If you know me, you’ll probably know that I like to take my kids (well, they’re now 20 and 17) camping for a week, every year, in January. It’s something that I started doing 12 years ago, and have really focussed on.
I like to take them to parts of New Zealand that they’ve not seen, nor are likely to explore.
This of course leads to much discussion about what they can handle, how much time they’re happy to spend in the car on the journey, what they’d like to do or what they’d look forward to doing in the chosen destination.
This year, we went to New Plymouth. The reason for this is that a significant part of my origin story is rooted in New Plymouth. My adopted parents were born and raised there. Their parents were established there, and I remember spending many many weeks, many holidays, in New Plymouth as my parents took us to their hometown from our home in Palmerston North.
We stayed at the Top 10 campsite in Fitzroy. It’s fairly basic, but was perfect for our needs. I quite liked the hedging around the sites – it created a sense of privacy.
In New Plymouth we checked out a few things that you have to. Sadly the Lights Festival had ended the day before our arrival so it wasn’t worth navigating Pukekura Park whilst electrical works were being removed. We circumnavigated Mt Taranaki. We took a detour to Parihaka (important learning opportunity). We met some of my colleagues ( yes, I can’t not work on holiday – and the opportunity to connect with people IRL can’t be missed). We explored the homes my parents grew up in. We explored the homes my grandparents lived in. I recounted stories – oral history. We visited my biological aunt as well, so kind of a dual journey!
On the drives and in the campsite, we explore music. I love how my kids have their favourites. We started exploring the Rolling Stone top 500 albums of all time. It is interesting to me that they’re looking for craft rather than popularity. Snarky Puppy and Animals for Leaders rather than bland top 10.
One of my absolutely favourite things to do is to drive random roads, take random turns, explore small rural New Zealand. Buy a toasted sandwich. Have a chat. I love getting to know the pulse of the people I come into contact with. I find really interesting things.
Back in New Plymouth, we explored the Len Lye gallery – its always amazing. I suspect it may have been a bit outside the headspace of my two though.. Still, I enjoyed it!
My kids? I think they had a good time. I’m always optimistic that they’re interested in the next camping trip. Will there be a next time? I hope so.
They’re not particularly interested in being photographed. Here’s them and me…
So, camping this January is done. I’m ready to approach work properly – I’m centered. Time with my kids is way more important than anything else I do.