Tips & tricks

IMG_8024This one is hot off the press after I had my power bank ( you know the thing you charge your phone with when you have no electricity ) removed from my checked in luggage last week when we flew to Nelson.

Lots of us now fly with power banks so be aware they need to be in your hand luggage. They will be taken from your checked-in luggage and a recent change to aviation security means they don’t need you to be present to open your luggage so you don’t know before you fly that its been taken out and you wont get it back.

As I pack for the 4 day Abel Tasman tramp next week I am aware of every gram going into my backpack but I still want to be prepared for a headache, hay fever, allergies, sore muscles or one of my random medical conditions so I grabbed this canister from a $2 dollar shop and labelled each section with the medication. The containers that hair clips and hair ties come in could also come in useful.

Plan and know your public holidays.

If you never have enough annual leave to do all the exploring you want, then you need to make the most of your public holidays.

When I get a new diary, writing in the public holidays is the first thing I do.

In New Zealand Easter and Anzac weekend are very close together this year and by taking 5 days annual leave you can get 12 days off – think of the exploring you could do with that.

Now go book an adventure!!!

Have you heard of Rawhiti Caves?

No? Neither had I until we got given a copy of NZ Frenzy off the beaten track guide. Full of well known and not so well known NZ adventures.

So three tips in one; add Rawhiti Caves to your South Island itinerary, check out NZ Frenzy guide and follow us as we explore off the beaten track

The new bike rack got the thumbs up from the third footman ( aka my husband ).
It didn’t bounce around on the towbar and the bikes didn’t rub together. Still takes a while to strap all the bikes on but I guess that is unavoidable with 4 bikes.
Bit hard to see in the pic. Its the Towball Mount 4 Bike Channel Rack.


We love the Waeco chilly bins, and not just for keeping your drinks icy cold when you are camping. Also fab for post adventuring picnic lunches.
I reckon we have got our money back on the cost of the chilly bin with savings in food not being wasted and being able to travel with your own picnic complete with icy cold drinks.
They come in a range of sizes but as yet I haven’t found one that I can take on the mountain bike.

41A345DC-4797-4961-85DA-E2B146D8304DMy 9 year old recently starting riding an adult sized bike and it got me thinking about the importance of riding on the right size frame. Its natural to think that a smaller bike is easier for kids to ride when in fact it can give them less leg power and smaller wheels don’t roll over bumps as easily. While your child may be a way off an adult sized bike, do take a look every few months to check their bike size and whether they need their seat put up .

Lets talk first world problems today – how to comfortably run or walk with your mobile. I have tried a lot of different options over the years but this tiny bit of lycra (an SPI belt )is the most comfortable and convenient option I have found. And yes I probably should be in the moment when I am out running or walking but I do like to take photos and honestly you just never know when you are going to find a lost puppy and need to call the owners

Of course we all know that the license plates on our car have to be visible at all times and if you have your bikes on the back of the car the license plate might not be so easy to see, but did you know in New Zealand its a $200 fine for obscuring your license plate…eekkkk.

We have driven round for years with bikes on the back of the car without even thinking about the license plate. Thankfully a mountain bike park did a windscreen flyer drop highlighting the issue and we jumped online immediately and bought the supplementary plates.

When you head out adventuring this weekend you are going to want this one….especially if you are in NZ where its been very wet and consequently muddy out there!!
I like to think I plan for things but I never plan for mud, let’s just call me an optimist, so when we finished the Timber Trail I was very pleased to find these plastic bags under the seats of the car.

Much as I would like life to be all about fun and adventuring sometimes its about boring admin and today’s tip is about admin, but if it saves you from the stress we are going through with credit card fraud then you can get back to fun and adventuring.
I wont get into the boring details of our on-line credit card fraud and of course you never think its going to happen to you but when it does its very stressful.
There are several things that could have happened differently to stop our credit card fraud getting so out of control. I will put them in the comments and if you have any tips I would love to hear them

OK this isnt 100% my tip…. Cycle Coach – Janet Stark shared a tip in Cycling in New Zealand biking tips, that when you are training for an event or a longer walk or ride you dont have to travel for miles to do the training – just walk or ride out your front door.
With Old Ghost Rd ride and Abel Tasman walk coming up I have lots of training to do, so this was a very timely reminder. Its actually the way we trained for the Tongariro Crossing with the kids a few years ago and most of our trail rides – just around the streets of Auckland .
So what are you waiting for, book in that hike or ride and hit the streets for some training

If you find that the family cant quite keep up with whats happening, then the self-adhesive white board could help keep everyone in the loop. Ours is on the sliding door into our kitchen so we can slide it away when its not needed but should anyone not be able to remember what the next adventure is then it’s all there for the whole family to see. Also useful in the school hols when the kids keep asking whats happening.

20170206_085505Summer in NZ is officially over today and some would say it never really fired. However, we have had some fab camping adventures and its been very sunny & hot. Sometimes you might not have trees on your site so it pays to take lots of shade.

The Tasman Region

My husband and I were on our way to mountain biking the Old Ghost Rd on the West Coast of the South Island.  We decided to head back to Kaiteriteri which we loved on our South Island camping trip, revisit some old favourite spots and explore some new ones in the area and head over to Nelson with the kids before we hit Old Ghost Rd.

Here are our the highlights from our recent trip.


This mountain bike park is in such a great location – right beside the stunning Kaiteriteri beach. Love the trails and the views from the top are stunning. The trail shown in the video is Jaws – an awesome trail, you just have to make it to the top to enjoy the never ending downill.


NZ Frenzy travel guide does it again with a recommendation for a stunning 10-minute bush walk through lush native bush to the Riwaka Resurgence where the river emerges from under the Takaka Hills.

I was expecting to be amazed by the water rushing from under the rocks ( and I was ) but it was really the mesmerising native bush that made the whole experience truly amazing and all only 15 minutes from Motueka and a 10 minute walk from the carpark. New Zealand you never cease to amaze me!!!

P.S. if you are looking for off the beaten track adventures check out NZ Frenzy travel guide by googling it online.


Sometimes it’s the completely unplanned things that turn out to be lots of fun. When we saw that AA (NZ’s Automobile Association and chief sign poster) were signposting tame eels on the Mapua Peninsula we thought it was worth a visit and even from the entrance it was a little bit of a different experience having to cross a Ford.

The eels are in a stream beside Jesters Café so be prepared for the kids to want to buy something but the whole experience of feeding eels and the lovely grounds for kids to play in not to mention great food and prices at the café made the whole experience a worthwhile investment in café and eel food.

P.S. we actually went in the Eel Festival (who knew that was a thing?) so the eel food was free in the October school holidays.


The Marlborough Sounds coastline has 1/5 of the length of New Zealand’s coasts and is mainly accessible by water so heading out to French Pass is one of the few places to access the Sounds by road and view massive tidal flows through French Pass.

It’s a 4 hour plus round trip from Nelson on a narrow windy, at time gravel road and initially we were disappointed as the bush obscured the views but the last 20km to French Pass is through farmland with unobstructed views on both sides of the peninsula. As we were there in Spring we also had unobstructed views of lambs and very excitable children so it was sensory overload with squeals of delight from adults and children alike.

The last shop is at Okiwi Bay so take your supplies, check the weather forecast as the views are best enjoyed on a clear day and set aside a full day for the drive – you wont be disappointed.


Not only is Tahunanui Beach a stunning spot, it has a great range of playgrounds and activities for the kids including the Nelson Modellers which has an outdoor and indoor model railway which runs on

We had such a great time in the Tasman District and there is still so much to do – we cant wait to go back,

Read about our first visit to the region;

Other biking in the area;

Tasman great taste trail

Mountain bike at Dun Mountain


Fabulous Fudge

I’ve tried lots of fudge recipes over the years and this is the best ( and most reliable ) one I have found.


2 x 400g cans sweetened condensed milk

2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

250g butter

100ml liquid glucose syrup ( available in the baking section of the supermarket)

3 Tablespoons golden syrup

400gm dark or white chocolate

1 teaspoon vanilla essence


Line a 20 x 30cm that’s at least 4 cm deep. I use a 24 x 35 cm.

Place all the ingredients except the chocolate and vanilla in a large heavy-based saucepan and stir over a medium heat until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.

Bring to the boil and boil gently until the mixture becomes very thick and changes colour to a dark caramel shade – about 6 minutes ( soft ball stage on a sugar thermometer ). Stir continually with a spatula or wooden spoon to prevent it catching on the bottom.

Remove from the heat and wait for bubbles to subside. Stir in the chocolate and vanilla until smooth and melted.

Pour into the tin and smooth the surface. Cool to room temperature ( about 3 hours ), then refrigerate until firm. Cut into squares.


I weigh all the ingredients in to the pot.

I find it best to make this about a week in advance of when I need it so it has time to set fully in the fridge.

On a hot day you may need to cut the fudge in small batches as it can get a bit soft being out of the fridge.

A day trip into Abel Tasman National Park

I imagined that the start of our 3 week South Island camping trip was going to be a relatively relaxing 5 night stay at Kaiteriteri lying on the gorgeous beach before the summer hoards arrived – how wrong could I be. There is so much to do in the area that there is no time for relaxing on the beach.

Kaiteriteri is the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park and home to one of New Zealand’s great walks. While we weren’t quite up for a multi-day hike we did want to explore the Abel Tasman so booked a water taxi ( more like a small ferry ) to take us to Anchorage. You can get dropped off at a multitude of spots and spend the day or the night exploring with the added bonus that the trip on the ferry gives you a chance to see the Abel Tasman National Park from the sea. You can also kayak but your children need to be aged 12 and above and of course its weather dependent.

So after a day’s relaxing and regrouping after our 2 day drive down from Auckland, we were up bright and early and packing a day’s worth of snacks ( there are no shops in Abel Tasman) and boarding the water taxi straight off the beach at Kaiterteri. I always love being out on the water and the trip included a bit of commentary as we passed Split Apple Rock. Marahau, Apple Tree Bay, Adele Island, Watering Bay, Te Pukatea Bay, Pitt Head and Torrent Bay. There is lots to see so it was an enjoyable 45 minute trip to Anchorage where again we got off the water taxi straight on to the beach.

Its pretty amazing to be on a beach all by yourself, well just you and the people who got off the water taxi with you or stayed the night in the hut. As we were there before peak season it was still pretty deserted. We decided to walk the Pitt Head loop over to Te Pukatea Bay which was an easy 45 min hike. Once we got there we were officially on a deserted beach where we were treated to a pod of dolphins passing by.

We then walked about 2 hours in the opposite direction to get to Cleopatras pool, a cascade of water on Torrent River that comes over a waterfall and then down a natural rock shute. Although the day was hot the water was chilly and most of us didn’t get in the water. My son wanted to come down the water chute but needed someone to show him how it was down and it turned out that someone was me. The chute is quite slimy and where the water comes over the waterfall it has worn out the start of the chute into quite a deep pool so you cant put your feet down and basically have to launch yourself into the chilly water. It was fun but slightly rough on your bum and a once only experience for me. I obviously didn’t make it look like that much fun as my son never did give it a go.

We enjoyed the shade of the trees and watching everyone come and go for about an hour before we headed back to Anchorage to meet the last ferry back. The trail to Cleopatras pool has a high and low tide route and the low tide can save you a few kilometres of walking so check the tide before you set out.

We didn’t find it that easy to find the start to the low tide trail and when we did find it (or what we thought was it ) the tide wasn’t quite far enough out so children were piggy backed.

We made it back to Anchorage in plenty of time for the ferry so had time for a quick swim before we jumped on the ferry.

A great way to experience the Abel Tasman National Park if you are short on time or energy.

P.S. All times given for walking are how long it took us with a 7 and 11 year old. For actual times have a look at Department of Conservation.

Or talk to any of the people at the water taxi companies – they are super knowledgeable about the area.

Our other adventures in the area:

Takaka Adventure

Our South Island itinerary

The Tasman region


Napier to Tolaga Bay

After five fabulous days in Napier exploring the Hawkes Bay region we were sad to leave but it wasn’t the end of our adventures as we were heading to Tolaga Bay.

Along the way we were excited to be able to see the Shine Falls, Hawkes Bay highest waterfall. The turn off to  Shine Falls is about 45 km north of Napier on SH2. The Falls aren’t that well signposted so keep a look out for Tutira and then turn left into Matahorua Rd, then left on to Pohokura Road. After 11km turn left into Heays Access Rd. Follow this road for 6.5 km until you reach a DOC car park. The drive there is actually part of the adventure as its through stunning countryside.

Shine Falls is part of a mainland island which took me a while to get my head around but its basically a reserve to attempt to regenerate native birds and bush and its seemed to be doing a pretty good job as the bush and bird life was amazing but I have got ahead of myself.

The first half hour the walk is through paddocks with some towering cliffs, a landscape that reminded me of something you might see in the Swiss Alps. We then entered the mainland island and walked for about another half an hour to reach the waterfall along a relatively easy track. The waterfall was indeed amazing. I have always loved waterfall and find the watching the water plunging from a great height mesmerising. After lots of photos and videos and then a few more photos we headed back to the car.

From here we were heading to Tolaga Bay and were hoping to find a lunch spot with a view of the Mohaka viaduct but unfortunately we didn’t find one. And then it was a lot of driving – turns out it’s a long way from Napier to Tolaga Bay and we arrived as it was getting dark to discover that the campground was on limited power and we haven’t packed our off the grid lighting. Thankfully we had power at our site and managed to get the camper up before the sun went down.

I woke in time the next morning for a gorgeous sunrise over the historic Tolaga Bay wharf and ventured down to the beach for the best view where I discovered that the beach had been hard hit by the recent storm and many a storm over the years by the looks of the piles of branches and logs strewn along the beach. It really wasn’t what I was expecting at all especially as from the campground a small sand dune blocked the view of the debris.

We had a relaxing start to the day having breakfast at the beach before we headed off on the Cooks Cove walk which we could access from our campground. Cooks Cove is where Captain Cook stopped in 1769 as part of his circumnavigation of New Zealand. Its an easy 6km return walk through farmland and bush. Of course the walk would have been a little easier if it hadn’t just rained so heavily and the first paddock wasn’t like a swamp where my son managed to immerse his feet in mud to the ankles within the first few hundred metres. Just for the record he walked in in muddy shoes and out in bare feet.

The trail has lots of information boards with the history of the area along with stunning views back over Tolaga Bay & the historic walk and views to Cooks Cove. We spent some time exploring the Cove which is very small, those sailors must have been amazing at manoeuvring the ship.

We were also delighted to find a hole in the rock ( my husband had probably read up on the walk so knew it was there but I always like to leave something to be surprised by ) We clambered up some rocks to enjoy more views over Tolaga Bay before heading back along the trail to the campground.

Later that afternoon we walked out the historic Tolaga Bay wharf which is an amazing 660 metres long. I almost started to feel a little seasick at the end of the wharf as the waves rolled in, or maybe that was watching the kids peer over the side of the wharf when falling in would have meant a long swim back to shore.

With more time we would have liked to have gone right round the East Cape but we would have to save that adventure for another time. For now we headed for Rotorua ( of course we couldn’t go passed a mountain bike in the Redwood forest) the following morning via Rere Falls and the Rere Rock Slide.

To check out the Rere Falls and Rock Slide, drive approximately 50km north-west from Gisborne on the Wharekopae Road and you will reach the small community of Rere. The Rere Falls are just a little further on and you don’t even have to get out of the car to view them. If you do get out of the car and there hasn’t just been a storm apparently you can walk behind the Falls but of course given the recent storm when we were there, there was too much water to safely walk behind the cascading water.

And then on to Rere Rock Slide. Bless my husband he had packed our wetsuits and boogie boards so we could enjoy the Rock Slide but it was about 12 degrees when we got there and the recent storm had turned the area quite swampy. I stayed warm and watched the other teenagers whizzing down the rock slide. It looked like a bumpy ride and some inflatable items didn’t live to see another day.

From here you could return to Gisborne but we decided to head for Rotorua on the back road which turned out to be an adventure in itself with logging trucks and flocks of sheep sharing the narrow gravel road with us.

If you are in the area check out the blog on exploring the Hawkes Bay.


Sharing family fun & adventures from the kitchen to the great outdoors