Easter Camping at Russell Top 10 Holiday Park

Another successful camping trip done and dusted! This time we ventured further north to Russell in the Bay of Islands.

We knew it was going to be a long drive and with recent slips in the area the diversions added a little extra time to the journey. The night before we packed most of the trailer so we could make an early start. We were on the road by 8am! We decided to pull the girls out of school on the Thursday before Good Friday to beat the traffic and I’m so glad we did.

The kids were entertained on the way up there with a few movies. I don’t have an iPad/DVD car holder so I kinda made my own with ribbon and it worked great! They had headphones too so it was a nice quiet ride for us.

Our first stop was at Kawakawa for a quick toilet break and I mean if you’re going to stop to use the toilet this would be the place to stop at. The toilets are pretty cool made using lots of glass bottles and mosaic.

Next stop was at Opua to catch the car ferry to Russell. It was a short ride across but really picturesque and the girls loved it.

We arrived at the Russell Top 10 Holiday Park just after lunch. It was time to put up the tent. Now that the girls are a bit older we get them to help out before they run off! Their job is to pull out all the poles and start putting those together.

I found this time round putting up the tent wasn’t the hard bit, it was setting up all the paraphernalia that goes with the tent that was a mission. If you’re like me I can’t relax until it’s all set up and in its place! Shortly our friends joined us too and we all got stuck in setting up. The park was in pristine condition. The showers and kitchen always clean. This is the first campground that I have seen the staff walking around cleaning and checking on everything all day!

That’s our two red tents all set and ready for the week. I even managed to put up some fairy lights around the gazebo which was quite nice at night.

After slogging away in the heat setting everything up there was no way we were going to be cooking on our first night. So a week before our trip I rang and made a reservation for dinner at The Duke of Marlborough . It was worth doing that early as they get pretty busy especially over peak periods. A delicious meal and a cold beer was exactly what we all needed. Best part it’s only a 10 minute walk from the campground to Russell town.

It was beautiful watching the sun set whilst having dinner. This beach is on The Strand at the Russell wharf and the water was so clear!

The next day we set out exploring. There are so many beautiful bays and beaches to swim at. Our favourite was Long Beach which wasn’t far from the camp either about a 5-10 minutes drive.

There is even a coffee van onsite for you to get your daily fix while watching the kids play.

When we go camping we always take our Weber Q with us. This time we purchased the Weber pizza stone set to make pizzas. Well the stone was amazing!!! So glad we took it. I don’t think we will ever use the oven again!

And no I didn’t make the base that was a store bought base! Fair to say dinner was a hit.

There is so much to do in the Bay of Islands we spent a day driving through Keri Keri and checking out the Stone Store which has been opened since 1836. We made a quick stop to check out Haruru Falls. Then ice cream in Paihia before heading back to camp.

We barely saw the kids at the campground they spent most of the time at the playground so the adults had lots of time to kick back with a wine or even a gin and tonic!

If you do head up to Russell there are loads of boat tours that you can do, from dolphin watching to exploring the bays. They are pricey so be prepared. We booked the Discover Otehei Bay tour through Explore and a family pass was $110.

All in all this was a great trip. It was so relaxed, the kids didn’t want to leave.

What I learnt is that no matter how many times you go camping there is always something that needs tweaking or changing around.

I’m already looking at planning our next trip! So here’s to more adventures and experiences.

Ronell x

Advertisements

Getting Ready for Puberty & The Essential Girls Kit

This blog post is definitely not one for the guys, so look away!  A couple of girlfriends and I were talking today about puberty so that prompted me to share this post with you and what I have done for my daughter.

We all know that the time is coming when puberty graces us with it’s presence, for many this is confronting and for others not so much.  But whether we like it or not, it’s happening, so there is no point hiding from it, the best form of action is being prepared.  I bought a book for Miss 11 last year by Kaz Cooke called Girls Stuff from 8-10 years old.  We went through the book together and it was pretty funny and light-hearted so it took away the awkwardness about it all.  She did say, “mum it’s so gross!”, so I said to her that yes it may be gross and it may be annoying and stuff but it’s part of life, this is how a women’s body work’s and we can’t change it (until you hit menopause).  After this, she just accepted it all and is okay about it.

I figure the more open we are about it and the more comfortable I am talking about it, this in turn has made her more comfortable.

Right, first things first, I wanted to start her on a good skin care routine.  The skin takes such a hammering during puberty, I had awful acne throughout high school and after, it was just horrible! Both my girls from the time they were born, I have always used moisturiser on their skin morning and night, so it’s something that is second nature for them now.  I researched a bit about skincare products that are suitable for young skin and I wanted natural products.  I finally decided on Oxygen Skincare.  Their skin care is 100% natural, made right here in New Zealand and certified organic and not tested on animals.  Check out their website for more details.

img_6097

Next thing is liners for their underwear.  It’s a good way for them to get familiar with knowing how to put it on and take it off, and also when the day arrives and they get their period, knowing that the liner is there initially will probably stop them from freaking out.  I personally think it’s a good idea to always wear a liner everyday.

img_6098

The next step is putting together a little kit that they can keep with them at school, either in their bags or if they have lockers at school they can keep this in there.

 

To put together the kit we both went to the supermarket and were looking at all the products and working everything out.  Involving your child in this process I think is a good idea.  This is the kit that we put together.

img_6096

I bought the pencil-case from Kmart.  I think it was around $8-$12, and it has two zippers.  Inside the bag are two spare pairs of underwear.  We also have scented sanitary disposal bags, they come in a box and inside the box is two packs (the black pack with paisley’s) so we just have one lot in the case.  We also put in special wet wipes that are for the (oh god how do I say it) your private parts or as the pack says “intimate wipes” (everyone has all sort’s of names for it), a small bottle of hand sanitiser and 4 pads the brand she chose was U by Kotex.  I didn’t add in any paracetamol tablets because well she doesn’t really know how to take tablets and I know she school will have some form of pain relief if she absolutely needs it (I’m hoping she will be fine).

I hope that by doing all of this we are ready for when it happens and I know that if she is at school, she will be okay and know exactly what to do.  Information and preparation is key in avoiding total tween or teen meltdown!!!

If you have any other tips or things that you do or have done, I would love to hear it.

Ronell x

 

Romantic Getaway to Raglan Cont…

Raglan is a small beach town, known for its surfing.  The town is a very laid back easy-going town, and just walking through it, you automatically relax because no one seems to be in any hurry at all.

Our first night in Raglan we headed out to Orca Restaurant for dinner.  It pays to book as they get busy pretty quickly we were surprised for a Monday night how packed it eventually got.  The food was delicious and the portions sizes were very generous so well worth the money.  It has a pretty good selection of desserts too, but because we were so stuffed we decided to just share a creme brulee.

After dinner we walked along the harbour and came across the limestone pancake rocks.  These rock formations are over 30 million years old, and you can kayak or paddle board around them to really get up close and personal.  If we had more time we would definitely have done this.  There is hire company at the beach were you can go on tours amongst the rocks Raglan Water Sports.   We managed to see the rocks from across the harbour at low tide but I imagine it would be spectacular at high tide.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Afterwards it was back to The Round Tent for a well deserved rest.  The next morning we headed into town for breakfast and tried out The Shack.  It was a really great looking cafe and the breakfast was amazing too.  Topped off with fresh cold pressed juices to kickstart our morning.

We did a bit of driving around to have a look at the beaches.  We could tell it is definitely a surfing town, down at the beach there were so many surfers already in the water waiting to catch their next wave.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2018-01-23 10.25.54

Next stop we were off to a special anniversary treat at the Te Aroha Mineral Spas.  The spa is nestled at the bottom of  the Te Aroha mountain.  The mineral spa has natural thermal water which is so silky and has been there for over 100 years.  Each room is private and you it has a shower and toilet in it as well.  What I liked most was that you can actually control the temperature of the water.  We booked the romantic package.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The romantic package was an hour in the spa, with candles, chocolates and a rose or a teddy, whichever you wanted.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was well worth the hour and a half drive from Raglan, also what I enjoyed was along the way it was great seeing other smaller towns in New Zealand.

We spent the night in at the tent with takeaway dinner and catching up on our favourite shows. The one thing we were hoping for that we didn’t get whilst down at the tent was rain.  The weather promised a storm that never came.  There is just something extra special about being in a tent hearing the rain.

Looks like our next trip will have to be around winter!  It was the perfect mini break for us and just what we needed to start the year off.

Ronell x

 

 

Romantic Getaway to Raglan

We recently celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary in Raglan.  I thought 15 years deserves a mini break.  We both have never stayed in Raglan before, so it was the perfect opportunity for us to explore the area.  The drive down from Auckland to Raglan is about 2 – 2.5 hrs.  A nice easy car trip especially if you are travelling with kids, however for this trip we were child free.  We could only check in at 2pm so on our way down we decided to check out the waterfall on our travels.

Waireinga/Bridal Veil Falls

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The walk to the falls was pretty easy from the car park, it’s about 10 minutes.  The falls itself is a 55 metre drop.  There are a few viewing platforms that are easy on the legs, the two upper viewing decks have spectacular views and no stairs. We walked down to the midway viewing point, this was about 135 stairs and if you are keen you can walk all the way to the bottom which is 261 stairs (I was not so keen).  All I can say is that this proved how unfit I am!  My legs were like jelly!  But it was totally worth it.  Just a note that you’re not allowed to swim at the bottom of the falls due to the water quality, which is a kinda of a give away by just looking at it.

Accommodation

In regards to where we would stay, I wanted somewhere a bit unique and romantic.  After searching for weeks I finally found the perfect place, The Round Tent.  We booked this well in advance around July last year and again it pay’s to book early, so you are not left disappointed.  This place was everything we were looking for and more.  The tent is a Mongolian style yurt which was just unreal.  I could easily live in this permanently.

2018-01-22 14.25.23

 

Every detail was so well thought out and it was so comfortable.  We did not want to leave at all.  I could have stayed here forever.  The best part was the peace and serenity of the place, all we could hear was birdsong and cicada’s.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The kitchen and bathroom were well equipped and had everything you could need.  Tea and coffee were provided as well as a bag of marshmallows to toast using the outside fireplace.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There were plenty of games, dvd’s and books to keep you occupied.  The yurt is fully air-conditioned as well, and in current weather conditions it was our haven.

I loved all the art and special pieces that were around the yurt, it was not over done and just perfect.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After the drive down and the hike to the waterfall the outside bath was just what we needed.  Sitting outside under the stars and just relaxing, was total bliss.  In winter I can just imagine how amazing it would be with the fire pit outside and a hot steaming bath.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The yurt has a set of bunk beds and our two girls were not very happy that those were there, and we did not take them down with us!  So the option to take kids is available, but oh my goodness if you can experience this without kids I would highly recommend not taking them!  We took advantage of not having the kids around and just lazed around, read books, talked and laughed. It’s so easy to forget who you are as a couple after you have kids, that every now and again it’s great to just reconnect.

2018-01-22 14.38.48

It’s fair to say we absolutely loved it and we will definitely be back (maybe with the girls) to The Round Tent.

Stay tuned for part two where I share with you what else we got up to in Raglan.

Ronell x

Family Trip to Cambridge, New Zealand

Over the summer holiday’s my sister and her family where over visiting from South Africa, so it was the perfect time to hit the road and head south.  We had planned the trip out around June 2017, as you will know a lot of things book out really fast so it pays to plan early.

After New’s Year’s day we left pretty early to beat the holiday traffic and the good thing was it wasn’t too far from Auckland.  On our way down to break up the journey we stopped at the Hamilton Gardens to stretch our legs.  I assumed it would be quite but oh no I was wrong it, it was bloody packed!  But don’t let this detour you, it’s still big enough that the crowds are a bit spread out.  From February 1st this year the gardens will be opening up 6 more concept gardens, so definitely pack a picnic and head on down.

2018-01-02 11.44.11-2
The Indian Garden
2018-01-02 12.09.18-2
The Italian Renaissance Garden

Accommodation

We were travelling with a big group so needed somewhere that could accommodate all of us.  Luckily with Air BnB we found the perfect house.   It was truly amazing and so well-kept, I could have stayed longer than the 3 nights that we have booked.  It was so spacious that you never felt like you were on top of each other at all.

2018-01-02 12.56.59
The amazing kitchen
2018-01-02 13.29.32
Outdoor Entertainment

So if you are looking for somewhere to stay down in Cambridge that can accommodate big groups I would highly recommend Town and Country Accommodation.  There are more photos on the link provided.

On the itinerary for our stay down in Cambridge we were going to visit the Waitomo Caves and Hobbiton.

Waitomo Caves

First up where the caves, we did the two cave package which was the Ruakuri Cave and the Waitomo Glowworm cave.  The Ruakuri cave tour was about 2 hours long so that involved a fair bit of walking, there are some spots that you have to bend down to get through but most of the time you are upright so you don’t feel claustrophobic.  You see some glow worms in here but the main cave that has most of the glow worms is the Waitomo Glowworm cave.  This cave is the one that you get to do the boat ride and see thousands of them, it was absolutely stunning!  However you have to be extremely quite, no talking, sneezing or anything!, which can be hard with children but ours were okay as they were a bit older, except for Miss Chloe who was sitting on my lap and decides to let one rip (in other words – farted) and yes in a cave it echo’s thank goodness it was dark and no one could see the shock horror on my face!

The thing I found with doing both caves is that you get the same info about how it all formed etc.  The Ruakuri Cave has a lot more structures to see, whereas the Glowworm Cave has the boat ride where you see a lot more glowworms and the cathedral section where you can sing your heart out and there is no echo in that part.  So in my opinion you don’t need to do both, but it is up to you!

2018-01-03 10.08.26
Spiral staircase at the Ruakuri Cave

2018-01-03 11.03.00

2018-01-03 10.18.20

Hobbiton Tours

The following day we headed to Hobbiton.  Once you get there, the bus takes you to the movie set and your tour begins.  There is a tour every 10 mins so it’s pretty busy.  Now I have not watched The Hobbit but it was still absolutely mind-blowing to see it all and hear the story about how it all came together and the changes that were made during filming and after.  The tour guides are amazing, they point out so many things that even if you have watched it you would want to go back and watch it, just to see it and say, ahhhh!  Again lots of walking up hills and dirt paths etc but oh so worth it,  even more so, when you are shouted a drink at the Green Dragon by your tour guide!

2018-01-04 10.39.00-2

2018-01-04 10.32.40

2018-01-04 11.04.57

2018-01-04 11.14.05

2018-01-04 11.55.07

So there you go, that’s what we got up to in Cambridge.  If you have not been to either of these attractions I would highly recommend them.  Just remember though the tours do book out pretty quickly so if you are after certain time slots then book early.  Our kids absolutely loved it, we can now tick this off our bucket list!

Happy travels!

R x

Book Review – The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

All I can say is wow wow wow!  I pre ordered this book on my kindle when I came across Cait’s page on Facebook and knew straight away it was a book I needed to read.  Well I read the book in two days, I was even reading whilst cooking, my girls were like, “mum!!!  why are you reading and cooking?”  I actually could not put the book down.  I think the book struck a cord with me because it aligns with what I am trying to do with my own life and our lifestyle as a family.

So many things in this book resonates with me, a lot of our actions of over indulging is usually due to us hiding or masking our feelings.  Emotional eating, retail therapy, social media pressure, etc.  In the past whenever I was really angry with my husband I would go out and buy something to either piss him off or make myself feel better.  The thing is I thought I was hurting him, but in actual fact I was really just hurting our family by taking away money that could have been used towards other things, because it’s not his money or my money, it’s ours.  By Cait not spending any money for a year, when she had negative feelings surface she couldn’t drink it away, shop it away or eat it away.  She had to face these feelings head on.

Now I am not sure yet if I can ban shopping completely for a whole year, but I think I will try and do it on a month by month basis and see how I go.  Since starting on changing my families lifestyle I am definitely more aware of everything we are spending money on, I’m okay with going to the mall and not buying anything or actually not going to the mall at all!  Unless we need something that is going to serve a purpose or if something need replacing because it stopped working then yes we will look at buying it.

Today I went to Kmart and you all know what happens when you go to Kmart!  You go looking for one thing and come out with about 10 things.  I made a list of exactly what I needed, I bought just those 2 things only and we were out of there, and this was shopping with two kids as well.  I wasn’t even tempted to look at the clothes, shoes or homeware stuff.  So I am pleased that my mindset is starting to shift.

I want to travel more with my family and those memories created from these trips are priceless and I would rather spend my money on that instead of material things.

If you want to come out of debt, lead a life of less stress and just be more happy, I would highly recommend you read this book.  I cannot believe the journey that Cait has been through and how her story has just inspired me so much more now with what I am doing.

Happy reading!

R x

My 11yr Old has a Smartphone!!!

As our eldest daughter is starting intermediate this year, we thought it was a good time to get her a phone.  I think a lot of other parents thought the same thing as the shop was filled with very excited and eager tweens and teens getting new phones, and parents re-directing their kids to the not so expensive phones.  It’s not a decision we took lightly, it seems kid’s are getting phones much younger these days and our rule was always that we would look at it when the girls start intermediate.  I mean I got my first phone when I was 19 and it was a Nokia 3210, however I don’t think waiting til that age now would go down well.

After much research and looking around and talking to the sales guy in the store we decided on a Samsung Galaxy J3 Pro.

j3pro

Having a phone now teaches her to be responsible for something, it gives her a bit of independence and freedom as well.  I am glad that I can now contact her or vice versa when she is out walking to school and home, at her after school activities etc.  But before we handed over the phone we had to go over some ground rules, and I wanted her to have some sort of contract between herself and us.  So trusty Google came up with the goods.  I downloaded a cell phone contract and a social media contract.  She isn’t on social media but has asked if she can get Instagram, which I am still considering. My husband and I were chatting the other day and we both agreed that technology is not the enemy, it’s when people abuse and misuse it, that’s when it becomes a problem.  Technology is moving forward and our kids are bang smack in the middle so instead of holding her back and sheltering her from it all, it’s better that she learns about it.

Now I know some people might think having a contract is a bit over the top, and that’s fine, but for us, since kids are getting phones younger now, we wanted to educate her and make her aware of cyber bullying, the many weirdo’s that are out there, what is and isn’t appropriate use of the phone and social media.  Even photographs, what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Here are the links to the contracts that I have downloaded and used, the social media contract is from iMom and Cell Phone contract is from 30 Hand Made Days.  They are pretty good.

Social Media Contract

Cell Phone Contract

Ronell x