We went for the first time last January as a family and loved it. Our kids were 9 and 7 the first time and handled the track really well, it's an awesome first overnight trek experience for families with young kids as the walk isn't too long or difficult. We started the walk at 9am and got there in good time with kids and stops they require. We had the entire day, stayed one night and headed on our way back up those stairs out after lunch. Such a great spot, we all loved it. We decided after that first time that this will be a yearly holiday adventure for us as we loved it so much.
This year we invited friends (another adult and three kids). I checked the website a couple of nights before we left and saw there was a water shortage warning. Also, the morning before we left I got a call from Doc to inform me that there was no water there and we would need to take in all our water - it was so great of them to ring. So due to the area having had no rain - the walk was much tougher having to carry all our water, as well as food in for an extra night. We were much fitter and lighter ourselves last year!! :) Which certainly made a difference.
The walk up the hill towards the hut was hard and slow with all our gear for 5 kids and 3 adults split between the 3 adults, the kids all carried their own pack with sleeping bag, clothing and some water and did well (though our 10 year old son struggled for the first uphill part. He'd had a few late nights leading up to it and started off tired and in a bad mental space, there were tears with his struggle. But once he got that under control all was good!). The 860 or so steps down to the hut were slow with such a large heavy load, another of the kids struggled with this part of the track which resulted in more tears going down, but but we all made it unscathed and in good spirits! Getting to the cute hut in that sweet clearing seems like such a reward!
We had a lovely two nights there, although the weather wasn't as perfect as last year, it was still a great holiday. All the kids enjoyed trying to find the kiwis, but of course were much too loud! Haha It was awesome hearing all the different birds, we wished we knew more about birds to identify who was saying what. We did a lot of snorkelling, although it wasn't as calm, clear or sunny as last time the kids still enjoyed the snorkelling. There were a lot of stingray in the Cove last time, on each day. I didn't see any this time, though I'd say the water being quite a bit colder had something to do with that. The kids were convinced they saw many - I think that was perhaps their imagination or desire to want to be the barer of exciting information! The other adult and her son were lucky enough to see dolphins just outside of the Cove on their morning swim the first morning we were there. We tried to spot kiwis, but five excited nervous kids are just too noisy! Haha Two say they think they saw one, which I hope they did, and one says he saw one whilst walking back up from the beach in the morning - though with kiwis being nocturnal I'm not sure. Regardless of whether they did or didn't, they all had an amazing time in our beautiful country amongst it all.
We weren't too excited about the walk back up the 800m of steep stairs after our tough walk in, but we were all pleasantly surprised. It wasn't as bad as anyone had anticipated, our packs were all lighter and it made a hell of a difference!
We'll definitely be back next year.
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