If you are short of ideas for the school holidays take advantage of the many great outdoor spots within close driving distance. There is a lot to be said for switching off from work for a day, packing a picnic, gathering up the kids and spending the day at the beach or river, just hanging out, soaking up the sunshine and spending some time with the kids. A good old fashioned Family Picnic.
Some of our favourite spots include:
Long flat beaches, hidden grassy enclaves, easy bike trails, built in BBQ’s, picnic tables and toilets only short drive away from the main urban centres. Rabbit Island is one of my favourite picnic spots and you will easily spend several hours just pottering around on the beach drawing sand pictures and building sand cities, (there is far too much fresh beach to only build a single sand castle!). Tip: take you camera, the light out here makes for crisp shots.
Not quite as expansive as Rabbit Island, but there is a reason people flock to Kaiteriteri Beach. Its golden sand is irresistible, kids will gravitate to the beach, and you will find yourself taking off your shoes and burying your toes in the sand. Sand castles, paddling in the tidal creek or even swimming if you are really keen. If you are not so outdoorsy, there is the new and improved Beach Store or the cafe next door and if the beach gets tiring, there is a mini-golf course and adventure playground for the younger kids. If Kaiteriteri is too busy for your tastes, Stephens Bay or Little Kaiteriteri are great alternatives.
CENTRE OF NEW ZEALAND
You can’t live in this region and not have visited the Centre of New Zealand on Botanical Hill in Nelson City at least once. It’s more of an active picnic with a fairly steady climb starting at the base of the Botanical Reserve. Most people should be able to get to the top within an hour as the track is wide and clear, a sturdy buggy could potentially be pushed up. At the top there are picnic tables and information panels and a fabulous view.
Turn off at the Tasman store and follow the road around to Kina Beach Reserve. This picnic spot doubles as a campground so if you are after the full experience take a tent and stay the night. The beach here is more rocky than sandy, but that adds to the fun. Turn over stones or build dams, this has long been a favourite of locals in the know. At low tide it’s an easy walk around to McKee domain, another excellent picnic and camping option.
Lots of people come to Marahau to visit the Abel Tasman National Park, but for locals, Marahau can be a wonderful day trip treasure. The Marahau Spit is a sandy length that separates the ocean from the Otuwhero Inlet. You can park at the end and walk along the length of the sand spit. On one side is the Inlet with crabs and mud to explore, on the other side is the flat expanse of Sandy Bay. If you feel like a bit more than a picnic, its an easy walk to the café in Marahau.
THE BOULDER BANK
This is another wonder of the Nelson region, the naturally occurring boulder bank is 13 kilometres of rocks and boulders piled up to provide Nelson with its much envied natural harbour. There are no sandy beaches here, just large rocks piled haphazardly on top of each other. Believe me – it’s a fabulous natural playground. Even the grumpiest teenager will not be able to resist standing atop a tall boulder. There is an 8km walk along the bank for the more active. But a picnic and time to build a fort from the long pieces of driftwood is likely to keep most kids busy. Tip: take warm clothes as it is exposed and if the wind comes up it can be cold.
And if the thought of putting together a picnic is stressful – don’t worry about it. It needs to be no harder than making school lunches. Maybe the kids could even help. Have a great holiday break.