OPINION: Hello Kaiteri!
We all shouted these words as we wound through the narrow roads leading to our favourite family vacation spot, Kaiteriteri Beach, in the South Island’s Tasman District, caravan in tow.
A tradition started long before we had two kids, a tradition started with a small tent, then a larger one, and then the luxury of a caravan.
Set up first, no running up to meet all the mates camped nearby. And then once all was erected, the
annual awning erection argument resolved, and beds blown up and made, they were off!
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14 days of roaming in packs, swimming and body boarding, walking the tracks, and hanging out together. And so did the parents.
Fishing, beers, barbecues, reading, and afternoon naps. Visits to Mrs Smith’s fresh vege garden in Motueka, and day trips to sightsee. Maybe over the hill to Collingwood, the source of the Riwaka, Te Waikoropupū Springs (Pupu springs).
Later, as boats were acquired, we would pile into them and ferry up to quiet, secluded golden sand beaches for picnics and skiing.
Back to camp for hot showers, then evening drinks and another barbecue. Hungry kids eating ham sandwiches for dinner. An evening stroll around the camp and ice creams from the shop.
Tired kids dropping off to sleep in the blink of an eye well exhausted.
Each day they received the “dollar of the day” in exchange for bed tidying and doing dishes down at the camp kitchen.
Then off to the camp shop to spend the dollar on sweets.
Happy, idyllic days where in the memories the sun always shone.
But things change in life, and we were unable to holiday there when the kids were older teenagers.
The caravan was sadly sold, and camping holidays had disappeared for us as a family.
Our close friends went every year, and every year we pined badly to be there.
Thankfully, things improved, and finally, we made it back four years ago – not quite the same as camping but close by in a wee cottage, just us and a bit later than the New Year’s period.
But still old friends to meet and chat with at the camp. The same faces, just a bit older.
And the joy of revisiting all the old haunts – much smarter now with signage and toilets.
And this year our 32-year-old son managed to get a site at the camp in what is now quite the lottery over New Year, and he boated and fished and barbecued with all his old mates and their kids.
And so the tradition continues.
His sister and aunty visited on New Year’s Day and my wee granddaughter played on the beach where her mum played, and honestly, my heart felt full.
And as they all drove away from the beach, back up the narrow winding road they each shouted “Bye bye Kaiteri. See you next year,” as we always did.