We were one of the first families to buy a copy of the “Getting Lost” game when it was released by Cat and James in 2018. Somehow before then I hadn’t found their blog, but they did an AMAZING job with their pre-launch marketing and it was all over Facebook. I couldn’t NOT buy it, this sounded so fun.
Somehow, we just never really used it though. We tried once, not long after we got it, to get then-Mr5 out of the house when he was sick (with what turned out to be flu), but he didn’t get it. He recently rediscovered it in the car, and decided he *really* wanted to use it.
Covid-19 lock down had sucked my travel mojo right out the window, and we had nothing planned for the school holidays – so the idea took root. Take our copy of the game and drive. See where we ended up. Stay there a couple of days and then head home. In the back of our minds, we did have Palmerston North and then home via the Wairarapa as our plan due to the weather forecast, but we didn’t let on to Mr7.
The Adventure Day
Thursday morning we were off. We had four days ahead of us and no bookings. School holidays had seen a number of places booked out. This could be interesting.
Our instructions sent us to a local street (because the first google result that came up for “lake” was 800km away in the South Island, yay for search history), then we looped around Plimmerton and Pauatahanui Inlet before stopping for ice cream for morning tea. We found some exceptional playgrounds (in particular Paekakariki and Otaki), played in the incoming tide at the To Horo river mouth and enjoyed lunch at Coastlands.
The 165km we drove this day took us 5 hours because we made so many stops. It was so absolutely worth it though. We stopped in so many places we would normally never make a specific trip to (because they’re too close), or stop at along the way (because we usually just want to GET there).
What we discovered
It might have been raining when we followed a white car into Plimmerton (the instruction was “follow a black car” but we couldn’t find one), but that didn’t stop us having a look around. I had forgotten just how long a suburb Plimmerton was!
- Paekakariki Playground
While at the top of the Paekakariki Hill Road, our next instruction was “find a playground”. So we plugged that into our NavMan, and it came up with Campbell Park. Despite the light drizzle, this was an epic discovery. What an awesome playground!
- Te Horo Beach
If you follow the road straight to the beach (rather than down through the village), you come to a point where the stream meets the surf, and you get some very cool effect as the tide comes in with it pushing up stream. Heaps of entertainment, and the local we got chatting to was lovely.
- The swings at the playground in Otaki
“Find a street starting with M” sent us to Mill Street, Otaki, where there happened to be another playground. This one had the most AMAZING set of swings, with a super high cross beam that made for an incredible sensation.
- Palmerston North
We opted to spent two nights in Palmerston North, and on the first night we walked to the square to see the light up clocktower. Very pretty. The new pedestrian-centric road layouts there are nice to see too. We also absolutely adored the Victoria Esplanade gardens – the play space, the miniature train (with its huge loop), the WildBase recovery space for native birds.
- Manawatu Gorge walking track
I’ve been wanting to do this for AGES. So this was finally our chance. We didn’t go all the way across (as it would have been most of a day there and back), but we did the west side loop, and had a great time. Got gorgeous views all the way to Taranaki from one of the seats.
- Te Apiti
We’re geeks, so no crossing of saddle road is complete without a stop to hug a wind turbine. We weren’t the only ones out in the cold and blustery conditions.
- The Cheesecake Shop in Woodville
Gluten Free cabinet treats, and a range of cheesecake options available to take away. Spending our money in these small towns felt good over our break. We bought ice creams and/or morning tea every day, and ate out regularly.
- Pukaha / Mt Bruce
We actually stayed for the Kaka feeding that rounds out their talks this time (our third visit), and it was great fun. The kaka seem a little less friendly than they did back in 2015 when we first visited and they liked to hang around to try and steal food, but that’s actually a good thing.
After a night at the bach at Castlepoint (taking some very muddy back roads to get there, which was hilarious), we opted for lunch in Martinborough, where we also visited the lolly shop and the playground. A cute wee town, it’s been too long since we were last here as a family.
Stay / Eat / Getting Around
Stay: We spent two nights in a one-bedroom room at the Cornwall Motor Lodge. The bedroom had two single beds, with the main bed in the living room. There were kitchen facilities in the room, which was great. Get a room away from the road, it will be darker and quieter. For our Saturday night stay, we wanted to stay near Greytown if we could as they had a lights festival on, but the closest option was Upper Hutt, by which point we may as well be at home. So we went to the bach instead.
Eat: We splurged at a number of awesome spots. From ice creams at the Pauatahanui Store, chocolates at Kapiti Chocolate Factory, and cheesecakes at Yummy Mummys, to lunch at Munch in Palmerston North (100% recommend to anyone GF, as you can eat EVERYTHING) and Cafe Medici in Martinborough. Dinners were mostly self-cooked.
Getting Around: We took our own car, unsurprisingly. This is a trip you need a car for. You could maybe do some of the Getting Lost clues as a pedestrian or cyclist in the middle of town, depending on the town.