Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter in Napier - what's travel without the people you meet?

Traditionally, we’ve spent Easter with friends or family, and this year was to be no exception with plans to meet our good friends from back in the UK who now live in Auckland. We planned to hire a bach together in Gisborne and spend a week or so there, but it obviously wasn’t meant to be - we left it too late and were unable to find anywhere to accommodate us all. Instead we opted to take one that was available from Easter Monday, so Two and a half Travellers stayed in art deco Napier a bit longer than initially planned.

Looking for something a bit more than just our own company, we booked ourselves into Riverbend Family Lodge - with three holiday chalets sharing the grounds surrounding the owners house, as well as a pool, hot tub and trampoline we thought this would be a good option for meeting some other people.

When we arrived we were greeted by the friendly owners, Greg and Kendall, who showed us to our accommodation and made sure that we felt comfortable to give them a yell should we need anything. The rain was pouring down with a forecast for much of the same in the days to come, and we were the only people staying there - in spite of this we still felt that we’d made a good choice, with cosy, functional accommodation and friendly hosts.

We spent the remainder of that day and the following dashing between the lodge, the car, and various indoor venues, feeling soggy and damp. But on the afternoon of the second day, the rain stopped and the Littlest Hobo made a bee line for the trampoline. Kendall asked us whether we’d like to join an Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday (weather permitting) along with the other two families who would be there.

The Napier beaches were pretty special

The other chalets filled, and as the weather dried up, the children made friends and played on the trampoline, in the garden and the swimming pool. The Littlest Hobo loved picking vegetables, playing with the rabbits, cat, dog and riding horses - she had a ball. The Easter Egg hunt was a hit with all the kids, in spite of a wide range of ages, and the adults drank coffee and ate hot cross buns. The Littlest Hobo’s first horse ride was another highlight.

Hunting in the vegetable patch
Checking out the stash in her home made basket
Hot cross buns and hot coffee made the perfect start to Easter Sunday
They had more hop than the Easter Bunny on that trampoline

Easter weekend had the potential to be a bit of a wash out, not only with the terrible weather, but after a couple of weeks where we hadn’t met many people and without being able to see our friends until Easter Monday, we thought we might feel a bit lonely. Thanks to the wonderful environment at Riverbend Family Lodge, this wasn’t the case, and we ended up feeling that this was probably the best place we had stayed in during our entire time in New Zealand. To coin a cliché, we felt that we’d arrived as strangers and left as friends. This was largely due to our fantastic hosts but also our fellow guests, whose company we really enjoyed too. The Littlest Hobo particularly took a shine to the teenaged girl who was staying next door, and her and her step mum babysat while Mr T and I went into Napier for some lunch - an unexpected and much appreciated treat for this travelling family.

First horse ride ever - Emma (Greg and Kendall's daughter) was kind enough to  let the Littlest Hobo  have a ride on  Chloe

Hanging out in the hot tub with her new buddies Mabel and Charlie! 

For me, one of the most important aspects of travelling, and the element that can change a good trip into a great one is the people that you meet along the way. Interesting stories, little quirks, spontaneous fun and random acts of kindness are what make the average travel blanket into a veritable patchwork quilt.

How have the people who you have met added to your travel experience?


  1. Sounds like a perfect way to spend Easter - love it :)
    The hot tub, trampoline and horse riding...perfect for kids!

    1. It was a kid paradise! There were tears when we left....

  2. Sounds like a wonderful Easter weekend. I love the "Keep Warm and Hug a Pony" sweatshirt!

    1. It was fantastic! The sweatshirt was perfect for the girl wearing it, she loved that pony so much :)