A week in Northland in a tent

I got back two days ago from seven days camping at Kai Iwi Lakes, about 3 hours north of Auckland. My sister came and set up beside me, as has become our custom, and we were thrilled to encounter really good weather for most of it. (Sadly, northland is suffering a drought right now, so I hope they get rain soon.)

This time camping was going to be a bit of a challenge. I am not long recovered from my ankle surgery, and most days I also feel the effects of lower back pain (sciatica), so I was not looking forward to packing up the equipment and then setting up the tent. Sure enough, by that evening I was hobbling and had taken a few doses of paracetamol, which does help a bit. ALSO, as you will have read in previous posts, I’ve started a process of losing weight and improving health by following a carb-free (almost), intermittent-fasting, regime. My nutritionist gave me a link to a local company who make freeze-dried food that is nutritious and so I purchased about four meals and two breakfasts.

The road north was busy, but I stopped at a health food cafe for a kombucha. Nice view:

40 mins later I pulled in to our relatively deserted campsite and Helen and I helped each other set up tents. This smaller campsite has flush toilets up the hill, and no other amenities. Shops are 35 mins away driving, so we didn’t plan on buying out. I had a chillybin and a smaller one inside that, which managed to keep meat cold for a few days. My meals were delicious from Sunday night through to Wednesday night, and all pretty much on target for my meal plans:

I skipped breakfast Tuesday and Thursday, and we had no treats except for a small ice cream on the last weekend, purchased from the caravan at the neighbouring campsite. By Thursday, the ants had found the inner contents of my chilly bin, and there were only mouldering vegetables in there anyway. I moved to using the paleo bread (which doesn’t mould), peanut butter, and the dried meals.

Exercise-wise, I really am not back to the fitness I had a year ago at the same place. Then, we walked around a portion of the lake and back. Now, I did little beyond swim, but I did that 6 times a day, sometimes 7. It was great to sink into cool clean fresh water and feel all the weight on ankle and back disappear. I lived in my swimming costumes for the entire time, apart from at night when the weather cooled.

Kai Iwi lakes are inverted fresh water sandhills, going down to a depth of ten stories. They are remarkably beautiful and cannot be beaten for their swimming possibilities. No tides to worry about, not large toothy fish lurking in the depths, pretty much a HUGE swimming pool that doesn’t need chlorine. The further side of the biggest lake hosts families and boaties who want to get out and use water toys, like jet skis and power boats. There are showers there, and a small caravan selling food, so it’s a draw. We prefer the relative quiet of the smaller campsite.

It’s easy to snap a glorious sunset or sunrise, and get caught up watching the bird life.

and the water! Leaping off the top of the submerged white sandhill into a bottomless depth of azure and blue – ah, I shall have to hold that image for another year.

Soon enough, the insects start to intrude. Ants found the inside of the tent, flies loved my front foyer, and black beetles fell out of the umbrella on the mornings I opened it. Not much to worry about, really.
Screen Shot 2020-02-18 at 3.14.43 PM

It’s taken a couple of days to unpack, wash clothes, get rid of rubbish, wash my car, and finally feel like I’m on target to go to work on Thursday. I was very pleased to find that I’ve lost a total of 8.4 kgs since I started my food plan, and hadn’t gained over the camping trip.
Ahead of us now is usual city life: schools and universities are back, students will throng the halls and streets of my workplace, the roads will be busy, the weather will get cooler and wetter. I will carry the images and impressions of last week in my mind and heart for a long while yet.



  1. Bonnie Jones · February 18, 2020

    Photos looks absolutely fabulous Jenny. We are off to NZ in late March. Very excited. North Island for ten days on a small bus tour, then meeting our daughter, her husband and 2 granddaughters in Christchurch for the next two weeks of travelling around a small part of the South Island. Not long enough! I would live in NZ if all of my family and friends came too. I lived in Dunedin for a year when I was a little girl. Well done on your eating regime. Mine has gone to the dogs a wee bit, but it’s ok though. Just need to be a bit more committed I think. I’m quite a lazy sod.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jennyjeffries · February 18, 2020

      Oh Bonnie, hope you have a wonderful time! I’d love to see more of the South Island. Yes, you need to be in right headspace for eating regime. All the best.


  2. moragnoffke · February 18, 2020

    Beautiful photos, beautiful setting. Well done on your weight loss 👍. It’s a great feeling.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. johncowannz · February 18, 2020

    Sounds and looks like a very restorative and refreshing time. I haven’t been there for years; time I went again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jennyjeffries · February 18, 2020

      Yes, you’d love it – sadly Grommit couldn’t come. 😌


  4. Carolyn · February 18, 2020

    What a relaxing time, Jenny. Brought back memories of those times when I camped – albeit with children in tow. Busier than your time away but still relaxing .. the calm of the water, the scenery, the peacefulness. Thanks for the walk back in time

    Liked by 1 person

    • jennyjeffries · February 18, 2020

      It was relaxing! Now I’ve got to tighten all the rubberbands. 😛


  5. retiredrn55 · February 18, 2020

    I loved your entry!! You have transported me to your lake. I am busy with the last segment of building our house…..it is on almost 3 acres of wooded land north of Houston Texas..can’t wait for the tranquility!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jennyjeffries · February 18, 2020

      Thanks! So glad I could send a breath of NZ lake air your way.


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