The school holidays was once a time for us to avoid travelling in New Zealand, but that was back in the days of having a child who wasn’t school aged (or not having a child at all). Now we join the rest of the school-going NZ families in trying to find both things for our daughter to do while we’re working and also take the occasional trip, using up that precious annual leave. For the end of term 3 holidays we had a week’s break down in Timaru, squeezing in some time in Christchurch and Oamaru as well.
With my parents and brother in Timaru there are options for accommodation which helps with reducing costs, while also meaning we get to spend more time with family. There was also the added bonus of Bridget and Adam also being in Timaru so lots of cousin time for Alayna. Speaking of cousins it was also Keira’s 13th birthday, so there was cake as well!
Alayna recently got given the card game UNOcorns (UNO with a unicorn theme) so we played lots of rounds of that. We also introduced snakes and ladders using a board from my childhood. Keryn also bought a copy of the Exploding Kittens card game while we were in Timaru and that quickly became a favourite with all the cousins.
On the way down to Timaru after flying int Christchurch we had stopped in Ashburton to gatecrash lunch at my Aunty Frances’s place, taking the opportunity to catch up with my cousins Jenny and Georgina and their kids who were also visiting at the time.
Later in the week we visited Oamaru with Mum, catching up with my Aunty Mary at the lovely Tees Street Cafe before spending a good time at the steampunk playground. Bridget and Adam had bought Keira and Liam with them and they had a catch-up with one of Adam’s friends who had moved to Dunedin, Oamaru being a nice place to meet in the middle. On the way back to Timaru we stopped at the Riverstone Kitchen to look around the gardens and let Alayna play on the expansive playground area and then had one last stop for some lunch at Cafe Nosh near Waimate.
Another day with Richard we took all the cousins for a walk in Peel Forest to Emily Falls. It wasn’t a long walk, a couple of hours there an back at small child pace, but we weren’t really expecting the stream crossing or very muddy track. Still, the kids took it all very well and didn’t get too muddy, though there were definitely wet shoes for most of us. The falls were pretty, and I was surprised by the amount of native birds we encountered (mostly heard rather than seen).
We visited Dad every day as well, joined by various family members and often with the kids entertaining themselves while the rest of us caught Dad up with our happenings. On Keira’s birthday everyone went to a cafe in Timaru and then in the afternoon we had a cake at Dad’s home. When the weather allowed (which was most days) we took Dad out for walks as well.
One evening we took Alayna down to the bay to watch the little blue penguins come back in from a day at sea, changing nest duties at the same time with the males taking over egg sitting from the females. It was dark by the time the first few penguins tottered up the beach, but there was one still fluffy chick preening right next to the roadside path where it was easily seen.
On our last day we said goodbye to Mum, visited and also said goodbye to Dad and then drove back to Christchurch. Lunch was at Alayna’s favourite Christchurch cafe C1 and then we found our way to the Margaret Mahy Playground. Alayna spent a couple of hours playing and then we were joined by Jenny and her kids so Alayna got a spend a few more hours playing with Elizabeth. I’m sure if we’d let her (and didn’t have a plane to catch) Alayna would have stayed for a few hours longer as well :)
It was a wonderfully relaxed week, no rushing around or angst, perfect for the school holidays.