Going off-grid with the Kids in New Zealand

July 28, 2017

For 10 long years I’ve watched jealously as family & friends (and Instagrammers) take amazing trips to Europe, Asia and South America. As a young parent I knew my time would come and I bode my time patiently (and not so patiently). But my time finally came when recently our family of 5 boarded a plane for our first ever overseas trip.

“You three need to stop that fighting and look out the window. There are MOUNTAINS out there! With SNOW! It’s AMAZING! Look out the window!!!!”

I soon found out very quickly that travelling with children was… hmm… not the Instagram dream I thought it would be. But we did have a pretty amazing time.

My husband and I took our kids (aged 10,8 and 7) on an amazing trip to the South Island of New Zealand for 3 weeks this winter. We spent months preparing, buying up on thermals, booking accommodation and going on practise hikes to ready our children. But nothing could quite prepare us for the sheer beauty, and the sheer cold, that New Zealand offers.

Mountain scapes, friendly locals, chilly mornings and incredible hikes filled very short winter days. We had tried to prepare ourselves for travelling with young energetic children and with this in mind we booked ourselves a 3-day farm stay on the West Coast. I was terrified. We would have to live with strangers for 3 whole days. What if they were weirdos? My husband was more optimistic:

“If they are weirdos, it’ll make a great story”

NZ Map

We arrived at Blur Spur Farm late, having driven all day from Christchurch through Arthur’s Pass, where it was already threatening to snow. It was on this long drive that a certain mother may have lost her temper at three certain children and forced them to look out the window. But in my defence the views were breathtaking. We stopped every five minutes to take photos. And then when we arrived at the farm, it was something else altogether.

Castle Hill

We had some rough, farmer directions to follow, given via email, and with the firm instructions NOT to follow Google Maps. The driveway was very rocky and seemed underused. The landscape felt very British, with low rolling green hills, everything lush and green, and wet. We passed pigs, turkeys, ducks, cattle and of course sheep, before pulling up in front of the large red-tinged off-grid home that sat high on a hill, looking over a farm that reminded me of James Herriot’s animal stories.

Farmstay House

Farmstay Animals

Our host Michelle was at the door as we hurried through the drizzle with our coats pulled tight. She was a very straight up and down kiwi farmer. Told us the house rules (basically don’t use electricity unnecessarily), gave us some priceless information on local places to visit, then left us to our own devices.

Blue Spur Farmstay is minutes from the coastal town of Hokitika on the west coast of the South Island. Hokitika itself is a gorgeous little village, famous for its green stones. We spent two full days exploring the local area and I was blown away by the few things we got to see. Waterfalls, lakes, beaches, hikes and the Pancake Rocks. Just the coastal drive alone was magnificent. My kids fell in love with Hokitika as much as I did. They spent every minute they could searching for green stone on the beaches and rivers. On Michelle’s advice, we took our rock finds to a small business where a very friendly local who called us “bro”, polished and put our rocks on necklaces. When we weren’t exploring the region, we were exploring our temporary home.

Rope Bridge

Pancake Rocks

Back at the farm Michelle took us to feed the animals, gave us some insight to farming as a kiwi. We talked agriculture and then she left us to play with the sheep, the peacocks and pet rabbits. We could have easily spent three days chilling on the beautiful farm.

feeding animals

But alas we had to keep moving. There was a whole island for us to see. With heavy hearts, we said goodbye to our hosts and their cosy off-grid home on the hill. Hokitika and Blue Spur Farm had provided my family with a temporary home, where we got to have a true Kiwi experience. This was not quite the dream trip I had imagined. It was much more.


Author: Cat Cookson
Images: Supplied by Cat Cookson



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