Despite the curmudgeonly nature of my previous post, there were actually some wonderful parts to our camping trip to Kaitoke Regional Park - and not just that it was finite.
As I've said before, finding pretty country in New Zealand is not hard. Kaitoke is less than 45 minutes from our house, in the foothills of the Tararua hills. The thick bush shrub and the mature forest trees around the Hutt River gorge, make you believe you're in the heart of nowhere.
You're not, of course, and the crowds can be annoying. Not that we had anybody to blame but ourselves; there's plenty of wilderness around here to be explored in peace.
We just have to break in Ewan and Amy slowly. Neither are yet convinced that New Zealand really doesn't have anything that won't terminally bite you. (There are no snakes in New Zealand and no spiders that kill.) So, for the first camping venture, we went to this nearby park. This being one of the country's biggest holiday weekends, we shouldn't have been surprised to see the teeming crowds.
Still, humanity in massive swarms is never a pretty sight, especially when alcohol and exposed skin is involved. Luckily, by early evening most of the day trippers had headed home and the campground was a little more quiet.
There were some beautiful pools in the river to swim in. Local kids had found bridges and rocks from which to jump into the water, some of them from knee-bending heights. There's even a part of the park where a significant portion of Lord of the Rings was filmed - the spot known in the movie and - now in reality - as Rivendell.
The boys lit a fire and were boys until the very limited firewood ran out - people were scouring the campsite for wood like locusts; some even climbing up trees and cutting off small branches.
Once nighttime descended and with it some semblance of peace, we remembered what's marvelous about camping: the whisper of the strong-flowing river and the galaxy of stars close by overhead.
We rose early and headed out, pledging to head deeper into the bush for our next camping trip.