Bring Our Seven Months Old Baby on Epic Journey in Manawatu Gorge

Being a father, I felt uncomfortable if I was alone to go sightseeing or enjoying outdoor while my kids and wife were at home. So I was determined to take them all to have real adventure by walking in nature, including the our seven months old baby and son who was nine years old at the time. Somehow I was a little bit worry to bring my baby because the weather was often changing, therefore I monitored the weather conditions. Once Met Service (in Indonesia called Badan Meteorologi and Geofisika – BMG) featuring weather overcast cloudy with winds, I said to my family “Tomorrow we are going to tramp in the Manawatu Gorge”. Tramping is often called naik gunung in Indonesia or hike (hiking) in english.

As usual, my wife and I shared the tasks. I prepared supplies such as food, beverages, camera, tripod, jackets, backpacks, shoes, baby carriers and routes to be walked and to ensure the car in a condition ready for use. I made sandwiches with vegetable and beef inside, I prepared it one day in advance and then wrapped in thin plastic wrap and then put in the refrigerator. My wife’s task was to prepare for the baby supplies such as diaper’s / nappies, clothes, baby food, beverages, jackets, and wet tissues. The division of tasks made our travel more comfortable. All supplies were already put into the backpack one day before we tramped.

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As a daddy I could not leave my baby at home, BECAUSE SHE IS TOO CUTE TO STAY AT HOME.
Location: Manawatu Gorge Track, North Island.

 

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Everybody was ready to have an adventure.
Location: Manawatu Gorge Track, North Island.

Actually It has long been time that we wanted to have an adventure to the Manawatu Gorge track, the track that was managed by the New Zealand Department of Conservation. But it was always cancelled by bad weather. The starting point of the track is only about a 30 minutes drive from the city of Palmerston North, where we lived. The track is quite long, so we decided only a one way tramping. Off course I asked a friend to help me park my car at the end of track and drop me back to the starting point where my wife and kids were already there.

We saw some cars that were already being parked and public toilets beside the car park. Not far from the car park, there was full detail about the the tracks in a wooden hut. Historical information, maps, flora and fauna in this track can be found at this hut. Based on the information boards it takes about 3-5 hours to get to the end of the track, with a distance 10.1 km. the same info as on the website of Department of Conservation.

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 Wooden hut contains information about the track. It takes 3 – 5 hours to complete the track.
Location: Manawatu Gorge Track, North Island.

Before we started walking we checked all the equipment, making sure that everything was inside our bags including food and drinks. Around 9:30 am we started walking. Early tracks starting with the gorge on the left side and highway on right side. The beginning of the track made our heart flutter, especial if we saw both side, we could see the gorge with the river below on the left side, while the high speed car passing on the right side. As long as we kept on track, everything looked safe.

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There was a family taking their baby with them, just like us.
Location: Manawatu Gorge Track, North Island.

 

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Then track continued on the right side of this road, so we needed to walk under the road.
Location: Manawatu Gorge Track, North Island.

Approximately after walking about 5 minutes, we walked down the stairs and then walked under the road instead of crossing. Seeing this, I could say that the the New Zealand government does take care of the safety of pedestrians by providing a path under the road, it’s much safer than crossing directly on the road where the high speed cars passing by.

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Walking on the wooden board.
Location: Manawatu Gorge Track, North Island.

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I appointed my son to lead family expedition.
Location: Manawatu Gorge Track, North Island.

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Walking among the trees, making close relationship between son and mother.
Location: Manawatu Gorge Track, North Island.

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Department of Conservation put poison to reduce possum populations that become pests.
Location: Manawatu Gorge Track, North Island.

This tracks is comfortable, suitable for families or beginners. the Gravel above the track makes it not too muddy and slippery. There is always a bridge above the flowing water and the bridge made of wooden board that has a kind of carpet to protect visitors from slipping. I felt that my shoes were really gripped on the track.

The weather in the morning was overcast plus strong winds, but we could not feel the wind blow once we were inside the forest, only heard the sound of the wind blowing. The track began to climb immediately upon entering the forest, my breath began to puff. I understood why, I carried loads weighing about 15kg consist of my baby about 10kg, 2 litter of water and food plus the baby carrier about 3.5 kg. As a result of my foot steps slowed and sweat profusely. Luckily the weather was friendly, not hot but not too cold.

Several times we were passed by other visitors, they seemed easily to walked, breath normally like walking on flat pathways. Some of them passed us while running, something that impossible for me to do. I must admit that most New Zealanders have good physical capabilities, as a result of regular exercise since they were a kid, no wonder they are much stronger than us. When they wanted pass us, we stood on side of the track and gave way to them and say “Hi…”.

We arrived at the first picnic table in this track and found a family with a baby having lunch there. That was the family that we saw in the beginning of the track, they walked ahead us. I thought we would have lunch there once they finished lunch, but decided to continue our journey.

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A baby with his family had lunch at picnic table.
Location: Manawatu Gorge Track, North Island.

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Just having a family portrait at the fallen tree.
Location: Manawatu Gorge Track, North Island.

Sometimes I asked my son to lead the way, he was the one who determines the direction and decide when to stop for a rest. I called him the expedition leader. I pretend to ask for a rest several times because I wanted to know his decision. He seemed proud of his title as expedition leader. The reason I asked him to lead the way is to teach him to become a leader since a kid.

Around 12 noon my son became fussy, it was a sign of hunger but he didn’t admit that he was hungry. So I decided to stop at one of the lookout named Sentinel (Sentinel Lookout). Once we got there and saw the view, we could only say WOW, AMAZING. It was fine to sweat profusely and puff along there to get here. We could the see the tiny cars down there passing the road like tiny ants. We all had lunch and finished all the food. The wooden bench made lunch becomes more comfortable, having lunch while viewing the scenery. We were fortunate during lunch there was no other visitors who came, it was like a private owner of this place.

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Having lunch with my home made sandwiches.
Location: Manawatu Gorge Track, North Island.

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My son was reading the information.
Location: Manawatu Gorge Track, North Island.

 

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She was sleeping while I took this picture.
Location: Manawatu Gorge Track, North Island.

As usual I was the one who finished lunch first. It was my task to prepare the tripod and camera, then pressed the camera shutter to have a portrait with my baby still sleeping in my backpack.

To be continued. We were half way to finish this track and approximately 5-6km ahead.

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