Family Field Trip: Cape Palliser Lighthouse

With the last few days of Mr Oh Waily’s summer break we went on another family outing.  This time we headed out to Cape Palliser.  Not sure where that is?  Here’s a map for you.

At the end of a mix of gravel roads and tar seal we arrived at the first of our stops for the day, the Cape Palliser Lighthouse.   It was first lit in 1897 and was manned for 99 years before being automated.  As you can see, it has a very prominent position.

Cape Palliser Lighthouse

Getting up to the lighthouse involves a bit of courage for those with a fear of heights.

The steps

Roughly 250 steps later you are rewarded with far-reaching views.

The View

I highly recommend getting the stillest day you possibly can as it is exposed and the gusts can be extremely strong. Even on this loveliest of days the wind was gusting quite hard. Not for the feint hearted.

The Oh Waily kids had a good look around the flat platform area, including the rusty old winch.

Exploring the old technology

After we had been blown about a bit and had taken a few photographs, we slowly headed back down the stairs. Our next stop was the beach you can see in the photograph above, to look for seals, walk around the rock pools and see what the locals were wading in to get off the rocks.

Our next adventure is seeing seals.

Family Fun: The Play Park

While we were enjoying the last few days of Mr Oh Waily’s holidays, it seemed like a good time to take a day trip to a fun play park.  It’s a bit of a drive from home, but we get to combine the feeling of going on an adventure with having a good pay-off at the end.  It also gave me a chance to try out my new camera.

We quite love this particular park because it is so accessible for even the smaller children, and it has one or two items that are not common locally.  Take, for instance, the basket swing.  I can’t think of one locally, but Miss Oh loves it.  Master Oh took a little warming up to it, as perhaps you can see.

Basket Swing IV

He eventually got the hang of it and that grimace turned into a happy scared smile.

Basket Swing III

Along with that, there is also a zip line that Miss Oh can actually reach and use. This is usually too high for her elsewhere and she needs to rely on me helping, holding or pushing her along. Not so at this park.

Zip Line

In the little kids section there is the option to play storekeeper. In this instance Master Oh decided that he was an ice cream vendor. (No, there was absolutely no hinting with that. At all.)


And this trip proved to have a new favourite – the tyre swing-roundabout-thingy. Remarkably both Oh Waily kids were happy to be pushed and shoved along on this. As you can see.

Tyre Swing

Tyre Swing II

No that’s not smudges on the photograph. That’s pen smudges on his face. Boys! Really!

Did we play games? Yes.


Did we have fun? Yes.

Grinning Sunnies

Will we do it again? Probably, but not for a wee while.

The Great Oh Waily Jungle Adventure

My lovely children began asking me to take them on an adventure yesterday.  Everyone, including me, was just too tired to do anything about it though.  Instead today I made a plan and we headed out on our adventure just before lunchtime and got home just before dinnertime.  A very full day of adventuring was had.

The request was to drive somewhere and get lost.  And we had to end up in a jungle, eventually.  Clearly a real jungle is out of the question in this part of the world, but a bit of farmland and bush is completely doable.  So with a bit of imagination and pretending, we drove through a forest jungle today.  A brief jaunt up the main highway to Waikanae before turning off to head up Akatarawa Road.  It was the perfect choice for adventure – hills, forest bits, covered in patches of road, bush, hilltop views of the sea and valleys, single lane roads and, eventually a place where animals lurk.

The lurking is more like wildlife reserving, but hey that’s what imagination is for.  And for the adventure songs that were dreamt up and sung in the car.

We spent the best part of two and a half hours wandering around feeding various fowl, farm animals, and playing by the stream and walking over the wobbly bridge.  The pushy goats were still pushy and persistent, Bob the Clydesdale was still big and slightly worrying, but the rabbits were cute, furry and pat-able.   The peacocks and the cockerels were loud and almost seemed to have perverse pleasure in letting out a loud screech when you had no idea they were a couple of feet behind you.  The trout seemed even larger and more edible than ever, while the swans seemed laid back and relaxed.

Here are a few snapshots of the day out.

Feeding Ducks

At this point we had just fed some ducks, had a harem following us, and had discovered the geese enjoying themselves on the lake. I’m not quite sure what had caught Master Oh’s attention, but clearly he wasn’t looking away in a hurry.

On the Wagon

The Oh Waily kids, and friend, on the wagon in the BBQ area. Very nice spot this and new, I think, since the last time we visited. I left Master Oh’s hat in the car so he had to make do with his sister’s old one and clearly it does not quite fit him as well as it does her.

In the Aviary

They really need to work on their “cheese” faces, don’t they?  This is in the kea aviary, where we saw two sleepy-ish keas up close. One kept his beak under his wing, but a beady eye open and on the not so subtle children invading his home. But don’t you just love the exit? I had to duck down to get out, and I am no giant.

Playing in the old bank

Then in the bush settlement area they just had to play in the bank. Great fun.

Staglands makes for a fun day out for the kids.  A goodly bit of wildlife to finish off the Great Oh Waily Jungle Adventure day.  Oh and the ice cream and ice block at the cafe afterwards didn’t hurt either.

I wonder what they’ll think of doing next?


No, we are not talking about me.  That would be the last adjective I would apply to myself.

What it does apply to is the beauty of home education.  Today was a glorious day in Wellington.  Bright sunshine, light winds and the promise of summer.   What that meant for the Oh Waily children was an impromptu beach visit.

For them it involves buckets and spades, sand, waves and picnics.  For me I slip in discussions about our five senses (which is my planned topic for November) and what we see, feel, hear, smell and, their favourite, taste.

Today we watched a tern* diving into the surf for its lunch, repeatedly.  We also saw a regular gull dropping a shell of some sort on the beach, repeatedly.  I guess his lunch was taking a bit more effort to get.  Lots of wildlife on the go today.   We watched and were able to see, close up, the skill of the seagulls as they hovered and came to a landing spot next to our picnic table, repeatedly.  Such control and hovering and glide.  Even if they are pushy and greedy, it was lovely to watch.

We talked about the colour of the ocean and why it is dark in some parts and light in others.  We saw the different colours of the ocean and discussed why we shouldn’t take the “short cut” to the beach through the plants and possibly the penguin nesting areas.  We learned to balance on the rocks that make up the protection along the roadside edge of the beach and we enjoyed some time in a park refining our climbing, balancing and swinging skills.

To cap it all off we indulged in a little taste therapy before heading home.  There isn’t anything quite like hokey pokey ice cream.  Yummo.

Here’s to the flexibility to get out and enjoy nature, when nature is happy and welcoming.  And thanks to the local birdlife for putting on a brief, but interesting show for us today.  It was great fun.

* probably one of this variety

Family Fun: Fishing

If you are of the vegetarian or vegan persuasion you may prefer to move on to tomorrow’s post without stopping here.  The title should be the giveaway.

Mr Oh Waily has been wanting to take the little Oh Wailys fishing for some time now.  He is finally home, mostly, and the weather is improving, mostly.  It is not possible for this to be a solo Dad and Son or Dad and Daughter trip because as the old saying goes, “there’s no show without Punch” in this household.
To that end the entire Oh Waily clan headed out to one of our small local wharves.  Ostensibly Ms Oh Waily’s role in all this was to keep small hands from fiddling with hooks and falling over the side.  A role I can definitely get my teeth into.

The day was windy and wild, the waves were whipping up and I spent a great deal of mental energy seeing us all being blown over the side*.  So I was vigilant with wind and children while Mr Oh Waily set up the rods one by one.  Miss Oh Waily was the first to get her hands on one and with my help we started the patience teaching lesson that is fishing.   Lots of nibbles and bites but no one wanted to hang on.

A few minutes later Master Oh Waily got his hands on a rod and I absolutely kid you not, his Dad had only just lowered the line out and the little fella had put his hands on the rod when they got a bite.  A proper bite.  The sort that sticks.
With only some instruction about winding the line in, and a bit of a steadying hand, Master Oh Waily landed his first fish with his first cast on his first day of fishing.   Can you say “beginner’s luck”?

When the line was wound in, it was in fact two fish.  A little one and a larger one.  Mr Oh Waily released the littlest one before it occurred to either of us that we should be taking photographs of this, so here is the Little Fisherman with his one “large” fish.  It would have been as long as his forearm at least, so not so small for a small person.

Little Fisherman

By my non-fisherman reckoning this might have been a female Spotty (original name, I know) or Paketi. Any real fishermen out there, feel free to correct my identification.  Before unhooking and releasing said Spotty back to whence she came, Mr Oh Waily held her long enough to show the kids some of her interesting features – especially the little needle teeth.  Small but vicious I’m sure.

The only other fish caught that day was by myself while I held one rod after children had grown bored and Mr Oh Waily reeled in the other and removed its array of hooks for storage.  Roughly the size, or slightly smaller than Master Oh Waily’s fish.  Score one for Mother and Son.

We then went out a few days later, to another of our local wharves, in the hopes of letting Miss Oh Waily catch herself a fish.  For this event Mr Oh Waily went and invested in a rod just for her.  Can you guess what colour?  Hmmm.  Yes.

So, off to Petone wharf we toddled.  And the roles were reversed on this trip.  Master Oh went fishless while Miss Oh caught her first fish.  Again it was a duo – the very first was tiny and thrown back straight away, followed up with a reasonable sized second.

Miss Fisher

Again, the fish was probably as long as her forearm, perhaps a little longer.  And as you can probably work out from the photograph, she was happy to catch it but not so happy to hold it close, hence I’m holding the line and she’s holding me.  The flicking and wriggling was quite off-putting to her.  So no kiss for this fish before it headed back to the sea below.

Despite the wriggling and floundering of the fish both kids seem keen to go again, so this may turn into a semi-regular, weather permitting, family fun trip out.

Have you taken your kids on a family adventure lately?  If so, what did you do?

*  yes, I know I have a thing about falling from heights.  Live with it.  But in my defence, I’ve lived in Wellington for two years now and on at least one occasion I have thought that I was going to be blown onto the road in front of oncoming traffic (and was only saved by the fact that I had stood some feet back from the curb).   Yes.  The wind gusts here.  I mean GUSTS.  Not some nancy gust but a full, throaty, intentional GUST.

Family Field Trip: Pauatahanui Inlet

The Oh Waily family are very familiar with the Pauatahanui Inlet as we drive past it at least once a fortnight on the way north to Paekakariki Beach or much further north to visit family.  I have been promising myself that we would stop and walk the reserve paths one day, as the variety of bird life is plainly visible even from a speeding car.

Today we were heading to Paekakariki to play on the beach.  Sadly Ms Oh Waily didn’t do her homework on the tides before setting out, so instead we sat on the beach promenade and watched the large rolling waves come in charging like white stallions.   Following a bit of sea-spray adventure and an in-car picnic lunch, we turned back around and headed home again.  This time, finally, stopping at the entrance to Pauatahanui Inlet reserve.

As this was an impromptu visit I shall apologise in advance for the quality of the photos that follow.  We made do with the camera on the mobile phone.

On the Shells

On the Shells – at the Entrance

I must admit to being slightly concerned that my two little people would find the walk boring and that I’d end up being a pack horse to two little people complaining to me about having to walk so far.  I was pleasantly and happily surprised that they walked the whole kilometre and a bit without a peep.

Reading the Info Board

Reading the Info Board

I recommend you wear wellies or similar if you are planning on doing these walks. Nothing was under water when we walked, but one area definitely sank a bit. And soggy grass is never that much fun to walk through without some waterproof shoes anyway.

Forging Ahead

Forging Ahead

And now I am the one bringing up the rear. No time for photographs, lets get on, there might be something really interesting just around this corner. Come on…

Well, are you coming?

Well, are you coming?

And yes there was something interesting. A boardwalk to the hide.

On the boardwalk

On the boardwalk

And once we reached the hide we could just see across the way a number, and variety, of the birds promised by the information board at the beginning of the walk. Sorry that this photograph is so poor, apparently the camera phone is not too slick at long distance shots.

View from the hide

View from the hide

Then, just when I thought that long distance viewing was all we were going to get, around the corner come three swans.  Miss Oh spotted them, so that was wonderful.  She was so excited when she saw them coming.  So naturally we needed to take photographs of them.

Swans swimming by

Swans swimming by

The photograph doesn’t really give you a good idea of how close they actually swam.  Master Oh squealed a bit at one point and they picked up the pace and paddled away to the others.  One took off, which was quite interesting to see close up.  A shag came across from the group for a short visit before diving and disappearing.

The kids asked to go soon after.  So we did.  Miss Oh was all keen to do the other walk straight away, but Master Oh was definitely flagging by the last hundred metres when he asked to be carried over the soggy grass.  Bless him.  Then he wanted to get down and walk the other track.  But by the time we reached the fork in the track I had convinced both of them that we could come back and walk the other way another day.  They seemed happy enough with that in the end.

Now all I need to do is learn a bit about the seasonal cycle of the birds, as well as buy us some good field guides for the littlies to use on these walks.

Where have you been with your children lately?

Family Field Trip: West Wind Recreation Area

On Anzac Day we decided to make the most of the excellent autumn weather and head out to see somewhere unusual.  A wind farm.

We headed out towards Makara on Wellington’s west coast until we reached Meridian Energy’s West Wind Recreation Area.   This let the Oh Waily kids get up close and personal with a huge wind turbine.  It also allowed the Oh Waily parents the opportunity to admire some beautiful scenery.

We were also able to talk about electricity; where it comes from and what sorts of things around the house use it.  And because part of the short walking trail takes you through a pine plantation we were able to have a wonderful sensory experience.  The tall trees waved significantly in the wind, creating all sorts of sounds including creaking as they rubbed together and whooshing as the wind blew through.  Due to the plantation being pines we were also able to have a great walk on a very luxurious and thick carpet of pine needles.  We even managed to pick up a pine cone and Mr Oh Waily talked about how they work.

Here are a few pictures from the trip.

The Turbine.

Looking to the southwest.
To the South

And now a bit more of the South Island.
To the South Island

Some of the remains of Fort Opau.
Fort Opau

An odd remnant of art, now encased and preserved on the derelict wall.

Master Oh Waily striding with intention across the hilltop, whilst being buffeted by the winds.

Miss Oh Waily on the top step of the non-existent barracks from Fort Opau.
On the Steps

If you live in or near Wellington and the weather is fine and not too windy, then this is a great trip to take with children. Older ones would most probably manage the two other, longer, walks in the recreation area. They are more like tramps and not just gentle meandering walks, so you would need to come prepared for that. I think the scenic rewards would be well worth the effort though.