The Sunday before last, we got kidnapped. It was perfection. Emily, or Aunty Emily as she is known to the four Hobbit children is here in Auckland for work from Christchurch. It’s been months since we have seen her, and she called me a few days ago and suggested the abduction without actually telling me anything about what would be involved, just that: “we are going for a walk.”
Yes, it was a walk. According to my Apple step counter, it was about 7km worth of walking through pristine New Zealand bush. Our tour guide was a calm, cheeky, kind millennial named… wait for it… Zuess. Not even kidding. He kept a close eye on us without ever giving away shortcuts and allowing us to function as a team and figure our own path through the forest. He’d done this Tawharanui scavenger hunt in summer and winter and several times before. He was the actual best.
I feel it prudent to mention that Emily had a severe case of sunstroke and was crispy after her shoulders were exposed while on the water the day before. Did she complain? No. Did I worry? Absolutely. The next day she was in at our local doctor and a few weeks later her burn and herself are healing. But what a trooper. Silly trooper, but trooper none the less.
Back to the walk!
We had our eldest and youngest kids with us. Daniel is nearly 14 and is, at times, an emo archetype of this harrowing stage in human development. He deals with his angst through humour, and suffers no fools as he bashes through puberty, trying to find his place, and heavily ensconced in memes, VR, and self-discovery. He amused, and perhaps slightly scared us with his razor sharp and often dark humor.
The other Hobbit child to join the convoy is James West. James is so full of joy and enthusiasm it is nearly impossible not to be in a great mood in his tiny but formidable presence. James was given the role of leader, which he relished and, despite only being four years old and unable to read, actually took on with staggering success. His diplomacy and enthusiasm throughout the day made his parents and the rest of the group very proud and kept us entertained.
Without going into too much detail, let me explain the premise of the day:
We stopped at the DOC station at the park entrance and collected pamphlets to guide us on a scavenger hunt through the Tawharanui bush reserve. The object was to find checkpoints of native bird pictures along the walk. Clear and easy to understand directions were given for each checkpoint, and Zuess let the team take total control of the process, and, despite knowing where everything was, and completing the walk several times in various conditions, did not rescue or steer the team at any point through the day. He did, however, offer encouragement and some fairly impressive jokes along the journey.
It is well known that my soulmate (ex partner and still best friend) Phteven and I adore Aotearoa. This is a paradise beyond measure in our eyes, and the opportunity to walk through pristine bush with dappled light and beautiful birdsong to sooth our busy minds was medicine for our souls and our friendship. Seeing our kids and our friends work together, bond, laugh and successfully find all the suggested checkpoints remains a highlight of the summer for our family. Good, wholesome Kiwi communing with nature. There’s nothing quite like it in the world, and I would suggest to anyone to get out amongst it when they have the time.
I might leave today’s post there for now, and share some of the pictures from the day and a few links. Living in the country is a blessing I treasure and ponder multiple times every day. Our summer is in full swing, and we are a week away from the children returning to school. This weekend I am nipping across the ditch to Melbourne for a quiet and rejuvenating weekend, while most of the Kiwis (especially in Auckland) will be preparing for some record high temperatures this Auckland anniversary weekend. So, consider packing a lot of cold water and heading into the bush where it is a little cooler and less crowded than the beach. I know I had a perfect day in dappled light with some of my favourite people on the planet.
Thanks for reading!