Saturday, January 10, 2015

Nelson Camping 2014/2015

It was around September this year that we started feeling that we really could use a proper holiday - not the kind where you're at home so you find all kinds of things to keep busy, but rather the kind where you go away somewhere and spend all day not being busy at all. We suggested the idea of joining the Gregorys and their annual crew in Nelson to the Gregorys (they planted the seed a year or two ago) and were met with the kind of enthusiasm which leaves no room for second thoughts.  We got ourselves kitted out with a tent and various things we'd need (including bunting, because really, who wants to CAMP when you can GLAMP) and set off on the 27th December for a glorious 10 days away (which became two weeks because it was so goooood to be on holiday). 
Bit of a tight fit getting everything into the back of the bus but Nick cleverly did it.
We met up with Graham and Liz in Christchurch for breakfast, then travelled the rest of the way together, stopping several times along the way to explore and eat ice-creams...and lollies...
Finally arrived in Nelson late afternoon and got busy setting up camp.  It took more than the first day to really get the site properly decorated, but when it was done I loved our temporary home!
Being an inexperienced camper I was nervous about the food side of things but Nick assured me that he was ready to barbeque every night if need be.  He and I ended up doing most of the cooking together, either at our site or joining the communal area at the top of our slope.  It worked out well and I have a few ideas to gather together for next year's holiday.
Some of the days were spent lazing about the campsite doing absolutely Very Little Indeed, while other days saw us heading to interesting places around the northern reaches of the South Island.
We were in Nelson over two Sundays; one week we went into town to join with an evangelical Anglican church (it made us miss our own church!) and the next Sunday we gathered a congregation and held a small service in the marquee on the campsite, with our very own dear pastor in the pulpit. 
We even had a few surprise visitors to the service, who stayed on for a fellowship lunch afterwards - great to see Rob and Alison Harrod up from Christchurch, as well as Brian and Agnes McClintock and kids who were in Nelson on business.
One day we took a drive to Takaka (two hours of winding mountain passes and a car-sick vomit-break later we found a good place for lunch). 
After an expensive but delicious lunch, I had a walk around town; Lauren and Elliott started their way home to Timaru, and most others went to explore some of the beaches around the area.  I'm told they found an idyllic beach which will surely be revisited in the future.  Another short drive took us to the Labyrinth, a weird series of limestone rocks worn away over time to produce a natural maze.
The rocks were perfect for spiders...the bigger the web, the more fun to poke gently with a stick to produce vibrations to entice the spiders out from their hiding places in the crevices.
Our final destination on this Takaka day was Anatoki Salmon, where the point is to catch a salmon, have it cleaned, filleted and smoked by the team of professionals, and eat it straight away. 
Caleb was the first in our group to reel one in...
...impressive catch! 
Other fun times were had around the campsite and the Holiday Park makes quite an effort to make the summer holidays exciting for families.  One day they set up a mini carnival with free face-painting, temporary tattoos, giant swings...
...another time there was an outdoor movie night featuring Mary Poppins.  There were also discos and live bands and a magic show. 
We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the six or seven other families who link in every year (mostly friends of Graham and Liz), playing games, chatting, and fellowshipping together.  Caleb and Aaron were off on their bikes most days with a crew of ready-made friends, and made some good connections with some fabulous kids.  Can't wait for next year!