Three weeks, 3000kms, two adults, two pre-schoolers, one camper van and nano travel stroller....and the mission? To explore the east coast of New Zealand, living life without limit. Here's what we got up to on our summer roadtrip:
Day 1 - Wellington to Picton
OK so perhaps starting the story on day 1 is a little optimistic seeing as every parent knows that planning even an overnight trip with children is a nightmare. So let's go back a couple of weeks when preparation for our roadtrip started. Our 6m Nissan Civilian campervan might seem like an ample sized vehicle for taking a break away but once it's crammed full of bedding, clothing, cooking utensils, food and of course all those Christmas presents there is little space left for all the added extras that come with travelling with two young children - like the buggy. It was clear pretty early on that our urban jungle wasn't going to fit and that we needed something considerably smaller for our adventure. We managed to get our hands on the new nano stroller and were relieved to find that it fit perfectly in a tiny space left under the dining-table-come-double-bed. Phew - we'd have convenient transportation for our daughter whilst away!
So once the packing was done, it was the day of the adventure. A 3 hour crossing of the Cook Strait. The first hurdle was getting the children and all the essentials required for three hours of entertainment and feeding from the car deck up to the lounge floors. Without wanting to wait in the rather long queue for the lift, we decided on the alternative - winding corridors and narrow staircases. Thank goodness that the nano had a carry handle and small fold, keeping our hands free for clinging onto railings, holding children and wrestling a rather large bag.
Once on deck, the journey passed with the usual excitement of an anticipated holiday - we stood on deck and watched the scenery, had a bite to eat in the cafe and chilled out in the family lounge. Well it wasn't quite that serene with two excited but tired children but was rather uneventful none the less.
Disembarking the ferry again meant winding corridors and narrow staircases, but again the nano made the whole experience much easier as it was lightweight to carry and left your hands free for other activities. After our arrival at Picton, we headed south for Blenheim.
Day 2 - Blenheim
Blenheim was a rendezvous point for our family, meeting up with two additional campervans containing 4 more adults and two rather cute dogs. After the joy of feeding eels in the local river, playing on the playground and sharing a delicious family meal, I met my second hurdle of the holiday - how do you get a tired but very excited toddler to lie still on a bed until she falls asleep? The simple answer was that I couldn't so I resorted to a technique I practised when my daughter was very young in her urban jungle - walking my daughter to sleep in her nano. So several laps of grass and gravel footpaths later, she was finally asleep and ready to transfer into her own bed. Huge praise for the nano travel stroller here - the easy recline on the seat was ideal and it handled the terrain perfectly.
Days 3 & 4 - Havelock and Pelorus Bridge
After exploring the wine regions of Marlborough (responsibly of course) we headed towards Nelson. En route we stopped for a walk around the beautiful township of Havelock before stopping overnight at Pelorus Bridge. Here we stayed at a DOC campsite which had rather rugged terrain. The hard, dry ground strewn with rocks really put the nano stroller through its paces, especially on the nightly trip up through the bush to gently (!) rock our daughter to sleep. But nano was undefeated by the terrain and headed onwards with us towards Nelson and Murchison.
Day 5 - Pelorus Bridge to Nelson
Continuing on our trip we headed to Nelson from Pelorus Bridge. With it being the summer holiday season, Nelson was pretty busy so we parked out of town and walked in, whilst pushing our daughter in nano. Nano was just as easy to manoeuvre around the shopping streets, shops and supermarket as had been for the rest of the journey. After Nelson we headed to Murchison for Christmas.
Christmas - Murchison
When we arrived at Murchison, we camped about 3km out of Murchison itself and walked in to the township to explore and pick up some shopping. My daughter was in and out of the buggy a lot on this trip. In for the start of the walk, back out again to look at the cows in the field, in again, then out again to explore some more random things. On this occasion I didn't fold the nano away, instead I just pushed it along when not in use. The single handle meant that I could steer with one hand, keeping the other free to grab my daughter when necessary. On the return trip, the shopping fit nicely underneath the stroller which is always a bonus!
So that just about sums up the first week of our adventure. Check back next week to see how nano handled the rain in Hanmer Springs and the beach terrain of Kaikoura.