We’re friends with two British families in our neighborhood who have recently (in the last 18 months) moved to NZ. Last weekend we decided to all pack up the kids and hike to Lake Daniells, up in Lewis Pass just on the west side of the divide. Weather forecast for Christchurch was miserable rain with easterly winds all weekend, but we gambled that the mountains would block most of it…..and besides, these are Brits. If it’s not a drenching downpour it’s passable weather for them. Turns out our prediction was right–a couple sprinkles on Saturday and sunny skies on Sunday!
The logistics of moving seven children (ages 2, 2, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 9) and six adults with overnight provisions 8 kilometers down a trail to a hut are not to be sneezed at. Yes, we pushed strollers. And we carried packs. And the 5, 6, and 9 year olds of course walked the whole way.
It certainly helped that the girls got along well this weekend!
Amelia has been waiting weeks and weeks to get chosen as the weekend caretaker of the class elephant…..and it would be our hiking weekend when she got chosen! To her credit, she did carry the creature most of the way, and wrote about its adventures in its journal.
Right, so the walking track isn’t exactly made for strollers, but since we didn’t have enough adult backs to carry all the children and paraphernalia, they were the best option. The sturdy contraptions were manhandled over roots and around protrusions, and the stroller handlers got increasingly skilled as we covered the kilometers. I should also mention that Ian (driving stroller) is not Amelie’s dad…her dad was undoubtedly pushing the other stroller or carrying a pack. We parented the herd of children jointly this weekend–including behavior reprimands as needed.
It took us 5 hours to cover the 8.5 kilometers on the way in, but we made it!
When we arrived the kids had a second wind, taking over the bunk room like it was a padded jungle gym. The other hut guests wisely piled together in the other, separate bunk room, leaving us a room all to ourselves.
Starting the fire….always a popular manly task. This hut is actually stocked with coal, but it needed sufficient coaxing with semi-dry tinder to catch light to keep things challenging for the boys.
We brought our backpacking oven and produced a really decadent brownie for dessert….there was silence among the kids for approximately 30 seconds as it was devoured. Actually, the noise level in our group did take a bit of getting used to, but since we were sharing the hut with 5 teenagers with almost the same capacity for raucousness, we didn’t feel embarrassed.
Someone’s daddy carried in that book! Milo’s about 6 months older than Amelie, and they play nicely together (usually!).
Sunday dawned sunny and the lake was beautiful. Sandflies were about, but the kids didn’t seem to mind.
Kids + water = endless amusement. I think the game at this point was to chuck a hunk of wood into the water and then use a stick to guide it back to shore.
Sophie was brave, herding three 2-year-olds on a narrow dock, one with a stick! No one fell in. I’m sure if we had stayed another day someone would have ended up in the drink.
The hut really does have a charming situation on the edge of this clear mountain lake.
Jeremiah took a morning run back out to the cars with one backpack, getting his work-out in while at the same time lightening our homeward load.
Whoops, there’s one down! The walk out was quicker than the walk in, perhaps because the littlies rode for most of the way so the pace was a bit faster. The beech forest was absolutely charming, fully of mossy green hummocks and sunspots.
Chloe and Amelia were obsessed with fairies, so while this was just a cool tree branch to Milo, to them it was an enchanted fairy seat.
Driving back to Christchurch we only had to go 5 minutes to the east to see the windy rain that the east coast had been enjoying. It made the excursion all the sweeter!
Now this is what trail-weary parents like to see! Peaceful silence in the back seat.
We all stopped for a last treat at a cafe for dinner on our way home. Happy faces all around, particularly when the food came out.
Now that’s a classic milk mustache if there ever was one! Milo could care less about his dinner, but he did enjoy his special hot drink! All the cafe’s here sell “fluffies,” inexpensive foamed milk for kids to have along side their parents’ lattes. This one even had rainbow sprinkles (“hundreds and thousands” they’re called here).