The doesn’t-stay-at-home dad

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - OUT & ABOUT - LEE GRIGGS

When be­com­ing a dad for the first time last year, I was su­per ex­cited at the prospect of be­ing able to share our beau­ti­ful coun­try and my love of the out­doors with my son Ge­orge.

I had vi­sions of moun­tain­bik­ing in the hills, hik­ing through our na­tional parks, and kayak­ing through the sounds and fiords.

I was quickly brought to the harsh re­al­ity that this wasn’t go­ing to be so sim­ple.

With nappy changes, three naps a day, and breast­feed­ing, it was clear I was go­ing to have to re­duce the scale of my dreams some­what, at least to be­gin with any­way.

How­ever, Ge­orge is 14-months now, my wife Ally has re­turned to work and we’re coshar­ing the work/home life bal­ance.

So with more days at home play­ing dad for me, and a re­duced need for boobs and con­stant nap­ping dur­ing the day­time for Ge­orge, can our ad­ven­tures be­come a lit­tle more ad­ven­tur­ous?

Join Ge­orge and I over the next cou­ple of months, as I share our sto­ries of ex­plor­ing the best of Marl­bor­ough, and dis­cover the ‘new dad’ side of fos­ter­ing a love of the out­doors into a toddler.

This week we set out for a walk around the Lower Quail Loop track on the Wither Hills. A walk es­ti­mated at 1.5 hours, I thought it would be a good test to see how Ge­orge would hold out in his back­pack.

We set off along the lower track from the Ri­fle Range car park, which was a great warmup strolling through the bush line to the Quail Stream track.

As we headed up the four­wheel-drive track be­side the stream, Ge­orge made friends with some res­i­dent sheep, and had fun pulling at my ears as we bounced across the step­ping stones cross­ing the stream.

We stopped for a drink at the foun­tain, be­fore turn­ing off to­wards the twin tanks, zigzag­ging our way up away from the bush and into the open pad­docks of the hills.

As the views of Blen­heim and the wider Wairau Val­ley opened up. Ge­orge’s chat­ter qui­etened, had he fallen asleep? Or was he as mes­merised by the views as I was? I opened my phone to selfie mode (the won­ders of tech­nol­ogy) and sure enough he was just tak­ing in the views.

Maybe my love of the out­doors was hered­i­tary af­ter all.

We de­scended fur­ther to the Ro­tary Look­out, and back down the Gen­tle Annie track to the car park for a well-de­served play in the new play area.

A thor­oughly rec­om­mended walk for fam­i­lies want­ing to stretch be­yond the lo­cal park. The tracks are well main­tained and a rea­son­able gra­di­ent most of the way.

The back­pack cer­tainly seemed a good choice for the ter­rain, and Ge­orge def­i­nitely en­joyed the per­spec­tive from my shoul­ders, not to men­tion the added bonus of us­ing my ears as reins.

Lee Griggs is on a mis­sion to share his love of the out­doors with his 14-month-old son Ge­orge. His first stop: the Wither Hills.

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