Written March 20, 2010 (posted Mar. 30)
We were all reluctant to leave Pakawau (Golden Bay) after 5 relaxing days but no one more than Gregory because he had some friends to play with. He, Zak and Harry became fast friends. They chased each other about, spied on the parents, played cards, made mobiles out of shells, roasted marshmallows, played in the waves and their mom Sarah broke out her beautiful art supplies and we all got creative. Sarah, Paul and their sons live in Nelson but immigrated to New Zealand many years ago before the boys were born. They have been very happy with their decision and enjoy their life in New Zealand.
Sarah gave us some recommendations for books/authors that she and the boys like and one was a British author named Enid Blyton. She has been around for ages but Sarah said the kids just love her. Before we left camp Gregory traded a book he had for one an Enid Blyton and he devoured it in one day. Since then we have been on the look out at every used bookshop and op shop (St. Vincent de Paul “Vinnies”, Salvation Army, Hospice, etc.) for these books. She has a couple of series. One is called The Secret Seven and another is The Famous Five (which I understand was a TV series). We are so pleased that Gregory enjoys reading and we can all climb into the tent at night with our headlamps and have a good read. He keeps trying to read in the car but we keep saying look out the window at the spectacular scenery! Reading in the car does tend to make him a bit carsick though, especially on the winding roads, so that sort of gives him a break.
The other day we were visiting with our Akaroa hostess, Val, and I mentioned how pleased I was that Gregory has downtime to just read and relax. In America (as well as elsewhere I imagine) kids tend to be entirely over scheduled and with the TV and video games so readily accessible it seems kids don’t tend to just have the time, or make the time, to read for the pleasure of it. Life just seems to have a good balance right now with time for studies, time for reading and journal and time to explore new surroundings and meet people from around the world.
When we left Golden Bay we made our way to the west coast, driving through Westport and then north along the coast to Gentle Annie just beyond Seddonville. It is nearly to the end of the sealed road and is a peaceful seaside enclave with grassy camps set amongst hedges of agapanthus (pretty blue and white flower heads), pink lilies, roses and other flowers. One particular flower called Queen of the Night had a most intoxicating scent that is particularly fragrant in the evenings. Lucky for us the camp host gave us a little tip about a nighttime bush walk where we could see glowworms. (Many places charge to take you on a nighttime boat trip to the glowworm caves so we were particularly thrilled that we could see them while avoiding the tourist trap.) Though I had been yawning through dinner and we were all a bit tired, at around 8:30 PM, I convinced the boys to pile into the car and make the short drive to Chasm Creek to go on a glowworm hunt. As we walked down a narrow track of this old railway bed with only our headlamps to make the way and Gregory clung to my hand pronouncing it a bit scary while Mike proceeded to make ghoulish groans to scare him further. After walking for about 10 minutes we spied the a few green glowing specks on the steep wall face to our right. Hooray! We’ve seen glowworms! Even still we decided to continue a bit…
After we’d tramped a bit further we came to a tunnel and as we crossed through the entrance (getting dripped on a bit in the process) we were greeted by the amazing sight of hundreds of tiny green glowing masses on the roof of the cave. We slowly made our way down the tunnel intermittently turning on the headlamps to make our way and then turning them off to observe the glowworms in all their glory. It was a thrill.
I would venture to say that that thrill probably didn’t compare to the thrill that Gregory and Mike got when they rode the Tandem Comet Line over the Buller River Gorge! This flying fox (zip line) was something else! The Buller Gorge Swingbridge is the longest in New Zealand and we crossed this as jet boats full of passengers whizzed past us far below. Then, after a brief hike Mike and Greg had their ride of a lifetime. Gregory got to sit in the front and I took video as he shouted with delight the whole way across. They get you on the fees for these things but this was one case where we felt the $45 dollars (NZ) was well spent.