Camping Diaries – Athenree Hot Springs & Holiday Park Camping

We kicked off the camping season by heading down to Athenree Holiday park over the Labour Weekend.  We left on the Friday morning (kid’s wagged school) so we could beat the traffic, which was so worth it.  We paid extra so we could get an early check in again, if you ever have that option especially when tenting, do it!!!  The drive down was great, only about 2hrs which makes it perfect when travelling with kids.  Once we got our site, you know what happens now, it’s set up time!

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Adam is looking a bit worried!
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All set up!

We put up the tent really quick and it was a family affair this time with both girls getting stuck in helping.  As you can see with our set up the cupboards from Kathmandu are great for storage, this year I trialled putting our clothes in one of them and it was great, a bit squashed, we may look at getting another one.  Yes, if you have noticed that is a fridge! Lot’s of my friends laugh at me for taking the fridge but it is so handy having everything there when you need it.  After putting the tent up and having some lunch, it was time for us to take a dip in the hot pools.  You are probably thinking we are crazy after being hot and sweaty from putting up a tent why would we want to swim in a hot pool??  Well the pool was perfect!

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The temperature of the pools are perfect I could have stayed in there all day.  The big pool is warm not hot.  Part of the big pool is a little shallower pool for toddlers, which the girls used as an island to play mermaids.  The adults only spa pool is much hotter about 39 degrees I believe.  There are no chemicals in the water which makes it great for those with sensitive skin.  Each night the pool is closed at 7:30pm where it is drained, then scrubbed down and fresh natural geothermal water is then pumped from the bore underground into the pool ready for the morning.  The pool is open to guests of the campsite from 8:30am – 10:00am and then after that the public get to pay and use the pools.  The day we were leaving everyone had a soak in the pools before packing up.

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The campsite is extremely neat and the grounds are immaculate. The facilities were all really clean, there is a laundry room as well as a TV room.  Whilst setting up our tent, I noticed there were a whole lot of campervans and caravans checking in, and we were looking around wondering where are the tents, are we the only ones?  Did we miss the memo?  Luckily on Saturday with the arrival of more caravans so to where the tenting families hooray we were not alone!  The groups staying around us too were all so friendly, that’s the best part of camping.  Here are some photos of around the campground.

There isn’t a playground on the actual campsite, but there is one just across the road, our kids ran off and played without us.  We did check in on them from time to time, but they are at the age now where we don’t have to constantly be with them.  It’s always handy having an older sibling too!  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The difference I notice with camping this time of year compared to January is the temperature at night.  In summer we can sit out at night and talk for ages, this time on the first night Adam and I were sitting outside under the stars just the two of us (sounds very romantic) all the while freezing our bums off!  I said to Adam, “Why are we sitting outside freezing, when we can just go in the tent and talk!!”  We made a quick dash inside.  But I definitely felt the temp drop during the night, and off course the first night I had to wake up to go to the toilet 3 times because it was so cold!  Another thing to keep in mind, is there are a lot of sandflies around, I didn’t put insect repellent on and paid the price!

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You can hire these great carts from reception, it’s all pedal power and the kids loved going around the campsite racing them.  Camping with friends or other families as a group is so nice as the kids all play together and the adults can just hang out.  Here are some of the meals we had, who said camping food has to be boring!

We booked to stay 4 nights in a tent site, however the weather forecast was not looking that great for the day we were meant to pack up and leave, and packing up in the rain is no fun.  Luckily we were able to book one of the basic cabins for the last night, the owners of the park were so accommodating of our requests and tried to help us as much as they could.  Which means we had to pack up a day early, and boy was that stressful, funnily enough we were good putting up the tent, not so much taking it down!  We blame the heat for any profanities exchanged.

We had the best holiday, there is so much to explore around the area (stay tuned for more blog posts coming up on that).  In fact we enjoyed it so much we are going back next year!! If you would like more info on the holiday park click here.

Happy Camping!

Ronell x

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Camping for Families

For me I think camping is in my blood.  It’s something that we did growing up in South Africa every year from the time I was a baby, with all of our extended family.  It’s the one holiday that we absolutely looked forward to and I have so many wonderful memories.  It’s a tradition that I knew I wanted to start once I had my own little family.  My husband was a novice at camping, so it was very exciting introducing it to him and I am so glad that he now too has the camping bug. However I get that camping is not for everyone, but it is such a great thing to do with kids.

When we were living in Sydney, we went to the camping expo and bought our first tent and a few essentials to get us going.  Kiara was only 2 year’s old when we went on our first camping trip to Forster, we stayed at the Hallidays Point campground.

At the time we bought a 4 person tent, and boy was it tight!  The thing I soon realised is that if you really want to test your relationship, definitely try putting up a tent with your partner!  Here are some photos from our trip!  All we had was the tent,  a table/cooking hub and a couple of chairs.  We stored all of our food etc in plastic bins and we had air mattress es to sleep on.

As you can see our tent was slightly lopsided!!! After doing a quick walk around the campground, Adam realised he did the guy ropes wrong! We just had a little two burner gas stove.

Camping in the Sydney heat is quite something compared to that of New Zealand, but the good old paper plate served as a makeshift fan!

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Fair to say we survived our first family camping trip.  We learnt a lot from this trip and were armed for our next one.  We moved back to New Zealand when we were expecting baby number 2.  I knew that we would be doing more camping and what better way to explore this beautiful country. We started setting up our camping gear, we couldn’t bring over our tent (thank goodness).  First thing was getting a tent, that was big enough to last the distance and our family as we grew.  So we ended up buying the Retreat 360 tent from Kathmandu, or as my husband call’s it, the beast!  It sleeps up to 8 and is 7m x 7m.

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As you can tell it’s pretty big, but fits us all in, plus all our cupboards etc.

Now just to put it out there, even though I love camping, I am not that keen on going to the Doc sites where there are only cold showers and long drop toilets!!  That to me is on another level, not sure I’m ready for that just yet, maybe one day.  I prefer hot showers and toilets that I can flush.  I also take a few comfort items from home, we take a little 129L fridge and we have that in our tent as we book powered sites so we plug it in.  We have a couple of double cupboards in the front room which we use for pantry stuff, and two other single cupboards in the back room which we use for our clothes.  I also take my clothes horse for our washing.  A good checklist that we use is from Kiwi Camping and it has everything on it.  You may not necessarily use everything on the list, but it’s handy to just have a look through, you can find that here.  When we started camping we used air mattresses, however, every time for some reason they always end up with a hole and by the time we wake up in the morning we are on the ground as the air has all gone!!!  We now use stretcher beds which has a foam mattress on it as well.

The great thing about camping is there is such a good community feel in the campgrounds, the kids all end up playing together and they make new friends, there is no technology (even though we pack these as back up for bad weather) and once you have the tent up and everything set up then it’s all relaxing.

So keep an eye out as I feature each week a campground that we have stayed at here in New Zealand and I will go through the pro’s and con’s of each one.  So hopefully you will find one that you will like to camp at.

Happy camping!

Ronell x

 

 

 

Nadi Town – The Real Fiji

Once you go over the bridge at Denarau, you leave behind the manicured gardens, pristine pools and resort life. You get a taste of what the other side of Fiji looks like. 

We caught the yellow $1 bus into Nadi town which is super convenient. Driving along the roads you get to see how many of the villagers live. Some houses don’t even have electricity. 


Once we got to the bus depot it was a bit of a shock to the system just how dilapidated everything is. As soon as we got off the bus one of the local ladies knew we were tourists. I could have blended in like a local since being Indian but being with Adam yeah that was a sure give away. 

She gave us a few quick tips and then said, “how about I show you were the real native markets are!” I just thought to myself oh crap now what. 

She showed us the water levels of the recent cyclone and where it reached and how some shops had to now move to higher ground. 


The water level was pretty high I’m sure most of the town would have been almost under water! It’s good to see the town still up and running now. 

To get to this market you had to go up an alley and some stairs. At this moment I’m still thinking oh crap were the hell are we being taken. 

We went up to the native market were we treated to a traditional Fiji welcome and even had some Kava to drink. Which has an interesting taste more like sandy water to me. But after about 5 minutes your mouth starts to tingle. 


We managed to get a few souvenirs to take back home and they were so honest about it all and us negotiating a deal instead of them being all sneaky. After this I started to relax a bit I’m not sure why I was feeling uneasy maybe I judged it all by the way everything looked. But truly they are some of the friendliest people around and always happy to help when we needed a bit of direction. 


We made our way to the fruit markets to get a few supplies to take back with us and it was amazing seeing all the fresh produce and spices. 


We were at the town centre when school finished and the whole town came alive with kids every where alot of them heading towards the bus depot to get home. 

Visiting the town was quite an eye opener and showed us how we shouldn’t take what we have for granted and how our kids and ourselves should appreciate what we have. 

Everywhere I looked though the Fijian people always had smiles on their faces or you will find a group of people sitting under trees laughing and relaxing in true Fijian style. 

Glad we ventured out and experienced a different side to Fiji. 

Ronell x

Bula! Day 1 of our Fiji Holiday


Departing Auckland in the pouring rain was the perfect way to leave and head to sunnier shores! The flight was great not too painful with the kids. We arrived in Nadi around 5pm however getting through customs is always slow and we didn’t actually end up leaving the airport until 7pm!!! We were so tired! 

We checked into our hotel, the Radisson Blu Resort, the same room type as last year we got the suite it just has so much more room. This time however they put in an extra single bed which was great. So we have that bed, the double sleeper couch and another main bedroom. 


After ordering room service and watching a bit of the game it was time to hit the sack. I came prepared with ear plugs and sleeping tablets, but let me tell you that stuff didn’t do jack shit when it came to my husbands snoring!!!! 

The girls were up early God dammit!!! Don’t they know we are on Fiji time now. I love the buffet breakfast at the resort especially the fruit. It’s the best part about these tropical islands are the fruit! 


We then spent most of the morning at the pools just swimming and going down the hydroslides. I must say it was so good to see so many mums in the pools with their kids. Usually you see a lot of the mums chilling on sidelines which is all good cause I do that sometimes too but to see most of the people in the water was great! After lunch it was time to check the girls into kids club. Whoop whoop we get a bit of adult time and they get to make new friends and have a blast. Kids club is the best idea ever! Our girls go from 2-5pm! We drop and run! 


With the girls in kids club, you know what time it was cocktail time 🍹We went to the shop to get a few supplies (not for the cocktails) then we headed down to the adults only pool area and did nothing! Except have a cocktail. 


 Being on Denarau there are so many food options so for dinner we headed to Mamacitas Mexican restaurant which is part of the Wyndham Resort. We love it there and the food is amazing! 


I was not risking having another sleepless night so we did a bit of musical beds and everyone had a great sleep!

Til next time x

School Holidays are Fast Approaching!

 

Oh yes, the next school holidays are looming and before we know it they will be upon us.  Let’s face it, we all have a love hate relationship with the school holidays.  I for one love the fact that I can stay in my pj’s longer (the girls actually beg for pj days, so I’m all for that) no waking up early to pack lunches, or rushing around after school to the million activities that the kids are doing.  Love the slower pace of it all.

I do hate, all the bickering that starts from the morning because they have to spend ALL day together (um..yeah that’s not gonna change for a while, get used to it), the constant, “I’m Bored” or “I’m Hungry”, the need to always find things for them to do!  I came across an e-card the other day and loved it because it’s so true!

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The July school holiday’s I made a point of not paying money for anything to do with entertaining the girls.  It actually worked well, there were some touch and go moments but nothing too bad! They had some money saved up so I took them to the mall, they bought some Lego and then it was straight back home.  Previously I found we used to spend so much on all sorts of activities to keep them happy, well when I was young our holidays were spent with our neighbourhood kids all playing outside, making up lots of games etc.  We never went anywhere that my parents had to pay for us to be entertained.  We learnt how to do that ourselves and use our imagination.  But each to their own right!

However, for those who would like to find activities etc to help keep everyone sane, I have done some research and found a few things on, around the school holiday period, some are free and others are paid activities. So here are some of my suggestions that you can do these school holidays.

MOVIES

The official release dates (in New Zealand) for The Secret Life of Pets and Pete’s Dragon is the 15/09/2016.  They are having advanced screenings of these two movies, if you are club members of either cinema just keep an eye out for those dates, you will usually be notified by email of these dates.  The movie Storks, the official release date for that is the 22/09/2016.  You can watch the trailer for these movies on You Tube or the cinema websites, Event Cinemas or Hoyts

STAGE SHOWS

There are a few good show’s coming out next month.  A Lion in the Meadow will be playing at the Pumphouse Theatre from the 19/09/2016 – 08/10/2016.  You can buy tickets here.  The Gruffalo one of the best children’s books out there, the stage show will be playing at the Bruce Mason Centre from the 30/09/2106 – 03/10/2016, you can buy the tickets here.  Hi Five Hits probably one more for the younger kids, this will be playing at the ASB theatre on the 1/10/2016, buy tickets here.  If you are outside of Auckland, please check the relevant websites for dates in your city.

FREE OPTIONS

We are very blessed to live in a country where there is an abundance of beautiful parks, beaches, etc  Some of the things you can do that are free, is a visit to the Auckland Art Gallery. We took our girls there recently, and they absolutely loved it! The Auckland Museum is somewhere that we also frequently visit, its a great space for the kids, and you can also pop down to the Winter Gardens for a wonder.   If you want something outdoors you could always go to the Auckland Botanical Gardens. Another great option for kids is Ambury Farm, with all the new lambs around they can even feed them a bottle.  Also not forgetting a stroll through Cornwall Park, where there will be lots of new lambs to look at.

Hopefully these options will help you plan out the next school holidays.  All I can say now to my fellow parents is, May the the force be with us all!