Family recharged in between lockdowns in beautiful Coromandel
A luxury weekend getaway in the Coromandel was the perfect way for the Gilmour family to recharge and reconnect. Ruth Gilmour shares why sometimes a wee escape is just the ticket.
After experiencing the highs and lows of infertility and miscarriage while trying to add to our family, I decided that with the disappointment of each new cycle, I’d allow myself to have a little treat. This might be as simple as having a meal I love, or a couple of hours off during a work week. Sometimes it's just a walk in nature, or a touch of retail therapy. After a miscarriage earlier in the year, we were coming up to what would have been the due date of our third baby, so I was feeling especially low. We’d just done three weeks of lockdown, with two weeks back in level two and the next school holidays were quickly approaching. I work from home and often find it hard to relax unless we get out of the house, so I was feeling the cabin fever. A couple of days before the school holidays were due to start I said to Dave, “We need to get out of here before the next lockdown, let’s have a ‘treat yourself’ weekend”. For those of you who have seen Parks and Recreation on Netflix you might be familiar with the concept.
I went to bed that night dreaming of dipping my toes in crystal blue waters, and waking up to the sound of waves. Serendipitously, the opportunity came up to stay in our favourite holiday home in Coromandel town – luxury accommodation set on a ridgetop with stunning views of both Long Bay, and the Coromandel Harbour. The hosts and owners, Daisy & Dan, bought the land several years ago after moving home from living overseas. They were very intentional about creating a space that they could use for entertaining friends and family and with the help of award-winning architects from Queenstown, plus Daisy’s impeccable interior design eye, they created this beautiful space called Idle Pursuits.
Dave and I had been to Idle Pursuits before on a couple’s retreat but I must admit I was a little nervous about bringing the kids. Ruby, our six-year-old, would be fine, but we weren't sure about Corban, our three-year-old, and his sticky little fingers on the beautiful glass windows. I voiced my concerns to Daisy and she reassured me that whatever the kids did to the home would be taken care of at the end of our stay by their staff. She also reminded me about the separate kid’s wing upstairs, complete with their own living area, large screen TV and play room. Needless to say, we were sold!
We reached the house on Friday evening, after a stunning drive through the coastal highway. Holidaying at Idle Pursuits is a full luxury experience –you’re greeted by fresh flowers, beautiful linen, freshly pressed robes, and most importantly a fully stocked bar.
The next day we woke up to the sound of native birds, and opened the curtains to see dotted sails outside in the harbour. The weather was perfect for spending a day sailing, we decided. One thing we love about Coromandel town is that you don't need to travel for hours to get to all the sights it has to offer. With Hannaford's Wharf just a 15 minute drive away, we were soon boarding a rented launch with all the goodies for a day out, headed for a private bay near Whanganui Island. The kids each took turns to ‘drive’ the boat, as we enjoyed a platter and a cold, crisp sav.
We disembarked the launch and rowed to shore where we played some cricket and the kids’ rock-hopped and made sandcastles. Once we’d had ample sunbathing time we climbed to the top of a small hill, which looks very steep but has more bark than bite. The view at the top is breathtaking with 360 degree views of all the nearby bays.
I woke up on Sunday morning inspired to stretch my legs, so headed off to the Kauri Walk, set in the native bush of Long Bay Scenic Reserve. The track starts at the Long Bay Motor Camp, and gradually climbs up through a grove of young Kauri trees, Nikau palms and a 330-year-old Kauri tree. I arrived back at Idle Pursuits just in time for a quick shower and a massage table set up in our room for my ten o'clock massage! After an hour of pure bliss, I was ready for a nap, but alas the kids were ready for adventure. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at The Wharf, before heading onto Driving Creek Railway Explorer – New Zealand's only narrow gauge mountain railway. The kids loved handing over the ticket to be clicked as we started our ascent up the mountain.
The conductor did a fabulous job of sharing the fascinating history of the railway and area. The original line was built by the potter, Barry Brickell on his 22-hectare property which has now been gifted to the public. Barry built most of the railway on his own over the course of many years, so he could access clay and kiln fuel for his pottery. He even went as far as the Waikato in his search to find pieces of railway to lay, often exchanging these for beer! The railway leads to a terminus, 165m high above the surrounding west coast, and is a wooden building named the 'Eyefull Tower' because of its views over Coromandel town and right through to Waiheke Island. There were plenty of stops to hop out and check out the views along with loads of little tunnels. The squeals of excitement from Corban every single time we went through a ‘black hole’ had us in fits.
We spent our last evening drinking wine on the deck and breathing in the views as the sun set. But I couldn’t leave without experiencing some of the
room-scale virtual reality games at the house, and after an adrenaline-inducing action game, I finished the evening immersed under the sea, with dolphins and whales. What an experience to have before bed!
We drove back to the Waikato as they moved into their second day of level three lockdown, thankful for our ‘treat yourself’ getaway before being home-bound again. I’m already dreaming of my next getaway at Idle Pursuits – next time we’ll leave the kids at home and take the besties for a party!
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 56 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW