Finding Our Groove in Opunake

Tonight I can hear the ocean waves crashing on Opunake Beach as the sun sets just out of view. The tide is rising, swallowing sand as it creeps its way onto the shore. Sand castles are washed away into oblivion – each grain of sand floating off into the big blue.

Sometimes it’s comforting to know that at the end of the day everything will be washed away. As sad as it is to say goodbye to some experiences, we get to say goodbye to the bad ones with the good. This too shall pass. It’s a reminder to appreciate the moment, especially when it’s a good one, because you won’t be able to hang on to it forever.

Walking together on Opunake Beach. Photo Meghan J. Ward.
Walking together on Opunake Beach. Photo Meghan J. Ward.

We came to New Zealand during the transition to Fall, bringing us colder temperatures than we were expecting. It’s nothing like winter back at home, but as we move North on this trip, temperatures are gradually getting hotter. It makes me feel like we’re in a big game of Hot and Cold. As we move closer to equilibrium – to figuring out this parenting-on-the-move thing – we are getting warmer and warmer. Sometimes we head in the wrong direction, but as we tune into clues, take note of the various directions we’ve wandered, we eventually find our way. Finally, we find ourselves at the base of a very hot object – the volcanic cone of Mount Taranaki – just as we find ourselves in a better groove as parents. 

Mount Taranaki. Photo Meghan J. Ward.
Mount Taranaki. Photo Meghan J. Ward.

The last few days have gone much more smoothly, mostly because we didn’t try to pack too much into a day. Still, not everything is in our control, and we are taking a good lesson from Darwin as we surge ahead. What’s the key to survival?

Evolution. Adaptation. I’ll add Improvisation.

Four days ago, we drove from Nelson to the town of Picton on the South Island where we planned to take the Bluebridge Ferry across the Cook Straight to Wellington, on the North Island. If all went according to plan, we would drop off our rental car in Picton and pick up another one on the other end. The car rental company assured us that a car would be waiting for us at the ferry docks in Wellington.

Maya doing her playtime before bed at the Bluebridge Ferry station. Photo Meghan J. Ward.
Maya doing her playtime before bed at the Bluebridge Ferry station. Photo Meghan J. Ward.

We arrived in Wellington, approaching Maya’s bedtime, and after a seamless day of travel discovered our good luck had come to an end: there was no rental car parked at the ferry for us. Two hours later, after a number of phone calls, checking the parking lot at the other ferry, and having the car delivered with no car seat, we were finally on our way to our holiday park for the night.

The next morning we were hungry, after settling for a MacDonald’s salad the evening before. When Maya woke us up, we all set off for Upper Hutt to catch breakfast at a local cafe. Afterwards, we drove back to our cabin to pick up what we needed to explore Wellington for the day.

Of course, the baby fell asleep in the car. Not wanting to interrupt her nap, we decided Paul would drop me off so that I could pack our bags for the day. He would continue driving with Maya until I was ready to be picked up again. The thought actually crossed my mind to pull the old ‘dive and roll’ out of the passenger door in order to keep my escape more discreet. You never want to wake a sleeping baby if you don’t have to, and stopping the car usually does exactly that. I resisted the urge, though, and thankfully the baby slept through the whole mission.

We made our way to Wellington and spent a gloriously warm day strolling by the harbour, scanning the eclectic array of stores and cafes on Cuba Street, poking around in the Te Papa Tongarewa museum, and munching on gourmet chicken burgers in a park by the waterfront.

All we had to do was trust in our ability to improvise, and everything turned out just fine. More than fine.

Wellington waterfront. Photo Meghan J. Ward.
Wellington waterfront. Photo Meghan J. Ward.
Watching the tide rising on Opunake Beach. Photo Meghan J. Ward.
Watching the tide rising on Opunake Beach. Photo Meghan J. Ward.

Yesterday I went for a quick walk on the beach while Paul edited photos and sat by the cabin where Maya was sleeping. Watching water lap on shore has a meditative effect. And one thing I love about the tides is how gentle they are. The water doesn’t leap onto shore, engulfing everything in one fell swoop. It ebbs and flows, and gradually creeps up higher onto the beach. It gives you time to move uphill and get out of harm’s way.

Thankfully, life gives us time, too. Lots of time to learn, grow, evolve, adapt, and improvise.

Author: Meghan J. Ward

Meghan J. Ward is an outdoor, travel and adventure writer based in Banff, Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Meghan has written several books, as well as produced content for films, anthologies, blogs and some of North America’s top outdoor, fitness and adventure publications. She has a forthcoming travel memoir (Fall 2022), to published by Rocky Mountain Books.

2 thoughts

  1. I am so glad you are doing this now, Sometimes we get stuck and it becomes a thought then a dream and then a regret last of all an fantasy. Have fun NOW

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