Having left Australia, temporarily anyway, where we completely fell for the laid back Aussie lifestyle, beaches and sunshine, we flew to New Zealand and picked up our campervan, which would be our home for 5 weeks.
We named her, Her Majesty, or Madge for short (number plate HER750 so it goes without saying why!).
We started in Auckland and discovered the joy of 'freedom camping' that first night, we went north to the beautiful Bay of Islands, a trip down memory lane for me as I'd worked there as a medical student 10 years before.
Joel and I swam with dolphins whilst Seth watched happily from skipper Tom's chair. We then made our way down the North Island, crisscrossing from coast to coast (and surf break), camped on the side of mount Taranaki, a dormant volcano, and found ourselves in Wellington.
We ferried it across the Cook Strait to the South Island where the scenery kept getting better. From Marlborough Sound we drove via the hidden and picturesque Cable Bay, to the Able Tasman National Park, which is only accessible by boat.
We hiked through rainforest and swam in the crystal clear sea. Seth loved being up high on our backs in his carrier. From there we drove down the west coast where we hiked up to glaciers and waterfalls and the mountains got snowier, bigger and more beautiful.
In Wanaka we hired bikes again and swam in the lake. Seth is now braver in the water than I am! In Queenstown, we took the gondola up the mountain and went on luge rides at the top. Seth got to wear yet another helmet. The following day we watched Joel jump out of a plane at 12,000 ft.
Seth continues to charm all who set eyes on him, he's getting chatty in his own way, although no words yet. I'd imagined we'd have to keep explaining to people why Seth can't walk but no one asks they just see Seth for the happy smiley boy that he is. He loves all the animals we've been seeing and yesterday he rode (with a little help) a pony called Bonnie.
Most of the time I feel relaxed about his physio, starting the day with his stretches and standing, and trying to set aside a chunk of time each day for all his other exercises too. His standing is getting sturdier and life without the standing frame (at home collecting dust) is ok, that had definitely been a worry. Meal times are getting easier, he's tolerating lumpier foods.
To share our woes; our nights are still sleepless; mosquitoes and sandflies know how to bite; cockroaches are pesky things; Madge has had several hiccups, the last when we were without lighting, water, the toilet, heating and the fridge for 48 hours, it proved tricky; and to the person who 'frauded' the bank account we opened here for $2000, that was really annoying!
Also, since our darling son is almost 2 he has taken to perfecting 'the tantrum', it's actually rather sweet as he buries his head in his lap and hard to ignore! Being buckled into anything is not his idea of fun right now (car seat, buggy, GoTo) but we're working through it.
In 8 days we drop the camper off, now decorated with bunting, photos and flowers, and fly to Sydney for the next part of our adventure. I won't lie, winter has come early in NZ and we're looking forward to some Aussie sunshine again.
We know this time away is a luxury, but spending each and every day together, exploring new places, and every morning waking up to fabulous scenery and not knowing where we're going to be that night is pretty perfect.
If a venue improved its changing facilities, would you be more likely to visit it with your disabled child?