaiteriteri, not far from Marahau, is one of the most famous and stunning beaches in New Zealand. It was breath-taking! We hiked down to nearby Split Apple Rock and explored some glow worm caves there. Although we didn’t see any in the daylight, at night it is said to be lit up like the sky. It took us a long time to walk down to the beach as little-miss-independent-I-can-walk-by-myself-now wanted to do just that…
In Marahau there is an amazing little cuisine caravan called ‘Fat Tui’. It serves all sorts of weird and wonderfully named burgers, such as the ‘Cowpat Beef Burger’ and the ‘Sparrow’s Fart Breakfast Burger’. We opted for the mussel patty and made our own iced coffees with ice cream scoops and espresso shots. This place gets packed out in summer, the queue often lasting for a couple of hours whilst campers, trampers and backpackers bask in the sunshine awaiting their orders. I can see why, the food was AMAZING!
When the tide was out we collected mussels from the sandpit and walked for miles, discovered sting ray pools then went fruit picking at a local farm. Everything seems to grow in this climate and our harvested feast included lemons, strawberries, oranges, apples, cherry tomatoes, blackberries and grapes. We happened to be on the farm just at the time that some cattle needed to be herded to new field, so with the kiddies securely fastened in the backpacks we rolled up our sleeves and helped to moo-ve them along! (couldn’t resist!)
We drove to Motueka (meaning ‘Island of Weka’) and enjoyed coffees at the amazing juice bar: ‘Toad Hall’ then drove on to Mapua, a quaint little seaside village where the views of Rabbit island were beautiful, despite the weather. We hired out a little private swimming pool and spent the rainy afternoon there, then perused the may gift shops and organic veg shops there. You could catch a boat to Rabbit Island from here, which isn’t actually an island, but a cool place to visit.
The journey between Wellington and Nelson airports was fully hilarious. Firstly we didn’t need to show our passports at any point, secondly there was no security or bag checking and thirdly the plane was the tiniest I have ever been on; in fact I’ve been on bigger buses. We were in seat 12C on both flights, and that was the back row. When we arrived in Nelson there was no baggage claim carousel, the bags were just set out on the pavement for us to collect. I found my friend’s car keys, located the car in the car park and set off to meet beautiful Brunna in Marahau, then remembered that I hadn’t collected the buggy from the non-existent baggage claim carousel! In my defence, we were on the airport bus at 5.55am…and I had only had one cup of coffee so far that morning.
Thanks for an awesome adventure Brunna!
Travelling with a Toddler ‘could-not-have-down-withouts’.
As Sophia gets older some of the previous ‘must-haves’ are no longer needed. I travelled with hand luggage for this 4-day trip. She is now 17 months old and this is our new and updated travel list:
- Kiddie backpack– ours is a ‘Skiphop‘ brand, purchased from Hamleys (thank you Granny and Pops!) and we have got so much use out of it. They stock about 20 different animal designs and have a detachable harness on each. The backpack is the perfect size for snacks, a couple of nappies, a bib and some tiny toys. I’m encouraging Sophia to carry some of her own things these days- teaching responsibility from a young age 🙂 We kept this bag in the seat pocket on the flights and in the car as it had everything we needed for the journey. It was much easier than rummaging through loads of different bags looking for where I had packed the snack pots, toys and nappies, like on previous journeys.
- Sleeping bags– We use ‘Grobags‘ for Sophia to sleep in wherever we go. It gives us the peace of mind that she won’t accidentally pull the covers or blankets over her face or off her body in the night. They have various togs for different climates and getting her into the Grobag is a super sleep cue and a pretty strong hint that it is bedtime/naptime!
- Snack pots-I have found that little pots of a range of different snacks is the way to go for Sophia these days, anything from raisins to chickpeas, popcorn to blueberries, rice cakes to corn on the cob will keep her occupied and get those fine-motor skills developing! I am using the ‘Nuby Garden Fresh Freezer Tray’ these days when it isn’t in the freezer filled with casserole. It has 9 different sections and is perfect for storing a selection of snacks.
- Toys– I used ‘TravelMadMum’s‘ idea of going to a £1/$2 store and purchasing a lot of random toys for the journey; mini cars, stickers, tiny board books, ponies etc. It worked a treat and I wasn’t too worried if these got left on the plane or ejected from the buggy. Check out Travel Mad Mum’s blog on Travelling with a Toddler for more super ideas and hints. She’s such a pro and I learn loads from her!
- Baby carrier– I flit between our Montis baby backpack, which has storage and the baby carrier which has a tiny pocket for my keys, wallet and phone. Sophia seems to like both and is comfortable enough to fall asleep in both so I usually choose depending on how much other ‘stuff’ I need to carry or pack that day. These days she wants to walk everywhere, but it’s still great to bring one for when she gets tired.