Monday, January 26, 2009

Camping at Whakapapa...

It feels like summer...the kids and I have been walking down to the beach nearly every day the sun shows its fiery face. I wouldn't say the water is that warm..the kids sort of turn blue, but they insist on staying in. I sit and watch and yell a bit when I sense danger...there usually isn't any.

We returned from a two day camping trip on Sunday night. I had packed all day on Thursday while Deane was working, so we could leave that evening and get to Whakapapa camp ground that night, spend a leisurely Friday preparing for the Tussock Traverse run on Saturday. (Check out to get the traverse 'inside story'.)

However, cars being what they are...errrr...unreliable, complicated and badly coloured, the vans rear lights for some stoopid reason, would not work. We were towing the camper van, and that did not have rear lights either. We left Wellington anyhow, and by the time we arrived at Levin, it was dark. We decided to play it safe and camp there. Deane put the walls of the camper up, we settled the five tired ones in it and flattened the back seats of the van, lay the mattress, followed by our bodies - on the seats and slept like the proverbial baby's.

On awaking, we quickly packed up and headed off to find somewhere with good coffee and food. But what did we find? A place called, Sugar Plum, (to which I will devote an entire paragraph.) It is on state highway one, in the Marton district. It was lovely and clean, the staff friendly. The kids ordered two plates of pancakes with bacon and banana between them, with toast to share, a drink each. Deane enjoyed a date scone, which actually was good. There was nothing I could eat (I admit it, I'm a pretty fussy thing)- I asked for fruit salad, but they only had banana's. I settled on a coffee. The girl did not know what brand of coffee they had, or where it was from. (She read it was called 'ebony', maybe a Palmerston North coffee?)

The coffee was so bad, insipid, with not a drop of crema. I didn't drink it. It cost us a whopping $59!!. Okay, so I'm whinging.

Anyhoo, we arrived at Whakapapa camp ground.

We set up camp in a nook amongst forest with a view of Ruapehu. The kids spent an age climbing trees and exploring. The camp kitchen was fabulously set up including Internet service. The bathrooms even had a bath. The only thing that gave me a few day mares, was the fact of the ummm....raging river not even ten feet across, and twenty feet straight down, from where we camped. Scary stuff with young kids.

We did a small bush walk with the kids. Then we set to finding a babysitter for Saturdays race. I had been trying to find one online and on the phone from Wellington with no luck. The Chateau would not help because we were not staying with them. Funnily enough, we 'happened upon' one of the young staff, who was eager to earn extra money on her day off.

The following day, race day, the kids had a great day while Deane and I were out suffering. They watched a movie in the Chateau theater, they played tennis on the Chateau courts, they ate the chateau nachos and generally had a ball. Thank you Chateau!

The kids were out on the golf green in front of the Chateau to greet and 'yell' me in across the finish line of what was a gruelling run.

Five minutes after I had finished, Izzy was asking me if I would take them for a swim, Paloma was jumping all over me as I lay on the ground, Rose massaged my feet, Drew got water and Harry kept an eagle eye out for Deane.

I spoke to a woman who sat by me under the shade cloth - she had run the traverse because her husband had talked her into it. She had never run any distance except 5 or 6 kilometers at a time. She said she did a lot of running at the small distances. She pulled a 'gu' out of her goody bag and asked me what it was for! She was waiting for her husband to finish, she thought he would be gutted that she came in first!

Deane came in about thirty minutes later. Once he recovered enough, we grimaced our way back to the camp. After the.. best shower in the universe..we made our way to the prize giving in Whakapapa village. I was craving hot chips with we ordered some. But they arrived at our table as big greasy wedges, covered in melted cheese, sour cream and salsa. Why would someone do that to a chip! For gods sake!...errrr...I did get a bit antzy about it, the hunger talking. I cant and wont eat shite like that no matter what!

We did not get a prize at the prize rude!

The kids got bored, after not eating their fries, and watching a bit of the big screen in the cafe/pub, so we hobbled to the car and returned to camp.

I could not sleep that night. At about 2am, Deane and I ratted around in the caravan, without waking the small fry, found tea bags, milk and walked to the camp kitchen. We had a dark tea, and dark chat, (we couldn't find the light switch).

I took panadol at around 4am and slept till 7.

We had booked into the Chateau for breakfast by 9, so after the kids were dressed, we all had to pack. The breakfast was satisfying. The kids ate a LOT...they love a good buffet! I ate sliced fruit, followed by mushrooms and grilled tomato, followed by a croissant, and two coffee's. Well done me!

We treated the kids to a ride on the chairlifts up to the top cafe of Whakapapa ski ground. It goes without saying the landscape is magnificent. We walked around the moonscape so the kids could play in the snow...

I want to camp at Whakapapa again, for longer, in Autumn perhaps...

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