You don't have to move too far from home to go on holiday in New Zealand. In fact, sometimes staying at home can lead to some neat nature discoveries in our own backyards.
The bloke and I had a "staycation" this year. You know, the kind of holiday where you stay at home instead of heading away. Given that we've only recently moved into our place in Waipara, it seemed mad to pack up and head away so soon.
Instead, we explored the areas around our neighbourhood, discovering a whole new suite of recreation spots all within cooee of home. We headed up the coast to our favourite place, Kaikoura, for some paua diving and snorkelling fun, then visited some mates fishing at Napenape on the way home. The only sea life we saw there was a six-foot shark which swam along in the shallows, swallowing the bait, gear and line off one of the rods! We also visited the calm little oasis of Amberley Rocks and spent a Sunday drive around Weka Pass and Hurunui.
The temperatures in Waipara get pretty hot, so it's crucial to have somewhere to swim. Apart from scoring a key to the Waipara School swimming pool (where I've been enjoying a regular morning swim as well as rescuing ladybirds and beetles out of the water), we have also discovered the Waipara swimming hole - a proper old-school one with rope swings and a mudslide on the riverbank.
You can't beat a rope swing over a swimming hole in summer.
I think the cool thing about being on a staycation is that because you're not rushing around, you have more time to soak up the wildlife and "tune in" to what's in the surrounding area. I spotted a kingfisher up the road the other day while walking the dog, as well as bellbirds and the usual harrier hawks. The bloke went one better and headed off hunting, where he spotted a falcon as well as tomtits, bellbirds and riflemen.
While we had a pretty low-key New Year's break, it's still good to make some resolutions - and this year I'd like to tick a few things off my "New Year's Nature Resolution" list. First, I want to actually spend more quality time out in nature when I can. I am also going to make more of an effort to read more books about New Zealand's wildlife and wild places, and I'm FINALLY going to get cracking on my next book.
I'd love to see us all making some nature resolutions for 2013. What would yours be? Have you had a good break? Did you head off or have a staycation? What wildlife did you see?