My good friends Jenny and Steve were avid trampers BC (before children) but didn’t attempt an overnighter as a family until Meg was five.
Their first trip – into Magdalen Hut, in St James Conservation Area – was absolutely fabulous said Jenny – and Meg had good things to say about it too!
Meg had lots of day walks under her belt before our first tramp. We’d been up to Packhorse Hut and back, with minimal carrying and complaining, so we knew she could walk for at least three and a half hours.
So, despite threatening rain we set off – walking up the Boyle Valley, conjouling Meg along the way with pikelets.
Meg carried her own pack, with her soft toy and a jacket. A couple of hours in, we took the pack off her, just to get her through that last stretch.
We thought the swing bridges might be a problem – we wondered if she would be scared, but she wasn’t at all. If we sensed impending ‘scaredness’ we talked about how exciting it was and how brave she was being.
There was also a washout before the hut, and we had to a climb a steep bank. Again, we didn’t give her a chance to be scared but kept her moving, with motivating words and promises of more pikelets.
We didn’t take a tent, which was a bit risky. I would recommend one, just in case the hut is full, or so you can stop on the way if you need to cut the trip short. But the stars aligned over Magdalen Hut and we had it to ourselves. With its sunny little deck, six bunks, and double-glazed windows, it’s a really nice modern DOC hut, perfect for families.
When we got to the hut Meg was pretty excited to find a little house in the forest. We ate chocolate and played Uno, which was a great game to bring along, very compact. Travel Scrabble would work well too.
After tea we all went to bed at the same time. Meg patted my head as she went to sleep, as she was concerned because it was so dark. The platform bunks meant I could be nearby to reassure her.
We got up in the morning and ate porridge for breakfast – with brown sugar as a treat!
The trip out from the hut was easier, as Meg knew what to expect. We played ‘all around the world’ again … and again … it’s amazing how long that game can last.
It was really good to do this trip as a family. We felt like we’d rediscovered our old life again and we were pleasantly surprised how much Meg could do. We could see a whole world of adventures opening up to us. Roll on summer!
- “The bit that I liked the best was when we played Uno and I won and we played three rounds.”
- “I liked when we went over the swing bridge – it felt scary, but wobbly and fun.”
- “I’d like to go tramping again because it was fun and because I got to go over a swing bridge for the very first time.”
I too have such strong memories of tramping with my father when I was little – its a big part of who I am today!
I took my children in to the Orongorongo Valley in the early 1980’s for a week long stay . I spent 2 days carrying in food and bedding..
On the appointed day we thre set out. My daughter with a small pack with her dolls etc. My son with the toys of his choice. About halfway in he complained about how heavy his pack and suggested we leave some toys behind to pick up later. Did not happen.
At the end of the week. He was happy to carry all his toys out again.
He is now a 30 year old adult and spend time in the Bush as well as outdoor persuits.
Both of my children went about the Eastbourne hills on both foot and in a carry pack until they were old enough to carry a school pack. Then it was a case of prestocking the hut and then going in.
Great memories about those days now.