September 8/9/10 2018 – Marlborough
This year was an overseas travel free year, post baby arriving in February. I’m lucky enough to be able to say that it’s been a very long time since I’ve gone a year without an overseas trip, and even with the excitement and busy times that come with having a little one, I have to say I missed having an adventure to somewhere new to plan and look forward to, and so I planned a little mini adventure for the three of us, within driving distance.
A lot of planning goes into taking a baby away – somewhere for them to safely sleep (Is there going to be room for a portacot?). What will the temperature be like (Do we need to take blankets?), a way to carry them around when 8kg gets too heavy (Are we going somewhere we will need a pram, or can we just take the front pack?). What will we do for food (Is there somewhere we will be able to cook/heat appropriate food up, or do we need to buy pouches that can be eaten cold?); and the list goes on and on and on. But eventually we got out the door (Has anyone seen the Michael McIntyre skit about leaving the house before and after kids? Hilarious… here it is Leaving the house) and on our way to Canvastown(somewhere in between Blenheim and Nelson, blink and you’ll miss it). Why were we going to Canvastown, of all places? Because Fossickers Hut, that’s why.
Fossickers Hut is a tiny house built on the property of Jodie and Craig, in Wakamarina Valley, looking down on the Wakamarina River. To get there you turn off the main highway and travel down a very long and quiet road, and once you think you’ve probably gone too far and missed it, you arrive at their driveway where you pass some amusing farm animals (geese and a Kunekune) on the way to your parking spot; from your parking spot you are supposed to grab the wheelbarrows provided and make your way to the tiny house as they Craig and Jodie describe in their instructions, however I somehow missed these instructions and instead we clambered over a rocky, hilly, narrow track, which included some climb-over fences, with the wheelbarrow and baby in tow. Only when we got about 3/4 of the way through did we realise that this was definitely not right, and figured out where we went wrong and that it was actually just a two minute trip on the flat… by then we had both have a very serious workout, but it made the arrival at the idyllic little house even better – it is absolutely magic. When I was a kid, I absolutely loved the Faraway Tree books by Enid Blyton – it felt to me like this is somewhere one of the pixies or fairies would live. It is quite obvious that Jodie and Craig are artistic with all the little details they have thought of, including some natural mosquito repellent available to buy in the kitchen, made by Jodie (definitely mosquito repellent is a must, by the way).
Once we got the little indoor wood chip fire going, we put the baby to bed on the mezzanine level, which would normally sleep two kids, and got to work (well, Craig got to work) getting the coal range going to a) cook our dinner, b) warm up the little lean-to kitchen area (it wasn’t a freezing weekend, but definitely not warm), and c) heat the water for the outdoor bathtub, which was one of the reasons I booked the hut. Another reason for booking the hut is that it is off the grid – there is no mobile reception, lighting is solar only, the shower runs on gas, and the toilet is a composting one (you throw a handful of sawdust on it after you’ve gone), which was surprisingly pleasant! So as Jessie slept in the cosy and warm hut, we sat around the warmth of the coal range chatting and eating our pie and potatoes Craig cooked in it, drinking red wine and listening to the sounds of nature.
The morning was gorgeous waking up to views into the valley, out of the windows – a beautiful day too. As I’ve not spent a lot of time in Marlborough, and we love to go bush walking, we decided to go for a drive to nearby Pelorus and see what we could find there. Wow, what a beautiful place – the water looked soooo inviting… I would love to go back in the summer, when it’s a little warmer. It was actually a filming location for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug movie – for those who have seen it, they ride the barrels down the river. There are a couple of historic bridges in Pelorus, including a suspension bridge which, to me, looks like it could fall away at any minute hah! But we survived it, and it made for some cool photos.
On our way back to the hut, we decided to go down to Havelock (not to be confused with Havelock North) to get some more food for cooking that evening. Havelock is well known for its greenshell mussels, so Craig made sure to grab some of those too, which were dirt cheap. We spent the rest of the afternoon getting the coal range back up to cooking heat, and sat around reading and enjoying hot chocolate before a similar evening to the previous, though we also cooked marshmallows over the flame and went to check out the small glowworm grotto a few metres from the hut.
The baby turned seven months old the following day, which was also Craig’s birthday, so we stopped at a cafe in Blenheim to celebrate with coffee and cookies, before the long drive ahead of us via Kaikoura (I think I counted about seven road stops along the way, but it is good to see all the work being put into the highway).
Such a lovely and relaxing little getaway, which I would recommend to anyone who is up for a bit of glamping, and enjoys getting off the grid for a bit. We booked via the Canopy Camping website, which has lots of options throughout the country… I can’t wait to visit another one!
Until next time…