We locked up the doors and bid farewell to the beach house then made a few pit stops along the way to our last stop. The Groves scenic reserve was the first. Enormous trees growing out of enormous limestone rocks all working together to create the perfect fairytale ambiance.
Then the Riwaka Resurgence track. Short walk + amazing scenery gets the Young family's stamp of approval. I mean there's a good chance we just discovered Fern Gully here.
The water travels for miles and miles through these underground caves and it all comes bubbling up here. People like to swim in there, but I think I'll pass.
Split Apple Rock beach. Almost as amazing as Totaranui Bay but much easier to get to (unless you count the 20 minute walk through mud slides to get there. Maddox likes to brag that he saved my life because he was holding my hand when I slipped. But, yeah, he pretty much did).
Some little boy had to get life flighted out, I'm not sure what happened. The boys thought it was so cool to watch the helicopter land and take off so close to us, but my heart went out to that poor mama.
That boy coming at me with that fresh homemade cherry ice cream cone is just dead sexy. We passed this little stand and immediately made a U-turn. Best U-turn ever in the history of U-turns.
Marlborough sounds looking all sorts of sultry
We stayed at the cutest farm on our last night. They had me at hello with hot muffins waiting upon our arrival late at night in the pouring rain, and sealed the deal with bottle feeding baby lambs and a freakishly large pig named Molly. With a nose ring.
Kylie pulled out her own molar. Which immediately sent Jason into a wild frenzy googling "are you supposed to lose your molar teeth". Why yes, yes you are. And the tooth fairy still hasn't come.
We headed over to Picton, not really knowing what to expect since after spending weeks and months on end planning the first part of our trip I threw in the towel and figured we'd just fly by the seat of our pants by the end.
Waterfalls, blowholes, light houses, lakes...none of these scenic stops would get the boys out of the car willingly, but they were begging to stop and see this logging site.
And there she is. Isn't she a doll all tucked up in those green hills with a port to call her own?
We walked through the cute little streets and the kids hummed and hawwed and debated for what seemed like hours over how they were going to spend their hard earned 5 dollars.
2 guns, a wooden carved Maori necklace and a pair of sunglasses later, we headed to the park. Where Ryder perched in his sniper's nest on the wooden boat and shot all the tourists with his toy gun. Not the highest point in my parenting career, I'll admit.
They had train rides for 20 cents! Twenty cents I tell you! I haven't seen anything that costs twenty cents here. Ever.
And then sail boat rentals for...wait for it..wait for it...twenty cents!
(...and still shooting the tourists. At point blank range now)
Five bucks for this ride, now that feels more like the New Zealand I know. That cheezer? Totally worth every penny.
And just like that we were off. We had made reservations for one more night in Kaikoura, but we cancelled them because we were just anxious to get home. HOME. I had two realizations on this trip. First, going home felt like going home. I had started to miss the small things, cozying up with Jason under the electric blanket for Friday night movie night on the ipad, cooking and eating dinner together around our $80 Trademe.com table with a few lingering cat hairs still stuck on the seats that won't stay screwed to the chairs (another story for another time), walking around in my slippers and other little comforts of home. I like that this feels like home. The second realization was when I began thinking how crazy it was that here we were seeing some of the most amazing sights my eyeballs had ever seen and a part of me was missing the water pressure in our shower at home. I mean, that seems so lame, but whenever you're away from home, no matter where it is, a part of you will always crave and sometimes ache for the comforts and familiarity of home. And all of the sudden I could finally explain my homesickness. I post pictures on instagram of these amazing places we go and friends comment that I'm never going to want to come home and I can't figure out the right way to say, "yeah, but you have watermelon and dollar theaters" without coming across as crazy. It's not that I'm not forever and eternally grateful for this experience and it's not that I don't love so much about this country, it's just that a part of me will always miss driving with the windows down and the sun on my skin while listening to a radio that doesn't speak Japanese. And preferably I'll be on my way to Walmart to buy rootbeer. And I'll make a quick stop at Sam's club for their pizza.