Orakei Korako

A few days after our visit to The Bath House and the Redwoods, I took the Oh Waily kids off to pick up their Nana from Matamata (aka Hobbiton).  Then we took to the highway and headed towards Taupo.

Just before the great lake we took a left turn, and another, then headed up into the hidden valley that ends at Orakei Korako.  It was a pretty misty and grey morning, and for most of the journey it rained on our outing.  When we made it to the end of the valley the rain faded away, but left us with a dull and overcast day.  Still, it didn’t deter us from our walk.

First stop, the boat that takes you across the water.  What a fabulous way to start an adventure.  With a buzzer to gain retrieval when your walk is through.
Next up, the walk through the geothermal area.  Lots of interesting things to see and a surprise for the kids, what with all the steam wafting around us. It also made photography a bit of a hit and miss affair, as I’m still figuring it all out.

Steamy Arrival
As we walked over the first boardwalk we began to see all of the colours of the terrace. Unfortunately the overcast conditions didn’t manage to do justice to the colours and this was the best I could do to capture them.
It was great fun looking at all the algae as we walked along, but I think the kids were just as interested in the boardwalk as they were in the colours.

Colourful Walk
Here they are, admiring the Golden Fleece Terrace. Or, at least, posing for another one of my photographs.

The Silica Terrace
After this it became a taniwha hunt as there was a story to be told and a rock to be found. Instead we found the Elephant Rock, and naturally Miss Oh’s constant companion (Lumpy) had to be compared and contrasted to the rock in question. Quite the family likeness, I’d say.

Elephant Rock
After this we were able to admire the view back down on to one of the rather amazing terraces.

The Pools from Above
We stopped and admired Ruatapu cave and then headed on for the rest of the walk around the grounds.  And what visit to a geothermal park is complete without the obligatory boiling mud pools?  So we were able to see a few of those too.  One being particularly extensive.

Mud pool
After all the steamy walking, then the sun coming out, we headed back to the jetty to find the boat had just arrived and was picking up a number of other passengers.  This was rather surprising because up until the last small part of the walk we had seen and heard pretty much no one.  Yet here were at least half a dozen people!

To finish off our trip we had snacks and drinks in their little cafe before heading homewards.  It was a really long, but nice day.  A huge thanks to Nana Oh Waily for being my second pair of hands in a potentially iffy outing location – small children and steaming hot water, what could go wrong?

I’m looking forward to our next trip north when I think we may take on another geothermal wonderland, either Waimangu Valley or Wai-O-Tapu, and hopefully expand the little people’s knowledge of the earth and it’s sciences.  All while having fun, of course.

Two peas in a pod

Like many young children, the Oh Waily kids are not that fond of green veges.  This is especially true of the humble pea.  So you should have seen the wrinkled up noses on our gardening day when I said that the seeds I had for planting out were peas.

Here is what we started out with:
Starting Items

The two halves of coke bottles are leftovers from another unrelated craft project that will eventually turn up here at the Patch.  But while I was browsing gardening and nature ideas on Pinterest it occurred to me that they would be a perfect solution to see-through containers for this little experiment.

So our first step was to fill the containers with the potting mix.

Soil scooping

Then we placed three peas in each container, as close to the side and as unobstructed by potting mix as possible.

Pea Placement

After they were covered over with another few centimetres of potting mix we watered them and set them up on a window ledge in our living room.

We then went on to spread a bunch of daisy seeds into another, larger container.  This time I did the hard work of filling the container and the kids finished off with  sprinkling seed and watering them with a small spray bottle.

Daisy Seeds
Tiny little seeds they were, especially when compared to the peas we had just planted.

Watering
Then both the littlies took turns in spraying the tiny seeds to get them started.

And finally, they all came to rest on our window ledge.
Shelf Sitters

I’ll post a follow-up on the growth of our little plants a bit later in the week.

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.
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.
Mercury

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

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.