We’ve had the most blissful few days. Four days ago (really only four?), we drove north out of Wanaka, heading towards the Haast Pass to cross over to the West Coast. At the top of Lake Wanaka, we pulled into a Department of Conservation campsite to spend the night. Having stayed in well-groomed Holiday Parks for most of the winter, it was with a feeling of wonder that we stepped out of Liberty to explore our surroundings. The place was deserted apart from the birds, and we headed straight for the stony beach. Without a breath of wind the water was glassy and the boys immediately settled into doing their things – Otis fishing with a perfect hooky stick he’d found, and Elliott just pottering and filling his gumboots with freezing cold water. It was one of those perfect evenings where everything makes sense about this journey. As the sun disappeared, Thomas and Otis collected up armloads of wood for the fire and I made our go-to dinner of bacon and cheesey pasta (with kale thrown in to pretend it’s anywhere near a balanced meal). No internet or cellphone coverage was a wonderful treat, and Otis stayed up to make a campfire with Thomas before being piled into bed smelling like an adventure.
The next morning brought with it a pretty blustery wind, but we decided to stay on another night in this perfect spot. Around the corner from the beach we’d explored the evening before is where Boundary Creek flows into the lake. The spit of land on which the campsite sits has been formed by the creek, and the whole beach is covered in mountains of driftwood. We got busy building a sort of shelter to protect us from the wind, and, being robbers as we were, were instructed to collect gold from the beach and put it in the special treasure shelf. Of course, we were rich by the end of the morning, and went back inside leaving most of the loot for other buccaneers.
Day three at Boundary Creek brought more campers, and after having a Chinese family and a French family through the bus for a look around and a play, we made friends with Oli and his mum Sarah who are over from Australia. My first glimpse of Oli out the window he was dressed as a pirate, and I knew this was going to be a good thing. As suspected, Otis and Oli clicked straightaway and have spent the last few days just enjoying being with another child, and sharing their fact-driven, detail-oriented natures. I loved chatting with Sarah – as it turned out, we seem to be pretty like-minded as well.
On the fourth morning, we all packed up our things and said goodbye, refreshed and inspired by new friendships. Winter feels like it’s coming to an end and the West Coast is calling. It seems like this phase of the journey finishes at Haast Pass, and I’m excited to see what the next few months will bring.