By Angeline Barnes, Outreach and Education Coordinator – Lower North Island
Busy mums dream of a weekend away, we need it and deserve it. We long for a window of time away from daily life, away from our dearly beloved children. Imagine being able to pee alone, not have to share the food off our plate or deal with the ‘but why’ questions. Just imagine.
Ladies, when planning a trip away, don’t let the perceived barriers of cost, travel distance or general complication get in the way. It really is easy. If your key ingredients are good company, good food, easy travel, light exercise, swimming, laughter and peace and tranquilly, I have the solution for you. Book a DOC serviced hut and get going.
This weekend, my friends and I set off for our third annual mum’s weekend away to the Orongorongo Valley, in the Rimutaka Forest Park. Our mantra is fun comes first and we must have good food.
Once the Saturday morning children’s sport was done, we gathered at a cafe for a spot of lunch and a cheeky glass of bubbly. The 40 minute drive from Wellington to Catchpool Valley was easy. Following a quick toilet stop, costume change, redistribution of supplies, application of lippy, packs were on and we were off!
This year our outfits symbolised who we are, or who we dreamed of being. The large scrabble letters of YUM on our front and MUM on our packs kept other trampers intrigued, the sweatband of the flapper’s headpiece kept the brow smooth and I wonder what the birds thought of the sun reflecting on our tiaras?
The weather was perfect, so we walked up the river bed (rather than the alternative track). The walk took about 3 hours. We stopped for a pre-dinner river swim to freshen up before the climb up the perfectly formed stairs to Papatahi Hut. As we relaxed and appreciated the tranquilly of the bush, we smiled smugly and wondered how our husbands were coping with the demands of the 30 children we mums left behind!
Nestled in the hills, Papatahi Hut very affordable and is bookable. With the knowledge that there would be no late night trampers join us, we got settled in. It was agreed that drinking our cocktails from a coffee cup is a small price to pay for the benefits of a posh hut.
Banish all visions of dirty cold tin huts, stinky unknown trampers, freeze dried food, smelly long drops and mice – there now is an alternative.
Food is important to us. Our entree was ‘hut made’ guacamole and salsa with corn chips. The main event was green Thai chicken curry with sides of chickpeas, fluffy rice, freshly prepared nann and popodums. Dessert was meringue with freshly whipped cream and berry coulis. Why settle for anything less?
As night fell, we chatted and laughed and sung, played card games, discussed topical issues such as pocket money, perfecting scones, and preparing food children will eat, and ate a year’s worth of chocolate. Unfortunately our Sherpas were unable to join us, so we all pitched in with dishes and made our own beds. Before bed, I sat outside and listened to silence and was memorised by the stars.
Following a quiet night (no snoring and limited sleep talking) breakfast was served, eggs Benedict no less, with hollandaise and cracked pepper and the essential freshly brewed coffee. Instant coffee not welcome.
Following a lazy morning, the hut was swept and we leisurely walked back down the river to our next swimming sport. Lunch was prepared on the water’s edge, my favourite was the home made ginger crunch, where others preferred the lemon cake. As I lay on the warm stones, I listened to the sound of the river, the sun dried my socks, I had found my happy place and I drifted off. Peace.
Then it was a short walk along the track back to the car. Easy as.
Our weekend was not expensive or complicated. We had the comforts of home, in the company of friends in a beautiful setting. I’ve had my injection of nature; I have hit my reset button; I’m ready to tackle another week.