Get Outdoors Week | Braden Currie’s Top Tips for Family Adventures
In preparation for Get Outdoors Week, from 16–24 November, the team at the NZ Mountain Safety Council (MSC) have invited a range of guest contributors to share some of their tips, tricks and top spots for awesome outdoor adventures around Aotearoa. Don’t forget to share your adventures on social media using #GoWeekNZ and be in to win prizes!
Elite Ironman competitor, multiple Coast to Coast champion, NZ triathlon champion and all-round outdoor adventurer Braden Currie, along with his wife Sally, share their top tips for enjoying the outdoors as a family.
Thanks to Braden for sharing his family-friendly tricks and top spots www.bradencurrie.com
With a professional athlete in the family, we spend a large part of our year travelling to some of the most amazing places in the world. But the truth is that nothing compares to the diversity of stunning landscapes and myriad of outdoor potential that we have right on our back doorstep in NZ. We love NZ and the beauty of being at home is everything is right there, and we have all the toys we need to make the most of it.
We are a family that love adventuring and our kids now seem to love it as much as we do. Both kids have been challenged well outside their comfort zone on many occasions. And if we are honest, we think both of them have often reflected on mum and dad’s lack of consideration, empathy and planning more than once.
I say this with a smile though, as I find that each and every time, they have found themselves challenged, that the next time we expose them to a similar situation, their reaction to it is like chalk and cheese. We believe that kids are far more adaptable, resilient, responsible and capable of evolving than most of us give them credit for. And we both believe the outdoors is the ultimate setting for empowering and inspiring our kids to develop these characteristics.
Our top tips for enjoying the outdoors as a family are:
- Include the kids in the process
The core concept for all our family adventures is to enable our kids to play an active part in the process. The more we include the kids in the planning phase, the more motivated and ambitious they seem to be. Simple things like — letting our youngest design and create the snacks and lunch menu. She instantly lights up when she gets to be the one to make decisions and strategically, we allocate an area of key focus for her (food). Suddenly the whole thing becomes fun and she is 100% on board.
2. Creating adventures within the adventures so that both our kids experience the elements of the adventure that they thrive on
It’s not easy to create adventures that guarantee success and enjoyment. We try to pick something that both kids are going to thrive from, but that can be tough to achieve. We have learnt to split the kids up at times and make sure both of them are given the opportunity to do something they really love at a level that gives them the challenge they are looking for. We know that they both find it easier to accept the full family missions when they also get the opportunity to thrive without their sibling in tow. The other tactic we use is to give our oldest more responsibility and other areas of challenge, if the actual physical side of our adventure is not meeting his desired level of expectation. There are so many ways to keep him interested and stimulated even when he is out with his 6-year-old sister. Things like — getting him to pack the gear, read the map, plan the mission, set up the camp etc
3. It’s the simple things
Ultimately everything is possible with kids, but the key things we have learnt is to keep it simple and remember that it’s not the magnitude of the adventure they will remember. They will remember the smaller things like setting up camp, eating around the camp table or a campfire, playing cards late at night, sleeping in their own tent and exploring the natural world around them. You can then choose bigger challenges when and if they are ready. All the work involved in pulling off family adventures is worth every second you put into it. And it will only get easier. Your kids will love it and it will organically teach them some of the most valuable life skills that will help them to succeed in any path they choose later in life. Skills like independence, versatility, initiative, resilience and organisation. And when it doesn’t work out as planned, don’t worry, as this will also be one of the memories you and your kids will take with you and reflect on sooner after with a cheeky smile, and a light chuckle, when you remember what a complete epic disaster it was. Enjoy the process, embrace the adventure.
With the above in mind, the most successful and awesome trips we have had in NZ are:
- The Abel Tasman. What a magic part of NZ. I am not sure if anyone can fail to put together an incredible few days in this part of the world. The ability to combine different activities such as walking, kayaking, camping, fishing and swimming at the same time as being able to turn it into a journey from one end to the other.
- Queenstown. It’s just over the hill for us, and we know it gets a bad rap as being an immensely busy tourist town. But it is epic in every way and there are so many incredible outdoor experiences on offer. The Queenstown bike trails are awesome, well designed, stunningly beautiful and are perfect for the kids when they are just getting into biking. Then there are the more tech options such as seven mile, the trails up at Moke Lake and our favourite — the single track trail from Coronet Peak to Arrowtown.
- Our backyard in Wanaka. Our best overnight trips in and around Wanaka are the Fernburn — a one-way hike into the hut and back out again the next day. Mt Aspiring Hut — you can bike the kids in after school (about 8km) and stay at Aspiring hut. Mt Brewster — a solid 3–4hour hike in, but the hut is incredible and the hike itself is challenging but really enjoyable.
- The Otago Rail Trail. Yes, it’s quite touristy, but it’s pretty cool! It’s a good intro to multi-day biking for the kids and it’s really cool to bike through that part of NZ.
For more helpful guidance and free resources for planning a family outdoor adventure check out:
1. Plan My Trip; a free online planning tool
2. Get Outdoors Videos; bringing the fun to how-to videos
3. Day Walking eTool; All you need to know in 15 minutes