Going camping in NZ with a baby

Going camping in NZ with a baby Going camping in NZ with a baby
Going camping in NZ with a baby Going camping in NZ with a baby
Going camping in NZ with a baby Going camping in NZ with a baby
Going camping in NZ with a baby Going camping in NZ with a baby
Going camping in NZ with a baby Going camping in NZ with a baby
Going camping in NZ with a baby Going camping in NZ with a baby
Going camping in NZ with a baby Going camping in NZ with a baby

My wife and I had long thought about taking a road trip through New Zealand. There was only one obstacle: our new-born baby girl.

The little one's grandparents attacked us with an arsenal of phrases such as lacking competence, irrationality, irresponsibility and common sense. The paternal speech was rounded up by comparing my organisational and logistical skills to a Somalian rebel group. Thanks Dad.

After asking ourselves time after time: "Will it be too big of a challenge for an eight-month-old infant? Or will it simply be too much for us?" Considerations, restrictions, gut feeling all played a part and a conclusion was carefully formulated to reassure hysterical family members.

"Camping is the most family friendly recreational activity known to mankind. New Zealand is a modern country that is officially rated number 13 of the best countries to live in. After all it was colonised by us." They weren´t convinced and told us not to do it. A Nike commercial told us otherwise.

Of all things, a typically inspiring American television advertisement played a major role in our decision to trek to the opposite side of the globe. Maybe the infant's grandparents actually had some valid arguments. Either way, this is the story of a puny British man and his family who set out to walk in the footsteps of their pompous colonial ancestors.

A NZ road trip

Approximately 18,000 kilometres from home, on an island a lot more alluring than our own, the airplane set us off at a minuscule airport surrounded by a mountainous landscape. Jucy Rentals provided us with a mobile home and the unsaid promise of ultimate freedom. The open road lay ahead of us.

Hardly 30 minutes into the drive, the baby in the back seat started screaming for attention. Apparently they don´t like sitting isolated for longer periods of time. At that point I realised the magnitude of the decision we had made. We might be facing weeks and weeks on end of driving with a constant racket behind me.

The road atlas informed us that the whole West Coast of the South Island was covered in national parks. One of the main selling points was magnificent nature, so we set our course for State Highway 6.

The Southern Alps presented themselves; clear freshwater lakes with snowy peaks as a backdrop, jagged across the skyline. As we descended into the lowlands, the landscape transformed into a lush green forest with mysterious looking trees rising up on each side of the road, as if to haunt the passage of all vehicles.

Baby _1

But the most magnificent drive was following a windy coastal road along the rugged western coastline of the South Island. At some points pillars of rock, dirt and earth protruded from the ocean, silently withstanding the harsh abuse of the ice cold Tasman Sea.

Being on an island, we figured that a stroll on the beach was obligatory. The long and craggy coastline of the South Island offers quite a selection. Although it has many of them, the country doesn´t restrict us to classical long white sandy beaches. During our trip we experienced black sand beaches; small tucked away coves; pebbled beaches; brown sand; and hot thermal sand – the majority with an extremely low number of visitors.

The road carried onwards through the rain forest-like vegetation. Without a lot more sense of direction than the fact we were heading north, we rolled into what seemed to be a long forgotten gold mining community.

Directly outside the camping grounds is the local tavern – and it's Friday evening. With just a worn out wooden fence functioning as a noise barrier, we were unwillingly engaged in the pandemonium. Bushy bearded men with wide brimmed leather hats told foul-mouthed jokes, communicating with each other through roaring laughter that exploded out of their sun hardened faces. As the evening grew older the local brew turned the decibel level of the rowdy assembly ever higher.

In my soon to be insomnia resembling state, a quote I attributed to the great Winston Churchill (God bless his soul) came to mind: "If you can´t beat 'em, join 'em." And so it was, I left the comforting warmth of the family bed to indulge in drunken leeriness.

With the ferry crossing to the North Island in our minds, the last stretch to Picton was spent cruising through Wairau valley at sundown. Golden afternoon light flooded the valley floor, turning vineyard estates, sheep and cattle farms into bucolic beauty. On either side foothills rose covered in a patchwork of green and yellow. Autumn was on its way, the summer must have been hot this year.

Home again

We spent a lot more time on the South Island than we originally planned. We returned safely home after a fascinating journey with plenty of stories to tell. I tell my tales with incredible zeal, boasting about my adventures to all ears.

I imagine I´m one of the first colonialists to return home from the far outskirts of the world. Parent's and grandparent's alike, still shake their heads in dismay.

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