It’s summer here and its a busy time for us right now. We have been camping down near our river and have met several really neat friends near us. We get together with them once or twice a week and the kids play together while we catch up and we also learn together as these other families homeschool as well. It’s been a wonderful blessing to meet them as we feel right at home here in our new location after moving.

Our orphaned animals have grown up well over the spring and they are weaned and more independent now. Licorice the lowline angus cow and Lucy the sheep are best friends and stay in a paddock together. Our other cow, Violet and her calf Daisy, both Jerseys, which we bought last year have finally been brought to the farm. Daisy is all grown up now and we are wondering if she might be pregnant, due to have a calf in August of this year. Time will tell. Violet just had a calf. She’s half jersey, half lowline angus. We have named her Poppy. Hopefully in the next week or so we will begin milking Violet, which will provide milk, yogurt, and some simple cheeses here on the farm. It feels really good to provide these things for ourselves.

Our orphan brushtail possum Bobo is living in the trees in our backyard now. He comes when he’s called at night, and we keep a good stash of bananas on hand to give him as a treat a few times a week. He is so sweet, sometimes he will roll over in my lap and ask for tummy rubs after his banana.

We celebrated several birthdays this spring and we had a nice Christmas and New Years visiting family and enjoying the good weather. I’ve been raising ducks chickens this spring. We took the ducks for a walk down to our pond a few weeks ago, but they usually stay near the house and enjoy a paddling pool.

The gardens are growing well. Potatoes, peppers, zucchini, pumpkin, greenbeans, beets, basil, carrots, bok choy, spinach, tomatoes, yams, celery, lettuce, cucumbers and many beautiful flowers are growing. The kids and I have been learning about insects and flowers over the last few months as part of school. We have also watched about 25 monarch caterpillars grow and we have released them as butterflies. It’s such a blessing to watch the beauty of everything growing around us.

I hope this update finds everyone in the Norhern Hemispheere in good spirits despite the cold and that these photos can bring some cheer to the winter up there. As always, I pray that you all may know the love of Jesus in your lives. He cares for you.

So, we are finally settled for a while, and we are enjoying it very much! All the ideas that were floating around never came to fruitiion except the original plan which was to move onto the farm that was purchased almost a full year ago. Initially, we were going to come here and live in our bus until we built something of our own here, as the first plan was to have the house on the farm sold or rented out to make money for the farm. But instead it was decided that we would move in.

It has been such a blessing and we have been feeling such gratitude to be so comfortable and to have such space. We never once doubted our calling to live in our bus. It was a season that was meant for us and we lived it well. We learned a lot of valuable lessons in our bus. But now, in a house nicer that I ever would have asked for, I just feel like I don’t deserve it, but I so want to do my best to look after it while we are able to enjoy it.

This farm and house were owned by a family that were here for quite a long time. The gardens around the house were at one point really nice and have since fallen into a little disaray, so the first project while we are here has been to tidy all that up. We’ve been pruning and digging and clearing large portions of the overgrown shrubs and rosebushes. On one side of the house there is large garden complete with paths that were all but lost in the weeds and woodchips. It’s turning out so nice though to be able to walk through it now on the newly found paths, around the trees, large rocks and flowers.

Another project I started was my orchard. I bought 12 fruit/nut trees. We have planted them in large pots until a later date, since we don’t know where to plan them at this stage. I’ve pruned them and we are just waiting for spring to see if any of them will flower this year. Their pots collected a little snow that came this week. Most of it melted not long after in fell, but the kids were able to play in the falling snow and make a few snowballs. The feeling of being in a cosy home, watching the fluffy snowflakes fall brought back a feeling that I havn’t had since I was in America. It was the feeling of real winter, the feeling I used to get around Christmas and new years too. It brought me back a little to some happy memories of my childhood.

It’s funny because a lot of people have asked Darren when hearing we were moving to this part of the country, ‘How’s your wive going to handle the snow?’ And Darren would just laugh at them and say, ‘Are you kidding?! She’s from Wisconsin… a day or two of snow will be all fun and games for her.’ And he was right. I was just marveling to him at how beautiful the snow was falling around us outside and then he laughted outload to me as he told me about the silly people who asked how I would cope with the snow, in a country where most people don’t get any snow. I’ve included a video below of some of our time spent in the snow.

This farm has it’s own creek and also borders a river, where Darren caught a trout that we ate last week. In late April I bought four Silver Appleyard ducks which have settled in quite well just in time to start laying eggs. Boy and Girl enjoy searching for them each day in the puddles. We are hoping that at some point they will decide on laying in a nest so we can have some ducklings to watch grow up.

Darren brought home an orphan lamb that was rejected by it’s mother, and two weeks later, an orphan calf that was also rejected by it’s mother. So, I’m happy to introduce you to Lucy the lamb and Licorice the calf. Lucy is a mixed breed ewe lamb, and Licorice is a pure breed Lowline Angus heifer. it has been such a neat experience to feed these two every day. Lucy has been up and down a few times in health, but we are hoping she is out of the worst of it now. She follows me around the gardens while we work and falls asleep near us while the children help me clear weeds and branches. We even took her to the park one day and she followed us like a puppy. Everyone there that day came over for a little pat of her. It made their day.

We have also been doing a project this winter learning all about trees. We’ve been doing experiements with seeds and plants, and searching for different types of leaves and trees. There is so much that the tree can teach us about God and about truth. Nature is a wealth of inspiration, and it all points to our Creator. This week we have been learing about cypress and cedar trees. The cedar tree is a symbol in the Bible of protection. Cedar trees are very strong and can survive strong storms and harsh conditions of many kinds. We have been conteplating how God is our shelter like a cedar tree in the wilderness. The tree can withstand whatever comes its way, and has its roots firmly planted in the rocks. There are many cypress trees around where we live, but I was really hoping to find a cedar tree. We searched and searched in the park near here and just when I had given up and started to drive home, alas! we spotted one! It’s beautiful clusters of needles were so interesting to us as we marveled at this tree!

So that’s what we’ve been up to. It’s really good to be settled, at least for now. We still don’t know if this is our permanent home but we are probably here for at least a year.

Just an update. I finished up my teaching position in Hastings in mid April. It was such a good feeling to get all the loose ends wrapped up, my last papers graded and to be on our way back to our friends and family on the other side of the North Island. We then had a 6 week wait until we could take over our new farm on June 1.  But as it usually seems to happen with us, that didn’t pan out as we expected. A week before June, another farm popped up that took our interest so we stayed where we were for 4 more weeks until the tender date on that farm of interest was passed to see if we might get that one. If we got that one, we would have to sell the one we just bought which was a long shot in such a short amount of time, but we thought we would give it a go. Long story short, that didn’t happen.

We are all wondering what purpose all that was for, but it seems our mindset was changed through that process and the time that elapsed while we didn’t move into our farm allowed a few more new opportunities to begin presenting themselves. So, we are in the 3rd week of June, and we still don’t know what we are doing. We are going to wait another couple of weeks to see how things pan out. Our options are the following:

1. We move to the new farm in the end after all. We move into that house there and think about some more permanent plans.

2. We swap the farm we just took over for another farm that a friend owns up North. This would mean we move up there for a couple years and develop the land. After this we would look for another farm to finally move to and settle into.

There are lots of smaller little options in each of the above scenarios, but essentially those are the two main ideas.

It’s a crazy life. My husband and his dad are visionaries. They have all sorts of crazy ideas. Some of them come to fruition, and some of them don’t, but there’s one thing that is always for sure, it’s an interesting and fascinating ride.

Anyway, in the past 2 months we have just been living life parked up in our bus, helping Darren’s dad with his other 2 farms. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and planning on my homeschool plans for Boy. Soon I’ll be starting him on that. Beyond that, we’ve been doing chores together, exploring nature together, doing experiments and trying to be patient waiting for what doors God opens next for us.

To start off, I will just tell that when we first moved to the Hawke’s Bay we were parked in a small section that was open to the road on one side, with an ugly fence on the other side, and an ugly railway container on the other side. The grass was brown from lack of rain, and the road was loud and intruding. The fence made us feel like we were a bit in cage, but the kids did have a hammock hanging in one corner, that they played on most days. They thought the train that went past 10 times a day was so much fun to watch, and they were always so cheerful, dispite the ugly environment. (I think we have a lot to learn from them)

Then, we able to move to a paddock right next to the school I work at. The family next door are so friendly and we have alot in common with them. They have kids the same age as ours as well which as been really neat. Theres a beautiful tree in our paddock, and I can pop home for lunch most days. It’s been a really blessing being able to move here from where we were.

When we moved our bus to sunny Hawke’s Bay in late January, we felt that while not our first choice, it would definitely be an adventure. It has been my dream to stay at home with the kids and homeschool. Boy is almost school age, so I’ve been planning and brainstorming and researching all the things I want his formal schooling to include. But, we were placed in a position finanially where I needed to put all of that on hold and get a job. I’m a trained teacher after all, so how hard could it be? I’ll get all my work done and then go home and pick up my life each day where I left off. As many adventures end up being, it wasn’t as easy as I thought.

Roses from a student on my second day.

This experience has probably taught me just about as much as I’ve taught my students. I’ve learned a lot about my priorities and how I have changed as a person since I first came to New Zealand, and since I last was a full time teacher. I still have a passion for education, but my focus has shifted to my own children and family. I have developed a huge appreciation for what I believe is God’s given roll for all mothers, which is to teach their own children, serve their husband and family, and to make a warm home. And when I was taken away from that, it killed a little bit inside of me. There have been many days where I’ve felt like a modern day Jonah, just wanting to run away from my current responsibilities, crying to God, why me? why here? But I’ve had to grit my teeth and just do it.

A picnic breakfast on my morning off so Darren can sleep in.

The school I’m working at couldn’t be a nicer school. The staff are all loving and helpful. The atmosphere includes a Christian worldview. The kids are mostly well behaved and from good homes. The equiptment I get to work with is all new and up to date, and I have an absolute gem of a lab technitian to prepare all my labs for me. Really it could be a lot worse. So, I’m really thankful at the same time, and am asking God to really show me exactly what this experience is supposed to be teaching me through it all.

At a school BBQ. Girl in some bubbles

I only have 3 weeks left of the 12 we will be here in total. I have almost learned all my students names. but I’m so excited to be finishing soon. The 4 main things I have learned are things I already knew, but it really nailed it down for me:

1. It is an absolute priviledge for a woman to stay home with her kids most of her time and to serve her family (I don’t think a day or two each week at work or perusing personal interests is a problem, but rather being the breadwinner or second breadwinner) . I believe it should be a right, rather than a priviledge, but society has taken that away from women and I believe it has cost society very much for doing so. I know many women don’t have this priviledge, and I know there are many women who throw away this priviledge. I know many people will strongly disagree with me here. You are allowed to disagree. I know there may be a time in the future when my kids are a lot older when I may find being at a job every day suitible, but right now I don’t.

Out for a walk

2. While money is a nice thing to have, being at work all day, every day costs you something that money can’t repay. Things such as time with your little ones that often non family people get to have instead, energy to stay creative with them, energy to cook healthy, inexpensive meals from scratch, energy to spend with your spouse. The mental capacity to give those in your home your 100% when you get home after a long day of working your brain, when all you want to do is switch your brain off. I used to think I would be happy working for a bit here and there, but now I know I would rather have less money, less new clothes, less fancy food, and a smaller, more simple house, than the things having a job out of the home can provide.

At a park

3. Being in the country is a priority for us. We always knew that, but living in town has really made us feel so much stronger about this. For us feels a little bit like living in a box. It’s true that it’s convenient to be in town, but you forget how noisy it is when you’re in town, until you leave town. And then you realise how the peace of nature and the quiet country fills your soul. Another thing about town, is that you have to spend a lot of mental energy always being on gaurd. You have to keep your eyes on the children 100% of the time when you are out and about. You need to pay attention more because there are people everywhere. You have to consider how you respond to them, how to respect their bondaries and their space. When you are used to living on a farm, this can be hard to do, especially if you are more introverted like we are.

In a Tawa tree forest

4. Some of the positives of going through this experience, has been the people I have met, and their stories. God is working in the hearts of so many people. These people can have such different beliefs as me and different interpretations of scriptrure, but I can see that God is still with them, leading them all the way. They are doing their best with what they have been provided, and this has led them to be powerful Christians, who I know will make a positive difference. And so, it is best to be united on the common bonds, be ever ready to teach others what you know when God asks you to, but to never push in and make others be like you, when perhaps God’s not ready to show them yet.

Outside a cafe after using our voucher from Darren being a Legend

I have also enjoyed watching Darren with the kids. He has been able to spend so much more time with them, strenghthening his bond, showing them his way to do things, building a strong relationship with them. I think he has enjoyed being able to be there for them in a way only a stay at home parent can be, even though it’s not always as easy for him to come up with crafty projects for them to do when it’s raining. He’s taken them to so many parks and bike rides. I think they’ve made some great memories. Ones such memory happened a week or so ago. Darren was out with the kids while I was at work, towing them behind his e-bike in the kiddy trailer. He drove them over the bumps on the bmx bike track, around and around the little track and then stopped to let them out and ride their bikes too. Two people came over a few minutes later saying they saw him from the 4th storey of the office builing across the street to give him 2 $20 vouchers to some cafes, and a slip saying he was being nominated to be ‘Legend of the Month’ for what they saw him do with the kids. It was really funny, and cool.

Darren taking the kids for a ride

So, at the end of all that, I just want to say that I am so thankful that I don’t need to continue working. I have enjoyed getting back into chemistry and doing some experiments with the kids here. We have learned a lot about ourselves. We have been able to explore a new part of the country, and we have developed a stronger sense of how much we are blessed.

December 7, 2020

We left Tomomaru Bay and headed north to Te Araroa. On the way we saw views of Mount Hikurangi. Then we went east along the coast out to the eastern Cape of New Zealand. The road going east was quite run down, as were the fences, as livestock were roaming on the road. It was a drive of rugged and majestic views.

When we got to the cape, we took a family photo and then I took the kids up to the light house. There were 800 steps. The steps looked to be old rail way planks or something, at least they where put in to look that way. The kids climbed them great. It took us about 25 minutes. The view was marvelous.

The sun was setting so we rushed back down to meet Darren and drove back to Te Araroa to look at New Zealand’s largest and oldest Pohutakawa tree, also known as the New Zealand Christmas tree. We were astounded by its size! Then, we headed to Te Kaha for the night.

December 8, 2020

In the morning, we got up and drove to Omaio, where Darren fished and I read some stories to the kids, then we went onward to Opotiki, where we did some laundry and had a look around at the town centre. Then we found our campspot. There was a playground, which was nice. On the drive, we could see white Island just off the coast. White Island is an active stratovolcano and New Zealand’s most active cone volcano. It has been actively letting out gas for hundreds of years.

Click to read about White Island

In Opotiki, there were horses wandering in some of the parks. Apparently, many of the locals own horses and just let them wander around. We were constantly intrigued by the mindset of the people in this part of the country, in how they did things. It sparked a lot of conversation while driving.

One thing we were surprised by was the lack of freedom camping spots between here and Tokomaru Bay. There was essentially nothing for that long stretch. We had anticipated spending a lot longer in this area, but it really wasn’t possible to. The spots that were available were not always very nice. There was one place we quite liked, but there were behives in the corner of the paddock and lots of clover in the lawn; not a good combination with barefooted kiddos…

Pohutakawa Blossoms. We tasted the nectar and it was sweet!

December 9, 2020

Another thing we were surprised by was the lack of places to fill up our fresh water jugs between Gisborne and Whakatane, which is pretty much the entirety of the region known as east cape. If you want to spend a longer time in this area, you must have large water tanks with you. We would have been able to make our water stretch for about 10 days. This covered our drinking and cooking water. We would not have had enough if we stayed for the 26 days that our permit allowed. This information would have been really nice to know back in Gisborne.

In the morning we packed up and headed south on Highway 2 through the Waioeke Gorge. The views were beautiful. We continued until we were back in Gisborne. When we arrived, we realised we had a flat tyre and had to rush to get it fixed before shops closed, then we drove onward to the campsite we had previously enjoyed on Mahia Peninsula.

That evening, Darren helped another camper get into his vehicle after locking his keys inside. Then he went fishing with his spear and caught 10 flounder. We froze some, gave some away and ate some the next day.

December 10, 2020

In the morning, Darren tried fishing in the river again, while the kids and I played in the water. From Mahia, we drove south to Napier and settled in for the night. We essentially travelled in 3 days coming south what we took 3 weeks going north. It was a long three days, but I had an overwhelming sense to get back home and enjoy a bit of normality before starting work in January. We really enjoyed our adventure for how long we could do it though.

December 11, 2020

We did some errands that took most of the day in Hastings and then drove home to Palmerston North. It was very good to be home again. In the following days we did a lot of laundry, cleaning, and also picked the onions and garlic in our garden. It’s amazing how many weeds grow in 6 weeks…

For those who have been with me, reading from the beginning, thank you for coming along on the adventure with us!!

December 2, 2020

We hit the road early and drove past Paua beach and it’s many permanent campers and went to Loisels Beach at Waihau Bay. We were the only souls there, yet the campsite had 22 empty caravans parked there. It was a little weird. Kind of like a ghost town.

The beach was really quite nice, but no good for fishing, despite the picture of a man fishing there on our map. We thought it was a bit too shallow for fish. We stayed there for lunch, Darren and Boy had a swim and then I washed my hair in the sea. After that, we drove back out  and onward to Tolaga Bay.

At Tolaga Bay we had a look at the town and marveled at how such a tiny grocery store could have almost everything you would need. It had a general store feel to it. We bought some milk. Then we drove to the campsite and called it a night. We were almost the only ones there, and no campervans littering the lawn.

December 3, 2020

In the morning I did a lot of meal prep, then we packed a lunch and walked the 600 m out to the end of the warf. It was windy out there! But we managed to keep our hats… And our plates with only one mishap. Darren then tried fishing but sad to say, didn’t even get a bite.

The kids and I walked back to get some coats and met Darren back at the end, where we took some photos and then gathered up our things and went back to the bus. We drove to a little park so the kids could play. The town was quite friendly. Some kids gave Boy and Girl a lolly each. Girl fell and scraped her knee, but Darren saved the day by buying popsicles. Back at our camp site, we had dinner and then I did some laundry by hand before calling it a night.

December r 4, 2020

We just did some ‘housework’ today. I hung laundry in the sun, cooked and tidied up for the weekend. We lazed around our campsite and enjoyed the nice weather.

December 5, 2020

On this day I did some crafts in the morning with the kids and then after lunch we took a walk up to the top of the Tatarakahe Cliff walk, which was a short walk up to the top of the cliffs that line Tolaga Bay. At the top, we were surprised to notice how the cliffs decend almost as quickly on the other side. We had 360° views from the top except for a tree that was in the way. It was a short and steep climb, but we all did well. It was fun to spot our bus far below, and to look at all the things look so tiny.

December 6, 2020

I packed a lunch and we drove to the trailhead of the Cooks Cove walkway. Darren went fishing and the kids and I walked up steep farmland to a tall lookout over the Cove where Captain Cook came and restocked on firewood, water and food. It was one of the first places he visited on his first trip to New Zealand. The locals here were very friendly upon his arrival. After 6 days he continued around the coast of New Zealand.

This walk was really quite neat for me. Mostly because 8 years ago, plus just a few days, I did this walk as my first ever bush walk in New Zealand. Little did I know then, that I would come back and do it again with my then unborn children. Back then, I had thoughts of staying but really only dreamed of staying maybe 3 years. A couple months ago I recieved citizenship in New Zealand. I am really glad I was able to come back to this place.

After the lookout, the trail literally plunged down, down, down, into the bush, made of twisted and whimsical trees, until we came to the very bottom at near sea level and a short walk to Cook’s Cove. My phone didn’t charge the previous night, so I wasn’t able to get a photo of the kids in front of it… I’m really sad about that, but I’ve included a photo I found online. The kids had a realy good time. They ran and played on the down and flat parts, and didn’t complain much on the ups.

After climbing back up through the trees and back down the farmland, we met Darren at the bus. He didn’t catch any fish, but did see a ‘captain cooker’ down at the river. That is, a wild boar initially brought over by Captain Cook himself. Darren said it was unusually friendly, and we wondered if it was someone’s pet. After a short rest, we drove to Tokomaru Bay for the night. The kids played in the sand and Darren fished some more before bedtime, catching a small kahawai.

Cooks Cove. Click photo to see the original.
A ‘captain cooker’

December 7, 2020

We have had a lot of curveballs come to us this past week. We started our trip without an end date in mind. First, we decided to return home early January to get ready for my new job, then Darren got a phone call for an appointment we need to be back for just before Christmas, and then we talked with a lady that may have somewhere for us to stay while I work next year, and she needs to meet us before December 14. So, we’ve decided to accelerate our travels and head home by the end of the week. Because of this, we didn’t stay in Tokomaru Bay another night, but headed off to see the rest of East Cape.

Kawakawa Tree leaves and berries. Also is known as the Pepper Tree. Berries taste tropical, but full of small black seeds that taste like black pepper. Leaves can be used to make soothing lotions.

November 26, 2020

After seeing the Mangaone cave, we drove close to Gisborne and parked just outside the Te Wherowhero lagoon near Muriwai. We released the few hermit crabs from the last beach and then settled in for the night.

November 27, 2020

In the morning be explored the lagoon. We found mostly snails and crabs. Boy enjoyed trying to scare the crabs out of their holes. We saw something splashing in the lagoon and we think it was a little shark. I also saw a few baby flounder about the size of a coin. Legend among the locals is that there are giant flounder in the area.

We pondered coming back to try catching a giant flounder, and then drove into Gisborne to take care of some errands. We checked out the Gisborne Botanical Gardens and in the evening we parked at a beach in Makorori. The weather was hot and the water was beautiful. Boy’s favourite thing is letting the waves splash into him. Girl’s least favourite thing is the waves getting her. So we did our best to cool off and then called it a day.

November 28, 2020

Today we went to church and had lunch there. It was nice to chat with people about our trip and hear a bit of advice from the locals. Then in the afternoon we went and took a walk in the Gray’s Bush Senic Reserve Reserve just outside of town.

A Puriri Tree hugging a Kahikatea Tree. A rare sight, as they have different prefered growing conditions.

For the evening we went back to the lagoon near Muriwai and Darren had a go looking for giant flounder. He didn’t see any flounder but did notice some shrimp as well as crabs swimming. He was surprised to see them actually swimming rather than just crawling on the sand in the water.

November 29, 2020

We ran errands all day, because after Gisborne there will be no large towns until we are around the east cape. We bought a permit that would allow us to stay on the campsites in the area for 26 days, so we expect to take our time and enjoy the cape. Since we are well stocked, I have decided to challenge myself to spend no money on groceries except milk and maybe eggs for the next 2 weeks.

When we finally left town, we traveled to Turihaua Beach. We settled in and saw a man burning a bonfire on the beach. We went to look at the fire and had a chat with the man. He told us that he used to live and work in Australia and how he had to come back to New Zealand when Covid happened. Along with his wife, he’s been living on the beach since then, in a tent and caravan and working in Gisborne. They are hoping to return to Australia when things open up.

November 30, 2020

We had a relaxed morning and afternoon, playing on the beach and fishing. There was a small lagoon with lots of baby fish swimming around. We saw flounder, eel and kahawai babies. A girl from another campsite came and played with the kids in the water. When it started raining I called the kids in and we all warmed up near the fire. For the rest of the day we read stories and played card games.

December 1, 2020

It pretty much rained all day. We did more of the same stuff inside. Near the end of the day we went for a drive and also switched campsites at the same location. On our drive we checked out the next two camping locations and noticed how many people were actually living there as permanent campers. We had a chat with the lady employed to check permits. She said while it’s legal, its a real problem, especially with the housing crisis in New Zealand. All those people will need to find somewhere else to go after summer when the permit rules change. It felt a bit like a makeshift, lowscale trailer park. We asked the lady if there were any sites that were a bit less like that and she told us of a few places she considered better.

We had very much been wanting to explore the east coast and east cape since we had never experienced this region of New Zealand. But we both feel that this will be our last time through this area. The beaches are beautiful, and the weather is warm but we felt that New Zealand could do a bit better than what we saw there and we prefer places that are actually free and where people don’t congregate. It didn’t feel entirely safe.

December 2, 2020

We packed up and drove to our next location.

November 22, 2020

After we left Shine Falls, we drove to Wairoa where we parked on the beach for the night. We lit a fire and hung up all our laundry and it was dry before we packed up in the morning.

Some treasures from the beach

November 23, 2020

The Wairoa beach was quite wild and not that nice so we decided to top up on water and groceries and head to the Mahia Peninsula which is actually an island joined to the mainland by a tombolo. A tombolo is a sand isthmus, or joining piece that connects an island to the mainland. It first connected the island hundreds of years ago so there are estsblished communities and roads on the island.

Mahia is actually quite an upscale region and there were quite a lot of rules about camping there. So because of this, there were only a few places we could park overnight. We were hoping it would be different than that, but made the most of our time there anyway. The first place we explored was Blue Bay at the Opoutama Beach Reserve. Darren tried fishing but didn’t like how the weeds kept getting on his line, so after a bit of a play in the water and on the driftwood, we packed up and went to the other camp spot called Oraka Reserve.

Oraka Reserve is right next to an Estuary with mudflats, so that evening Darren took a light and his spear and went fishing for flounder. He came back an hour or so later with three fish! We were thrilled to finally have some success. If anyone is curious how I cooked the fish, I made a cauliflower curry recipe with some of it which can be found here: https://honestcooking.com/coconut-fish-curry-cauliflower-potatoes-recipe/

November 24, 2020

In the morning, Darren filleted the flounder. The kids found it enthralling to watch. Girl made sure to tell us, “The fish is not moving, and that is why it is dead”. We cooked up half of it for lunch ans saved the rest for later.

After filleting the flounder, we took a drive around to see where the roads on the peninsula would go. The Mahia West Coast Road went to a walking track but was only suitable for 2 tonne vehicles or under so we turned around. The Mahia East Coast Road went all the way out to the end of the Peninsula to Onenui Station where New Zealand has its very own rocket launching laboratory. The point it sits on sees the first sunrise of the world every morning. We were not allowed to go to the end, so we turned around and parked at the Whangawehi River mouth to eat lunch and had a poke around on the beach there. The views were great though. We also saw wild peacocks and turkeys.

At the rivermouth, Darren fished and the kids saw a stingray swimming, some jellyfish, and some fish. Darren managed to catch 3 kahawai that were worth keeping so that was exciting too! The little rockpools near the fishing spot had rock pool anenome that were fun to poke. Boy enjoyed poking them to make them suck their tentacles inside and below the sand and then watch as they slowly came out again.

Darren let Girl throw out the fishing line and she was surprised that she didn’t catch a fish in the first minute. She said, “I’m not good at fishing, I’m done.” and was off to go play again. Lol!

After fishing we went back to the Oraka Reserve for the night. Before bed, I did more laundry and we lit a fire to dry it over night.

November 25, 2020

We woke up to drizzly and windy and dreary weather. So, we relit the fire and did some cozy activities inside. When we were at Shine Falls Darren cut up and stored away an entire little Lusitanica tree he found that had already fallen down and dried out. This has been such a blessing despite the room it takes up. We are slowly working through it on days like this. We praise God for allowing us to find it.

Late morning we packed up and drove to Morere Hot Springs. We had lunch at the cafe and then spent 3 hours in the hot pools. Just before we decided to get out of the pools the staff said we had to leave because a tree had just fallen on one of their pipes. They offered us a refund, which meant we had a free afternoon, which was very relaxing. After showers we went back to Oraka Reserve for the evening.

November 26, 2020

So we could make the most of low tide, we headed to some rockpools. Boy and Girl went from pool to pool, looking into the water. We saw mostly seaweed and sea snails, but did manage to find a few other treasures.

We enjoyed picking up sea snails and watching them snap their shell doors shut over their bodies. We found one shell that had a translucent snail body with white stripes on it in a grey shell. It even was so brave to poke it’s head out for us so we could see it’s tiny eyes and eye stalks. We found a small red sea anemone, as well as a few hermit crabs.

Darren said he saw some sea urchins when he went farther out to throw out his fishing line. We didn’t sea any, but we did find some of their old and broken shells which were really pretty. I also enjoyed finding bits of broken glass and shell that had been smoothed by the sand.

Darren didn’t have any luck fishing, as the sea was quite wild due to the rain that fell the day before, so after a couple of hours, we went in and had a lunch made with the kahawai fish we caught the other day.

After lunch we packed up and left the peninsula. Not far away was the turn off to Mangaone Caves. It was a steep climb and then a gentle walk to get to the cave mouth. It was very muddy and wet inside, so we were only able to walk down to the bottom of the steps. However, it was still really neat to feel the damp, cool air and hear the water dripping from the cave roof. Girl was a little nervous about going into the dark, but she did great and both kids said they liked the cave.

On our way back to the main road we stopped to pick a bag full of lemons from a giant wild tree on the side of the road. They were the ugliest lemons we had ever seen, but they smelled and tasted great! Then we were off to the city of Gisborne.

November 18, 2020

We got up and the kids spent the morning hanging out with Nana and Papa. While doing some meal prep, I got a phone call from the school that interviewed me the day before. They said they were very impressed with my interview and offered me a job starting in the next year. It looks like I’ll be teaching some high school chemistry for 2 terms next year! It’s just the job we need to fill in the financial gap before Darren’s work starts on the farm we move to next year. After chatting a bit about that news, we drove up to Te Mata Peak for lunch. We had a little look around then rushed inside the bus to avoid the shower that passed over.

After lunch, we headed to Maraetotara Falls on the Maraetotara River. While we walked down to the falls we spotted both a brown trout and a rainbow trout which was so neat to see. They swam under the rocks as soon as they saw us, but Darren went and got a fishing rod and spinner anyway just to see if he could coax them out. We didn’t have any luck so headed back to the bus and drove to a beautiful spot on the riverbank of the Tukitiki River to park for the night. Darren lit a little fire and everyone played around a bit then brought everything in when some heavier rain started.

November 19, 2020

Darren spent the morning collecting some wood for our bus fire, since rain is forcast for later this week. We watched out the window as a man drove his car backwards past our bus on the gravel track and into a giant puddle filled hole. We went out to talk with him and he said he comes down to the river regularly like this to get a bit of water for his cows from the river. The big rain we got last week must have washed out the track as there was a little creek flowing down in now. Papa pulled the man out and he was on his way. I suppose its a reminder to never get complacent in life. Always be vigilant for what may be around you. A good idea figuratively and spiritually as well.

The kids took a nice nature walk and played in the river with Nana and Papa before we drove to the laundromat to do some washing while we had lunch. After that we said goodbye to Nana and Papa as they went back home. Then we headed to the Waikare River Mouth Campsite. We set up camp and had dinner, looked around and went to bed.

November 20, 2020

In the morning, all three campers that had been on site had packed up and left. They seemed to have been there a while, but we think they may have left because there was a school camp going on in the next paddock over which was quite noisy. They were packing up as well. Soon, we had the whole place to ourselves, which made the place so much nicer! It didn’t last however. A van drove in later and parked in the corner. The man in the van turned out to be a fairly nice old man who was a regular in the area.

View of the river and our campsite from the trail to the beach

The kids did some fishing at the river with Darren in the morning, and after lunch I took them on a 2 km walk to the beach. It was such a lovely beach. The views were breathtaking and the sand and rocks inviting. On our way there and back we saw cows and wild goats.

Then, we cleaned up the bus, and all had a wash out of a tub. We imagined Laura and Almanzo from the Little House on the Prarie book series as they were bathed in a tub in front of the fire once a week. Oh the memories we are making!

November 21, 2020

Today we just hung out around the bus and relaxed. We didn’t do much at all, a nice day.

November 22, 2020

Darren has been trying to catch a decent fish since we started our journey. He figured out how to catch little bait fish by using tiny hooks and so this morning he went out early to try and use the fresh bait to catch a bigger fish. He didn’t have any luck. So, I did some laundry and then we packed up and went to Shine Falls.

We had lunch and while Darren squirreled away some good firewood he found, the kids and I went on a walk to see the waterfall. On our way there we were fortunate enough to spot the rare and gorgeous and almost extinct Kakabeak tree! It had a lone flower left on it from spring which allowed us to identify it. The flower looks like the beak of the Kaka Parrot.

Blooming Kakabeak Tree

Then onward to the falls which did not dissapoint. Spectacular and breathtaking was the view. We were in awe as it misted on us being so close to it. The photos really don’t do it justice. After returning to the bus, we drove onward to find our next spot for the night.

November 13, 2020

In the mornig we packed up and headed to Hastings. We bought some groceries, emptied our tanks, dumped rubbish etc.. Then we took the kids to a neat park. Boy played in the water and girl swung on swings and climbed. We then found a pool and all had a shower. We parked up at the Clifton Road Reserve. It was mostly rocks and not much space to explore so we spent one night there.

November 14, 2020

In the morning we went to church at the Napier SDA church, then went to the Bluff point lookout for lunch. The views were amazing. You can see all the way to Gisbon across the sea. Beautiful… After that we drove out to the Puketapu Domain and had a nice afternoon playing at the park there. We also found wild mock strawberries and picked a bunch before realising they didn’t taste nice at all.

There was a sign posted on the park warning of nesting magpies, and they weren’t a problem until later in the day. Then they wouldn’t stop dive bombing the kids. That paired with the fact that a drunk lady decided she wanted to be a bit more friendly than we were comfortable with made us decide to pack up and find a place elsewhere for the night. We drove back to the beach and stayed at the Haumoana Domain which was really nice.

November 15, 2020

We spent the morning fishing and playing by the sea. I found some sea lettuce and tried it in a salad. It was really leathery to the touch but in a salad it actually wasn’t all tjat different. It wasn’t crunchy like iceberg but was a bit more like mesculin in texture. In the afternoon we played in the grass and went for a bit of a walk on the tracks nearby. It was truly a lovely day.

We met a man that said he was diagnosed with a benign tumor that was invading his spine. He had to stop work because of it. He decided to sell his house and buy a van and travel around, and he’s so happy because of it. His tumor is even receding a bit. It’s amazing to hear the stories of people that choose this lifestyle. It seems like getting out and seeing the country brought joy and a positive outlook that helped him to feel better and to help his body fight his health issues.

November 16, 2020

This was a maintenance day. We got up, went and paid for some laundry, then I took the kids to the Napier aquarium. After that we picked up some things at the grocery store, and headed to the Clive Ski Reserve which had a very nice area for freedom campers.

We had dinner and went fishing. Boy reeled in fish that was on Girls hook because their lines were tangled together. It was great fun.

November 17, 2020

I had a job interview at a school for a temporary position at 2 pm so we played around at the park and had lunch before the appointment. Darren took the kids while I was busy. After the interview we met up with Darren’s parents back at the same place we stayed the night prior. Boy and Girl thoroughly enjoyed spending timd with Nana and Papa for the evening.

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