Monday, February 14, 2011

Our Family Holiday in New Zealand

This is my absolute favourite holiday photograph of my daughter running across the sands of a beach that is considered to be one of the world's most beautiful and unspoilt beaches. It is called New Chum beach and is located on the Coromandel peninsula on the east coast of New Zealand. The Coromandel was where we vacationed for twelve days staying with my husband's family and enjoying the delights of the natural wonderland that is New Zealand.

It was quite an effort to reach our destination involving trains, planes and automobiles. An 8 hour train journey, a 31/2 hour plane trip followed by a 3 hour car ride - we had to take the long way round as roads were closed due to numerous slips caused by heavy rain the region experienced due to catching the tail end of one of the cyclones. It was worth it - more on traveling with a big family in a future post but all I want to do for now is share with you some of the highlights of our holiday in the country they call 'God's own land.'

My husband's parents live in a small coastal town called Matarangi. They are permanent residents but many of the homes are holiday homes used only on weekends and during school holidays. It is just a walk across the road to the beach which the twins took great delight in.

Nana bought them buckets and spades - a must for any holiday at the beach.

There were lots of shells and even starfish washed up on the beach. Glad to say I only found shells in the pockets of their shorts but had to inform them that they were not allowed to bring them back to Australia.

My little man was fascinated by the shells and spent quite some time picking up each shell and turning it over - so curious. Do you think he might be a marine biologist one day? I wanted him to smile for the camera .... a little perseverance and....... success!

I love this photograph of my littlest kiwi!

Living at the beach has other advantages. This is what granddad brought home for dinner almost every day, accompanied by his ever willing helper and loyal companion - my 11 year old son who now doesn't want to wait until retirement age to take up fishing and golf.

We didn't venture too far from the beach but did take some time to visit some local attractions. The Driving Creek narrow gauge railway at Coromandel town is very popular - there were people from Canada, Scotland and various other European countries among the passengers on the trip we took. We chose to take the four youngest children as we thought they would enjoy it the most - something you must take into consideration when most 'family tickets' at tourist attractions only allow 2 children entry. The kind lady didn't charge me for the extra twin and if you want to see New Zealand native bush close up without trekking in by foot this is the way to go!

The narrow train carriages zig zag and wind up the hillside which are covered in native vegetation. There is an abundance of silver fern - the symbol of New Zealand and the leaf you see on the jerseys worn by the All Blacks New Zealand's national rugby union team - the national netball team are called 'The Silver Ferns'. If you have ever wondered what a silver fern was - here's a whole stand of them.

The view at the top was quite spectacular. You can see all the way to Waiheke island.

Other places we had hoped to visit included Hot Water beach where at low tide you can dig yourself a hole in the sand and enjoy your own personal thermal spa pool - totally natural. I have been there before, so wasn't too disappointed when time didn't allow us to make this excursion. Cathedral Cove where scenes from the Prince Caspian movie were filmed, was closed to the public due to the slips but on our final day our trek to New Chum Beach more than made up for missing out on these other places.

You can only reach New Chum at low tide and it is quite a trek clambering over rocks and negotiating tree roots along the narrow path on the embankment. I have somehow managed to raise a family of mountain goats - the half hour walk was 'a walk in the park' for them. Not so for this mother who had blisters from a new pair of sandals and had no idea that this was no stroll to the beach - believe me the picture you see above is deceptive - it gives you no indication of what lies ahead! I sorely regretted wearing my little narrow ballet pumps which gave little grip on the slopes but I made it and boy it was worth it!

No houses, no hotels or resorts, such a pristine coastline and only footprints in the sand so it is hard to believe that this beach is threatened with development. There has been much publicity in the New Zealand media about this beach and the campaign to save it from development. I will tell you more about this in another post. It is not undiscovered - it is listed in Lonely Planet but what a privilege it was to go there with my family. My daughter was delighted to have so many photo opportunities in just one location. These are just a few of the shots she captured.

I have christened this shot 'Flightplan at New Chum' - do you see the bird?

The daughter responsible for capturing the beauty and splendour of the land

What a backdrop for some very special shots of some very special girls!

Special places, special people. The perfect ingredients for a family holiday. The opportunity for grandparents and aunts and uncles to be reacquainted with their grandchildren and nieces and nephews and to meet the 'little man' for the first time. During our stay, family from Auckland and other places came over to the beach to spend time with our family.

Reunions with family....

And reunions with friends

We were thrilled to recently be back in touch with friends from New Zealand we have not seen for over 13 years thanks to Facebook. We were not sure if we would be able to visit them during our stay but it just so happened that they were going to be in the Coromandel when we were there as the husband was taking part in a running race. We drove over and met them at the end of the race - they had several hours to wait for the prize giving ceremony - the perfect opportunity to catch up on what all our respective families have been doing. When we knew each other I only had two little children - they had five including one set of twin girls. They used to tell us all about life with twins - little did I know I would experience it for myself one day!

On day twelve our bags were packed, our children tired - one especially from his early morning rounds of golf with granddad followed by late night fishing excursions and we had a day of traveling ahead. A few dramas ensued on the way home which mainly involved waiting in Sydney for a passport left behind in Auckland - not our fault, I guarded those passports with my life but on boarding the plane the airline staffer handed us back 8 passports instead of 9. We did not find out about their error until we were in the air. On landing we were looked after, escorted, given meal vouchers and just had to wait until the passport arrived on the next plane 4 hours later. Australian immigration staff were so helpful - they tracked down the passport when it arrived, found our bags and let us all back into the country!

It is good to be home. My heart skipped a beat when we drove up our driveway and saw our home among the trees. The dogs were there and happy to see us at 1am. The cat had gone walkabout but turned up 24 hours later - I was the mum of little faith who thought she had used up too many of her nine lives and taken on one too many snakes!

Looking forward to catching up with all your news and relating more of our kiwi adventures perhaps from a more practical angle sharing from what I learned about traveling with a family.

Until next time,

With Love and Joy,


SF said...

So wonderful to hear from you again Ann! Your holiday sounds just great. :) I loved all your photos and look forward to hearing more!
Saminda xx

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

Ahhhhhh Ann It makes me all the more determined to one day Visit NZ! It was to be our honeymoon destination but as with many things we do it did'nt go to plan But To Nz oneday I will go1
That Train ride would make my Kids hearts pitter patter theyd love it!
And The idea of fishing and golf Make me envious My Son does'nt have such a grandfather.....It sounds like your kiddos enjoyed many special moments all well deserved for such a Lovely family! xox

Denise said...

Terrific photos! Love the first one of your daughter on the beach- and your littlest guys is adorable!

Ayesha Monique said...

Aww I've always wanted to go there.
Beautiful pictures

Homeschool on the Croft said...

New Zealand's Tourist Board should employ you! You certainly 'sold' it to me. It simply looks wonderful. What a dream holiday - weather, beaches, family.... fantastic x

Jen's Busy Days said...

Lovely place isn't it? But home is best. I know your part of the world and I would rather be there than any where else right now.

Glad your travels concluded with everyone home happy and safe. Look forward to hearing your tips on travelling with many.

Best wishes
Jen in NSW

Farming On Faith said...

Oh what a wonderful time you have had!
I so loved seeing the pictures ~ I would love to visit some day.
I enjoyed seeing your beautiful children again.
Tomorrow it will be 70 degrees~ I am going to Spring clean although Spring will not be official here until March 20th. This warm weather gives me a chance to get a jump start.
Thank you for sharing your vacation~ or holiday as you call it.
It was so good to catch up with you. I missed hearing from you.
Welcome Home~

Camille said...

GORGEOUS photos Ann! How fun that you were able to take that wonderful holiday with your family. That beach photo of your little girl running at the top is so pretty! And your little guy is growing up so quickly...what a sweet little man. What amazing sights are to be seen in NZ...very very beautiful. :)

Welcome Home!
Many blessings,

Renata said...

Hi Ann
It is lovely to see all your photos of your holiday - what a wonderful time you had & NZ sure is absolutely beautiful (it's one of the places I would love to visit some time)!
How great you could catch up with both family & friends while there!
Glad you had a wonderful time & can't believe how big your baby is growing (where did that last year go ??).
Enjoy getting back into everything
Have a great week


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