Nanny Goes Camping – 82 Years Young, and on a Mish

“A Mish a Day” #50 Nanny Goes Camping. Kaitorete Spit. Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere. 17.6.2019. Some of my earliest memories are of heading down to Rakaia to see Nanny and Fossil (my late Granddad). The whole whanau would pile in the car, and we would drive south knowing good times were about to happen. A lot of my sense of adventure has come from trips to Overdale or Thompsons Track. Bev (Nanny) has always been interested in my missions and on many occasions I have told her about going on missions to Kaitorete Spit, which is located on the sea-side of Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere…

The small stretch of beach acts as a natural dam, holding the contents of Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere in place. A small outlet at the southwest end of the lake is the only outlet to the Pacific Ocean. Many times I have camped amongst the dunes, falling asleep to the melody of the waves crashing on the beach. I decided that at age 82 it was time Bev Crouchley got the best introduction possible to Kaitorete with an overnight camping trip. A change from the normal solo missions, it is great to have company sometimes. Our campsite was guarded by trusty Dennis the wonder dog, a veteran of Kaitorete Spit missions. Normally I would stick to the easterrn end of the spit, but to make this trip extra special we drove to the far end near the outlet of the lake. It is a very remote place, windswept and barren. A massive positive to camping at the end of the spit is views of both the lake and the sea as the land area narrows to a point at the outlet. As it was the middle of June we were overloaded with warm gear, jackets, sleeping bags and blankets. The forecast was for clear skies and the chance of a frost the next morning, perfect camping weather. Warmth was the key to making the mish successful so an epic bonfire was needed. After getting the tents set up it was time to collect some driftwood, and after a few trips to the beach we had plenty of wood for our fire. After getting the fire going it was time to enjoy a few whiskeys beside our heat source for the night, “easy on the pours Bev!”. We not only saw an epic sunset but also a huge full moon. As the very bright moon was low in the sky it meant we also enjoyed a ‘moon-set’ as well. And if that wasn’t enough epicness, we then watched the lightning flashes from a huge storm out in the Pacific Ocean. When it was finally time to retreat to our tents and sleeping bags the frost had already begun to coat exposed areas.

Dennis and I had an early-ish start and as expected the morning was a classic June frost. Before breakfast I headed down to the beach to collect firewood and I also took some deep morning breaths of the crisp ocean air. Bev & I both needed a couple of hot coffees to get going and pack up our camp site. The night could not have gone any better and it was awesome to show Nanny what her Grandson gets up to on his missions. Now she was part of the legacy that was created by always enjoyable visits to her and Fossil’s house all those years ago.

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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