After a superb summer, Cecile Dransart finds herself attached more than ever to a Christchurch beach suburb.
A Christchurch coastal suburb whose name we have all mispronounced at one time or another . . . smells of the beach, and the village looks and feels surfy, a little haven that even sounds like the season we all love.
You guessed it, Sumner.
There is no better place than home and knowing what your own backyard has to offer makes "home" even more enjoyable.
Sumner village is right in our backyard. For some it's "home"; for others it's a mere 20-minute drive from Moorhouse Ave.
Yes, the road leading to it is still a tad bumpy.
Yes, it can be intimidating to drive past a long line of shipping containers, but many of those who make the trip find the metal boxes quite fascinating and love the funky art prints displayed on some of them.
Should you need more convincing about why you should take the kids for a day out in Sumner, let's hear from the children of Sumner.
I speak to brothers Oliver, Ethan and Harry Withers, the best of mates playing football on the beach on a sunny Anzac Day. When asked what they love about Sumner, they aren't short of answers.
Being within walking distance of the beach is an obvious answer, but along with it comes walking, mountainbiking and being able to play a whole lot of other sports on land and in water.
It is a place of freedom, where Ethan, 10, even feels like "there are no rules" (this comment triggers a frown of surprise on his father's face). Eight-year-old Harry adds that he loves the peacefulness of the neighbourhood and big brother Oliver, 14, enjoys the surrounding Port Hills that offer stunning sea views where he can sharpen his movie making skills.
Walking along the beach, I cannot resist snapping a picture of two adorable little blond heads.
Isaac, 13 months, Reuben, 3 years, are busy digging a hole in the sand with their dad. Nick and Rhona Gee moved to Christchurch from Britain nine years ago, and Isaac was four days old when they first took him to Sumner for a walk with toddler Reuben.
They live in a nearby suburb where pushing a double pram is almost impossible for Rhona.
With two little ones, regular visits to the coastal community of Sumner became a must. I ask Reuben if he enjoys it here, and all I get for an answer is an excited "yes" while he happily smashes a sand castle.
A few metres away, I met two other families with toddlers making sand angels. One lives in Harewood, and the other couple, originally from Zimbabwe, lives in Riccarton with their two young boys.
Amanda and Shane Barham had come to Christchurch for a weekend to scout the area just three months before moving down from Napier.
It was love at first sight for Amanda who was overjoyed when they found a home a couple of streets away from the sea.
Charmed by the community spirit and enthusiasm of the local kids, they didn't worry about how their four children would adapt to their new suburb. They felt at home in no time.
"Sumner brought to our family more amazing experiences within a few months than we had lived in our whole life together," Amanda says.
They have been enjoying street parties, family picnics, outings to the nearby bay of Taylor's Mistake, and their daughter Coco, 7, loves horse riding at the head of the valley.
Sumner is definitely more than just a beach. All the local kids I speak with are keen to show off their little village.
Indeed, a trip to Sumner village should make it onto your list of activities for the next school holidays. Rain or shine, Sumner always has that positive vibe.
Oh, I just received a text from a friend: "Surf in summer after work?" Did you read Sumner or summer? I told you so.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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