Andy, Higgs and I definitely took full advantage of our first day camping in Kaitoke. After wading in the river and enjoying the sun, we returned to our campsite for some reading and much-needed shade.
Luckily, our tent was perfectly situated for shelter from the afternoon sun, and we were nice and cooled off once we spread our blanket in the shade.
Caution: This camera may make Vallhunds appear larger than they are in real life.
Higgs is a big fan of the bottle we use for his water. “Don’t touch.”
But he couldn’t make it for long before giving in to exhaustion. So cute I can’t even take it.
After we all had a good rest and the day had cooled off a bit, we decided to follow a nearby path along the river.
As we were rounding a bend in the trail, we came upon a popular swimming spot which was given away by its noise before we actually saw all the people. I can certainly see why you’d come here to cool off on a hot summer day.
The bridge over the river was even being utilized as a jumping platform for the bravest (and potentially dumbest) of the kids. We continued on along the path, and the sounds of children screaming were soon drowned out by the dense forest.
When we reached the main parking lot for Kaitoke, the place was a zoo. It was quite the contrast from the last time we’d been in that spot. We did manage to wander a little further and find a somewhat unpopulated swimming spot, though.
Andy and Higgs went straight in while I found a big rock to sit on.
The river bent here and formed a very deep pool, which was perfect for humans and Vallhunds alike. Higgs jumped right in when Andy did, but seemed to think he could use him as a raft, or perhaps he felt he needed to “rescue” his human.
Needless to say, both of them got a great workout, and it was hilarious to watch.
I’m all for swimming, but I hadn’t brought my suit along and this water was a tad cold for my liking. I guess I should be more used to it, coming from New England. Andy and Higgs have thicker skin than I do.
Higgs’ favourite thing to do after a dip is to get as close as possible to a dry person and shake like a mad dog. As the day wore on, I grew wise to his antics and usually managed to keep my distance when he was about to shake. I did get a good photo of him in the act, though.
Before we returned to our campsite, I asked Andy to get a picture of me on the giant swing bridge. I had to wait quite a while for one family to cross, but at last, I got it to myself.
We made our way back to our campsite and relaxed on the picnic blanket with food and beers as the sun sank lower in the sky. Higgs kept trying to steal the Frisbee from our next-door neighbors, so we had to tell him to get in his bed. He loves to partially obey by refusing to put his whole body in it.
Mother Nature was kind enough to treat us to a wonderful sunset show as evening faded.
Night soon crept over the campground, and we decided it was time to turn in.
Just before we got into the tent, the clouds passed over and we got a great view of the stars. We could clearly make out Orion (upside down here compared to the Northern Hemisphere) and the Southern Cross, among many other constellations. I love how clear the skies are in New Zealand, with so little light pollution compared to America.
We had a fairly good night’s sleep, and Higgs was actually very well-behaved with his doggy bed in the tent. We rose early with the sun and decided to take another walk to the popular swimming spot so I could get some pictures without lots of swimmers in them.
Being a herding dog, Higgs never likes it when I’m separated from the group. He proceeded to bark loudly at me as I looked down on him from above.
Before too long, we were reunited and all was right in the world.
After getting plenty of human-free photos, we headed back towards our campground. The gates to Kaitoke open at 8:00 am, so we planned to leave around then. Anyone who knows me back at home won’t believe I could be up before eight in the morning, but I am now an early bird thanks to Andy. It’s great being able to take full advantage of the day.
In the interest of full disclosure, here are some shots of how crowded the campground truly was, lest you think our tent was in some quiet, secluded spot.
Still, it was beautiful regardless, and it was certainly hard to leave.
I can never get too upset about leaving places like this though, because I get to return to Wellington, and it still feels like I’ve just been on one gigantic vacation for the past year and four months. New Zealand never ceases to be a paradise that surprises me each and every day. Of course, Andy and Higgs make the place even brighter.
More soon on my expedition across Wellington Harbor to Eastbourne with my friends.