09 October 2012

[Part 1] Camping at Matata

Over the weekend we took our kids on a lovely wee family holiday. It turned out to be a bit more memorable than we had expected!

We bought a new tent last year, intending to 'break it in' over the summer, but never got the chance as the weather turned out to be un-camping-friendly. And you want good weather when you're tenting!

Our lovely big tent's maiden voyage was a weekend in Matata. Matata is in the Bay of Plenty, between Tauranga and Whakatane. It is not a big place - what I like to call a 'Summer Town': a main street, a dairy or two, a few fish and chips shops and a beach. Nothing much for most of the year, but the perfect spot in Summer time. We stayed in the DoC site which is nestled between the beach and the estuary.

We had lovely weather for MOST of the weekend...

The beach on the first day was windy and the water was dirty (as you see) and on Sunday it was sunny and beautiful - but I didn't bring my camera!

Tristan spent a lot of the weekend taking in the sights from Hayden's back in the fabulous mei tei. A wonderful contraption, thanks for the loan Sarah!

Explorer boy (he likes to call himself Diego too) enjoying running around on the beach with his new spade.

Missy Moon decided she didn't like the beach - despite us talking it up as a "big sandpit!" - and spent most of the time there sitting next to me. Funny child.

Superman-Papa, carrying the troops.

Saturday night is where the drama began:
We had expected a bit of rain on Saturday and a clear day on Sunday, with a 'weather bomb' hitting on Monday lunchtime (intending to be gone by then!). Saturday morning we had a small shower, then patchy sunlight and some wind for the rest of the day. Excellent: not cooped up in a tent with 3 pre-schoolers!

Fast-forward to Saturday evening, dinner's eaten, kids are in bed, Hayden and I are reading in our chairs, reassuring each other that the wind will die down soon. It usually dies down at night. It'll be fine. It'll stop soon. Sweet as. Our poor tent was doing a fair bit of bending and flexing in the wind. We go to bed, uttering many stressed prayers. No sleep is to be had. The wind is incredible. The tent is so noisy! (Who remembers that time at Beach Mission when the guy rope came loose and started flapping and it sounded like a helicopter? That was nothing compared to this!) Surprisingly, the children continue to sleep. Tristan wakes up just before 12:30am and I get up to feed him, noticing that a peg has come out of the ground in the corner of his part of the tent. I hear Hayden getting out of his sleeping bag in the next room to check on the tent and then some muttered exclamations. Tristan goes back to bed and I poke my head out into the sun room to see what Hayden has found.

A collapsed sun room. A snapped pole. A torn guy rope. Pegs out of the ground. A fly (rain cover) about to take off into the storm. Panic stations!

Elliot wakes up terrified. Tristan hasn't gone back to sleep (no surprises!) so I pick him up, wrap a blanket around him, leave the lantern with Elliot and Rosie, fight my way out of the tent and deposit him into the car. Back for Elliot, then for Rosie. Settle the kids, put some music on, race to the toilet before I wet my pants. In my pyjamas, no bra. Hayden is holding the tent to prevent it flying away. Scrabble around in tent for aforementioned supportive garment, wriggle into it outside in the storm. Together, we begin to collapse what's left of the tent, flattening it and removing the poles.

At this point, our fabulous camp neighbour, Paul, comes out with a bright torch and tells us to get inside their camper-van, they've got a spare double bed. Paul begins helping Hayden secure the tent while I begin transferring the kids, one at a time. Cups of tea, drinks of milk and muesli bars are handed around, before we snuggle down, 5 people on the bed. ("Double" was generous, but we certainly weren't complaining!)

Paul and Eileen's camper-van.

Of course, eventually, the kids thought it was a huge adventure! Ask Elliot what his favourite part of the holiday was and he'll tell you it was "when it was really windy and we got to sleep in the caravan!"

Have you ever tried to pack up a tent and various other camping gear and paraphernalia when the tent is ALREADY down? Messy and frustrating! **Edit** When we put the tent up again on our next holiday, I found a rubber ducky and a bra inside it...

BUT we are immensely thankful for how lightly we got off. No major damage to the tent, no-one hurt, a dry and warm bed to sleep the rest of the night in, and beautiful sunshine in the morning!

We breakfasted in the warm sunshine, with warm Milos in our hands (coffee in mine!), the kids cheerily greeting everyone as they walked past us and all the campers checking on how we went overnight, assuring us that there would have been a bed in their caravan too if we'd needed it. Just lovely.

Despite the drama of Saturday night, it was a lovely weekend away, albeit cut short due to a broken tent!

More photos to follow.


  1. Oh no! Next time you have weather dramas in Matata, feel free to come sleep at our place, we live in Whakatane!

  2. Replies
    1. Behind the camera! I love to document our family times, but it means I'm not in the photos. There's a few of me in the next post [Part 2].


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