Back in February we went to visit friends in their new home in Invercargill. They featured in a couple of previous blogs of ours, when we travelled around Borneo and Singapore together with our toddlers. Since then they have had another baby and moved to Invercargill, so a perfect opportunity for another catch up and an adventure around Southland. They have a great outlook and can-do attitude when it comes to travelling with children, having relocated abroad several times. Travelling with them is so stress-free; we get to tag team as parents to deal with the toddler dramas and general the ‘over-it’ stages travelling with toddlers. When one of us parents has had it, there are 3 other adults to share the load with, and there is always wine and chocolate once the kids are in bed!
Burt Munro motorcycle event
Unbeknownst to us, the very weekend that we visited Invercargill was the annual Burt Munro motorcycle event. The town was packed to the brim with leather-clad bearded men on Harleys, roaring through the streets. Daddy-day-care took the kids to the event on the Saturday morning, checking out the motorbikes and watching the races, whilst us mamas went in search of coffee and a stroll.
On the Sunday we drove to Bluff for the afternoon and had the most amazing lunch at Oyster Cove restaurant. They specialise in seafood, namely Bluff Oysters and it was a feast! You can’t miss this restaurant at the end of the road in Bluff, which feels like the edge of the world. The only thing separating you from Antarctica is Stewart Island, and it gets really blustery down there!
After lunch we set off to do the 2-hour bush walk with buggies and baby carriers. The track hugs the coastline and overlooks Stewart Island with stunning scenery and spectacular views.
Blueberry Country, Otautau
The kids really enjoyed a morning at Blueberry Country Farm, Otautau, filling their buckets with blueberries picked straight off the vines. The farm was about a 45km drive outside of Invercargill. Even though it was coming to the end of the blueberry season, there were loads to pick. We stayed for a couple of hours and walked away with 2.5kg- not a bad team effort, although I’m pretty sure we consumed at least another kilo whilst we worked!
Oreti beach, famous for being the beach that motorcyclist Burt Munro raced on, reminded me so much of the North Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland. The rugged sand dunes and blustery beaches that you can drive your cars onto, had me doing double takes all afternoon. How is it possible to be on the opposite end of the earth, somewhere you have never been before, but it feel so familiar? It was a beautiful beach, a kite surfer’s paradise and it was nice to have the car there to shelter from the wind!
Invercargill City Centre
We wandered the streets of Invercargill’s city centre, visited the landmarks, one of which the world’s most southerly Starbucks. We definitely needed a car to get around the area. Apart from the city centre, everything is a fair distance away.
We also saw some of Invercargill’s famous old sites, namely the Water tower, and the Railway Hotel.
The kids loved spending time at Queens Park, which is a huge park with an Avery, a farmyard animal zoo, a Japanese garden, playgrounds, bush trails, splash pad, a kids adventure castle, picnic spots, café and much more! The weather was so good that we went here a couple of times. There was just so much ground to cover and the kids loved it, even the grown-up kids!
Another amazing park for the kiddies was Anderson Park where they got to feed the ducks, visit the rose garden and run off a lot of steam at the playground.
One of the amazing perks of travelling with another family with kids, is the potential for date nights and babysitters. We legged it as soon as the kids were settled, and had an evening out each. Jez and I took the mountain bikes out for a sunset cycle along the river.
On this particular trip Sophia and her little buddy Nathan were both 3 and are well and truly in the love-hate stage of their little friendship. They generally got on really well and entertained each other throughout the travels, snuggling on the sofa for bedtime stories and playing together in the parks. I’d go so far as to say they both love each other until one of them touches a toy that they wanted :-), which made for constant negotiations over toys, cartoons, food, who reads the bedtime stories etc. etc. Parent life generally, just in a different location with other parents who get it!